America's 5 most amazing roller coasters

Get ready for a thrill ride through best coasters in US

Few things in life are as thrilling as the slow climbs, the fast drops, the tight turns, and the breathtaking twists of a roller coaster ride. Where else can you let loose and shriek at the top of your lungs?

As scary, in a good way, as a roller coaster ride can be, it is actually very safe. You're more likely to be injured in a folding lawn chair than you are riding a roller coaster.

In these pages, you'll read about the five most amazing roller coasters in the United States.

This select group includes wooden coasters, steel coasters, and a hybrid. It's got coasters new and old, coasters that have won industry awards, coasters that enthusiasts love, and coasters that are the fastest and the tallest in their categories.

Most of all, the coasters described here are a blast to ride.

No. 5: Bizarro -- Six Flags New England

Bizarro, formerly called Superman: Ride of Steel, is a fan favorite. For the last 11 years, it's been either the winner or the first runner-up for the Golden Ticket Award for Best Steel Coaster.

Located in Six Flags New England in Springfield, Mass., Bizarro is 208 feet (more than 20 stories) high, includes a breathtaking drop of 221 feet, and reaches a top speed of 77 mph. The ride lasts for 2 minutes, 35 seconds, and it has a lot of airtime -- those moments of weightlessness that are prized by coaster enthusiasts.

The scenery, aptly, is bizarre. The trains speed along a purple track, go through foggy tunnels and upside-down buildings, and pass columns of flames, all the while rising, dropping, and twisting around.

And did we mention that everything is synchronized with an audio track that blares out of the headrests. No wonder so many people love this ride!

No. 4: X2 -- Six Flags Magic Mountain

Sure, speed and height is what really matters when it comes to roller coasters, but what about a coaster that can deliver both while sending you down a 215-foot drop head-first and face down?

That dream became a reality in 2008 when Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles took X, a coaster that originally opened in 2001, and spent $10 million transforming and upgrading it into the X2.The cutting-edge coaster places riders on wing-shaped trains where the seats extend off the tracks to the sides of the vehicle, allowing them to independently rotate you head over heels, forward and backward.

While you're twisting and turning in your seat, the whole train is racing at 76 mph through a massive 3,610-foot twisted steel maze. The X2 rises to a height of 190 feet and puts riders through 4 G's of pressure during its two-minute run.

Adding to the experience? A tunnel, a pair of flame throwers, on-board audio and a light experience that changes with every ride.

No. 3: The Voyage -- Holiday World

The Voyage opened in May 2006 at Holiday World in southern Indiana. Right away it started winning awards for being the best wooden roller coaster.

It's actually a hybrid coaster, with a steel supporting structure and wooden tracks.

The 2-minute, 45-second ride reaches a top speed of 67.4 mph. The ride starts with a 163-foot climb and has drops of 154 feet (at a 66-degree angle!), 107 feet, and 100 feet. Riders get a lot of airtime -- 24.2 seconds of weightlessness -- and experience three thrilling 90-degree banked turns.

It's a beautiful ride too, with the tracks surrounded by forest, and with the trains going through short tunnels eight times.

If you go to Holiday World to ride the Voyage, and you love wooden coasters, be sure to also ride Holiday World's two other world-class wooden coasters, the Raven and the Legend.

No. 2: The Cyclone -- Coney Island

The Cyclone at Coney Island is a National Historic Landmark, a New York City Landmark, and a sentimental favorite.

Built in 1927, the Cyclone has at times been shut down, condemned, and almost destroyed, but supporters kept it alive.

It was completely refurbished in the 1970s, and since then, millions of dollars have been invested in maintenance to keep it in top shape.

Riders enjoy the sharp drops and tight turns. The ride lasts for 1 minute and 50 seconds and reaches a maximum speed of 60 mph. The first drop is 85 feet, at a 60 degree angle. The 2,640-foot long track goes through six 180-degree turns and changes direction 16 times.

The world record for number of hours riding the Cyclone was set in 1977, when 19-year-old Richard Rodriguez rode it for 104 hours straight.

But you won't have to ride this old classic that long for it to become your new favorite.

No. 1: Kingda Ka -- Six Flags Great Adventure

Kingda Ka, located in the jungle-themed Golden Kingdom in Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., cost $25 million to build in 2005.

It holds the distinction as the world's tallest roller coaster and was the fastest until Formula Rossa opened at Ferrari World in the United Arab Emirates in November 2010.

The ride starts when a hydraulic launch accelerates the trains from a standstill to a breathtaking 128 miles per hour in the blink of an eye -- an astonishing 3.5 seconds.

The train then climbs straight up a 456-foot-tall tower -- that's 45 stories high -- twists 90 degrees, crests, and drops straight down 418 feet in a 270-degree spiral.

There's one more hill, this one 129 feet, to climb, giving riders a moment of weightlessness.

The train then descends, and the ride is over, only 28 seconds after it has begun -- but that half a minute contains a lifetime's worth of thrills.


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