a roller coaster in silhouette at sunset

My Top Ten Bucket List Coasters

Okay, this is not going to be as “actually, I’m putting tons of effort into the ‘trash post’, gotcha” as yesterday. This is just me making myself write something today. I’m tired.

During the initial COVID shutdowns of spring 2020, I started getting into roller coasters. This was not great timing. I watched a lot of roller coaster YouTube videos. Recreated my childhood nostalgia coaster in Planet Coaster. Browsed RCDB for the biggest, the fastest, the most unusual and extreme roller coasters in the world. Coasters, as they combine the nerd appeal of trains with the mainstream appeal of trains that do something interesting, are meticulously documented online. If you can name a roller coaster, someone has shot a 4K 60fps POV of it, documented its stats down to fractions of an inch, and written a review of it that includes separate opinions on each individual turn in the track. And I’ve probably read it. I did everything except actually riding them, because it was spring 2020 and every amusement park within 1000 miles was closed until further notice.

So I’ve had a lot of time to think about which roller coasters I would visit if time and money and every other obstacle wasn’t a problem, and here’s my list.

  1. The Smiler at Alton Towers (strobe light warning). Okay, so, yes, it did cut some people’s legs off. But that probably means that it’s extra safe now because the park learned their lesson. Anyway, it’s still open and it still has the record for most inversions on a single roller coaster with a ridiculous 14. (It’s kind of cheating because halfway through it comes to a complete stop and then a second chain lift pulls the train up a second hill. They don’t do 14 inversions with the momentum from a single drop, which would be much cooler.)
  2. Leap The Dips at Lakemont Park. This is the oldest roller coaster still standing. It was built in 1902 and oh god does it look it. This roller coaster is older than airplanes. It goes at like 20mph but it still fulfills the core roller coaster function of “make you think you might die for real.”
  3. Goliath at Six Flags New England. This one definitely won’t happen because they’re demolishing it, but damn, I wish I could just because it’s always taunted me. When I lived right near Magic Mountain, this ride was called Déjà Vu and it was always closed because it was always broken down. And then much later in my life I moved to New England, and the bastards disassembled this horrible roller coaster and moved it to New England. Where it was renamed Goliath, but was still always broken. I’m honestly amazed they got it running long enough to shoot the POV. It doesn’t even look that good, but riding it would have the sweet taste of revenge.
  4. Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Look at this ridiculous thing! It’s like a bowl full of spaghetti! You can’t tell which side of the track is up until you’re on it! And you sit single file with one leg over each side of the rail because it’s so narrow. That sounds absolutely terrifying. I must experience it.
  5. Tatsu at Magic Mountain. Mostly because it opened while I lived nearby, but I never went on it because the line was always six hours long. Instead I went on X2 and got my brains scrambled into jelly. X2 is very impressive as a technical achievement and all, and the old yellow and purple color scheme was great, but oh my god it hurts so bad to ride. Anyway, I wanted to put a flying coaster on my list, because flying around headfirst like Superman seems extremely fun, and Tatsu is supposed to be a real good one. And those views!
  6. Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point. It seems like it’s a coaster nerd consensus that this is the best in the world right now, and these people are so jaded a 100-foot vertical loop doesn’t interrupt their Squarespace sponsor read, so if a coaster makes them feel like it’s something special, it probably will blow my tiny little mind.
  7. Twisted Colossus at Magic Mountain. The coaster boys really lose their shit over RMC coasters and this is probably the second most prestigious. It’s like a big old wooden coaster! But twiiiisted! Which means “you can go upside down and it doesn’t rattle out your loose teeth”! Also you get to ride the green side and the blue side in one run! You get to be on the top and bottom of that scene from Top Gun where the one plane is on top of the other!
  8. The Voyage at Holiday World. This is a roller coaster that’s well over a mile long. It just keeps happening! And it’s a terrain coaster that goes over real-life hills, which I always think is extremely cool because it feels like something you’d do in a dream. Also it’s not cheating to get its world record, it’s over a mile of ride from one lift hill. Kind of wild to think about how all the energy to make the train go that far, that fast, has to be provided by the motor that runs the lift chain.
  9. Nemesis at Alton Towers. It’s 30 years old and it’s only 43 feet tall but it’s a work of art. Constrained by a strict height limit, it weaves in and out of massive trenches in the landscape, evoking the tentacles of an alien being half-embedded in the rock. This isn’t a coaster with a theme, it’s a concept. They wrote a whole little story about it and dressed the construction site up as a mysteeerious excavation. I love that.
  10. Fury 325 at Carowinds. Strictly speaking, it’s not the tallest roller coaster in the world, there are a couple 400-footers, but those use launches to blast you up there so fast you don’t have time to think. Fury 325 has the tallest lift hill in the world. You racha-racha up all 325 feet and you have time to look around and consider how high up you are. That makes it, if not the tallest or longest, the biggest roller coaster that there is.

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