It says something about the human condition that we are prepared to pay good money to frighten ourselves half to death by being thrown around the breakneck curves and twists of a towering steel structure at high velocity while strapped into car shaped like an oversized bullet.
Rollercoaster fanatics live for the adrenalin rush that each trip provides, and with coaster designers becoming ever more ingenious in their perverse desire to scare the wits out of hard-core coaster riders, the stakes are raised just that little bit higher each time a new rollercoaster is unveiled.
Here then, in no particular order, are the world’s top ten scariest rollercoasters.
1 Silver Star
Europa Park, Rust, Germany
Distorting the faces of avid German rollercoaster fans since 2002, Silver Star is the tallest rollercoaster in Europe, using a chain-lift system to slowly draw riders up an initial rise of 239 feet before letting go and plunging them into the drop at reputed speeds of up to 130 kilometres per hour and 4G vertical forces.
2 Tower of Terror II
Dreamworld, Queensland, Australia
The original Tower of Terror separated over eight million Australian rollercoaster riders from their lunches since its launch in 1997. In a bid further boost the dry-cleaning industry, the ride was relaunched in an even scarier incarnation in 2010. Riders are catapulted out of a tunnel and up a vertical tower, reaching a top speed of 161 kilometres per hour in just seven seconds. At the top of the 115ft high tower they hang motionless and weightless for a split second before plummeting back to earth, into the tunnel and out to find the nearest sick bag.
3 Steel Dragon 2000
Nagashima Spa Land, Mie Prefecture, Japan
Another record holder, Steel Dragon may no longer be the fastest nor the tallest rollercoaster in the world, but it is still the longest. The amount of steel required to make the coaster earthquake proof also makes it one of the most expensive ever manufactured. Earthquakes aside, the sheer monstrous scale of Steel Dragon 2000 easily earns it a place in the world’s top 10 scariest rollercoasters.
4 Kingda Ka
Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey, USA
For many, Kingda Ka will be the ‘daddy’ of all scary coasters as it is, to this day, the highest in the world, climbing a butt-clenching 456 ft into the sky. This particular vomit comet hasn’t been without its problems though ‚Äì in 2005 a variety of mechanical problems damaged the launch engine and cabling systems. Happily these faults were fully rectified, but in 2009 Kingda Ka was struck by lightning causing further damage. Now that’s what I call scary.
5 Intimidator 305
Kings Dominion, Virginia, USA
A newcomer to the world of scary rollercoasters, Intimidator 305 won the 2010 Golden Ticket Award for best new rollercoaster. Boasting an innovative new ‘double spine’ track, Intimidator 305′s construction requires fewer supports on its crest curves and throws in plenty of eye-popping high speed twists and turns to satisfy and petrify the most ardent coaster lovers.
Fuji-Q Highland, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan
If you’re not the fastest, the highest or the longest what other record could a rollercoaster possibly have left to break? The answer is fastest acceleration, and this is where Dodonpa earns its scary-as-hell credentials. Confused by an intentional ‘false start’ riders are unexpectedly launched into the ride, accelerating to 172 kilometres per hour in a frankly mind-boggling time of 1.8 seconds and are subsequently thrown up and down an almost vertical hairpin curve.
7 Superman: Escape from Krypton
Six Flags Magic Mountain, California, USA
Another relaunch and another worthy entrant to the list of the top 10 scariest rollercoasters in the world. Until 2011 Superman EFK was known as Superman: the Escape, but with the introduction of backwards-launching cars and a coat of paint, a new super-scary hero was born. Featuring speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour and a height of 415 feet, Superman EFK ticks all the right ‘scary rollercoaster’ boxes.
8 Thunder Dolphin
Tokyo Dome City, Tokyo, Japan
Comparatively tame by the speed, height and acceleration standards set by other rollercoasters on this list, Thunder Dolphin has a unique trick up its sleeve that renders it worthy of a place on the scariest rollercoasters list. Thunder Dolphin’s track passes through the world’s first centre-less big wheel and through a building too. Not only that, but Thunder Dolphin is also the world’s sixth tallest continuous track rollercoaster. Respect.
9 Formula Rossa
Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Just in case you were wondering by now, Formula Rossa is currently the fastest rollercoaster in the world reaching a staggering 240 kilometres per hour in less than five seconds. Such is the velocity of the ride that the willing victims in the front seats are required to wear goggles to protect their eyes from the potential damage caused by a high speed impact with a flying insect.
Fuji-Q Highland, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan
Another entry for this Japanese theme park, but here’s a rollercoaster with a twist ‚Äì literally. Eejanaika is a so-called ’4th dimension’ rollercoaster, which means that not only does the coaster’s track contain the usual assortment of terrifying drops, twists and hairpins, but the riders’ seats can also be rotated through 360 degrees at the same time. Yikes. Do rollercoasters get any scarier than this? Keep an eye on ‘China Dinosaurs Park’ in Changzhou, China, for an unveiling later in 2011.