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10 Scariest Roller Coasters for True Adrenaline Junkies

by Andrew Gestalt
fact checked by Rachel Jones

Nothing beats the physical sensation of free falling, cruising through twisted helices and inversions. It’s exhilarating, gripping, and terrifying. You walk away with nausea and aches in places you can’t explain. And you legitimately feel like you’re going to hurl—but, oh, you so want to do it again… and again.

If you love the thrill of banked turns, loops, dips, and steep drops, here are adrenaline-inspiring roller coasters worth trying out on your next travel adventure.

Related: Top 10 Dark Events At Amusement Parks

10 Eejanaika, Fuji-Q Highland Park, Japan

The World’s Most Insane Roller Coaster – Eejanaika at Fuji-Q Highland ええじゃないか 富士急ハイランド

Home to six headline-attracting roller coasters, including the record-breaking Takabisha, and one other under construction, Fuji-Q Highland Park is every roller coaster lover’s paradise.

In particular, the 250-foot (76.2-meter) tall 4th Dimension Eejanaika coaster provides intense moments from the very start to finish.

At the start of your ride, the seats rotate, tilting you 90 degrees and flipping you almost upside down before pivoting to a more stable position as you mount the 249-foot (76-meter) lift hill. And that’s about the “slowest” part of the ride. After that, you’re all set for an insane experience.

The seats rotate accordingly with every drop, rise up, and dip down. There will be moments when you’ll be facing down and staring at the ground below and others when you’re looking at the sky. Drops are intensive, and just when it feels like your life is over, you’ll fall flat on the ground. Then your seat rotates again in the nick of time, and you’re facing the sky again.

Moving at ridiculous speeds of 78.3mph (126 km/h), every soar and descent, every twist and turn, make you feel disoriented. If you were in the front seat, you’d soon find yourself at the back and, within seconds, at the front again. What looked like feet were actually hands. You feel weightless, almost like a doll being flipped over and over. People either start laughing in hysteria or crying, and that’s okay, too.

9 Stealth, Thorpe Park, UK

Stealth Front Seat on-ride HD POV Thorpe Park

Scary doesn’t begin to describe this coaster—”insane” is more like it. It drove one Youtuber to steal into the park and climb (without any safety harness) to the very top. The thing is 205 feet (62.5 meters) tall. I can’t even begin to think about all the things that could go wrong.

With a top element that dominates the skyline, riders have a wonderful view of their surroundings but only fleeting seconds to appreciate it.

At the station, the ride starts by accelerating from 0 to 82mph (132 km/h) in under two seconds—you’ll be thankful for those over-the-shoulder restraints. It then shoots upwards 205 feet (62.5 meters) and slows down at the peak before plunging fast an insanely steep drop towards the Rumba Rapid.

A mind-blowing adrenaline rush that’s unlikely to slow down even as the car flies over a hill and swiftly comes to a stop. The experience lasts under a minute which feels pretty short but still satisfying. It’s a must-try for adrenaline junkies.

The Americana car-related theme feels old school but works. The big wheel archway and race car-themed trains tell you you’re headed for the race of your life.

8 CANNIBAL Elevator Lift Coaster, Lagoon, Utah

CANNIBAL Elevator Lift Coaster POV – Front On Ride – Lagoon, Utah

The Cannibal coaster experience feels like a drop from heaven and into underworldly darkness. Phenomenal but definitely scary.

The coaster is housed in a sinister-looking tower and bears a jungle theme; you’ll also see a few waterfalls scattered here and there. As you get on the train, you enter a dark-ish section and stop briefly before the train starts rising.

You’re on an elevator lift hill that takes you up 208 feet (63.4 meters). Perhaps the setting is meant to build suspense for what’s coming next. At the top, the train creeps toward an edge and stops again—possibly for a second or two to ponder your fate before dropping into nothingness.

The train tips to a 116-degree angle, then dives down, down, down into the tunnel, transitions into an Immelmann loop, and heads into a dive loop. Riders enjoy overbanked curves, a double barrel roll, downward helix with a rock tunnel in the middle. Thrilling and a ton of fun.

7 Maverick, Cedar Point, Ohio

Standing against mightier foes, including the Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster (oh well, that’s out now), Maverick seems almost out of order, but don’t let that fool you. This baby is powerful and offers riders relentless action that threatens to throw you off its back. It’s purposely violent and feels like it could tear off the tracks, pretty much feeding your adrenaline.

At the start, the train is magnetically propelled up the 105-foot (32-meter) lift hill at a reasonable speed. After tilting at a 95-degree angle, the train drops 100 feet (30.5 meters), swoops around, climbs a hill, and embarks on a twisted horseshoe roll, flipping the train from one direction to the other.

Wild banked turns will leave you all giddy and even thankful for the halfway point halt. But before you can get over that blast, the train launches at 70mph (112.6 km/h) to swoop over a lagoon, snakes between “cliffs,” and maneuvers perilously low-height tracks and smooth, highly banked turns before sending you back to the station.

Wild, gripping, but never rough.

6 Iron Gwazi, Busch Gardens, Tampa

Iron Gwazi Back Row 10-30-2022

Standing at 206 feet (62.8 meters) tall, Iron Gwazi sports an intimidating wooden structure with steel support columns, and you’re going to see a lot of it as your train takes the 90-degree drop and weaves through the crossovers.

The train leaves the station and takes a sharp drop and unbanked turn before going up the lift hill. Ascension isn’t too fast, allowing you to catch great views of your surroundings and the coaster layout that you’ll be tackling. The real action starts when the train goes down the steep drop. It’s exhilarating and so out of control. It feels like you’re being lifted off your seat.

Moving at 76mph (122 km/h), every twist, overbanked turn, climb, head chopper, inward dive, and crossover are delivered in rapid succession to thrill every coaster enthusiast, even the most jaded ones

5 Wildfire, Kolmarden, Sweden

Wildfire 4K Wooden Roller Coaster POV AWESOME Ultra HD Kolmarden Sweden

Towering 187 feet (57 meters) above the ground, this wooden monstrosity holds its own among its metallic counterpart. Perhaps a little too well.

It offers enthusiasts a hair-raising 160-foot (48.8-meter) drop, a bizarre outward bank tophat that makes for intoxicating sensations, and panoramic views of the vast forest and Swedish coast.

Located within Kolmårdens Djurpark, the coaster is hidden from view thanks to the tree-filled mountainous terrain and takes about 30 minutes to reach (from the entrance). Wildlife exudes a rustic feel, with the station using rustic saws to decorate its walls and ceiling.

Right after dispatch, the train turns into the lift hill, which is perhaps the only time you have to enjoy the views.

At the top, it dips a bit, makes a 270-degree right turn, and bumps up, marking the beginning of two minutes of ecstasy starting with a 161-foot (49-meter) first drop followed by an inverted zero G stall and an Outward Bank Tophat. It’s a speedy journey riddled with twists, turns, head-choppers, inversions, and air-time hills.

4 Thunder Dolphin, Tokyo Dome City, Japan

Thunder Dolphin Roller Coaster POV La Qua Tokyo Japan 60 FPS

Smack in the middle of the city, this iconic coaster offers a thrilling ride with fantastic views of the city buildings and the streets below. Strangely, people are going about their business while you’re having the experience of a lifetime.

A ride on this quirky coaster starts with a swift ascent on the lift hill to reach 262 feet (90 meters)t above the ground. From here, riders stare down at a 218-foot (66.5-meter) drop as the train swiftly plummets to the ground reaching speeds of 81mph (130.4 km/h). It feels like freefalling.

After this, it’s more climbs and turns, flying past the side of the LaQua mall a little too closely before weaving through the roof of the mall. The ride slows down a little before plunging toward the ground through a gigantic hole in the wall on the side of the very building you were flying past.

Before you have a chance to think, “did we just go through a…” you find yourself climbing into the sky. Navigating giant banked turns, you climb up again before descending into the Big O. There’s an overly close shave with a support beam, and (after a series of twists, turns, small hills, and plummets) the train finally comes back to the station.

3 Time Traveler, Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri

Time Traveler Spinning Roller Coaster POV at Silver Dollar City

Imagine yourself all prepped for your ride, but a split second after you leave the station, your coaster car drops vertically 90 feet (27.4 meters). And there’s no telling which direction you’ll face when the drop happens. Depending on how your car rotates, it could be backward, forward, or sideways.

The time traveler coaster literally adds a spin (pun intended) to riding. The coaster cars are mounted on round fins that allow them to rotate freely and onboard magnets that brake the turning and slow the spinning.

You get to experience every element differently. One second, you’re diving headlong into a loop, and the next, you’re looking at the terrified face of the passengers in the next car or something else.

The Time Traveler has an impressive theme. After walking into the entrance plaza, visitors are greeted by a gigantic clock sign with cool patterns in the back. The station is lavishly decorated with unique clocks and multiple rotating clock gears above, and time-traveled inspired coaster cars to pump up that time-traveling feel.

In just under two minutes, you go through three inversions, two launches, and weird sensations at speeds of 50mph (80.5 km/h).

2 Incredible Hulk Coaster, IOA, Universal Orlando

Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster Front Seat POV 4K Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure

While most of us remember the awesome Dragon challenge coaster (no longer in existence) at the Islands of Adventure, MCU lovers (especially the Hulk fans) will enjoy this ride and its themes.

The entrance sports the Incredible Hulk statue holding up a car ride. As you enter the queue, you find yourself in Gen. Thaddeus Ross’s lab as a test subject (to turn you into a Hulk, no doubt). The room and launch platform look very cool with gamma reactors and stuff.

At the start of the ride, riders are dispatched to the gamma rays launch tunnel fitted with cool effects. As they ascend the lift hill, they play a warning message that gamma exposure has been initiated. It definitely gets your adrenaline pumping.

The gamma-ray reactor accelerates the train to 40mph (64.4 km/h), exiting the launch tunnel and careening into a snappy 110-foot (33.5-meter) tall zero-G roll. Moving at a speed of 67mph (107.8 km/h), the train weaves through drops, water cannons shooting water, vertical loops, a cobra roll, two corkscrews, and a tunnel amid roars from the Hulk. It makes for an intense and satisfying experience

1 Nemesis, Alton Towers Resort, England

Nemesis [4K] 2022 Front Seat POV – Alton Towers Resort

Once upon a time, the creature Nemesis—from who knows which dimension—entered the Earth’s realm and dwelt in an underground lair. Away from the light and undisturbed by humans, the creature fell into an age-long sleep. But humans decided to dig up toward the Forbidden Valley.

In anger, Nemesis unleashed an unimaginable terror on the world, and it took a team of brave warriors to pin it down with monstrous steel metal into the twisted roller coaster we see today. Well, that’s as far as the lore and theme go. It’s pretty fun, actually. The inverted coaster twists and turns through raw-looking tentacles while a giant eerie-looking eyeball stares at the passengers.

Nemesis stands differently in that it doesn’t reach for the skies. In fact, it hardly goes higher than ground level, descending down into the rocky crater from whence the creature came.

The train accelerates along a marginal decline before flipping into a corkscrew. And that’s just the beginning. Amid the creature’s iconic roar and cruising at 50mph (80.5 km/h), riders go through one other corkscrew, a humongous loop, and a zero-G roll.

One moment, you’re leaping over the station, and the next, you’re plunging into the pit with near misses that make you think the coaster wants to scrub the rocks, tunnel, and monster with your body. And before you can recollect your thoughts, the 80-secondride comes to a graceful halt. A little short, perhaps, but worth it.

fact checked by Rachel Jones