World's Coolest Roller Coasters

Buckle up and let the fun begin! Roller-coaster reviewer and coaster enthusiast Robb Alvey reveals his favorite roller coasters around the world. Find out why you should ride them, too.

See more of Robb's favorite picks in Travel's Best Amusement and Water Parks 2015 and Crazy Roller Coasters.

Photo By: Six Flags

Photo By: Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

Photo By: Brandon Wade/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT/Getty Images

Photo By: Silver Dollar City

Photo By: Disney

Photo By: Seongbin Im

Photo By: John Greim/ LightRocket/ Getty Images

Photo By: Holiday Park

Photo By: Liseberg

Photo By: Six Flags

Photo By: Alton Towers Resort

Photo By: Jeremy Thompson

Photo By: delawega

Photo By: Jeremy Thompson

Photo By: The Washington Post/ Getty Images

Photo By: milts via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By: Yanajin33

Photo By: momokkey

Photo By: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.

Photo By: Paul Broben/ Getty Images

Photo By: Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Medusa, Six Flags Mexico, Mexico City

Like the New Texas Giant, Medusa is a hybrid roller coaster that was redesigned from its original all-wood structure to replace the tracks with steel I beams. The end result, once again, blew riders away. This time around, Medusa features an inverting first drop — a first for a ride of its kind — several moments of airtime and 3 inversions total. The roller coaster alone is worth the trip to Six Flags Mexico.    

Maverick, Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH

While Maverick does not hold any records for the tallest or fastest ride in the world, it is a huge favorite among coaster enthusiasts. Its high speed, quick turns, airtime-filled layout, surprise tunnel launch and multiple inversions leave riders breathless when they hit the brake run! When visiting Cedar Point, a park filled with 16 different roller coasters, this is the 1 that I personally like to run to first.

New Texas Giant, Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, TX

In 2011, Six Flags unveiled a project that would create a new category for roller coasters. Taking away the wood tracks of the classic Texas Giant and laying down a new steel design created a "hybrid" roller coaster that was the perfect mix of the 2 materials. While the ride still retains some of the classic elements of a wooden coaster, the new steel I-beam track allows for a much smoother ride, steeper drops and maneuvers not possible on wooden roller coasters before.    

Outlaw Run, Silver Dollar City, Branson, MO

Outlaw Run is considered the first successful wooden roller coaster to go upside down. While others have come before — and failed — Outlaw Run was the first one with both a phenomenal ride experience and a design that didn't push unrealistic boundaries of engineering. The joint effort between Silver Dollar City and Rocky Mountain Construction proved to be a huge win, as this ride immediately jumped to the top 10 of many coaster fans’ lists.

Space Mountain, Walt Disney World, Orlando

Let's not forget about the classics — the roller coasters that many of us grew up on and are still favorites during adulthood. Do not underestimate Orlando's version of Space Mountain. While the top speed may only be just shy of 30 mph, this dark, indoor ride features some very tight turns and sudden drops, which produce surprises that can compete with larger thrill rides. But even still, this ride is all about family fun, so if you're a family that likes to scream together, Space Mountain is a great place for younger ones to start riding!

T Express - Everland, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

The owners of Everland wanted a roller coaster that would blow visitors away. They rode both Balder and El Toro, and asked the ride manufacturer Intamin to create a ride that was a combination of the two. That's exactly what they got -- a ride that starts out very similar to El Toro, and then transforms into a near copy of Balder! T Express is nearly 200 feet tall, with over 5,000 feet of track, and features a first drop at a 77-degree angle. It also has claimed the title of "No. 1 Wooden Coaster in the world" for several years.

El Toro - Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ

El Toro has ranked the No. 1 wooden roller coaster in the world several times. It's one of the tallest, fastest, steepest and most intense roller coasters anywhere. The 76-degree, 180-foot-first drop is breathtaking, and you’ll find it difficult to catch your breath through this 1:42-minute ride! The airtime encountered on El Toro is some of the most extreme. Not many roller coasters match what this ride can do.

Expedition GeForce - Holiday Park, Hassloch, Germany

Like Bizarro, Expedition GeForce has also claimed the coveted "No. 1 steel roller coaster" title several times. From the initial twisting 175-foot-first drop to rocketing through over 4,000 feet of airtime-filled track, Expedition GeForce tops many roller coaster enthusiasts "best of" lists. It's kind of out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere Germany, but it's well worth traveling to.

Balder - Liseberg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Balder, simply put, is an "airtime machine" -- a wooden roller coaster that turned the wooden roller coaster world on its side when it debuted. It featured the world’s steepest drop on a wooden roller coaster, 70 degrees at the time, and a track layout that literally left you flying out of your seat for the 2-minute duration of the ride. It's about as perfect as a wooden roller coaster can get!

Bizarro - Six Flags New England, Agawam, MA

Bizarro is Superman's alter-ego version of Superman, and this is his roller coaster! This steel "hyper coaster" has won the No. 1 steel coaster in the world award many times for its out-and-back combined with a twister design, airtime-filled bunny hops, and steep, sharp drops. It's easily one of the don't-miss roller coasters in the world.

Nemesis - Alton Towers, Stoke-On-Trent, England

Nemesis is a vicious monster! No, for real! This intense, inverted roller coaster is themed after a monster from another dimension that has been unearthed at Alton Towers. Because of local area height restrictions, the ride had to be built mostly underground and much of the area had to be blasted away to make room for the ride. Because of this, the coaster travels through trenches and ravines, over rivers of blood, and throughout the "Forbidden Valley" section of the park. It's truly a perfect combination of "thrills" and "theming," and should not be missed!

Phoenix - Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, PA

It doesn't get anymore old school than Phoenix! This traditional wooden roller coaster was originally built at Playland Park in San Antonio in 1948, and was relocated to Knoebels in 1985. One of the most classic wooden roller coasters with a "survival story," this roller coaster thrills riders of all ages. Phoenix is an airtime-filled machine; you find yourself floating out of your seat more than you're in it!

Goliath - Walibi Holland, Biddinghuizen, Netherlands

Goliath is not the tallest or fastest coaster in the world, but it packs some serious power behind its multiple airtime hills, sharp drops and intense helixes, and delivers one of the most airtime-filled rides that any roller coaster has to offer. It's located just about an hour outside of Amsterdam, and it's well worth the visit for any thrill-seeker.

iSpeed - Mirabilandia, Ravenna, Italy

Launching roller coasters started becoming all the rage about 10 years ago, and iSpeed is one of the best! Riders are launched from 0 to 62 mph in about 2 seconds, and then maneuver through a series of twists, turns and 2 inversions over more than 3,000 feet of track. It's one of the best roller coasters in all of Europe!

Intimidator 305 - Kings Dominion, Doswell, VA

Intimidator 305 is a MASSIVE steel roller coaster -- 305 feet tall, over 5,000 feet of track and blazing speeds of 90 mph! It's one of the top 10 coasters in the world for biggest drop, height and speed! Extreme g-forces on this coaster may cause "gray out" sensations at the bottom of the first drop, where riders feel light-headed! It's one incredibly intense roller coaster -- which is why it's one of the best in the world.

Dauling Dragon - Happy Valley Wuhan, Wuhan, China

No, that's not a typo -- the name of the ride is "Dauling" Dragon! This one-of-a-kind double-tracked, racing wooden roller coaster features a "high-five" element where both tracks simultaneously speed through a 90-degree banked element, creating a visual where it looks like the riders in both trains could "high five" each other! While you're not close enough to actually touch, the element is insanely thrilling; it's about as close to another 65 mph moving roller coaster train you're ever going to get!

Pyrenees - Parque Espana - Shima, Japan

Located just a couple hours outside of Nagoya sits one of the best roller coasters anywhere, at a park that isn't well known outside of central Japan. Pyrenees is an "inverted" steel roller coaster with some extreme g-forces, blazing fast speeds and some crazy inversions. I've been on quite a few inverted coasters in the world, but Pyrenees always comes close to the top of my list. Well worth the trek out to Parque Espana.

Kawasemi - Tobu Zoo - Tokyo, Japan

Kawasemi is proof that a ride doesn't need to be the tallest or the fastest to be fantastic! At just about 100 feet tall, Kawasemi has some of the most extreme airtime of any roller coaster I've encountered! One of the best roller coasters in the world, and certainly the best coaster in all of Japan!

Kumba - Busch Gardens Tampa - Tampa, FL

No question that Kumba is one of the best "multi-looping" roller coasters in the world! The ride opened in 1993, and 20 years later is still thrilling millions of riders. Kumba takes you upside down 7 times through a series of dive loops, cobra rolls and interlocking corkscrews. You'll never know which way is up!

Superman Escape - Warner Brothers Movie World - Queensland, Australia

Blasting at a speed of 0 to 62 mph in a mere 2 seconds, Superman Escape is one of the most thrilling "launched" coasters on the planet! The ride features not only a fast-paced roller coaster but a complete "dark ride" prior to the launch that takes riders through a metropolis to the scene of an incident that Superman helps you escape from!

Honorable Mention - Formula Rossa - Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

While I don't feel Formula Rossa is in the "top 15" coasters in the world, you can't create a list like this without mentioning the world’s fastest roller coaster! Located in Abu Dhabi, Formula Rossa is built at Ferrari World, an entire theme park dedicated to the race cars of the same name. And Formula Rossa lives up to what you would expect from a park like this. Formula Rossa launches to speeds of 149 mph in 4 seconds -- you can feel every bit of that launch speed through your body! It's an amazing experience!

Shop This Look

More from:

Family Travel