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Our Adrenaline-Pumping Guide to the Best Roller Coasters in the US

by Leap on August 16, 2023   Video

Best Roller Coasters in US - Pinterest ImageCalling all adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers. This post is for you! As park hoppin' frogs, roller coasters give us that rush of excitement and exhilaration. Lucky for us, here in the United States, there's a wide variety of roller coasters that showcase unique versions of heart-pounding drops, loops, twists and turns. From coast to coast, amusement parks across the country deliver unfrogettable coaster experiences that leave riders craving more. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the 10 best roller coasters in the U.S. that every thrill-seeker should add to their bucket list.

Our List of the 10 Best Roller Coasters in the U.S.

From Orlando to Cedar Point, and Tampa Bay to Dollywood, our list of the best roller coasters in the U.S. is sure to give you an adrenaline rush like no other. Let's dive into the nitty-gritty details and discover what makes these coasters a must-try. We're starting backward (like some of our favorite coasters do!) and we'll end our journey with our number-one spot.

Psst! It wouldn't be a froggy post if we didn't mention that Undercover Tourist offers discount theme park tickets so you can get your adrenaline fix and save some green too! Now if you're ready ... stay seated, keep your arm and legs inside the vehicle and let's goooo!

10. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

Kicking off our list is a coaster that blends cutting-edge technology with the Marvel Universe. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind takes riders on an intergalactic adventure as they join Star-Lord and his crew. What sets this coaster apart is its 60 mph reverse launch and unique spinning ride vehicle that rotates 360 degrees, allowing you to face different directions throughout the ride. At 5,577 feet long, it holds the record for the longest indoor roller coaster track. This innovation, combined with the immersive theming and six randomized song selections (our favorite is "September" by Earth Wind & Fire), makes Cosmic Rewind a must-try for both Marvel fans and roller coaster enthusiasts.

Location: EPCOT, Walt Disney World Resort, Florida

9. Mako 

SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival - Mako

Named after one of the ocean's fastest predators, Mako is an award-winning hypercoaster that simulates the sensation of gliding through water. With speeds reaching up to 73 mph and a height of 200 feet, you're going to want to hold on tight. In fact, Mako is Orlando's tallest and fastest coaster.

If you want airtime, this coaster delivers ... in a BIG way. Mako has nine weightless airtime moments. Nine!! The steep drops make it a favorite among coaster aficionados. Not to mention that its ocean-themed surroundings and conservation messages add an educational element to this amazing attraction. Be sure to hop over to our thrill-seeker's guide to the Florida SeaWorld parks.

Location: SeaWorld Orlando, Florida

8. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Combining the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with a thrilling coaster experience, Hagrid's Motorbike Adventure is a one-of-a-kind ride. This family coaster takes riders on a magical journey through the Forbidden Forest on Hagrid's motorbike and sidecar. The coaster's innovative design features unexpected launches, a free-fall drop and even encounters with magical creatures. The attention to detail in the theming and the integration of storytelling make this coaster a must-do for both Harry Potter and coaster enthusiasts alike. Want to know more? Read up on our guide to Universal Orlando Resort.

Location: Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida

7. Lightning Rod 

Best Roller Coasters in US - View of Lightning Rod Roller Coaster in Dollywood

Imagine experiencing an uphill launch, propelling you from zero to 45 mph in the blink of an eye. With a maximum speed of 73 mph, this coaster delivers an invigorating rush. The grand finale is a gripping uphill 180-degree turn to the right, designed to mimic the sensation of drifting in a high-performance car.

Remarkably, Lightning Rod was the pioneer in transforming wooden coaster norms, boasting an innovative launch mechanism instead of the traditional chain hill. This earned it the title of the world's fastest wooden coaster at the time of its launch. A significant refurbishment in 2021 transformed Lightning Rod into a hybrid coaster, blending steel and wood elements.

It's not just thrill-seekers who love Lightning Rod; kids also adore its speedy experience that makes them feel like they're racing in a car. In addition, the trains are cleverly themed after hot rods from the 1950s.

Location: Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

6. El Toro 

Do think you have what it takes to tame the bull? El Toro promises a ride of serious intensity. Your journey begins with an ascension of nearly 19 stories, setting the stage for an adrenaline-charged descent from a staggering 176 feet. At a 76-degree angle, this initial drop claims the title of the steepest of any wooden-style coaster in the nation.

With a track record that speaks volumes, El Toro secured the position of being voted the #1 Wooden Coaster in the World in both the 2011 Internet Coaster Poll and the 2017 Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards.

As you surge through the course at an electrifying speed of 70 miles per hour, you'll be propelled over a series of hills engineered to deliver maximum airtime — a sensation that's just like your tail lifting off the saddle in a fierce bull ride!

Not sure if you're ready to test your limits just yet? We got you covered! Leap over to read our insider tips for how to prepare for your first big roller coaster.

Location: Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey

5. Steel Vengeance 

Cedar Point Rides — Steel Vengeance

Introducing the monumental Steel Vengeance! This groundbreaking coaster made its debut in 2018, redefining the thrill ride experience. As the world's pioneering hyper-hybrid coaster, Steel Vengeance combines wood and steel elements to create a frogtastic journey.

Born from the transformation of the original Mean Streak coaster, Steel Vengeance towers over Frontier Town at an impressive 205 feet. Prepare to be launched to speeds of up to 74 mph, as you navigate inversions, twists and a myriad of heart-pounding features in the 2-minute, 30-second ride. This record-setting wonder claimed the spotlight by setting an astonishing 10 world records upon its grand opening.

It proudly holds the title of the longest hybrid coaster globally, stretching 5,740 feet. With an incredible 30 seconds of airtime, Steel Vengeance boasts the most airtime on any coaster in the world — the ultimate thrill-seeker's dream. Crowned the "Best New Ride" in 2018, coaster fans simply cannot afford to miss out on this one! Need even more excitement? In this post, we've ranked our top 10 Cedar Point attractions.

Location: Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

4. Fury 325

Carowinds - Fury 325 Roller Coaster

Experience the sting of adrenaline on Fury 325, a giga coaster that reigns as North America's tallest, fastest and longest. As riders board one of the three 32-passenger open-air trains, anticipation builds for the monumental ascent to 325 feet, followed by a breathtaking 81-degree drop. Like an enraged hornet chasing its target, the coaster then propels riders into a colossal 190-foot barrel turn and a high-speed S-curve, clocking speeds of up to 95 mph.

Being North America's lengthiest steel coaster, Fury 325 spans over 1.25 miles and treats riders to a journey time of 3.25 minutes. And a fun trivia tidbit — the ride even crosses both the North and South Carolina state lines.

Location: Carowinds, Charlotte, North Carolina

3. VelociCoaster 

"Hold onto your butts!" Jurassic Park meets high-speed thrills on VelociCoaster. This coaster immerses riders in the world of velociraptors with its intense launches, inversions and near-miss encounters. With a top speed of 70 mph and four inversions, including a heartline roll and a barrel roll, Velocicoaster offers non-stop excitement from start to finish. The combination of storytelling, theming and thrilling elements make it a standout coaster in Universal's lineup.

Location: Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida

2. Kingda Ka 

Kingda Ka is the product of brilliant human engineering and sheer audacity. As the world's tallest and second-fastest roller coaster, Kingda Ka is an experience that is truly insane. With its towering 456-foot vertical launch and blistering speeds that reach up to 128 mph in a mere 3.5 seconds, the coaster's sheer magnitude alone is awe-inspiring. The rush of cresting the towering peak and plummeting back down at gravity-defying angles is only for those who crave living on the edge.

Location: Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey

1. Iron Gwazi 

Topping our list is the oh-so-mind-blowing Iron Gwazi ... prepare to be catapulted into a realm of unrivaled exhilaration. This masterpiece of a coaster catapults riders from a staggering 206-foot peak, hurling them into a jaw-dropping 91-degree drop while propelling at top speeds of 76 miles per hour. With a dozen electrifying airtime moments, including three awe-inspiring inversions, this ride experience is completely unhinged!

A creation of Rocky Mountain Construction, this latest addition to Busch Gardens stands as a jaw-dropping example of innovative coaster design. While elements harkening back to the classic wooden coaster, Gwazi, are woven seamlessly into the ride, the experience is elevated by entirely new thrill components and a skillfully reimagined track layout. The result is Iron Gwazi, a coaster that transports riders into a dimension where nostalgia and innovation combine.

Location: Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Florida

So, there you have it — the 10 best roller coasters in the U.S. Which ones are your favorites and which ones are you dying to try? Did we miss any that you think should make this list? Let us know in the comments and be sure to snag your discount theme park tickets from your favorite frogs before you go! 

Related: Not-to-Miss Six Flags Magic Mountain Attractions for Thrill Seekers

Related: Our Roaring Guide to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
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