What’s Your Scariest Roller Coaster Moment?

Coaster Questions

Friends here in Charlotte marvel at the height (325 feet) and steepness (81 degrees) of Fury 325. While it is something to behold, I don’t share their fear of the ride. When you’ve been around the block more than a few times, you’ve seen it all. There’s not much that really scares you. I’m channeling Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China, if you couldn’t tell.

As I’ve told many, the best roller coasters give an out of control feeling and awesome sense of perceived danger. Emphasis on the perceived. Between you and me, there have been a few moments when I was actually scared. Here they are in order of terrifying.

The Vertical Lift on Toboggan at Trimper’s Rides


Riding this compact roller coaster was quite a challenge as a kid. I was far from a thrill seeker and I still remember how scary this ride seemed at the time. After boarding the small golf cart-like cars, you climb up the ride’s vertical lift, which is enclosed in a tunnel. Vertical lift hills shift all of your weight on you. Your mind wonders if it’s possible for the train to fall back down the lift (which it isn’t).

The Drop on X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain

There was just the tiniest bit of big boy fear on that ride. There’s just nothing like that. In the ride’s trains, you’re so exposed with nothing around you. Then you’re tossed over a 200-foot tall cliff head first.
Here’s a bit of my review of X2:

We were reclined back in our seats looking out onto the park as we climbed the lift. At the top, we dropped a little and then we rotated over and flew down the 215′ drop face-down. After that insane experience, X2 rotated us every which way though the train actually only inverted twice. At times your facing the front of the train with the track above the center of the train and at times you’re facing the backwards with the train over the track. While you’re facing backwards, the new fire effect cooks you as you pass by the flames.

The woman next to me looked like she’d just been held at gunpoint. She told me in all seriousness that she had just seen her entire life pass before her eyes on the first drop. She yelled back to a girl (I’m assuming was her daughter) for dragging her on the ride. She swore off X2 as the worst coaster (maybe even experience) of her life.

Unreal Floater Airtime of Phoenix at Knoebels

While X2’s drop was crazy, The Phoenix at Knoebels was packed with the kind of strong, consistent airtime that I had never experienced. To the uninitiated there’s floater airtime where you momentarily float out of your seat and there’s “ejector airtime” where your forcefully lifted out of your seat, hence the name. No one is actually ejected, but it’s a way of describing the intensity.

In most cases I can re-assure myself that what I’m experiencing, thousands (if not millions) have already experienced many times before. It didn’t matter on Phoenix, the airtime was consistent, hill after hill and was amplified by the old-school lap bars that were miles above my lap. On my second ride, the airtime was less shocking as I expected it. Overall, Phoenix is an excellent ride worthy of its legendary status in coaster enthusiast circles. Just be prepared for serious airtime. Read my full review of Phoenix at Knoebels.

What’s Your Take?
Let us know what your scariest roller coaster moment was. Leave a comment below.

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

8 Comments

  1. 1.) Aaaahhhh! Phoenix! Yes, just went to Knoebel’s for the first time last month (that place is sooo interesting/charming, possibly my favorite park overall now) and I have to admit that the crazy airtime really did freak me out a bit (while I was having a blast, of course). The far-away lap bar is definitely part of the fun/scary out-of-control feeling. Loved it!
    2.) While it doesn’t really scare me now, the first few times I rode Griffon at BGW I almost hyperventilated with fear (although I kept going back for more!!)
    It’s the pause hanging at the edge of the vertical drop, looking down – especially sitting on the end where you are suspended over thin air – it’s designed to totally mess with your mind.
    3.) First time on Kingda Ka- I kept thinking it was totally unnatural to be willingly getting on this thing that was going to
    shoot me 400+ feet up in the air at 120+ mph. It was really terrifying. Now it’s a bit scary but mostly just fun & exhilarating.

    4.) Wild Mouse coasters scare the crap out of me – always have, always will. I can’t help but think to myself “you might be the one that actually *does* fly off the
    track!” over and over. Just say no.
    5.) Free falls and drop towers are a total no-go.
    6.) Not a coaster, but the most scared I can recall being on any ride in a good long while was also at Knoebel’s (even more so than Phoenix): the fliers there are insane! I actually got loudly reprimanded by the ride op for going too high, and I was thinking oh no, have I somehow exceeded the intended limits of this thing?!? New high point in my ride
    scare experiences. Totally delightful as well.

    Reply
  2. Whilst not much scares me now, I remember a few rides where I had that ‘perceived fear’.

    – My first ride on Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain in 2005 – the first drop was the tallest I’d done at the time, the climb up the hill seemed to take forever and with the tunnel at the bottom of it – scared the hell out of me!

    – My first ride on Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in 2007. Waiting on the track for the cars in front to go, and then waiting for the Christmas Tree lights to go green….. the anticipation is the scariest part.

    – And the last time we were at Cedar Point in 2013. The first ride we went on was the Wind Seeker. There was a bit of wind coming off the lake and I think just being up so high for so long…… I couldn’t wait to get back on solid ground!

    Reply
  3. My scariest rollercoaster moments:
    Number 1 is still the Wild Mouse in BlackpoolPleasure Beach. Every turn I was thinking that the car would tip over and fall over the track. It will never happen, but it feels like it’s going to happen every turn.
    Number 2 is Tornado in Bakken. After the insane fast lifthill you are thinking this is madness and I going to scream because this is way to scary to be real.
    Nummer 3 is my first time at The Ultimate in LightWaterValley. The second part of the coaster is such extreme, such rough. I wasn’t that of a rollercoaster-fanatic at that time so I was serouisly scared some would happen.

    Reply
  4. Id have to say my scariest moment was when the breaks dropped on kinda ka because at that point I knew I was about to go 128 mph and 400 ft in the air. Wish I would have known I would get get off with one of the worst headaches of my life but oh well.

    Reply
  5. I can’t think of a scariest roller-coaster moment. I can think of a flat ride… Six Flags Over Georgia’s former Looping Starship. I remember riding it at 7 years of age in 1991 (I’ll be 31 later this year)… and the hanging upside down for several seconds. I disliked it, and would never ride it again. The Ride closed in 2005, along with The Great Gasp parachute ride, in anticipation of Goliath opening the following year.

    Reply
  6. Easy, my last ride on Cyclops in 2012, that ride COMPLETELY INSANE in the last car(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ikNma1a5y8), an official TPR video for reference.

    There was insane ejector at 0:36, 0:42, 0:44, 0:48, and of course 0:57. This ride was so intense I had to catch my breath at the end. Not even the helix of Goliath at over Georgia, the second-to-last hill on the Zippin Pippin, or Mindbender’s loops were that intense.

    Cyclops is still my #2 wooden coaster behind Zippin Pippin.

    Sadly a ride like that will never happen as what I predicted when Mistake 360 was announced (Cyclops would get the trains that Hades used, and ruin the ride) happened in 2014. Now Mount Olympus is dead to me after ruining the one redeeming quality of the park.

    Rest in Peace you psychotic monster of awesomeness.

    Reply
  7. Ive just had a few days at PortAventura for the first time, one of the 30+ rides I had on world class B&M hyper coaster Shambhala was truly terrifying… It was at night when the coaster runs faster and the airtime is stronger. Unfortunately I got myself properly stapled into my seat, it was so tight that I couldnt move my thighs at all. Going over the first airtime hill, a combination of the strong airtime and how tight the restraints were made my lap bar click up a notch to the next level. I wasnt in any danger and Ive heard of this happening to other people but it gave me one hell of a fright! Has anything similar happened to any of you on any B&M coasters? I hear it can happen on flyers.

    Reply
  8. My scariest experience was not on a roller coaster, but on a drop tower. On Lex Luthor Drop of Doom at Six Flags Magic Mountain, I was slowly being lifted up to the top. At the top, Superman caused the tower to sway significantly, only making the experience scarier. I was so high, I could see things miles away, and the air was really chilly. The drop itself was not actually that bad, but being at the top of the tower was probably the scariest moment I’ve experienced on a ride.

    Reply

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