Although my coaster count is quite modest compared with Joel’s, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of the 10 most intense coasters I’ve ridden and explain why I found them unusually forceful. I’ve ridden a number of incredible coasters so this was a challenge involving some tough choices. The top 2 picks were givens and didn’t require any thought but the others had me pondering over my track record and second-guessing myself. Anyway, this is what I came up with.
10. Thunderbolt – Luna Park
Vertical lift hills are invariably intense and although I’ve experienced them on several coasters (Fahrenheit at Hershey, Impulse at Knoebels, The Smiler at Alton Towers) I still find them unnerving. Thunderbolt begins with a vertical lift followed by a 90-degree free fall, vertical loop, zero-g roll, over-banked curve, dive loop and corkscrew. The intensity of the combined elements results largely from the pacing. This is a very quick ride with no downtime and no time to catch one’s breath.
9. Storm Runner – Hersheypark
Storm Runner is a very short ride which nevertheless manages to pack a lot into 50 seconds. With a hydraulic launch followed by a 180-foot drop, cobra loop, heartline roll and flying snake dive, it delivers excitement and high thrills. The fact that the heartline roll and flying snake dive are consecutive makes for a decidedly intense ride.
Read our full review of Storm Runner.
8. Volcano: The Blast Coaster – Kings Dominion
Featuring two LIM launches, a roll out and three – count ‘em! – heartline rolls, Volcano truly is a blast. The highlight of the ride for me was being blasted out of the volcano and finding myself flat on my back (the train is completely inverted at this point) looking up at the sky at an elevation of 155 feet. This is pretty intense stuff.
For more, here’s a review of Volcano.
7. Iron Rattler – Six Flags Fiesta Texas
This terrain coaster begins on a high note by stalling suspensefully before plunging 171 feet at an 81-degree angle. From that point the ride is exquisitely intense because of the four over-banked turns and mind-blowing barrel roll. As if that weren’t enough, it ends with a rapid descent into a pitch black tunnel. This was my 4th RMC (Rocky Mountain Construction) coaster – I got to ride a 5th one over the 4th of July weekend – and that company never fails to deliver a ride experience that’s both intense and unique.
6. Batman:The Ride – Six Flags Great America and Six Flags Great Adventure
While modest in size, this coaster is deceptively powerful. And while the two vertical loops and zero-G roll are nothing exceptional, the two corkscrews at the end of the ride are another story altogether. They’re intense to the point of being dizzying and disorienting. As often as I’ve ridden Batman, I never fail to feel somewhat lightheaded at the end of the ride.
5. Maverick – Cedar Point
This is one wild and crazy ride, with a 95-degree drop, two LSM launches, over-banked curves and a delectable double inversion. The twisted horseshoe roll results in a ride experience of high intensity. In fact throughout the entire ride I had the sensation of not knowing whether I was coming or going.
Read more in this review of Maverick.
4. Cannibal – Lagoon
The beyond vertical 116-degree drop is both awesome and absolutely insane. If I thought that coasters with 90-degree free falls are intense, I now think that they’re a notch or two below this. In addition to the formidable drop, Immelmann and dive loop, Cannibal features the rather unique “Lagoon Roll.” I find heartline rolls to be the most intense inversions on coasters and the two consecutive heartline rolls in slow motion are so extreme as to be both a test of fortitude and a thrill.
3. Fury 325 – Carowinds
The breathtaking 320-foot drop, blistering speed and amazing airtime combine to make this one of the most intense coasters on the planet. I’ve ridden Fury in the front, back and middle of the train and in the front found myself being blown to bits. Airtime in more ways than one.
Read a full review of Fury 325.
2. Skyrush – Hersheypark
What makes this coaster especially intense – apart from the crushing restraints, which tighten on each drop – is the insane angles. The layout of the track is remarkable for the abrupt changes of direction. And the initial 212-foot drop at a right angle packs a whopping 5 G’s. Not to mention the fact that the final hill is a killer.
Read more in this guest review of Skyrush.
1. Intimidator 305 – Kings Dominion
Known for causing greyouts and blackouts, I305 tops the list of the most intense coasters I’ve ridden. The initial 300-foot drop at an 85-degree angle is intense in itself and from that point the ride is relentless. The most intriguing elements are the numerous twists in the track, something which as far as I’m aware are unique to this coaster. These give riders the sensation of being snapped from one point to another. From start to finish the ride is almost indescribably wicked.
Here’s a full review of Intimidator 305.
The level of intensity of any given coaster is obviously quite subjective. What’s intense for me may be entirely different from what’s intense for someone else. And I should point out that my perception of the most intense coasters doesn’t necessarily correlate with my perception of the best coasters in terms of quality. For instance, El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure happens to be my favorite coaster but I wouldn’t describe it as the most intense.
What’s Your Take?
What are the most intense coasters you’ve ridden? Leave a comment below. Intimidator 305 image courtesy of CoasterImage.