There’s no doubt about it: we are speaking about roller coasters of the world, be they wooden, steel or otherwise, where there is no comparison to the thrills a minute you experience. Here are a few stats: The tallest steel ‘roller coaster drop’ in the U.S. is Kingda Ka located (at Six Flags Great Adventure) in Township, New Jersey, or you might want to travel to Coomera, Queensland, Australia and try the Tower of Terror. If you’re into the feel of wood, then Kings Island in Mason, Ohio boasts of its Son of Beast, or you can travel to Europe and enjoy the Colossus at Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany, both of which claim to be the tallest, and fastest, wooden roller coasters in the world.
It appears that the Superman: Krypton Coaster in San Antonio, Texas has the tallest vertical loop in the U.S. of A, while if your travels take you to Port Aventura in Salou, Catalunya, Spain, then you might want to let your heart drop a beat or two on Dragon Khan.
So where are the fastest steel roller coasters? Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is number two, following the fastest steel roller coaster in the United States; Kingda Ka in Township, New Jersey, and number three is Dodonpa in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan.
Where do they get these names: Mind Bender, Hammerhead Shark, Steel Dragon, Tazmanian Devil, Boomerang, Road Runner Express, Phantom’s Revenge, Acrophobia, Bizarro, El Toro, Hades, The Time Machine, Millennium Force, The Boss, Viper, The Rattler, Ultimate, Superman: el Ultimo Escape, Shivering Timbers, Diamond Back, Thunderhead, and perhaps, as some folks have dubbed it, the big daddy of them all; The Great American Scream Machine.
What originated in Russia in 1784, re-tooled by the French in 1804, and then came along La Marcus Adna Thompson, who in 1884, built the first specialty roller coaster at Coney Island. The Gravity Pleasure Switchback Railroad reached a top speed of six-miles-per-hour and thus began roller coaster mania in America. It wasn’t however until 1927, that the benchmark for roller coasters was built with its incredible 60 degree angle and 85 foot plunge. The Coney Island Cyclone is still considered today an industry standard.
Children and adults alike are all-a-twitter at the first sign of a warm spring and early summer to get a head start at their local or regional amusement park so they can experience the thrill of that swooshing sound of a roller coaster car as it takes on its fastest dip or jarring turn and sudden stop. Hands go up in the air, fingers clutch the metal bars and the crescendo of screams could easily begin a thunder-storm as rail cars whiz by like a streak of lightning or when they reach the highest pinnacle on their ride. Peals of laughter intermingle with shrieks of fear and fun. They get off, and on again, and no matter how much fun they had that day the most memorable thrill of all will be that coaster ride. If you braved one, then you’ll brag about it, and what better telling is there than to share with all whom will listen that you conquered the tallest, fastest, and the most thrilling coaster of them all.
Isn’t this what summer vacation is supposed to be about; having fun? So no matter if you’re California dreaming, riding the Reading Railroad in Pennsylvania, trekking across the plains on Route 66, sight-seeing in sunny Florida, New Jersey bound, or taking a slow boat to China, why not include an amusement park in your vacation plans, and at the end of that great day of thrills and fun, what you need is a good night’s sleep.