The USA's craziest coasters!
Suspend disbelief and embrace the thrills with Brooke Montgomery’s picks of the USA’s top theme parks and craziest (kid-friendly) coasters.
Cedar Point, Ohio
Known for: Magnum XL-200 and the Blue Streak
For adventurers 120cm tall
Self-billed “Roller Coaster Capital Of The World” Cedar Park offers untethered
thrills with almost every coaster imaginable and 72 rides in total, including
a giant frisbee and the world’s largest swing ride. The Magnum XL-200 is one
coaster you absolutely cannot miss. The unbelievable heights of its first
peak are so close to the sky it is said you can see all the way to Canada
on a clear day! The exhilarating 60-metred drop will have the whole train
screaming before you fly over hills and zip through pitch black tunnels.
Bursting onto the scene way back in the 1960’s, the ‘Blue Streak’ is the
oldest rollercoaster at Cedar Point, but don’t be fooled it can still produce
a mean adrenalin rush. With plenty of steep dives and soaring ascents, you’ll
have butterflies in the tummy in no time. Even though it’s all over in less
than two minutes, this just means there’s enough time to go for round two.
Known for: California Screamin’
For thrill-seekers 122cm tall
Blasting riders up to an altitude of over 35 metres, Disneyland California’s
longest and fastest roller coaster will have you plummeting back down before
you even have chance to scream. Speed past the crashing waves of Paradise
Bay before you whirl and twirl, dip and curl along the steel tracks at
astonishing speeds. Quickly take in the view when you reach the coaster’s peak
because it won’t be long until you’re tackling the loop-de-loop and grinning
from ear to ear as the ride slows to a halt. Did someone say let’s go again?
Walt Disney himself once said that “As long as there is imagination left in
the world, Disneyland will never be complete”. And with a host of new
attractions coming in 2016, ‘The happiest place on earth’ just keeps getting
happier. With the all new ‘Star Wars Land’ being constructed this year, and
a new ‘Soarin’ Around the World’ ride taking passengers on a cinematic journey
to some of the world’s most unique and inspiring places, there has never been
a better time to plan a family trip to Disneyland.
Known for: SuperDooperLooper
For loopy racers 106cm tall
Chocolate lovers unite! Hersheypark is the go-to theme park for those who
love nothing more than to combine their desire for chocolate with their need
for speed. Home to 70 rides including crowd favourites ‘SkyRush’, ‘Storm
Runner’ and ‘SooperDooperLooper’ (we are not joking!), the height requirements
for littlies even have cutesy names with a chocolate twist: ‘Miniatures’,
‘Kisses’ and ‘Reeses’.
The ‘SooperDooperLooper’ should be the first stop for those little adrenalin
junkies. While you may start slowly climbing the first peak, the accompanying
drop takes you speeding into the thrilling 360 degree loop-de-loop! Race
through tunnels and doge the leafy trees as you zip along the track twisting
and turning with an all-encompassing view of the whole park. Also home to
America’s first indoor spinning glow coaster, the ‘Laff Track’, where
passengers are whirled through a multi-coloured fun house, spiralling through
the multi-coloured arches and even traversing through a dizzying hall of
mirrors as they speed along at 65 kilometres per hour.
Known for: Live music and the Lightning Rod
For little boot scooters 122cm tall
Known for its Southern charm, this world famous park is as unique as its namesake and owner Dolly Parton. Boasting 60 hectares and 43 attractions designed to thrill – and that’s not even including the adjacent waterpark – the beautiful mountain ranges of Tennessee surrounding Dollywood make for a magical setting.
Set to open in March 2016, the 24-passenger ‘Lightning Rod’ is a 1950’s hot rod-themed coaster tipped to launch riders from zero to 72 kilometres per hour as the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster.
Riders will have a stunning view through the treetops before diving through the valleys in a 4-metre drop as they speed along the track at a whopping 117 kilometres per hour.
Country music aficionados listen up: Dollywood hosts a number of concerts and musical events each year, including Barbeque and Bluegrass (13 May – 22 May), the National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration (30 September – 29 October) and the Smoky Mountain Christmas (5 November – 4 January).
Silver Dollar City, Missouri
Known for: The Powder Keg
For speedsters 106cm tall
The 1880s-themed Silver Dollar City has an irresistible down-home charm and ongoing reputation as a family favourite. Kids 130 centimetres and over can experience the gravity-defying rush of the ‘Powder Keg’, one of the parks star attractions. The rocket coaster uses compressed air-launch systems to sling the train to from 0 to over 100 kilometres in just 2.8 seconds. Then, with speedy spirals, crazy G-forces and a spectacular 33-metre drop, the ride is over before passengers have been able to scream... much.
Thrill seeking kiddies over 130 centimetres prepare, if you dare, to be dropped from 15 storeys on the ‘Wildfire’. This modern day speed machine takes riders on a thrilling journey filled with loop-de-loops, corkscrews and high speed spirals. But first you have to survive the 45-metre drop which shoots you out at speeds of over 100 kilometres.
Known for: The Manta and the Kraken
For little adrenalin junkies 137cm tall
While SeaWorld is full of amazing creatures, this wildlife wonderland has adrenalin inducing rides to capture the attention of even the most dedicated animal lovers. Experience the life of a Manta Ray as you soar - face down - over the park before spinning, gliding and flying your way over the water jets headed your way.
Just like the infamous creature of the deep, ‘The Kraken’ is a monster coaster like no other. Start with a spectacular view of the park before a steep dive gets the adrenalin pumping to spiral and loop your way round the track. By the time riders can figure out which way is up, this thriller will have dropped them longer, flown them higher and spun them faster than any other coaster in Orlando… and all while missing one seemingly necessary ingredient – a floor (shiver!).
Non-riders will have thrills of their own when they visit Dolphin Cove and experience one of the largest interactive dolphin pools in the world, walk through an underwater viewing tunnel at the Shark Encounter or even meet a Beluga whale on a Wild Arctic adventure. And the fun continues: be transported to the winter wonderland of Antarctica through the eyes of the resident penguin Puck, journey to the sunken city of Atlantis and get a birds-eye view of Orlando from the Sky Tower.