Welcome back to another “Ranked” article here on Laughing Place. This is a big one! I’m going to rank my Top 15 roller coasters I’ve ever ridden, at the relatively large number of theme parks I’ve visited. Without any ado, let’s get right to it!
15. Full Throttle – Six Flags Magic Mountain
An unexpected favorite for me. I was not at all expecting to like Full Throttle as much as I do. When it opened, it featured the largest loop in the world, and is still the only coaster to travel on both sides of the same loop. Full Throttle starts with an intense launch, which leads into the giant loop, providing some of the best hang-time on any coaster. Following that you have a backwards and then forwards launch to bring you back over the loop, where the ride ends with an incredible pop of air-time. My only complaint is that the ride is a little short, but with how incredible every single element is, I’ll forgive it!
14. RailBlazer – California’s Great America
The newest coaster at California’s Great America is RailBlazer, one of the two first Raptor coasters from fan-favorite manufacturer Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC). The Raptor model is designed to be able to fit into a small location and be affordable for smaller parks. But don’t let that fool you, for with the single rail design of the coaster, it’s one of the most fun and intense rides out there. Sit in the front for an incredible view of not only what lies ahead, but also the rest of the park. Sitting in the back, however, will give you some incredible airtime and forces from the many elements packed into this small coaster. Yes, it is a little short, but this is one ride where quality absolutely trumps quantity.
13. Tatsu – Six Flags Magic Mountain
We go back to Six Flags Magic Mountain for Tatsu, an absolutely immense flying coaster. I had previously rode a similar ride, Manta at SeaWorld Orlando, which is supposed to be a slightly less intense version of Tatsu. One particular part of the ride had me nervous: the pretzel loop. Undoubtedly the most intense part of the ride, named after a pretzel because it looks like one. This inversion thrusts you onto your back and is one of the most intense feelings on any coaster. If the intention truly is to make you feel like you’re flying, then this ride really does the job. You are so high off the ground, yet the swooping, but smooth maneuvers of the rest of the ride really feel great.
12. Mystery Mine – Dollywood
During my first trip to Dollywood in October 2020, my now top coaster in the park was actually closed for refurbishment, so Mystery Mine was my favorite coaster after my first trip. I will admit that the ride is a little rough, mostly due to the bulky over-the-shoulder restraints. However, the theming on this ride is absolutely incredible. I don’t want to give too much away, as it will really spoil the true surprises located within. The first half of the ride is pretty fun, but beginning with the second lift hill, that’s where this ride truly gets incredible. If you can avoid the slight head-banging, then Mystery Mine is honestly one of the best coasters out there.
11. Gold Striker – California’s Great America
While I love RailBlazer to pieces, Gold Striker has to be my favorite coaster at California’s Great America. But only just. This modern wooden coaster opened in 2013 and completely transformed the front of the park. This ride is absolutely non-stop from the moment you disengage from the lift hill. You do not get a single second to catch your breath. The lateral forces and airtime are incredible, and I spent the whole ride wondering if things were going to fall out of my pocket. It’s that crazy! The interaction the ride has with itself and also the Star Tower in the middle of the layout is really fun to watch, not to mention ride.
10. GhostRider – Knott’s Berry Farm
The last big attraction built by the Knott’s family before they sold the park to Cedar Fair was a great one to go out on. GhostRider is my personal favorite wooden coaster and it really is a beast. Cleverly built in and around the Marketplace and parking lot, this old west themed coaster takes guests through a layout that is filled with drops, air-time and lateral forces. The coaster was completely re-tracked in 2015, also receiving brand new trains that make this one of the smoothest and most comfortable wooden coasters out there.
9. Silver Bullet – Knott’s Berry Farm
Objectively, there are better roller coasters at Knott’s, but Silver Bullet has always been the one I’ve found to be the most fun. The inversions, high speed helixes and other elements of this inverted roller coaster are taken smoothly and gracefully, yet with that classic Bolliger & Mabillard (the ride’s manufacturer) force. Silver Bullet does feature an atypically shallow drop for this type of ride, but that is purely due to the space they had to fit the ride in. I never fail to get off this ride without a big goofy smile on my face!
8. Kumba – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Probably the first large scale looping coaster in the state of Florida was the almost 30 year old Kumbaa. An absolute old-school Bolliger and Mabillard (B&M) coaster that still packs an impressive punch to this day. I would say that Kumbaa is probably the most intense coaster in the park (although I have yet to ride Iron Gwazi), as the force of the inversions and helixes is felt in your feet every time. It’s a really picturesque coaster too, as you can see in the photo above. Kumbaa is the African word for roar, and that is definitely on display here, as you can hear the loud and impressive roar of the coaster even from far away.
7. Montu – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
My favorite of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s three B&M coasters is Montu, their inverted model. Out of the quite a few installations of this type of ride that I’ve been on, I’d have to say Montu is my favorite. With a lot of the drops and inversions built into Egyptian themed trenches, it provides for a really good, low to the ground thrill. On that note, a lot of the inversions are really whippy, especially if you’re in the back. So you really get pulled into them. Montu is another older coaster that still holds up exceptionally well.
6. The Incredible Hulk Coaster – Islands of Adventure
The Incredible Hulk Coaster is one of the best full package coasters out there. First up, there’s a good build-up to the attraction with a decently themed queue. The ride itself is a smooth, but intense coaster built by the great Bolliger and Mallibard and features an absolutely incredible score by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. That music always gets me so pumped and excited for the ride, and makes me want to hop right back in line.
5. Jurassic World VelociCoaster – Islands of Adventure
The newest attraction at Islands of Adventure is also one of its best. The Jurassic World VelociCoaster is a visually stunning and intense ride experience, definitely not for the faint of heart. The open designed restraints really help you feel like you're flying, with many exciting pops of airtime along the way. The launches are absolutely exhilarating. And let’s not forget about the queue, which features lots of fun details and even two animatronic Veliciraptors. Universal really hit it out of the park with this one, and there’s only one ride in the park that’s better.
4. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – Islands of Adventure
In anticipation of Jurassic World VelociCoaster opening, I quite often wondered to myself which I would like more, that or Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Safe to say, as much as I love the VelociCoaster, Hagrid’s is the better overall package. Sure, VelociCoaster is definitely more thrilling, but Hagrid’s has enough thrills to make it a true family attraction. Add on to that 7, count that: 7 launches, quite a few animatronics and show scenes, and the deceptive scene in Devil’s Snare, and you’ve got yourself a world class attraction.
3. Cheetah Hunt – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Cheetah Hunt is just pure fun and adrenaline, and while not the most intense ride in the park, it’s the one that never fails to put a smile on my face. The ride features three different launches and a meandering layout that goes over the park’s Skyway, zig-zagging through waterfalls and alongside the Serengeti Plains. It’s a long ride that is immensely satisfying. There’s also something about the sound of the launches, which almost sounds like a Cheetah’s roar. Cheetah Hunt is the most fun and my personal favorite coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
2. Mako – SeaWorld Orlando
Mako is not only my favorite coaster and ride at SeaWorld Orlando, but it's also one of my favorite coasters, period. This hypercoaster (or coaster over 200 feet tall) is just pure fun. The anticipation is really built by an excellent queue soundtrack that gets more epic as you get to the station and even while going up the lift hill. Once the car disengages from the lift, that’s where the real fun begins, as you plummet down a 200ft drop, and into a series of airtime hills that really do provide that floating air sensation. Unless you’re terrified of the ride, you’re bound to come off with a big smile on your face.
1. Lightning Rod – Dollywood
Lightning Rod is without a doubt the most intense, fun and all around best coaster I’ve ever been on. This ride is non-stop from the incredible, unique launch, into the giant sprawling layout set behind a mountainside, completely hidden from view within the park. I have never come out of my seat (in a good way) as many times as I have on Lightning Rod. Specifically the “quad-down” at the end of the ride, leading into the finale is an incredible blast of non-stop airtime. Simply put, Lightning Rod is incredible fun. I rode this ride probably 6 or 7 times during my second trip to Dollywood, and every time I came off with a dorky smile on my face.
I hope you all enjoyed this ranking of my Top 15 roller coasters. If you want to see some more theme park rankings, feel free to check out some of my other “Ranked” articles listed below:
- The Attractions of Universal Studios Hollywood
- The Attractions of EPCOT
- The Top 10 Attractions at Knott’s Berry Farm
- The Top 8 Extinct Attractions at Knott’s Berry Farm
- The Top 15 Attractions at Disney California Adventure
- The Top 10 Extinct Attractions at Disney California Adventure
- The Top 10 Extinct Attractions at Universal Orlando
- The Top 8 Extinct Attractions at EPCOT
- The Top 8 Theme Park Area Music Loops