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The Top 10 Tallest Roller Coasters in the World

Kingda Ka Image
Six Flags Great Adventure's Kingda Ka towers over every other rollercoaster in the world.

Theme Park Tourist's overview of the world's 10 tallest roller coasters.

There’s no doubt that the most gut-wrenching roller coasters are the ones that take you to dizzying heights. Whether you’re a vertigo sufferer or not, teetering at the top of 300 feet of brittle steel is never a pleasant experience. So why the heck do we ride them? Well - it’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?

10. Eejanaika – Fuji Q Highlands

Eejanaika's impressive first drop. Image © Joel HettingerEejanaika's impressive first drop. Image © Joel Hettinger

Fuji Q has a well-earned reputation for building absolutely ridiculous roller coasters, and Eejanaika, an S&S 4-D coaster, is no exception. After Six Flags Magic Mountain’s debacle with manufacturer Arrow Dynamics over the first 4-D roller coaster, X, and Arrow’s subsequent bankruptcy, it looked like we’d never see another of these bizarre monsters, but luckily S&S and Fuji Q had the guts to give it a try, and what a decision it was. The basic principle of a 4-D roller coaster is that the seats, which hang over each side of the track, can rotate a full 360 degrees about an axis perpendicular to the track. In plain English this means that you spend half of the time upside down, even when the track is upright. This 249 feet monster, which overshadows Magic Mountain’s original by a good 75 feet, plunges down a vertical drop, hits 78 mph and inverts 3 times. (Although you actually turn upside down a total of 14 times due to the train’s rotation) And the name? The literal translation is “ain’t it great.” Nice one.

9. Fujiyama – Fuji Q Highlands

Fujiyama dominates the skyline. Image © GeomrFujiyama dominates the skyline. Image © Geomr

I’m guessing you’ve now heard of Fuji Q Highlands, (which is located in Japan, by the way) and possibly also this particular ride which, at over 6700 feet long, is the 4th longest roller coaster in the world as well. It opened in 1996 as the first in what is a now a quartet of major rides at Fuji Q (Eejanaika being the third) and as the tallest coaster on the planet. What needs to be said about this bad boy has already been said, but nonetheless it packs one heck of a punch and is notorious for being one of the roughest rides around. Despite being the first of said group of coasters, it is still Fuji Q’s largest at 259 feet and staring down the barrel of a wonky Togo first drop gives quite a fright.

8. Thunder Dolphin – LaQua, Tokyo Dome City

Diving through objects is Thunder Dolphin's speciality. Image © Stuart RoseDiving through objects is Thunder Dolphin's speciality. Image © Stuart Rose

Part three of “large and weird Japanese rides” is this monstrous contraption. It sits in central Tokyo, standing at 262 feet tall, wrapping around the nearby skyscrapers, diving through walls and gliding over roofs. Being an Intamin hypercoaster, you would imagine this thing would be packed full of airtime, unfortunately there isn’t enough space for any airtime moments and it spends most of its time turning around. Despite being a little disappointing in most enthusiasts' books, its first drop at 80 degrees is a stunner and the ride is well worth a try if you’re around Tokyo.

7. Intimidator 305 – King’s Dominion

An overview of the phenomenal size of Intimidator. Image © Rik EngelenAn overview of the phenomenal size of Intimidator. Image © Rik Engelen

So now for the big boys. Intimidator 305 takes Thunder Dolphin’s 262 feet and raises it to, yes you guessed it, 305 feet.The ride is the third gigacoaster (coasters between 300 and 399ft) to have opened so far, coming 10 years after the original two, which obviously make an appearance later on in this list. Disappointingly Kings Dominion went for a height which rests just beneath the other two, but of course the coaster is still a mammoth of a ride. Unconventionally, the ride doesn’t have a long out-and-back layout, but rather a very twisted one. This of course means that with such a high speed (92 mph) it produces some rather extreme forces. The 300 feet drop is followed by a banked turn flat to the ground, which has often made riders ‘black out’ briefly. As a result the park has taken many courses of action and this has meant that the ride has become a bit of a nightmare for Kings Dominion. At first a trim brake was installed straight down the drop, cutting off 12mph, but because of such a reduction in ride quality, Intamin were eventually called in to re-profile the turn and first hill. The ride now runs at full speed and many name it as the best roller coaster in the world.

6. Leviathan - Canada's Wonderland

Source: Chris, WikipediaSource: Chris, Wikipedia

The enormous, appropriately-named Leviathan changed the landscape of Canada's Wonderland when it opened in 2012, with the coaster rising over guests' heads as they enter the park. Incredibly, it is the 16th roller coaster at the park, placing it third in the "most coasters at a theme park" charts behind Six Flags Magic Mountain and sister park Cedar Point.

Leviathan is the first coaster manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard to exceed a height of 300 feet (at 306 feet tall), and is an amazing 5,486 feet long. It earns its place in this list with a top speed of 92 miles per hour, making it the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Canada.

5. Millennium Force – Cedar Point

A world class first drop beside Lake Erie. Image © Ashley SulterA world class first drop beside Lake Erie. Image © Ashley Sulter

The original gigacoaster, Millennium Force is the embodiment of power and style. A veritable speed coaster, it whips around 6595 feet of track at speeds of up to 93 mph. And the producer of these speeds is the daunting 310 feet lift hill. The first drop, taken at an angle of 80 degrees, is often credited as being the finest in the world and is undoubtedly the best part of a really, really superb ride. Flying through speed hills and overbanked turns, the ride deserves its reputation as one of the best coasters in the world.

4. Steel Dragon 2000 – Nagashima Spa Land

The world's largest lift hill. Image © Lewis BoeveThe world's largest lift hill. Image © Lewis Boeve

The all-rounder, Steel Dragon 2000 weighs in at 318 feet tall, hits 95 mph and is 8133 feet long. The Dragon is the tallest coaster in the world with a lift hill, everything taller having a launch, and therefore is arguably the most terrifying anywhere. The ridiculous layout starts off as an out-and-back, with three huge plus-200 feet hills, before a twisted helix section, and finally an airtime- filled bunny hill section. In 2003 the ride was put out of action due to an accident involving a wheel flying off and injuring a nearby guest. This led most to believe that the ride would never open again, but fortunately it reopened in 2006 and has since operated smoothly.

=3. Tower of Terror II – Dreamworld

A nerve wracking pinnacle of terror.A nerve wracking pinnacle of terror.

The debate rages on as to whether Tower of Terror is really a roller coaster. I’m in the yes camp, but many are still firmly on the no side. The reason is that Tower of Terror is a shuttle coaster; meaning that the track isn’t a full circuit. Instead, it launches to one end, and then falls back down. In principle is the same as a drop tower; however in my books clearly drop towers and shuttle coasters are very different. Whichever side you’re on, Tower of Terror is one heck of rush. Arguably the most simple ride concept ever, you launch horizontally, travel up a vertical tower, and fall all the way back down in reverse. But the thing is, that launch is at 100 mph and you end up stranded 377 feet up in the sky. Also, Dreamworld has changed things up a bit so you now launch backwards and face the drop head on. With an insane 6 seconds of free fall airtime, the tallest, fastest ride in the Southern hemisphere is not to be taken lightly

=3. Superman: Escape from Krypton – Six Flags Magic Mountain

Superman towers of the 235ft Goliath, to the right. Image © Greg JohnsonSuperman towers of the 235ft Goliath, to the right. Image © Greg Johnson

Simply put, Superman is effectively identical to Tower of Terror. The same model, built by Intamin, they both opened in 1997 and they both reach 100 mph through huge magnetic launches. There are two differences however; the first is that Superman has two tracks, running parallel to one another, and that Superman has an extra 40 feet on the top, making it 415 feet tall. Really it’s cheating, it is physically impossible for the trains to travel any further up the tower than they would on Tower of Terror, however it does make the ride look that bit more impressive and garnered it the title of the world’s tallest roller coaster for 6 years.

2. Top Thrill Dragster – Cedar Point

Top Thrill Dragster's gorgeous drop from 420 feet. Image © Cedar PointTop Thrill Dragster's gorgeous drop from 420 feet. Image © Cedar Point

Top Thrill Dragster opened in 2003 as the tallest, fastest roller coaster in the world and was a true trendsetter. The year before, Cedar Fair, parent company of Cedar Point and many other parks, trialled a brand new launch system, the hydraulic launch from manufacturer Intamin, on Xcelerator at Knott’s Berry Farm. The ride was a resounding success and as a result a record-breaking version was added to Cedar Point in 2003. Dragster launches riders to 120 mph and sends them over a 420 feet ‘top hat’ element. Almost as simple as Superman and Tower of Terror; it sends riders up vertically, over the top of the hill, down vertically and back to the station. The simplicity has been hailed as genius; it gives such an immense buzz there’s just no need for any more track, and as a result it’s been copied numerous times.

1. Kingda Ka – Six Flags Great Adventure

The king of coasters almost touches the clouds. Image © Dainan RaffertyThe king of coasters almost touches the clouds. Image © Dainan Rafferty

So here it is; the ultimate scream machine in terms of altitude, the 456 feet tall and 128 mph coaster from New Jersey. Very similar in design to Top Thrill Dragster, but with an extra airtime hill on the end, many discredit the lack of creativity on Six Flags' part, but I for one credit the sheer audacity to build such a colossal ride in what was then a relatively minor park. Since then Six Flags Great Adventure has become one of the very finest in the world, and Kingda Ka has remained the jewel in the crown.

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