The planet’s most thrilling out-of-this-world rides



Slide 1 of 30: Diehard roller coaster fans will travel the world in search of bigger and better thrills and spills. And, luckily for them, new rides are opening all the time as theme parks try to outdo each other by creating the longest, tallest, fastest and most extreme white-knuckle experiences. From hair-raising hairpin bends to face-shaking G-force, have a go at these – if you're brave enough.
Slide 2 of 30: Red Force is part of Ferrari Land and is as sleek and speedy as you'd expect. Perhaps even more so. The ride boasts the tallest and fastest vertical accelerator in Europe, shooting riders up to 367 feet (112m) above ground and reaching 112mph in five seconds. Adrenalin rush guaranteed.
Slide 3 of 30: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay combines zoo attractions with thrill rides, and the latter are often inspired by the animals visitors can see at the park. Take Tigris, opened in 2019 as Florida’s tallest launch coaster. It’s a wild mix of twists, tilts and drops at more than 60mph, designed to mimic the speed and agility of the tiger. A percentage of gift shop proceeds goes to tiger conservation projects.
Slide 4 of 30: The Steel Curtain, at Pittsburgh’s Kennywood Amusement Park, isn’t merely a super-speedy roller coaster. It pays homage to local American football heroes, the Pittsburgh Steelers, as the first addition to the new Steelers Country area of the park. The coaster, whose bright yellow steel structure mimics the Steelers’ strip, speeds though nine inversions – including the world’s tallest – at 76mph.
Slide 5 of 30: With a curly-whirly track of loops, sharp turns, slow climbs and fast drops – not to mention a rather terrifying clown face at the entrance – the Hair Raiser ride is enough to get your heart racing. Its setting, on a cliff overlooking Deep Water Bay in the South China Sea and with views of Hong Kong Island, further adds to the drama.
Slide 6 of 30: Stomach-flipping thrills collide with spectacular views on Fujiyama, the longest and tallest coaster at Fuji-Q Highland, Japan. As it reaches its 259-foot (79m) summit, riders are treated to clear views of Mount Fuji, barely having time to catch breath before it’s snatched away again with a rapid descent.
Slide 7 of 30: What kid, or adult for that matter, hasn’t dreamed of taking the controls of the Millennium Falcon? The Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run simulator ride is the centerpiece of Disneyland Park’s much-anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed area, which launched in June 2019. Lines can be long but patrolling Storm Troopers, android factories, holograms and sound effects help the time pass quickly.
Slide 8 of 30: Sometimes, a roller coaster’s surroundings are as spectacular as the ride itself. That’s certainly the case with Glacier 3000’s Alpine Coaster. The ride operates from May to September and is powered by gravity, with the riders selecting the speed. It would be thrilling even at a crawl, with the toboggans starting at an altitude of 9,444 feet (2.8km) and traveling over curves, waves and jumps, surrounded by snowy mountains.
Slide 9 of 30: The Staffordshire theme park is famous for its innovative white-knuckle rides and Wicker Man tends to leave faces a little pale. It combines the rickety charms of wooden roller coasters with bone-chilling special effects that engulf the labyrinthine track with burning embers and effigies that burst into flames on impact.
Slide 10 of 30: Orlando is pretty much unbeatable when it comes to the sheer number and variety of theme park thrills it packs in. So being the longest, tallest and fastest ride in the city is a big boast. Mako, named after one of the ocean's fastest sharks, takes riders through a virtual shipwreck teeming with marine life and reaches 73mph as it weaves along 4,760 feet (1.4km) of track.
Slide 11 of 30: This Gothenburg amusement park is better known as a concert venue, though that’s changing since Valkyria zoomed onto the scene in August 2018. It's Europe’s longest dive coaster, with a 164-foot (50m) vertical drop that plummets riders into an underground tunnel. It reaches 65mph as it races around the undulating track.
Slide 12 of 30: One of Canada’s tallest and fastest roller coasters, Leviathan takes riders to a whole new level. Meet the giga coaster, a full-circuit roller coaster that reaches heights of 306 feet (93m) and whizzes round at speeds of up to 92mph. Prepare for the ride of your life.
Slide 13 of 30: You may need nerves of steel to take on this ride inspired by the man of steel, Superman. Classified as a hypercoaster (more than 200ft/61m tall), the ride speeds through the twisty-turny red track at 77mph. The scariest (or best) bit is a 221-foot (67m) drop into a tunnel.
Slide 14 of 30: Riders face up to the sky as Tower of Terror II creeks creepily to the top of a 100-foot (30m) tower, pausing for several agonizing seconds of weightlessness before plummeting back down at 100mph. The ride, on Australia’s gorgeous Gold Coast, is one of the tallest in the southern hemisphere and definitely one of the most terrifying.
Slide 15 of 30: You might need a Hershey’s chocolate bar to recover after a spin on this crazy coaster. The steepest in the world when it launched in 2008, Fahrenheit throws pretty much everything at its willing participants: high climbs, inverted loops, corkscrew turns, cobra rolls and moments of weightlessness where it feels like your stomach’s floating.
Slide 16 of 30: Find the excitement of Formula One in the heart of Surrey, England with a ride on Stealth, which catapults riders from zero to 80mph in less than two seconds. It’s the fastest coaster in the UK and the whole ride lasts a hot 26 seconds.
Slide 17 of 30: Hyperion in Poland's EnergyLandia is Europe’s tallest and fastest mega coaster. Designed as an abandoned space station, the ride has a mile-long (1.6km) track and speeds of more than 87mph. Tunnels, twists, sudden drops, weightlessness and over-banked turns – where the carriages teeter on the edge – keep the thrills coming thick and very, very fast.
Slide 18 of 30: Always fancy yourself as a speedster? Formula Rossa makes the bold (and quite terrifying) claim to be the world’s fastest roller coaster, launching riders to intense speeds of nearly 150mph in under five seconds. The G-force is so strong, riders have to wear protective goggles. Gulp.
Slide 19 of 30: Knott’s Berry Farm started out as a roadside fruit stall in the 1920s. While you can still taste its renowned boysenberry treats, some less sedate attractions have been added over the years. HangTime is a steel roller coaster that twists and turns, ducks and dives with a beyond-vertical drop and stomach-churning suspensions.  Read more: America's most historic attractions from every decade
Slide 20 of 30: If weaving through the buzzing party crowds of Khao San Road isn’t thrilling enough for you, this theme park in Bangkok’s Khan Na Yao district should do the trick. Siam Park City’s most heart-pumping ride is Vortex, one of the world’s largest suspended roller coasters (where the car hangs from the bottom of the track). Throw in more than a few whirls and twirls and you’ve pretty much ticked all the terror boxes. Just save the partying for afterwards, maybe.
Slide 21 of 30: The vividly blazing colors of FireWhip, in Santa Caterina theme park Beto Carrero World, only hint at the fieriness of this ride. This was Brazil’s first inverted roller coaster and riders speed at nearly 60mph, soaring and spinning over lakes and waterfalls with their feet dangling from the car.
Slide 22 of 30: Flashing lights and fancy clubs of Las Vegas not quite enough for you? Seeking thrills away from The Strip? Rise above it all with a spin on Insanity, an aptly named ride that places those brave enough 866 feet (270m) above downtown Vegas, courtesy of a giant mechanical arm. It spins and tilts so riders are facing downwards.
Slide 23 of 30: With a Wild West theme and cars designed like old-fashioned train carriages, Steel Vengeance looks quite charming and cute. Yet, as the name implies, it isn’t. This hyper-hybrid roller coaster, whose steel track is set atop a wooden structure, rises 205 feet (62m) above the park and has more airtime – when you rise out of your seat – than any other ride, at 30 seconds. Throw in a series of inversions and ricochets and you’ve pretty much hit white-knuckle nirvana.
Slide 24 of 30: Sometimes you just can’t beat an old-school wooden roller coaster. You feel every twist, turn, duck and dive. Wildfire takes it to new levels with speeds of around 70mph, three uphill climbs and drops so steep your stomach seems to stay behind. It lasts for a satisfying two minutes and, at the top, you can take a moment to soak in views of mountain-backed Bråviken Bay – before another heart-stopping plummet.
Slide 25 of 30: Silver Star at Europa-Park in Germany hits its riders with about as much G-force as humans can physically stand. Those prepared to face the centrifugal forces head-on are rewarded with adrenalin-pumping, skin-tingling speeds of 80mph as the steel coaster soars up to around 240 feet (73m).
Slide 26 of 30: The T Express at Everland theme park in Yongin, South Korea is the world’s steepest roller coaster, so probably not one for nervous riders. Even standing below the intricate wooden structure, against a backdrop of thick forest, is enough to make your stomach flip. Thankfully it isn’t as rickety as it looks, as it sends riders down a 77° angled track at speeds of up to 65mph.
Slide 27 of 30: New York’s Coney Island is a place of candy floss, candy stripes and cavorting on the sand. Until you step aboard Thunderbolt, which offers more modern thrills. It stands out amid the old-school rides and attractions with its 2,233 feet (680m) of corkscrewing steel track and 100-foot (30m) vertical loop. The original Thunderbolt coaster, built in 1925 and featured in the film Annie Hall, was rather less extreme.
Slide 28 of 30: India’s biggest roller coaster, at AdLabs Imagica just outside of Mumbai, is a curvy stomach-churner with five loops and inversions, over 2,800 feet (853m) of track. The cars spin and rotate before plummeting with several sharp, electrifying drops.  Read more: The world's most jaw-dropping roller coasters you won't dare to ride
Slide 29 of 30: It isn’t only the shiny new theme parks that can deliver top-notch thrills. Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen brings a modern spin – and lots of loops – to the historic park, founded in 1843. The Demon ride has a virtual reality twist – riders can choose to wear VR glasses to transform the car into a fire-breathing dragon.  Read more: America's most jaw-dropping roller coasters (only for the brave)
Slide 30 of 30: Special hydraulics launch riders a head-spinning 456 feet (139m) upwards, making it the world’s tallest roller coaster. Kingda Ka is also one of the fastest, reaching 128mph in just 3.5 seconds, before rapidly descending on a spiraling track.  Read more: Beyond Disney: the best theme parks in America

White-knuckle wonders

Red Force, PortAventura, Spain

Red Force is part of Ferrari Land and is as sleek and speedy as you’d expect. Perhaps even more so. The ride boasts the tallest and fastest vertical accelerator in Europe, shooting riders up to 367 feet above ground and reaching 112 mph in five seconds. Adrenalin rush guaranteed.

Tigris, Busch Gardens, Florida, USA

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay combines zoo attractions with thrill rides, and the latter are often inspired by the animals visitors can see at the park. Take Tigris, opened in 2019 as Florida’s tallest launch coaster. It’s a wild mix of twists, tilts and drops at more than 60 mph, designed to mimic the speed and agility of the tiger. A percentage of gift shop proceeds goes to tiger conservation projects.

The Steel Curtain, Kennywood, Pennsylvania, USA

The Steel Curtain, at Pittsburgh’s Kennywood Amusement Park, isn’t merely a super-speedy roller coaster. It pays homage to local American football heroes, the Pittsburgh Steelers, as the first addition to the new Steelers Country area of the park. The coaster, whose bright yellow steel structure mimics the Steelers’ strip, speeds though nine inversions – including the world’s tallest – at 76 mph.

Hair Raiser, Ocean Park, Hong Kong

With a curly-whirly track of loops, sharp turns, slow climbs and fast drops – not to mention a rather terrifying clown face at the entrance – the Hair Raiser ride is enough to get your heart racing. Its setting, on a cliff overlooking Deep Water Bay in the South China Sea and with views of Hong Kong Island, further adds to the drama.

Fujiyama, Fuji-Q Highland, Japan

Stomach-flipping thrills collide with spectacular views on Fujiyama, the longest and tallest coaster at Fuji-Q Highland, Japan. As it reaches its 259-foot summit, riders are treated to clear views of Mount Fuji, barely having time to catch breath before it’s snatched away again with a rapid descent.

The Millennium Falcon, Disneyland Park, California, USA

What kid, or adult for that matter, hasn’t dreamed of taking the controls of the Millennium Falcon? The Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run simulator ride is the centerpiece of Disneyland Park’s much-anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed area, which launched in June 2019. Lines can be long but patrolling Storm Troopers, android factories, holograms and sound effects help the time pass quickly.

Alpine Coaster, Glacier 3000, Switzerland

Sometimes, a roller coaster’s surroundings are as spectacular as the ride itself. That’s certainly the case with Glacier 3000’s Alpine Coaster. The ride operates from May to September and is powered by gravity, with the riders selecting the speed. It would be thrilling even at a crawl, with the toboggans starting at an altitude of 9,444 feet and traveling over curves, waves and jumps, surrounded by snowy mountains.

Wicker Man, Alton Towers, UK

The Staffordshire theme park is famous for its innovative white-knuckle rides and Wicker Man tends to leave faces a little pale. It combines the rickety charms of wooden roller coasters with bone-chilling special effects that engulf the labyrinthine track with burning embers and effigies that burst into flames on impact.

Mako, SeaWorld, Florida, USA

Orlando is pretty much unbeatable when it comes to the sheer number and variety of theme park thrills it packs in. So being the longest, tallest and fastest ride in the city is a big boast. Mako, named after one of the ocean’s fastest sharks, takes riders through a virtual shipwreck teeming with marine life and reaches 73mph as it weaves along 4,760 feet of track.

Valkyria, Liseberg, Sweden

This Gothenburg amusement park is better known as a concert venue, though that’s changing since Valkyria zoomed onto the scene in August 2018. It’s Europe’s longest dive coaster, with a 164-foot vertical drop that plummets riders into an underground tunnel. It reaches 65mph as it races around the undulating track.

Leviathan, Canada’s Wonderland, Ontario, Canada

One of Canada’s tallest and fastest roller coasters, Leviathan takes riders to a whole new level. Meet the giga coaster, a full-circuit roller coaster that reaches heights of 306 feet (93m) and whizzes round at speeds of up to 92mph. Prepare for the ride of your life.

Superman The Ride, Six Flags New England, Massachusetts, USA

You may need nerves of steel to take on this ride inspired by the man of steel, Superman. Classified as a hypercoaster (more than 200 feet tall), the ride speeds through the twisty-turny red track at 77mph. The scariest (or best) bit is a 221-foot drop into a tunnel.

Tower of Terror II, Dreamworld, Australia

Riders face up to the sky as Tower of Terror II creeks creepily to the top of a 100-foot (30m) tower, pausing for several agonizing seconds of weightlessness before plummeting back down at 100mph. The ride, on Australia’s gorgeous Gold Coast, is one of the tallest in the southern hemisphere and definitely one of the most terrifying.

Fahrenheit, Hersheypark, Pennsylvania, USA

You might need a Hershey’s chocolate bar to recover after a spin on this crazy coaster. The steepest in the world when it launched in 2008, Fahrenheit throws pretty much everything at its willing participants: high climbs, inverted loops, corkscrew turns, cobra rolls and moments of weightlessness where it feels like your stomach’s floating.

Stealth, Thorpe Park, UK

Find the excitement of Formula One in the heart of Surrey, England with a ride on Stealth, which catapults riders from zero to 80mph in less than two seconds. It’s the fastest coaster in the UK and the whole ride lasts a hot 26 seconds.

Hyperion, EnergyLandia, Poland

Hyperion in Poland’s EnergyLandia is Europe’s tallest and fastest mega coaster. Designed as an abandoned space station, the ride has a mile-long (1.6km) track and speeds of more than 87mph. Tunnels, twists, sudden drops, weightlessness and over-banked turns – where the carriages teeter on the edge – keep the thrills coming thick and very, very fast.

Formula Rossa, Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

Always fancy yourself as a speedster? Formula Rossa makes the bold (and quite terrifying) claim to be the world’s fastest roller coaster, launching riders to intense speeds of nearly 150 mph in under five seconds. The G-force is so strong, riders have to wear protective goggles. Gulp.

HangTime, Knott’s Berry Farm, California, USA

Knott’s Berry Farm started out as a roadside fruit stall in the 1920s. While you can still taste its renowned boysenberry treats, some less sedate attractions have been added over the years. HangTime is a steel roller coaster that twists and turns, ducks and dives with a beyond-vertical drop and stomach-churning suspensions.

Vortex, Siam Park City, Thailand

If weaving through the buzzing party crowds of Khao San Road isn’t thrilling enough for you, this theme park in Bangkok’s Khan Na Yao district should do the trick. Siam Park City’s most heart-pumping ride is Vortex, one of the world’s largest suspended roller coasters (where the car hangs from the bottom of the track). Throw in more than a few whirls and twirls and you’ve pretty much ticked all the terror boxes. Just save the partying for afterwards, maybe.

FireWhip, Beto Carrero World, Brazil

The vividly blazing colors of FireWhip, in Santa Caterina theme park Beto Carrero World, only hint at the fieriness of this ride. This was Brazil’s first inverted roller coaster and riders speed at nearly 60 mph, soaring and spinning over lakes and waterfalls with their feet dangling from the car.

Insanity, Stratosphere Tower, Las Vegas, USA

Flashing lights and fancy clubs of Las Vegas not quite enough for you? Seeking thrills away from The Strip? Rise above it all with a spin on Insanity, an aptly named ride that places those brave enough 866 feet above downtown Vegas, courtesy of a giant mechanical arm. It spins and tilts so riders are facing downwards.

Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point, Ohio, USA

With a Wild West theme and cars designed like old-fashioned train carriages, Steel Vengeance looks quite charming and cute. Yet, as the name implies, it isn’t. This hyper-hybrid roller coaster, whose steel track is set atop a wooden structure, rises 205 feet above the park and has more airtime – when you rise out of your seat – than any other ride, at 30 seconds. Throw in a series of inversions and ricochets and you’ve pretty much hit white-knuckle nirvana.

Wildfire, Kolmården Wildlife Park, Sweden

Sometimes you just can’t beat an old-school wooden roller coaster. You feel every twist, turn, duck and dive. Wildfire takes it to new levels with speeds of around 70 mph, three uphill climbs and drops so steep your stomach seems to stay behind. It lasts for a satisfying two minutes and, at the top, you can take a moment to soak in views of mountain-backed Bråviken Bay – before another heart-stopping plummet.

Silver Star, Europa-Park, Germany

Silver Star at Europa-Park in Germany hits its riders with about as much G-force as humans can physically stand. Those prepared to face the centrifugal forces head-on are rewarded with adrenalin-pumping, skin-tingling speeds of 80mph as the steel coaster soars up to around 240 feet.

T Express, Everland, South Korea

The T Express at Everland theme park in Yongin, South Korea is the world’s steepest roller coaster, so probably not one for nervous riders. Even standing below the intricate wooden structure, against a backdrop of thick forest, is enough to make your stomach flip. Thankfully it isn’t as rickety as it looks, as it sends riders down a 77° angled track at speeds of up to 65 mph.

Thunderbolt, Luna Park, New York, USA

New York’s Coney Island is a place of candy floss, candy stripes and cavorting on the sand. Until you step aboard Thunderbolt, which offers more modern thrills. It stands out amid the old-school rides and attractions with its 2,233 feet of corkscrewing steel track and 100-foot vertical loop. The original Thunderbolt coaster, built in 1925 and featured in the film Annie Hall, was rather less extreme.

Hot Wheels Nitro, AdLabs Imagica, India

India’s biggest roller coaster, at AdLabs Imagica just outside of Mumbai, is a curvy stomach-churner with five loops and inversions, over 2,800 feet of track. The cars spin and rotate before plummeting with several sharp, electrifying drops.

The Demon, Tivoli Gardens, Denmark

It isn’t only the shiny new theme parks that can deliver top-notch thrills. Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen brings a modern spin – and lots of loops – to the historic park, founded in 1843. The Demon ride has a virtual reality twist – riders can choose to wear VR glasses to transform the car into a fire-breathing dragon.

Kingda Ka, Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey, USA

Special hydraulics launch riders a head-spinning 456 feet upwards, making it the world’s tallest roller coaster. Kingda Ka is also one of the fastest, reaching 128 mph in just 3.5 seconds, before rapidly descending on a spiraling track.

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