Our lives are full of fear. Fear that our kids are going to grow up to resent us. Fear that we’re going to be fired, or not get a promotion. Fear that our spouse is cheating on us. Fear that the bagel shop is going to run out of the jalapeno cheese yet again, right before we get there. Fear is what makes life hard, but it can also make life amazing; if you experience it in small doses. Say, on a frightening roller coaster.
The key to conquering fear is not to hide it away in a dark corner, where it’s just going to grow stronger. We must learn that fear is a part of life, a great motivator, and a facet of existence we’re never going to escape. That’s why we should jump right into fear, scare the hell out of ourselves, and get it over with. When you’re ready to do that, we’ve found the 16 most terrifying roller coasters to work out all your panic.
The Gravity Max
Location: Lihpao Land Discovery World, Taiwan
When you want to really get your heart racing, nothing does it quite like a broken track. The Gravity Max hits a point where it simply ends, dumping you down like a rag doll for 34 glorious stories, after it flips you upside down.
Location: Carowinds, North/South Carolina
The fastest giga coaster anywhere in the world, the Fury 325 will whip you the hell back and forth across the line between Carolinas at a shrieking 95 mph. It rises higher into the air than the Statue of Liberty and has an 81-degree drop that will put your stomach a foot over your head.
Location: Fuji-Q Highland Amusement, Japan
The highest this goes is a scant 141 feet, but then it winds you through a decline that weaves inward, giving you a moment where you feel like you’re going to crash into both the wall and the floor.
Location: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Florida
A groundless coaster that dangles your tiny tootsies more than 200 feet in the air, leaving you to enjoy the view before the inevitable plummet. Then it whips you around and around on the spin cycle, turning your mind and guts to mush before doing it all over again.
Location: Nagashima Spa Land, Japan
When you find yourself tucked into one of the fiberglass shells that feels a little too much like a bullet for comfort, only then will you get the full sense of what you signed up for. There’s a nasty 84 degree drop that is enough to get your juices flowing, but the real story is in the tight twirls you’ll endure along the straightaways. Schedule this before the funnel cake and corn dogs.
Location: Six Flags Magic Mountain, California
Full Throttle doesn’t waste a second, kicking you out of the chute at 66 miles-per-hour. From there it goes along the biggest vertical loop on the planet, inverting you as you swing helplessly 160 feet in the air. Gravity will force your eyes open, searing the reversed world into your brain.
Location: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Indiana
The vertical loop on the Thunderbird doesn’t even go over the 150-foot mark, but that’s the largest for any wing coaster anywhere. Instead of keeping your arms and legs safely inside the vehicle at all times, The Thunderbird lets it all hang out. One of the first wing rides in the United States, the lack of a place to plant your feet makes the upside-down spin many times more horrifying.
Location: Universal Orlando Resort, Florida
Aggressive from the word Go, the Hulk starts off at 40 mph, which doesn’t give you time to prepare for the starting drop, because it doesn’t fiddle around with any chain lifts. Once you’re good and dazed from going from 0 to Plunging, it jerks you backwards, forwards, over and around until you’re begging for The Lullabye to knock out the rage. Hulk will indeed smash you into quivering goo.
Location: Holiday Park, Germany
It isn’t especially tall. It isn’t especially long. It even looks gentle and curving, like a streamer caught in a summer breeze. It isn’t until you hop aboard that you start to see how many 360-degree loops you’re really going to endure at unexpected times. You’ll be blindsided so many times, the Sky Scream will leave you a little on edge for hours afterward.
Location: Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey
456 feet makes Kingda Ka the tallest roller coaster in the world. It’s daunting to look at from the ground, and far worse when you hit that long sideways slope that’s going to leave you breathless (and probably a little damp) when it allows gravity to take its wicked due. Far from a one-trick pony, Ka has slopes and slithers that put your pacemaker to the test.
Location: Lagoon Park, Utah
The story here isn’t the 208 feet you’ll be raised up before being sent down a 116 concave drop. It’s the underground tunnel that goes 20 feet into the Earth that really puts the Cannibal above – or below – the rest. Even knowing you’re going to survive, as you plunge toward the underwordly darkness, a little prayer will slide through your lips.
Location: Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park, Wisconsin
The Hades 360 goes upside-down, which isn’t remarkable in itself. What does make it enough to sweat through your Under Armour gear is that it’s the first wooden coaster to do so. Going along on those rickety timbers, knowing it’s only them and a bit of physics jargon keeping you from flying off will thrill you in a way no metal monstrosity can.
Location: Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi
Don’t be surprised when you get handed goggles at the beginning of this ride. It’s the fastest roller coaster in the world, reaching 149 miles-per in less than 5 seconds, you’ll be glad it’s the 6th longest steel coaster in the world, because otherwise you’d blink and miss the ride.
Location: Cosmo Land, Japan
The splashdown on the Diving Coaster is anything but soothing. Oh, it’ll cool the sweat on your brow, then take you through a tunnel beneath the waves that will drive home those drowning fears. If you’ve ever wanted to be waterboarded by a coaster, here’s your chance.
Location: Michigan’s Adventure, Michigan
Being dropped over and over again on this high/low roller ride is just part of the fear factor. The wooden construction is the other part, creating a jittery feel to the ride that keeps you sweating bullets each time you take yet another 100 foot slide.
Location: Cedar Point, Ohio
Holding the title of biggest suspended impulse roller coaster, the winding work of the Wicked Twister will leave you flailing about, trying to determine whether you’re coming or going. Expect to need a nice sit after the experience is done, while your knees remember how to function.
Location: Kings Island Amusement Park, Ohio
Another winner in a sub-category, The Banshee is the longest inverted coaster you can find on this planet. All the blood rushing to your head will provide you with additional cognitive powers, allowing you to wonder why you do this to yourself…