The year 2010 marks the 125th anniversary of the roller coaster, which was first patented in 1885. From the first roller coaster— a wooden structure 600 feet long and 50 feet in height called Switchback Railway in Coney Island— this amusement park icon has come a long way. Thrill seekers are now getting ready to experience the ultimate in roller coasters with the soon-to-open Formula Rossa in Abu Dhabi, set to become the world’s fastest roller coaster reaching a peak speed of 149 mph and climbing to 171 feet. To mark the occasion, Cheapflights.com has released its list of the top 10 roller coasters in theworld.
1. Behemoth at Wonderland in Toronto
Built in 2008, this $26 million project turned out to be the fastest and tallest roller coaster in Canada. Starting with an 85-degree descent, and speeding up to 80 mph in 3.9 seconds, this ride has eight drops and double-banked horizontal loops, and is one of the first roller coasters to provide completely unobstructed views for every rider
2. Eejanaika at Fuji-Q Highland in Yamanashi, Japan
Opened in 2006, this “fourth dimension” ride has seats that can rotate 360 degrees forward or backward in a controlled spin. It’s the second of its kind on the planet, (the first lives at Six Flags in the U.S.) but Eejanaika surpasses its predecessor in both height and speed, rising 249 feet in the air, and zooming a quick 78.3 mph.
3. Tower of Terror at Dreamworld in Queensland, Australia
No, this Tower of Terror has nothing to do with Disney World. Shooting straight up into the sky on an L-shaped track, this magnetic induction shuttle coaster runs on linear synchronous motors, which propels it into a free-floating position, and then forces a drop to retrace its route backwards. At 100 mph, it’s one of the fastest roller coasters on the planet.
4. Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land in Nagashima, Japan
Nagashima Spa Land’s Steel Dragon 2000 boasts an impressive speed of 95 mph, but what’s most remarkable is that it gets to that speed by using only a traditional lift hill. It rises 318 feet in the air, and at a length of 8133 feet and a time span of four minutes, this ride is the world’s longest.
5. Furius Baco at PortAventura in Spain
The seats on this puppy are placed on either side of the track, so passengers are totally exposed on three sides, and if you’re the one on the outer edge, you get an extra thrill of being completely out in the open. Rushing in at an average of 84 mph, this hydraulic launch accelerator coaster has enough sizzle to scare you silly.
6. Megafobia at Oakwood Coaster Country in Pembrokeshire, Wales
One of the most respected wooden roller coasters on the planet, Megafobia runs on a twister-style layout, and is often noted as the top wooden roller coaster in the world. Coming in at 100 seconds in time, standing at 85 feet tall, and running at 2,956 feet in length, Megafobia shows passengers that its old-time wooden frame isn’t something to be scoffed at.
7. Nemesis at Alton Towers in England
Nemesis has bragging rights for being Europe’s first inverted roller coaster ever. Dangling riders in its ski-lift-like seats, it loops and twists without mercy. Fun fact: This ride won a world record in 2004 for having 32 passengers ride it without wearing any clothes. (The previous record was 28).
8. Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi
Scheduled to open in October 2010, this is quite literally a ride of the future. It’s anticipated to go from 0-100 mph in less than two seconds, and peak at 149 mph making it potentially the world’s fastest roller coaster – once it opens. It will climb 171 feet, and shoot from indoors to outside the park. Rumor has it that each car will be made to look like a Formula One Ferrari.
9. Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey
While Formula Rossa is still in the making, Kingda Ka is technically the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world. The ride begins with a scary launch that rushes its passengers into 128 mph acceleration up 456 feet in the air. The only thing more terrifying than the ascent is the 90-degree (yes, that’s a straight line down to the ground) plunge.
10. Bizarro (formerly Superman, Ride of Steel) at Six Flags New England in Massachusetts
While this roller coaster is surely neither the tallest nor the fastest of the bunch, it’s gotten attention from all around the world for being the most thrilling and enjoyable from start to finish. Racing at 77 mph and giving as much free-falling “air time” as one human being can handle, Bizarro also happens to offer some of the most picturesque views of the Connecticut River. The real mystery though, lies in its altitude. This ride stands 208 feet tall, but boasts a 221-foot drop. It does so by descending from its highest point down into a foggy, underground tunnel after the first hill.