Calling all adrenaline junkies: slop on that sunscreen, fasten those fanny packs and prepare your vocal cords. Now that temperatures are on the rise and the end of the school year in sight, it’s about time to hit up a favourite summer pastime: the amusement park.
Yes, thrill-seekers may have to empty their wallets and endure hour-long line-ups beneath the blazing sun but they'll be united by a common objective -- to be scared senseless again and again by the roller-coaster. The love for these thrill machines dates back to the steep, ice-covered slides of Russia in the 16th century. The first coasters appeared in North America in the 1800's as scenic railroads designed for moving coal down mountains using gravity.
But these railroads also provided an exciting and scenic ride for those able to pay a small fee. Word of these scenic rides quickly spread across North America and inspired some of the first coasters.There are now thousands of imaginative wooden and steel roller-coasters across the globe and they continue to grow faster, taller, steeper and loopier with each year.
The tallest coaster currently towers 45 stories above the ground, while the fastest accelerates to 240 km/h in just under 5 seconds. Despite the modifications over the years, however, one thing has never changed -- traveller's relentless thirst for speed and that fleeting moment of weightlessness as they plummet over a steep hill.
So hold on tight, because these are some of the fastest, tallest and loopiest steel and wooden roller-coasters in the world.
The World's Best Roller-Coasters. Slideshow text follows for mobile readers.
Looming over Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, the Kingda Ka is the world’s tallest roller-coaster at 456 feet (139 metres) with a petrifying 418-foot drop (127 metres). It is also the second fastest coaster in the world with top speeds reaching 206 km/h (128 mph) in just 3.5 seconds.
For those with a need for speed, the Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi is the world’s fastest coaster with a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) reached in just under 5 seconds. Those daring enough to tackle this wild coaster must don safety goggles to shield their eyes from insects and other debris, while being whipped through the air.
Steel Dragon 2000
The Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land amusement park in Mie Prefecture, Japan, is for those who just don’t want the excitement to end. It holds the record for having the longest track length at about 8,133 feet (2,479 metres). Unlike other coasters that are over in seconds, Steal Dragon 2000 lasts about 4 minutes and includes a heart-stopping 306-foot drop (93 metres).
If twists, turns and loops are what get your blood pumping, this monster of a coaster is for you. The Colossus at Thorpe Park in Surrey, England boasts 10 stomach-churning inversions, including a vertical loop, cobra rolls, corkscrews and heartline twists. Along with its replica, the 10 Inversion Roller Coaster in Guangzhou, Guangdong China, Colossus holds the record for the coaster with the most inversions.
Located at the Fuji-Q Highland theme park in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan, the Takabisha is sure to take your breath away. This coaster is famous for its 121-degree drop -- the steepest in the world. Not enough thrills for you? Then try its seven, hair-raising inversions.
This wooden coaster at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana is known for its high amount of airtime -- that sinking feeling you experience in your stomach when plummeting down a hill. Riders can expect about 24 seconds of airtime on The Voyage.
The Griffon at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, is the world’s tallest, floorless dive coaster. Riders experience a 90-degree free-fall from 205 feet, while their limbs dangle in the air.
Top Thrill Dragster
"Race for the Sky" is the tagline for this soaring coaster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Top Thrill Dragster is the second tallest coaster in the world. In a matter of seconds, riders are hurled 420 feet (128 metres) in the air before crashing down to the finish line.
Superman: Escape from Krypton
Superman: Escape from Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California begins by firing riders backward at 160 km/h (100 mph) and straight up a 41-story tower. Riders are then plunged 415 feet (126 metres) back to earth, while hanging face first.
This wooden roller-coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey is ranked first in the world for being the fastest (110 km/h) and longest (4,400 feet / 1,341 metres) wooden coaster. It also features a 176-foot (54 metre) drop and plenty of airtime.