Six Flags Great Adventure

Image: Six FlagsWith 14 roller coasters, the pride of Jackson, New Jersey, won't win the quantity battle. Regarding quality, however, it's top two in the world in my opinion, trailing only the top entry on this list. Six Flags Great Adventure features three different roller coasters, any of which would anchor virtually any theme park in the world.

In 2001, the park opened Nitro, their revolutionary hypercoaster that quickly gained acclaim at the Golden Ticket Awards. For more than a decade, this coaster never ranked lower than fifth in the world. It has a wooden coaster sibling that’s equally good, too. El Toro zooms down the track at 70 MPH and includes a 76-degree drop at one point, both of which are near-records for a wooden ride. It was still winning Best Wooden Roller Coaster awards as recently as 2017.

The park’s pride and joy, however, is unquestionably Kingda Ka. This steel accelerator roller coaster is the fastest roller coaster in North America. It tops out at a (literally) hair-raising 128 MPH and somehow has a max drop angle of 90 degrees. Yes, that’s a full right turn at nearly twice the speed limit. Adrenaline junkies should be licking their lips at the thought of what that feels like. Suffice to say that Six Flags Great Adventure is aptly named.

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Image: Six FlagsIn terms of quantity, nothing beats Six Flags Magic Mountain. It is factually the roller coaster capital of the world if sheer volume matters to you. When you visit this park in Santa Clarita, California, you’ll have your choice of an almost incomprehensible 19 roller coasters. Anyone who suffers analysis paralysis will freeze up at the thought of picking where to go first/next.

At Six Flags Magic Mountain, three coasters lord over the rest. Tatsu is a flying roller coaster that simulates the experience of flight so effectively that you'll resent having to walk afterward. Superman: Escape from Krypton is the third fastest coaster in the United States…and it goes backward. Then, there's X2, the most visually intimidating roller coaster ever built. 

While all of them are great, I can't call this race for Six Flags Magic Mountain because I feel like I've mentioned at least six superior roller coasters previously. The upper tier rides here are undeniably great, but they're best in class the way that, say, Kingda Ka or Intimidator 305 is. Six Flags Magic Mountain needs that one unique roller coaster to put it over the top. Until then, the roller coaster capital of the world remains…

Cedar Point

Image: Cedar FairAnyone who knows me was well aware of what was going to win this title. My annual pilgrimages to Cedar Point have tapered off a bit as I’ve gotten older. My body resents me a bit more after I take a spin on Top Thrill Dragster, something I lament greatly. I still think of that ride, the predecessor to Kingda Ka, as the most original thing I’ve ever ridden. Similarly, I struggle to define Valravn, a dive coaster that seemingly stretches out forever.

Cedar Point’s aging classics are equally remarkable. Gemini was the first racing coaster I ever rode, and I loved that surprise element about which side of the track would emerge victorious. Then, I discovered Magnum XL-200, which was for a time the ultimate in theme park coaster technology. As has been the case so many times over the years, only Cedar Fair could surpass Cedar Fair, which they did when they unveiled Millennium Force.

Every theme park tourist has a favorite ride, one that defines their love of the park experience. To me, that roller coaster is now and likely forever will be Millennium Force. My wife and I rode it when we were first dating, and its excellence is precisely why Cedar Point became our annual pilgrimage. To this day, it remains the apex predator of roller coasters. This belief is validated by its NEVER finishing lower than second in Golden Ticket voting for Best Steel Roller Coaster. That’s 19 straight years where, at most, one other coaster was on a par with Millennium Force.

Cedar Point has 18 roller coasters, the second largest total in the world. Even if it had half a dozen less, the one/two/three punch of Millennium Force, Magnum XL-200, and Top Thrill Dragster would be enough to put it over the top. Yes, I’m devout in the opinion that Cedar Point is the roller coaster capital of the world.

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