Kingda Ka Roller Coaster Kingda Ka Roller Coaster Riders raise their arms on Kingda Ka in Jackson, NJ's Six Flags Great Adventure. (Photo: Stan Honda/Getty Images)

9 of the world's most exhilarating roller coasters

The adrenaline-pumping rides will take you to amazing speeds, frightening heights and unbelievable extremes.

For roller-coaster aficionados, it's all about superlatives. The fun, the excitement and the adrenaline rush are that much more intense when you know you are on one of the tallest, fastest, longest or most creative coasters in the world. Today, unique designs have taken the roller-coaster industry to exciting new heights. We want to share nine of the most jaw-dropping roller coasters with you.

Kingda KaKingda Ka. (Photo: Russell Heiman/Flickr)

Kingda Ka Kingda Ka is a steel roller coaster located in New Jersey's Six Flags Great Adventure theme park. It is currently the highest roller coaster in the world. Anyone in the neighborhoods around Great Adventure will see the massive inverted U-shaped tower that stretches to 456 feet above the ground. The thrills start even before riders reach the top. The coaster is literally shot out of the station by a hydraulic launch, reaching speeds in excess of 125 mph in only 3.5 seconds. After passing the 456-foot mark, the train spirals downward almost as rapidly as it ascended. Despite its high-speed launch, Kingda Ka is not the fastest roller coaster in the world. Keep reading to see which of the remaining eight coasters leaves Kingda Ka in the dust.

ColossosColossos. (Photo: John Kraus/Flickr)

Colossos Sometimes, the classics can still provide some serious thrills. Colossos is a wooden roller coaster in Lower Saxony, Germany's Heide Park. Despite its classic design and the use of wood, Colossos is a relatively new addition to the world of coasters. It opened in 2001 and was built using a unique prefabricated design that allowed sections of track to be literally snapped into place. At 196 feet, it is currently the tallest wooden roller coaster in the world. Its top speed of 68 mph won't win any drag races, but it is much faster than the average coaster, and riders get to enjoy the excitement for 2 minutes and 25 seconds, much longer than average.

Full ThrottleFull Throttle. (Photo: Jeremy Thompson/Flickr)

Full Throttle The most jaw-dropping feature of the Full Throttle roller coaster is evident to everyone who visits Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. A massive 160-foot vertical loop dominates the amusement park's skyline. Riders are launched out of the station by a hydraulic mechanism and experience the vertical loop at speeds of around 70 mph. There is a second inversion, an underground tunnel (previously a monorail station), and a unique “top-hat” feature that allows the coaster to ride both inside and outside of the giant loop.

TakabishaTakabisha. (Photo: Alex Brogan/Wikimedia Commons)

Takabisha Takabisha is the name of an extreme roller coaster in Fuji-Q Highland Theme Park in Fujiyoshida, very near Japan's famous Mount Fuji. It has impressive speed, length and height stats (62 mph, a 1 minute 52 second ride, and 141-foot maximum height, respectively). But Takabisha has something that no other roller coaster on Earth has: a 121-degree drop, which earned it a Guinness World Record as the steepest roller coaster on the planet. This way-beyond-vertical section is one of seven times that riders are inverted during their ride, making Takabisha one of the most intense experiences on our list.

Formula RossaFormula Rossa. (Photo: Pelykh Konstantin/Shutterstock)

Formula Rossa Formula Rossa, part of Abu Dhabi's Ferrari World, is a super-fast roller coaster that was originally conceived of as a ride to mimic a Formula One race car. Its speed comes from a hydraulic launcher that is not unlike a catapult used to aid airplane takeoff on an aircraft carrier. Rossa's top speed is an astonishing 150 mph, making it the fastest roller coaster in the world by a significant margin. It takes less than 5 seconds from launch to reach this top speed. Rossa is so fast that riders have to wear protective glasses to avoid injury from bugs or floating particles.

Steel Dragon 2000Steel Dragon 2000. (Photo: Janma/Wikimedia Commons)

Steel Dragon 2000 Standing in Japan's Nagashima Spa Land, the Steel Dragon 2000 set several records when it first opened, including tallest and longest roller coaster. It has since been surpassed several times over for the title of tallest (its highest point is 318 feet above the ground). However, as of this writing, the Steel Dragon is still the longest coaster on the planet, stretching for 8,133 feet. It uses chains to propel the cars upwards, since the hill is too long for any sort of hydraulic launcher. Even with its maximum speed of 95 mph, one ride takes almost four minutes to complete. Steel Dragon is also one of the world's most expensive roller coasters in terms of construction costs. This is because of the extra steel needed for earthquake protection.

Kumba rollercoaster The Kumba roller coaster at Superland has thrilling loops like its counterpart at Busch Gardens. (Photo: Neukoln/Wikimedia Commons)

Kumba Located in Tel Aviv in Superland, one of Israel's biggest amusement parks, Kumba is a “suspended looping coaster” that has a unique “corkscrew” feature. The coaster makes complete 360-degree rotations (from upright to upright) in the highest speed sections of the track. Because riders are suspended in an inverted seat, they experience an almost-zero-gravity sensation that makes the Kumba's top speed (50 mph) seem much faster. The 2,260 feet of track provides a thrilling and lengthy ride.

Green Lantern CoasterGreen Lantern Coaster. (Photo: Sarah Ackerman/Flickr)

Green Lantern Coaster Located in Warner Bros. Movie World, on Australia's Gold Coast, the Green Lantern Coaster boasts the Southern Hemisphere's most extreme drop. In fact, this is the second steepest coaster in the world, with a maximum vertical angle that is 120.5 degrees, just half a degree less than the world's steepest drop, Japan's Takabisha. Plans initially called for a 122-degree vertical angle, but that proved impossible for the final design. Green Lantern also includes other extreme features, such as a dive loop and several inverted turns.

Top Thrill DragsterTop Thrill Dragster. (Photo: Craig Lloyd/Flickr)

Top Thrill Dragster Located right in the center of Cedar Point, a massive amusement park in Ohio, the Top Thrill Dragster owned several superlatives when it first went online in 2003: tallest, fastest, most extreme. Other coasters have taken these titles away over the past decade, but Cedar Point thrill-seekers will hardly miss those few extra feet or miles per hour. Riders are shot up a huge hill, which towers over the park, before dropping over 400 feet at a 90-degree angle. The ride is over in less than half a minute, but few other roller coasters can match the amount of adrenaline produced by both the initial launch and the massive drop. Top Thrill is the main event at Cedar Point. It sits right in the middle of the park, so it is arguably the best “spectator coaster” on our list.


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9 of the world's most exhilarating roller coasters
The adrenaline-pumping rides will take you to amazing speeds, frightening heights and unbelievable extremes. Check out these 9 jaw-dropping roller coasters.