Reader, Merle, suggested that I list my Top 3 Scariest Roller Coasters for Top 3 Thursdays. After riding so many roller coasters, I don’t typically get scared. Even on coasters that I’ve never ridden I generally know what to expect. But, as I thought about it I remembered a few moments that stuck out in my mind as pretty scary or unnerving. As I compiled my list I noticed an unintentional X-Men theme to the ride’s names. I used to be really into comic books and I still make it a point to see pretty much any and every super hero movie even terrible ones. Anyway, here’s my list of the scariest roller coasters that I’ve ridden:
3 – X2 @ Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Insane Death Drop
X2 has to be one of the most intimidating roller coasters around. The 4th dimension roller coaster‘s seating places riders in a very vulnerable position. The seats are placed on either side of the track not above or below it and they spin on their own axis. The scariest moment by far occurs during the first drop. At the top of the lift hill, the backwards facing seats rotate over and send riders plummeting face down a near vertical (88-degree) 215′ drop. The woman who rode next to me said, in all seriousness, that she saw her life flash before her eyes. Read my full X2 review.
2 – Phoenix at Knoebels’ Ridiculous Floater Airtime
Phoenix is a critically acclaimed wooden coaster with some pretty unimpressive stats. The 60 year old coaster looks rather pedestrian, but there’s more than meets the eye. After boarding the Philadelphia Toboggan trains I noticed that the lap bar stopped way above my lap. As I traversed Phoenix’s 3,000 foot course the ride floated me completely out of my seat 8 or 9 times. It was a fun ride that bordered on scary. Riders literally held on for dear life as they popped out of their seats on every hill. The airtime was so extreme that I don’t think I even rode with my hands up. Read my full Phoenix review with a video.
1 – Cyclops at Mount Olympus Theme Park’s Extreme Ejector Air
You have to be 18 or older to ride in the back seat of the Cyclops at Mount Olympus. This must be because of the infamous drop towards the end of the ride. It’s innocent looking enough, but has been known to pack ejector airtime that can launch back seat riders out of their seats. This excerpt from a review on the defunct Theme Park Critic does a great job illustrating the airtime:
The next day, however, when the crowds were heavier, seat No. 10 was back in business, albeit with a hand-lettered sign that said no one under 18 years could ride in it, per Wisconsin law. That seemed a bit suspect, and for the record, no one was checking IDs. The securing of restraints was also basically on the honor system, as the ride ops at most only pulled up on the single position lap bars to see if they were locked, and often even neglected to do that. Like any good ACEr, I dutifully fastened the single seat belt that crossed both seats but only took up as much slack as was necessary to keep the belt buckle from rebounding from my chin to my groin. When my wife asked if I should tighten the belt, I told her not to worry.
Famous last words. Approximately 58 seconds later I was sitting in her lap as the ride sped through its final, signature, swooping dive. Whatever else happened during the brief, fast proceeding was fun, but getting bounced out of my seat, over the seat divider, and nearly ejected from the car is what really sticks in my mind. I am a slim guy, and I tend to ride with my hands up. However, I have gained a new respect for the necessity of the proper use of restraints. With a properly adjusted seat belt, any car on Cyclops is perfectly safe. Skip the seat belt, however, and you risk the epitaph of being the anchor whose death ruined a once great ride. –Timberman on Theme Park Critic)
This review was by no means an exaggeration. I experienced it myself and I was launched higher than the seat divider. I probably would have ended up in the other seat too, but I fastened my seat belt pretty tight. On re-rides I avoided the back seat. I enjoy a thrill as much as the next guy, but the airtime on this hill combined with the age of the ride and Mount Olympus’ poor operations take this scary moment beyond my comfort level.
What’s Your Take?
What’s the scariest roller coaster or moment on a roller coaster that you’ve experienced? Leave a comment below. Images 2 & 3 courtesy of CoasterImage.