13 Thrilling Amusement Park Rides That Will Stop And Start Your Heart

By , July 11th, 2014

Summer is synonymous with roller coasters. Which one of us doesn’t have memories of desperately hoping you were tall enough to ride the scariest coaster at the amusement park? Revisit your childhood summer fun times–and what better way than to scare the crap out of yourself with some of the most daring and thrilling rides in the USA.

Board The Aircraft


[caption id="attachment_6932" align="aligncenter" width="780"]El Toro Rollercoaster at Six Flags Amusement Park in Jackson (CC) Xmascarol CC BY[/caption]

El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ

While this hell of a ride might look like a classic wooden roller coaster (let’s be honest, these are often scarier than the modern topsy-turners) but this ride is much smoother–and faster!  One of the tallest and fastest wooden runs in the world gives riders a lot of out of seat “airtime.” The shocks and jolts will be enough to make you feel like you’re going to get bucked off a bull at any moment going 70 mph through nine drops and a winding serpentine. Are you ready?


[caption id="attachment_7046" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Millenium Force at Cedar Point Amusement Park (CC) Cedar Point Website [/caption]


Millennium Force at Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH

This coaster was so massive, it lead to the creation of a new category of roller coaster–the GIGA-COASTER. This giant stands tall at 310 feet and rides at a smooth speed of 93 mph and has a fancy elevator cable lift system that brings you up to the top way faster. You might be wishing it took a bit longer because following the climb comes an 80-degree drop that will have you floored.

[caption id="attachment_7050" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Fahrenheit at Hersheypark PA (CC) Cfink2013 Instagram[/caption]


Farenheit, Hersheypark, PA

It’s not recommended that you eat too much chocolate during your Hershey stay before riding this one: the inverted vertical loop sweeps you 121 feet up and then throws you back down in the steepest (in the USA) 97-degree negative drop. The incline is so steep you can’t even see the track that is holding you in place. Then there’s 85 seconds of airtime where you’ll perform feats that challenge your understanding of physics.

Buckle your seat belt


[caption id="attachment_6934" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]SheiKra Busch Gardens Amusement Park Tampa FL (CC) Billfrog2 CC BY[/caption]

SheiKra at Busch Gardens Tampa, FL

This floorless dive coaster climbs 200 feet right up to the edge of a 90-degree drop, then it slowly teeters over the edge just long enough for you to regain consciousness and contemplate the impeding plunge. You’ll be rushed through a pitch dark underground tunnel where you won’t be able to tell your elbows from your ankles before getting drenched with water, bringing you sharply back to reality. If you need a few days to recover from the shock, stay nearby in Tampa and catch your breath–and get ready to crave the SheiKra adrenaline again.


[caption id="attachment_6933" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Griffon ride at Busch Gardens Amusement Park Williamsburg (CC) Davecobb CC BY[/caption]

Griffon at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA

Not only will you have to deal with the nerve-rattling 205-foot, 90-degree, 75 mph free fall, but you’ll also have to contend with a soak zone where you get sprayed with water. There will be head-over-heels inversions and a slow look at the 200-foot drop–giving you a glimpse of your fate right before you fly down.

[caption id="attachment_7052" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Intimidator at Kings Dominion Amusement Park (CC) The Coaster Critic[/caption]


Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion, Doswell, VA

This intimidating steel coaster is the tallest and fastest ride on the East Coast. At an intimidating 305 feet, it runs at NASCAR speeds of 90 mph for a full three minutes. Named after NASCAR legend Dale “the Intimidator” Earnhardt, the hairpin turns will certainly leave you dizzy.

Check the straps a few times


[caption id="attachment_6937" align="aligncenter" width="685"]Super: Escape from Kypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain Amusement Park Valencia California (CC) Michael Kazarnowicz CC BY[/caption]


Superman: Escape from Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA

This coaster will blast you 100 mph from the loading station up a 415 foot tower in seven seconds. Backwards. So you experience the speeds and the sensation of weightlessness but you can’t see where you’re going. This monster coaster is not for the faint of heart! You plummet back down at 92 mph–faster than a speeding bullet. This is as close to feeling like Superman you will ever get.


Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA

With your feet dangling underneath you, you’ll be thrown, slowly, up 40 stories, 400 feet into the sky. This coaster shares the same tower as the Superman: Escape from Krypton coaster (see above). You may need to take two days to experience both, so stay nearby and get your heart rate back to normal. Once you linger at the top just long enough to get an idea of exactly how high up you are, you’ll plummet back down at 85 mph. This is the steepest drop in the world, so no judgement will be passed regarding the state of your pants when you exit.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure Amusement Park (CC) quirkkee Instagram[/caption]


Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ

You only need to say the name around those that have ridden this monster to have them shivering in fear. It’s the tallest coaster in our solar system at 456-foot and drives a cool 128-mph (in three seconds flat, might I add), which made it the fastest when it debuted. The 270-degree drop back down will have you re-defining the word intensity. Good luck on the King!


Zumanjaro Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ

415 feet up and then 415 feet straight down, this is the tallest drop tower in the world at 90 mph. This ride is connected to the legendary Kingda Ka (see below). It’s taller than London’s Big Ben and twice as tall as Lady Liberty. The ride up lasts only 30 seconds and the ride down is only 10, so you won’t know what hit you until you get off–this is a good thing.

Don’t look down!


[caption id="attachment_6941" align="aligncenter" width="878"]Skyjump at Stratosphere tower Amusement Park Las Vegas Nevada (CC) C&RDunn CC BY [/caption]


Skyjump at Stratosphere Tower Las Vegas, NV
While this one isn’t at an amusement park, this “ride” reigns supreme as one of the scariest things you can pay to do legally. Strapped into a jump suit, you perform a “controlled free-fall” jump from the 855 foot tower. Yes, you willingly jump off a tower and somehow survive, landing on the Vegas strip. If you stay at the hotel, you won’t have far to go!  I’m nervous for you if you’re trying it. FYI- if you chicken out, the ticket price is non-refundable so think about whether you can really handle this experience or not.


[caption id="attachment_6942" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Insanity Ride Stratosphere Hotel Las Vegas Nevada (CC) Shutterbug4000 CC BY[/caption]


Insanity, Stratosphere Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, NV

Perched over the Vegas Strip is one of the scariest rides imaginable. While you won’t be reaching great speeds like on coasters, this ride is located 64 feet over the edge and spins you around at 40 mph, angled down at 70-degrees, so all you see is the lights of the street, 900 feet below. I doubt you’ll be able to keep your eyes open, but the view is spectacular.