When it comes to roller coasters, speed matters. Roller coaster junkies love their stats, so it’s no wonder the last decade or two has seen an ever-accelerating arms race to build the fastest ride in the world. Who’s on top? Check out some of the contenders.
7. Millennium Force
(Credit: Cedar Point)
Top speed: 93 mph
Millennium Force at Ohio’s Cedar Point amusement park isn’t even the fastest coaster at Cedar Point. But it’s a huge favorite with fans, topping Amusement Today’s prestigious Golden Ticket rankings as the best steel coaster for the last three years running.
6. Steel Dragon 2000
Top speed: 95 mph
Hailing from Nagashima Spa Land in southern Japan, Steel Dragon was the world’s fastest ride at its 2000 debut, a title it’d hold for the next three years -- and with just over 1.5 miles of track, it’s still the world’s longest. Despite a good overall safety record, Steel Dragon made headlines in 2003 when a wheel became detached from a train and struck a man swimming in a nearby water park, breaking his hip.
5 . Tie -- Superman: Escape from Krypton | Tower of Terror II
Top speed: 100 mph
It’s no coincidence that these rides share the fifth spot on the rankings. Despite being separated by thousands of miles -- Escape from Krypton is at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California, while Tower of Terror resides at the Dreamworld park in Queensland, Australia -- they’re built to almost exactly the same simple design. Both accelerate their trains to 100 mph backwards, hoist them about 400 feet into the air up a vertical track, and send them plummeting back to Earth in free-fall. Riders enjoy some 6.5 seconds of thrilling weightlessness across both the up and down portions of the trip.
Top speed: 107 mph
This mammoth coaster is nestled in a theme park in central Japan right next to picturesque Mt. Fuji. Good luck snapping a picture of it from the top of the ride, though, because it’ll be flying past at almost 110 mph. Dodonpa was named after the sounds of a ceremonial Japanese drum, though these days it’s celebrated more for its record acceleration rather than out-and-out speed: it launches at a gutwrenching 4.2 Gs.
3. Top Thrill Dragster
(Credit: Cedar Point)
Top speed: 120 mph
Built in 2003 at Cedar Point on the shores of Lake Erie, Top Thrill Dragster catapults its riders from 0 to 120 mph in less than four seconds, and the whole ride is over just 13 seconds later. Sure, it might be short, but it could well be the most thrilling 17 seconds of your life.
2. Kingda Ka
(Credit: Six Flags Great Adevnture)
Top speed: 128 mph
You’ll find this monstrous coaster among the rides at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. As well as being number two on the fastest coaster list, Kingda Ka is both the tallest and has the longest drop of any ride in the world. Its unusual name comes courtesy of a rare golden tiger that used to live in an enclosure next to the ride. Which is more frightening, coaster or cat, we wonder?
1. Formula Rossa
(Credit: Ferrari World)
Top speed: 149 mph
If that name conjures up mental pictures of speeding Italian race cars, you’re right on the money. Formula Rossa is found at the Ferrari World theme park in Abu Dhabi, where it opened in 2010, and its top speed of nearly 150 mph makes it the fastest roller coaster in the world by a crushing 21 mph margin. Powered by the equivalent of 20,800 horsepower, it’s so fast its intrepid riders must wear protective goggles -- at that speed, even an innocuous bug or stray grain of sand can turn into a sight-destroying missile. It’s intended to recreate the experience of driving a Formula One racecar, but presumably without the accompanying fame and fortune.
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