On June 16th, 1884, history changed forever. Racking your brain for a famous war or a scientist’s birthday? Think again; it’s even MORE important. Stumped? In Coney Island, Brooklyn, on that fateful day in June… the first roller coaster opened! Invented by LaMarcus Thompson, the “switchback railway” traveled a death-defying six miles per hour and cost only a nickel to ride. Of course technology has advanced a ton since then, so adrenaline junkies and scientists have teamed up to create the craziest, scariest twists and turns ever. Here’s a list of the eight craziest roller coasters around the world – make sure to pack your Depends and eat lunch after you ride. 

1. Kingda Ka – USA

kingda ka roller coasters invention

Kingda Ka holds the title as the fastest and tallest roller coaster in the USA, and I’m at a loss of words for this marvel of modern machinery that lays right in my back yard. It’s simply beautiful, and it literally (speaking from experience) takes your breath away. Do you want to know what it feels like to go from zero to 216 mph in 3 seconds? Just to give you an idea, they warn you to keep your head firmly against the seat before they launch (yes, launch) you. Why? So you don’t get whiplash. If that doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping, I don’t know what will.

2. Formula Rossa – Abu Dhabi

Formula Rossa roller coasters invention

This is the world’s fastest roller coaster. How fast? A cool 240 miles per hour and it reaches its top speed in 4.9 seconds. It’s built by Intamin, the same company behind Kingda Ka, and uses the same hydraulic launching system. How fast is 240 mph you ask? So fast that riders have to wear special safety goggles to protect their eyes from colliding with insect and debris.

3. The Smiler – England

Alton Towers The Smiler roller coasters invention

That sounds like a pansy name right? Wrong; did you even look at the picture? The Smiler holds the world record for most inversions on a steel roller coaster. Fourteen to be exact, three more than any other roller coaster in the world! All included in the price of the ticket is a cobra roll, batwing, divingloops, inverted drops, corkscrew, heartline roll and a sea serpent roll. You won’t know which way is up after this ride!

4. Takabisha – Japan

800px-Takabisha_roller_coasters invention

Forget about a 90 degree drop, how about a 121 degree drop? What makes Takabisha famous is exactly that, the steepest drop angel in the world. If you can manage to hold your tears while they haul you up the hill, then the rest of the ride, including 7 inversions, will be awesome.

5. El Toro – USA

ElToro roller coasters invention

Alright, alright I was trying to make this list as diverse as possible but there’s no ignoring El Toro, which is just a few hundred feet away from our good friend Kingda Ka. In the wooden roller coaster rankings, it has the fastest top speed (70 mph) and the longest drop (176 feet). I don’t know about you, but something about the shoddy appearance of wooden roller coasters and the thought that they can catch fire at any minute terrifies me. If you love screaming your final will and testament at the top of your lungs, this ride is definitely for you.

6. Steel Dragon 2000 – Japan

steeldragon2000 roller coasters invention

While slowly climbing to a staggering 306 feet in the air, for the slowest minute and 15 seconds of your life, you’ll probably be reciting a silent payer and trying not to soil yourself. Steel Dragon 2000 holds the title for the longest roller coaster in the world at a whopping 8,133 feet (just over 1.5 miles). If the first drop isn’t enough, for the rest of the ride you’ll go over hills the size of cliffs. Cliffs you will fall off of.

7. Eejanaika – Japan

eejanaika roller coasters invention

Experience roller coasters… in the 4th dimension! Unlike ho-hum 3D roller coasters, this bad boy allows riders to freely invert and spin in their seats. So, instead of the entire track inverting, just you do. The only other roller coaster like this in at Six Flags in California, but Eejanaika is faster, longer and taller. The track inverts three times and the seats invert a total of 14 times, followed by a dizzy you stumbling to the nearest garbage can.

8. Alpengeist – Germany

Alpengeist roller coasters invention

Sliding in at our last spot is Alpengeist in Germany, the world’s tallest and fastest inverted roller coaster. What exactly is an inverted roller coaster you say? Well, imagine a roller coaster, but instead of you sitting inside a car on top of the track, you’re in a seat hanging under them. It’s terrifying and makes for a completely unique experience, especially with close-to-the-ground twists and zero-G rolls. In German, “Alpengeist” means “ghost of the Alpines” and the ride is themed around a run away ski lift. You might not escape with your life on this wintry coaster!

If your adrenaline is pumping, go buy an around the world ticket and make sure to visit all these crazy coasters! Just make sure to pack everything on your check list (adult diapers, extra underwear and extra pants). What’s your favorite roller coaster and why?

Gabbi Ewing is a rising junior studying Journalism as well as Film & Television at NYU. She is a New Jersey native who enjoys traveling, writing, skiing, and swimming. She hopes to travel the world, but her next adventure is taking her to Sydney, Australia to study with NYU. She aspires to work for National Geographic or Discovery Channel and to use her film, photography and writing skills to help people experience new cultures and places that they don't have the opportunity to travel to themselves.


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