The Fastest: Formula Rossa
Ferrari World, the world’s largest in-door amusement park located in Abu Dhabi, is home to the world’s fastest roller coaster. Aptly dubbed Formula Ross, the Formula One-inspired ride utilizes a hydraulic launch system instead of a traditional form of acceleration to launch the coaster across a flat stretch of track. The launch mechanism takes the coaster from a standstill to more than 60 km (100 mph) in just two seconds, quickly outpacing the acceleration times of even the fastest commercially available automobiles. By the end of the 1.4-mile course, the coaster tops 150 mph and exerts a staggering 1.7Gs of force on its riders. Riders are even required to wear a pair of sky diving goggle during the ride, helping to protect them from insects, dust, and other airborne particles that would otherwise prove harmful at such speeds.
The Tallest: Kingda Ka
Before Formula Rossa swooped in and claimed the Fastest Roller coaster title, Kingda Ka was, as its name would imply, the king of both speed and height. However, while it may no longer be the fastest, Kingda Ka is most certainly the tallest. Thanks to its massive 456-foot “Top Hat” tower — a hill in the track with a 90-degree ascent and descent — you can see the roller coaster miles away from its location at Six Flags Grand Adventure park. The ride begins with passengers being thrust along one of two parallel tracks, in which they reach 128 mph in a mere 3.5 seconds. The high speed pushes the coaster up one side of the top hat, where it briefly crests for a moment before dropping straight down the other parallel track.
Furthermore, Kingda Ka’s enormous top hat tower has created an interesting phenomenon knows as “rollbacks.” Once in a while, the coaster will fail to reach its top speed during launch, preventing it from reaching the top of the top hat. If this happens, gravity pulls the coaster back down the hill in reverse. The ride is specifically designed to account for this, and should it occur, riders will get another shot at experiencing the gut-churning drop.
That said, having such a tall stretch of track opens the ride and its riders up to potential aireal hazards. Everything from bird collisions to lightning strikes have forced the Kingda Ka to close operation for a time, though, no major injuries have ever been reported. Six Flags even closes it during light drizzles to prevent any accidents.
It looks like Kingda Ka may be dethroned as world’s tallest roller coaster in the near future, however. Six Flags has recently announced plans to best Kingda Ka at the Dubai Parks and Resorts megapark due to open in late 2016.
The Longest: Steel Dragon 2000
While the previous two roller coasters offer thrills of height and speed, they’re relatively short experiences. That’s where Japan’s Steel Dragon 2000 comes in. The roller coaster currently holds the title for longest in the world, with a whopping 8,133 feet of real estate. The giant coaster opened in 2000 — which, appropriately, happened to be the year of the dragon in Asia — and at the time was heralded as one of the fastest and the tallest full-track coaster in the world, which is different from the height record held by Kingda Ka. While Steel Dragon 2000 may have lost one of its two records, it’s still nothing to balk at given it remains the second-tallest full-course coaster in the world and the sixth fastest in the world.Taking up a large section of Nagashima Spa Land, Steel Dragon 2000 features a 30-story rop, tunnels, figure-eights, massive camel backs, and numerous iconic roller coaster elements that make it a complete experience for coaster enthusiasts. It’s also one hell of a four-minute adrenaline rush.
The Steepest: Takabisha
One of the most exciting parts of a roller coaster are the steep drops. That feeling you get when your stomach seems to delightfully slam into your spine and your body releases of a heavy dose adrenaline is hard to beat, and the steeper the incline, the better. The World’s steepest incline is a part of the Takabisha roller coaster in Japan’s Fuji-Q Highland amusement park. The drop is angled at 121 degrees and serves as the climactic centerpiece for the entire ride. This style of coaster, known as a Gerstlaur Euro-Fighter, is famous for combining vertical lifts with steep drops.
Thanks to its incline, Takabisha claimed the world record for Steepest Rollercoaster Made From Steel when it officially opened in July, 2011. It maintains that title today.
The Tallest Loop: Full Throttle
Steep inclines aren’t the only engineering feat to a unique roller coaster. Another record-holding coaster, known simply as Full Throttle, sits at Six Flags Magic Mountain park in Valencia, Calif. The steel launch-style roller coaster holds the record for tallest vertical loop, which stands at 160-feet tall and has been an iconic part of the park’s skyline since the ride opened in 2013. Not surprisingly, yet another Six Flags coaster — aka Superman: Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas — was the previous record holder, and endures as the coaster with the second-tallest loop of any roller coaster in the world.
The Most Inversion: The Smiler
While Full Throttle’s enormous inversion may be impressive, sometimes quantity trumps quality when it comes to roller coaster loops, flips, and corkscrews. That’s likely what the folks behind the Smiler had in mind. The Smiler holds the record for the largest number of included inversions — 14, to be exact. Such a large quantity of inversions requires a complex structure to support the ride. However, such an involved structure is also prone to the occasional error and malfunction, which is probably why the Smiler has had an alarming number of mishaps.
A series of malfunctions plagued roller coaster during its first few months of operation, which included stalled trains and falling debris that struck riders. Said problems resulted in numerous short-term closures in its first six months. After operating smoothly through 2014, a serious accidents again occurred during the latter half of 2015, thus closing the ride. Due to an error on behalf of a ride operator, a car carrying passengers struck an empty stalled car on the track, resulting in severe injuries to 11 riders and two leg amputations. Because of this, the Smiler remains closed for the remainder of 2015 with plans to re-open uncertain.
The Best: Millennium Force
The previous entries on this list have covered the tallest, fastest, steepest, and most innovative coasters in the world, but none of those titles matter if your ride isn’t an exhilerating experince. While the other rollercoasters featured here are well-regarded as some of the best in the world, none of them are the best. That honor belongs to Cedar Point’s Millennium Force, which has been the highest-rated roller coaster since its debut and has received Amusement Today’s coveted Golden Ticket award a total of nine times. Time magazine also named it the best roller coaster in the United States in 2013, and moreover, the Travel Channel recognized it as a fan favorite during its series, Insane Coaster Wars.
Standing tall on the Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie, Millennium Force was the first “giga” roller coaster, a classification that means the coaster features a 300-foot drop. Millennium Force was the tallest and fastest roller coaster for a short time after opening, too, but was ultimately beat with the opening of Steel Dragon 2000. Regardless, it still manages to be the third longest roller coaster in the world and in the top 10 for numerous other global statistics such as tallest lift, fastest speed, and longest drop.