A rundown of the top 10 drop rides at theme parks all over the world - as rated by Theme Park Tourist readers.
Regular readers of Theme Park Tourist will know that we recently launched the TPT100, a constantly-updated list of the top 100 theme park rides and attractions in the world. The list is based on your ratings of the 3,500+ rides listed in our extensive park guides, so you if you think your favourite ride should be ranked near the top, be sure to review it! The TPT100 also enables us to narrow our focus and look at which rides in a specific category are the most popular. And that's exactly what we'll do in this article, running down the list of the top 10 drop rides in the world, as rated by TPT readers. Disagree? Get rating!By the time you read this, the rankings will probably already have changed...
10. Detonator (Thorpe Park)
Thorpe Park’s obligatory drop tower ride is on a slightly smaller scale to many of its other attractions, standing at "just" 115-feet-tall. Guests are raised to the top of the tower, being held for a short period to enable them to experience views across the park and beyond. Not for long, as they then plummet towards the ground. The ride achieves a top speed of 47 miles per hour, with pneumatics being used to ensure a "faster than freefall" drop. As with all drop towers, Detonator’s real thrill comes from the tension of waiting at the top. While the ride’s limited height means that it doesn't reach the higher echelons of this list, the drop itself still delivers the requisite sense of weightlessness.
9. Mäch Tower (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)
The centerpiece of the bright, redesigned Oktoberfest section of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, this festive, flag-encircled drop tower adds a unique spin to the classic ride and offers unparalleled views of the topographically incredible park. On-board audio, vibration, and a revolving carriage raise the experience above its sister rides across the world.
8. Doctor Doom's Fearfall (Islands of Adventure)
Famed villain of the Fantastic Four Doctor Doom has created his most sinister invention yet - a 200-feet-tall tower device meant to harness guests' "fear." To activate it, guests are launched up the tower at 40 miles per hour, providing unprecedented views of the park. Doctor Doom's Fearfall is actually a pretty standard ride of its type, but its theme and location have seemingly helped it to a place in this top 10.
7. Hurakan Condor (PortAventura)
Opened in 2005, Hurakan Condor was one of a series of new additions to PortAventura following its takeover by Caixabank. The ride is an Intamin Giant Drop, and was the tallest drop tower in Europe when it opened at a staggering 330 feet. Hurakan Conor is themed around an Aztec temple, and you can spot the "roof" right at the top of the tower. Riders are pulled to the top of this, before plummeting back down towards the ground below.
6. Apocalypse (Drayton Manor)
Apocalypse is an Intamin-designed drop tower that stands at 177-feet-tall. Themed around a science experiment, it features five sides, each of which can hold four riders. Three different types of seating are offered – guests can choose to sit down, stand up on a floor, or stand up with no floor. The seats tilt forward 15 degrees at the top of the tower, before plummeting towards the ground below at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. Undoubtedly the best drop tower in the UK, Apocalypse also has a good claim to be considered one of the best rides of its type in the world. The different seating types add hugely to the re-ride value, and it's not just a gimmick – each offers a genuinely different experience. Whichever one you choose, the views from the top are stunning, and the drop is exhilarating.
5. Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom (Six Flags Magic Mountain)Image: Six Flags
Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom is the world’s tallest vertical drop ride, with guests boarding one of two eight-person gondolas situated on either side of Superman: Escape from Krypton'slattice tower. The gondolas hit the top of the tower in 95 seconds, offering stunning views across the park. While they are at the top, guests can ponder the unprecedented, 400-foot, 85 mile per hour, villainous freefall of fate that awaits.
4. Drop Tower: Scream Zone (Kings Island)
Touted as the world's tallest gyro drop (alongside its sister at Kings Dominion), this massive tower ride seats guests in a giant ring that slowly revolves on its way up the tower before rocketing back to earth from over 300 feet high. For whatever reason, the Kings Island version of the ride appears to be rated much more highly by Theme Park Tourist readers, helping it to a lofty place in this list.
3. Tower of Terror (Tokyo DisneySea)
While it offers a ride experience that is simuilar to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios, Paris, Tokyo DisneySea's version dispenses with the Twilight Zone tie-in. The elaborate backstory instead revolves around Harrison Hightower, a famous adventurer who has collected a variety of artefacts inside a New York hotel. After bring back a cursed idol from Africa, he boards an elevator with it - which promptly crashes to ground below. When the doors are opened, Hightower is nowhere to be seen. Guests are taken on a tour of the hotel, with a guide and an effects-laden pre-show filling them in on the background. They then emerge into a storage area, where they are divided into groups and board one of the hotel's elevators. Seated and strapped in, they rise to take in two mid-level effects scenes. The elevator then races to the top of the hotel, offering a quick peek out over the park before plummeting towards the ground below at speeds that are faster than freefall. The elevator then rises and drops again several times, before guests emerge into the post-ride shop.
2. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney California Adventure, Walt Disney Studios)
Identical versions of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are in place at Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios, Paris. Both are housed in a full-scale recreation of a 1930s-era Los Angeles hotel, dubbed the Hollywood Tower Hotel, and place guests into the middle of an episode of The Twilight Zone. After queuing through the hotels grounds and into its lobby, guests are sent into one of four virtually identical “libraries”. There, they watch as the late Twilight Zone presenter Rod Serling (voiced by an impersonator) introduces the ride's plot: a Hollywood couple entered one of the hotel’s elevators during a storm, and disappeared into the Twilight Zone, never to be seen again. Guests emerge into the hotel's basement, where they are divided into groups and board one of its service elevators. Seated and strapped in, they rise to a mid-level, where they see a ghostly representation of the missing hotel guests beckoning them into the Twilight Zone. The elevator then races to the top of the hotel, offering a quick peek out over Walt Disney Studios before plummeting towards the ground below at speeds that are faster than freefall. The elevator then rises and drops again several times, before guests emerge into the post-ride shop.
1. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney's Hollywood Studios)
Yes, it's a clean sweep of the top 3 for Disney's version of the drop tower, perhaps proving that theming wins the day over white-knuckle thrills for many TPT readers. While similar to its clones elsewhere in the world, the original Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios trumps them with an additional dark ride section which sees its elevators leave the lift shaft and wind their way through a floor of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. The Tower of Terror is a masterpiece of theme park attraction design, and arguably one of the best rides of any kind in the world. Everything about the attraction, from the exterior appearance, to the pre-show, to the elevator ride itself is virtually perfect.
Remember, if you think there's a better drop ride out there than The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, head on over to our park guides section and rate it yourself! Brian Krosnick contributed to this article.