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The Top 10 Fastest Roller Coasters in the World

Formula Rossa Image

In the final edition of this Top 10 series, I bring to you the ultimate the scream machines; the fastest roller coasters in the world. These definitive speed monsters range from traditional lift hills to ultra modern launches, but they all have one thing in common: serious velocity.

How many of these high-speed beasts have you experienced?

10. Intimidator 305 – King’s Dominion

The drop that hits 90mph on Intimidator 305. Image © Clint Novak

As with many of the top coasters on this list, great height equals great speed, and therefore Intimidator 305 also appears in the top 10 tallest coasters. The Virginia park’s centrepiece attraction, Intimidator 305 stretches 305 feet into the sky and hits a top speed of 90mph following the 85 degree drop. The ride is an Intamin giga-coaster, constructed in 2010, and as with a few other Intamin rides has had serious problems. It proved to be so intense that many guests complained of headaches and even blackouts, resulting in the park throwing in trim brakes everywhere, cutting the speed to 80mph (which of course means that it wouldn’t be on this list). However, the result was an awful ride, devoid of airtime, and so the trims were removed and instead Intamin re-profiled the first turn, reducing the positive G-forces.

9. Leviathan - Canada's Wonderland

Source: 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 metres, 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.

8. Millennium Force – Cedar Point

Millennium Force drops 300ft to hit 93mph. Image © Jeff Harrington

Intimidator’s ever-so-slightly bigger sister, Millennium Force is the original Intamin giga-coaster, constructed in 2000 (hence the name). This monstrosity has appeared on not only the tallest, but also the longest list. After the ride’s first hill, it doesn’t go above 200 feet again, and as a result maintains its 93mph for most of the ride. Despite such an incredible speed the coaster is actually, ironically, not massively forceful. Nonetheless it still provides an unbelievable rush, and is very much at the forefront of one of the world’s finest parks.

7. Steel Dragon 2000 – Nagashima Spa Land

The bunny hop airtime finale of Steel Dragon. Image © Jeff Rogers

The fastest roller coaster in the world with a lift hill, and the third fastest overall in Asia, Steel Dragon hits a maximum speed of 95mph. It takes three 200 feet-plus hills and a record breaking length of track to burn off all of this energy, culminating in one of the most insane airtime finales around. Unfortunately due to its massive cost of $52 million it’s unlikely we’ll ever see one of these Morgan giga-coasters again.

6. Ring Racer – Nürburgring

Ring Racer has just one element, but it is a stunning one. Image © Nürburgring

Ring Racer, located at Germany’s F1 race track Nürburgring, has had a terrible history: originally slated to open in 2009 as the fastest roller coaster in the world, it suffered a failure with its launch mechanism just before it was officially opened, and subsequently partially exploded. The ride was briefly open, in fact pictures can be found of F1 legend Michael Schumacher riding, however because of extremely strict German safety regulations the ride was then unable to operate for some time, despite S&S declaring it fit to go. 

In the meantime, it was actually overtaken as the fastest roller coaster in the world, and on top of this since opening in October 2013 it has run at "just" 99.4mph. The layout is fairly uninspired - the train is braked down to 60mph after the launch and twists through a banked curve.

=5. Tower of Terror II – Dreamworld

Bottoming out at 100mph. Image © Simon Wills

One of the two original monster launch coasters, Tower of Terror II is the fastest roller coaster in Australia at 100mph. It’s an Intamin LSM coaster, and very simply travels in an L-shape, similar to a skate boarding quarter-pipe. The magnetic launch accelerates the single car, carrying 15 people, to its top speed in 7 seconds, which is actually a comparatively slow acceleration; however because of the sheer speed and the sensation of freefall you get at the top of the tower, it is most definitely a gut wrencher.

=5. Superman: Escape from Krypton – Six Flags Magic Mountain

The cars reaching the very top. Image © Ryan Hajek

Superman: Escape from Krypton is identical to Tower of Terror, apart from the fact that it has two parallel tracks, and it is slightly taller. The speed however remains the same, and therefore the two rides come in at a joint 7th place. In previous years, vicious rumours have circulated that Six Flags Magic Mountain ran Superman at a lower speed in order to save energy (the magnetic launch consumes masses of juice every time it launches), but since its renovation in 2011, the trains seem to travel further up the tower, suggesting it is back to its best.

4. Dodonpa – Fuji Q Highlands

Cresting the top of Dodonpa with serious airtime. Image © Chris Belson

Fuji Q has appeared 3 times across the previous two top 10 lists; however this ride hasn’t yet been mentioned. Dodonpa (the name is meaningless, but supposed to be a three syllable chant) is the second of Fuji Q’s four major roller coasters, constructed in 2001, and is by far the fastest. Dodonpa blasts riders up to 107mph in a mind-melting 1.8 seconds. This makes it the quickest accelerating ride in the world by some margin. Whereas usually a ride with this speed would burn it off by sending you up a great height, Dodonpa doesn’t, instead it banks round a huge curve and then sends you up the relatively tiny 170ft top hat. This means the hill produces almost uncomfortable airtime due to the speed. Because of its location, it’s relatively un-ridden, but this ride is arguably the most ridiculous on the planet.

3. Top Thrill Dragster – Cedar Point

Launched like a rocket. Image © Cedar Point

This is the fifth appearance for Cedar Point across the three lists, and Top Thrill Dragster is still the park's signature ride. A very early Intamin accelerator coaster; Dragster catapults you to 120mph in 4 seconds, and it opened as the fastest coaster on the planet. As one of the first roller coasters to be built just for speed, it has been called a waste of energy: all it does it launch, travel up its 420 feet tower, drop down, and hit the brakes. However, this is simply unfair, it provides a rush like no other, and anything else on the end would be unnecessary.

2. Kingda Ka – Six Flags Great Adventure

Uncannily similiar to Dragster, Kingda Ka is just as good. Image © Dainan Rafferty

Much like Millennium Force's relationship to Intimidator 305, Kingda Ka is Dragster’s slightly larger counterpart. The difference, of course, is that whereas Kings Dominion and Cedar Point are owned by the same chain, Six Flags is very much a competitor to Cedar Fair. For this reason, many accused Six Flags of copying Cedar Point, which is clearly partially the case. In truth, though, it is not the parks who design the rides, but the companies behind them (Intamin and designers Stengel). Whatever your stance, Kingda Ka delivers on the thrill front, and 128mph is not to be messed with.

1. Formula Rossa – Ferrari World

Formula Rossa travels so fast that safety goggles are mandatory. Image © Mathias Scherz

Knocking out its closest rival by the largest margin of any other on the list is Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster. Rossa is the most recent Intamin accelerator, and hits its terminal velocity of 149mph in 4 seconds. Like Dodonpa and Ring Racer it doesn’t have a massive first hill - although it stands at a reasonably sizable 170 feet, it is made to feel small at the speed you’re going. There is a disappointing, but obviously very necessary line of brakes over this hill, and despite them you travel around the rest of the track at a swift 70mph. Formula Rossa is the ultimate example of insane wealth giving total freedom to build anything you want, and as a result I doubt we will see anything overtake it in the near future.

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