Every year, theme parks all over the world attempt to grab attention by installing new roller coasters that push the boundaries in terms of height, speed and length.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie looking to experience a complete set of record-breaking coasters, you’ll have to travel all over the world, from the USA to Abu Dhabi. Here’s a round-up of the tallest, fastest, steepest and longest thrill machines on the planet.
5. World’s tallest roller coaster – Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure
Towering an incredible 456 feet above Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is Kingda Ka, a ride which put the park on the map when it opened in 2005. As well as being the world’s tallest coaster, it’s among the fastest, too – you’ll be blasted to a top speed of 128 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds.
Kingda Ka features a relatively simple circuit – you’ll race to the top of the gargantuan tower, before plummeting back down towards the ground and back into the station below. It may be over quickly, but this is not an experience you’ll forget in a hurry.
4. World’s fastest roller coaster – Formula Rossa at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Kingda Ka may be fast, but it’s positively ponderous when compared to Formula Rossa, which debuted in 2010 at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. In just 4 seconds, you’ll go from 0 miles per hour to 149 miles per hour, racing around a desert setting. The ride is so fast that all riders are required to wear protective goggles, just in case some dust flies into their eyes at high speed.
Formula Rossa is designed to recreate the sensation of rocketing around a Formula One circuit, and as such it does not feature the enormous hills of other roller coasters. Brakes will slow you down to a more sensible 70 miles per hour after the first hill, for a more controlled lap of the circuit.
3. World’s longest roller coaster - Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land
Standing at 318 feet tall and hitting a top speed of 95 miles per hour, Steel Dragon 2000 at Japan’s Nagashima Spa Land is no slouch. It is the coaster’s extraordinary length, though, that places it in the record-breaking category. The ride’s circuit runs for an insane 8,133 feet, and at more than $50 million it was the most expensive roller coaster ever built (excluding theming).
The lengthy journey begins with three massive hills, each more than 210 feet tall. After flying around a helix, the train enters an extraordinary final section that includes no fewer than 8 consecutive “bunny hop” hills.
2. Roller coaster with most inversions – The Smiler at Alton Towers
Merlin Entertainments, the operator of Alton Towers in the UK, has a policy that every major new ride must offer something unique. In the case of The Smiler, it settled on breaking the record for the most inversions (upside-down sections) of any roller coaster in the world. Rather than simply one-upping the current record of 10, though, it opted to smash it by including no fewer than 14 loops and twists.
The site on which The Smiler was built, however, is relatively small. This means that the ride includes more track per square foot than any other coaster in the world, and resembles a twisted mess of steel. The theme – based around a mysterious government organisation that wants to turn riders into “smiling advocates” – is an appropriate one. It’s impossible not to grin from ear-to-ear after stepping of this dizzying beast.
1. World’s steepest roller coaster – Takabisha at Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park
When The Smiler’s near-neighbor Oblivion opened at Alton Towers in 1998, it featured the world’s first vertical drop. Many may have believed that this represented the ultimate in terms of steepness, but coaster manufacturers soon began to experiment with beyond-vertical drops. Takabisha is the result of these twisted experiments.
Standing at 141-feet-tall, Takabisha features a mind-bending 121-degree first drop. The fun doesn’t end there, though – the ride also boasts no fewer than seven inversions and a launch section, all crammed into a 3,300-foot circuit.
With theme parks continuing to strive for ever-greater feats of engineering in their new roller coaster designs, expect all of these records to be broken eventually. In the meantime, though, grab your passport and set out on a journey to conquer these unique creations.