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Which Theme Park has the Most Roller Coasters?Submitted by Brian Krosnick on Monday, April 9, 2012 09:37
In the old days, the term amusement park was synonymous with flashing incandescent light bulbs over scramblers, elegant carousels with trumpeting band organs, and fun houses full of gags and illusions. You’ll still find that commitment to intimacy in parks across the globe, but the push for thrill has changed the industry and erected palatial parks dedicated to those who seek speed.
Roller coasters are the new definition of amusement parks, and you’d be hard pressed to find a park without one. Whether it’s the classic click-clack of timeless wooden railways or the technologically-oriented, multi-million dollar concoctions of the last few decades, we’ve selected the top five parks that stand as a testament to the power of roller coasters, and to the variety of experiences they provide.
5. Kings Island (13)
Kings Island’s ride lineup is both historic, legendary, and impressively intimidating. During the park’s early years in the 1970s, the then-record-breaking Racer was born (and subsequently recognized as the start of the Second Golden Age of Roller Coasters). During the park’s tenure under Paramount Pictures, theme became the name of the game, with a suspended Top Gun roller coaster set atop an aircraft carrier, Flight of Fear set within the darkened reaches of outer space, and Backlot Stunt Coaster themed to the special-effects frenzy finale of The Italian Job. With Cedar Fair now at the helm, the massive Diamondback graces the skyline with its incomparably smooth airtime hills.
Don’t miss: Secluded in the wooded hillsides of Ohio, The Beast is entering its 34th season and still holds the record for being the longest wooden roller coaster in the world. Diving below the tree line, curving against the ground, and barreling through tunnel after tunnel, the Beast can’t be missed. And look for the only “sequel” to a roller coaster ever – the massive Son of Beast – in the back corner of the park. The tallest, fastest, and only looping wooden roller coaster on Earth has been in hibernation since 2009, awaiting demolition or an undoubtledly massive overhaul to its shuddering, overwhelming layout.
4. Kings Dominion (14)
Kings Island’s younger sister, this park is stamped into the dense forests of Virginia, where trees tower high above coasters. But beyond their nearly identical Eiffel Tower icons, Backlot Stunt Coasters, and Flights of Fear, the two parks couldn’t be more different. With completely unique themed areas and a renewed emphasis on thrill under Cedar Fair, this park trumpets the brand new Intimidator 305 (only the second of Intamin’s giga-coaster lineup, with Millennium Force being the first) with its 300-foot drop that was designed as a hybrid between Millennium Force’s sailing hills and Maverick’s ground-hugging turns. You’ll also find a butter-smooth B&M floorless coaster imported from Ohio’s shuttered Geauga Lake and a few classic wooden coasters hiding in the woods.
Don’t miss: Aside from all the fervor around Intimidator 305, the ride to get to here is Volcano: The Blast Coaster. Located within a dramatic volcano structure, this inverted coaster accelerates to 70 miles per hour and whips riders up vertically out of the volcano’s mouth where they immediately invert 155 feet above the ground. It’s over as quickly as it's begun, and past the launch it’s more of a coast than a blazing thrill machine, but it’s one of the most unique and breathtaking coasters you’re likely to find anywhere. Plus, three heartline rolls produce unparalleled sensations in daring riders.
=2. Canada’s Wonderland (16)
Who would’ve expected another Cedar Fair park to make the list? Canada’s Wonderland (the largest theme park in Canada, and the most well-attended seasonal park in Cedar Fair’s chain) boasts 16 roller coasters if you include this year’s Leviathan (which, like the other Cedar Fair parks named, has ratcheted up the ante with another 300-foot statistic). The rest of the coasters at Canada’s Wonderland are fairly standard, off-the-shelf fare, but the rides that do stand out do so marvelously, and for the citizens of the True North who would be otherwise deprived, it’s not a bad deal at all.
Don’t miss: Ancient myths tell of a gigantic beast of the earth whose steps shook the ground: Behemoth. Of course, Behemoth has come alive at Canada’s Wonderland as a B&M hyper coaster that sails over airtime hills and through hammerhead turns alongside the park’s tranquil lake. This B&M coaster really helped put the park back on the map (Paramount’s additions – a horrid Zamperla flying coaster and standard Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster – never did inspire such confidence). 2012’s addition is the mythological sibling, the water-dwelling Leviathan, who will outrank his younger brother by a cool 100 feet.
=2. Cedar Point (16)
What Cedar Point loses in variety it more than makes up for with publicity, fame, and records. The much-toted Roller Coaster Wars of the late 1990s and early 2000s are over, but Cedar Point still has four massive coasters as a testament to the era. And as the first park to break the 100 foot, 200 foot, 300 foot, and 400 foot records with Gemini, Magnum XL-200, Millennium Force, and Top Thrill Dragster respectively, a day at Cedar Point is a coaster lover’s utopia.
Even beyond the “big name” rides, Cedar Point’s Raptor is still a fantastic testament to the force of B&M’s Inverted coaster line, and tallest-of-their-kind rides like Wicked Twister still make for a one-two punch of thrill. In recent years, the park has also worked to expand its family offerings, adding unique, massive flat rides and pronounced kids’ areas for a well-rounded experience, and with Disneyland’s former CEO at the helm of Cedar Fair, we expect that trend to continue.
Don’t miss: Maverick, the park’s most recent (2007) coaster addition was lamented at its original announcement for foregoing the height and speed of the park’s then-recent record-breaking additions in favor of a “measly” 100 foot drop. The ride’s surprise, though, is in its low-to-the-ground maneuvering through faux canyons set against Ohio’s Lake Erie. Plus, the ninety-five degree drop, rugged slaloming and surprise mid-course launch tunnel earned it a seat of respect among the park’s greatest, with many rating it better than the park’s famed Millennium Force when push comes to shove.
1. Six Flags Magic Mountain (17)
Six Flags Magic Mountain – a longtime flagship of the huge park operator – has filled its impressively large collection with a “one of each” type strategy, often opting for cutting-edge technology and supersized versions of classics. Apocalypse: The Ride is a brand-new GCI wooden coaster; Batman: The Ride is a clone of the famous Illinois inverter; Green Lantern: First Flight brought Intamin’s odd ZacSpin technology to America; Superman: Escape from Krypton retro-fitted Intamin’s LSM launch, 400-foot tower ride with backwards-facing cars; Tatsu is heralded as one of the finest examples of B&M’s flying coaster; even the park’s Ninja is one of the few remaining Arrow suspended coasters on Earth.
Don’t miss: It’s Magic Mountain’s X that redefined the possibilities of the roller coaster, with it’s winged, “4th dimension” style train using an inner guide rail to dictate inversions of the free-swinging seats even along straight track. The endeavor bankrupted the Arrow Dynamics company, but the end result was a truly incredible ride. In 2008, the ride reopened as X2, sporting a new paint scheme, on-ride audio, and flame effects that again pushed the boundaries of theme park variety.
Ohio is the unopposed coaster state, with Cedar Point (16) and Kings Island (13) earning high marks. Even the state's recenty-defunct Geauga Lake had 11 when it was open - a tremendous amount compared to the "norm" of similarly-sized parks. Even though California and Florida are traditionally theme park states, it's theme over thrill that limits the real coaster counts to Knott's Berry Farm and the two Six Flags parks in the West. While parks in the UK are gaining momentum, they don't have the competitive philosophy (or competitive owners) of America's parks.
Still, roller coasters alone don’t make the park. Cedar Point’s sixteen roller coasters may be an impressive statistic, but one mega-sized ride after the next doesn’t necessarily translate well into a day plan, much less a family plan. Parks like Busch Gardens Williamsburg emphasize quality over quantity, offering four adult roller coasters that consistently place higher in annual ranks than any of Kings Island’s fourteen. And would any of us refuse Disneyland as a great park since it has "only" two adult roller coasters?
Despite announcements of new kiddie coasters eliciting venom spewing between Cedar Point and Six Flags Magic Mountain fans as “low down, dirty tactics to take the crown,” the so-called “Coaster Wars” have ended. We can’t help but be grateful for that era of the industry and the multi-million dollar installations they provided, but there’s nothing wrong with high quality food, entertainment, family offerings, dark rides, and quality theming making a comeback! For now, we can at least bask in the offerings of these mega-parks and be thankful for the experience.