If you’re a roller coaster enthusiast, you know there’s nothing more exhilarating than the suspense of climbing that first hill, looking over the edge, waiting… waiting… waiting. And then whoosh! You plummet, surrounded by screams of terror and glee, hands in the air, leaving your life in the hands of the wood or steel supporting you.
Newer technologies mean you may not get that same suspense through an initial climb, as some of the tallest steel roller coasters instead launch you to the top of the climb in a matter of seconds. No matter what kind of climb they offer though, the trip back down is often the most exciting part of the ride. If you’re the type of person who’s always looking for taller, faster, or longer rides, you’ll get a thrill out of these — the world’s ten tallest roller coasters!
#10 — Titan
245 ft. — Six Flags Over Texas — Texas
Titan — even its name screams “big.” And as the tenth tallest roller coaster on our list, it lives up to its name! Arguably, Titan could be considered the ninth tallest coaster on our list, but I’m choosing to rank it conservatively.
Titan’s drop is larger than its climb. When you board the train, you climb 245 ft. But then you’re dropped 255 ft! That’s because the drop takes you down a bit further than your starting level, taking you into a tunnel. Titan’s more than a tall coaster — it’s a fast one. According to Six Flags, you’ll hit a top speed of 85 mph.
Its near-twin, Goliath (located at Six Flags Magic Mountain), barely missed making our list. It has the same 255 ft drop, but only climbs 235 ft. Still, it’s another impressive coaster, so if you enjoy Titan, don’t miss Goliath.
#9 — Eejanaika
249 ft. — Fuji-Q Highland — Japan
Eejanaika looks like a wild ride if ever I’ve seen one. As the world’s second 4th dimension roller coaster, riders are not only suspended from the track (like with other hanging steel coasters), but the seats rotate during the ride!
Like Titan, this roller coaster has a debatable quality of its own. It holds the Guinness world record for the most inversions, but that status includes seat inversions rather than only track-based ones. If you’re a stickler for details, you may or may not credit Eejanaika with that record, but somehow I think when riding it you’ll have far more important things on your mind.
#8 — Fujiyama
259 ft. — Fuji-Q Highland — Japan
Fujiyama is an old coaster by some standards — built in 1996. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with a classic steel coaster when it serves up a killer drop, speed, and a relatively long ride. With a maximum speed of 82mph, it’s faster than the Eejanaika from the same park, and slightly taller (interesting since parks often go for bigger when they build new roller coasters, especially given how close their heights are).
This beast of a thrill ride was no small feat for the mid-90s. At the time, it was the tallest coaster in the world.
#7 — Thunder Dolphin
262.5 ft — LaQua — Japan
On the surface, Thunder Dolphin might not sound very impressive. Its name hardly strikes fear into waiting riders. Its top speed of a little over 80 mph seems par for the course, and a maximum 80 degree vertical drop isn’t much compared to the 90 degree drops of other coasters (not that it’s something to sneeze at — certainly steeper than some older roller coasters). It’s also not terribly long.
What truly makes this Tokyo Dome City roller coaster unique is the path it takes. Not only does it cut through the park’s ferris wheel, but it goes through a building (which you can see in the photo above)! That change of scenery alone makes this super coaster worthy of a ride.
#6 — Millennium Force
310 ft — Cedar Point — Ohio
Millennium Force is certainly one of the most impressive roller coasters on our list. Not only did it break ten world records when it was opened in 2000 (according to Cedar Point – the coaster’s home park), but it’s also an award-winner. It’s won Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket award for being the best steel roller coaster in the world five times (and has won second place several times in the last few years as well).
What first jumped out at me was the steep lift hill. It looks steeper than most chain lifts, which explains why Cedar Point opted for a cable lift system instead (the lighter cable is quieter, faster, and can work on much steeper inclines than a chain). After that climb, you’ll hit a maximum whopping 92 mph as you plummet back to earth.
#5 — Steel Dragon 2000
318 ft — Nagashima Spa Land — Japan
Japan’s Steel Dragon 2000 is the second gigacoaster on our list (roller coasters exceeding 300 ft tall). As you can see in the above photo, the roller coaster was designed with a series of camel humps made to look similar to a dragon’s tail.
You’ll notice it has a more gradual incline than the Millennium Force. That’s because Steel Dragon 2000 relies on a standard chain lift instead of a cable. However, because the chains are so heavy, the incline had to be broken into two chain lifts. The fastest roller coaster on our list so far, Steel Dragon 2000 tops out at 95 mph and boasts the longest track at over 8100 ft. It was released the same year as Millennium Force, overtaking Millennium Force’s “tallest roller coaster” status after only a few months.
(On a side note, Steel Dragon 2000 appears to be a similar but larger version of the same manufacturer’s Steel Force roller coaster in Pennsylvania’s Dorney Park. For those in the U.S. who aren’t able to travel to Japan, Steel Force is a decent ride in its own right — I’ve ridden it myself at least 50 times over the last decade, and keep going back for more.)
#4 — Tower of Terror
377 ft — Dreamworld — Australia
I know some of the die-hard roller coaster fans may not consider Australia’s Tower of Terror to be a “real” roller coaster, because it’s not a full-circuit coaster (meaning you ride out and back on the same stretch of track instead of in a continuous loop), but I’m including it anyway. After all, we’re looking for the biggest, tallest thrills here. If you want to get technical, Tower of Terror is a reverse freefall roller coaster (a type of shuttle coaster). Essentially you’re accelerated quickly horizontally, then taken up at a 90 degree angle. When you reach the top of your climb, your car freefalls back down (reverse, because you’re falling backwards).
The Tower of Terror is the first on our list of the world’s tallest roller coasters to reach a top speed of 100 mph. The ride itself is a short one, lasting less than 30 seconds. While Tower of Terror is ranked #4 on our list, it actually has the same drop distance (but a shorter overall height) as our #3 coaster, another reverse freefall coaster designed by the same company.
#3 — Superman: The Escape
415 ft. — Six Flags Magic Mountain — California
Superman: The Escape is a nearly identical ride to the Tower of Terror reverse freefall coaster. Despite the fact that they both drop 328 ft., Superman takes riders higher, to a total of 415 ft.
You can see the tower of Superman: The Escape on the left portion of the image above, seeing how it towers over even Goliath, the near-twin roller coaster of Titan (which barely made our list at the #10 spot).
#2 — Top Thrill Dragster
420 ft — Cedar Point — Ohio
The name might not sound threatening, but that twisted mountain of steel could strike fear in nearly anyone’s heart. It sports a vertical lift, rounding down into a vertical drop, and all while exceeding 400 ft in the process. Top Thrill Dragster isn’t the first Cedar Point roller coaster to make our list, but it is our first stratacoaster, and that’s saying something. The ride may be short at only 17 seconds, but when you hit the top speed of 120 mph, I have to imagine you’ll welcome the relief!
Top Thrill Dragster was created by the same company that produced Tower of Terror, Superman: The Escape, and Millennium Force — not to mention our yet-to-be named tallest roller coaster in the world!
#1 — Kingda Ka
456 ft — Six Flags Great Adventure — New Jersey
Here we are with the #1 tallest roller coaster in the world — Kingda Ka! As you can see, it’s much like its sister stratacoaster Top Thrill Dragster in its vertical climb and drop setup. Unfortunately you won’t be shot out of the station at 128 mph on this monster of a coaster any time soon though. It’s (again) closed for extended maintenance.
Roller coaster enthusiasts everywhere are being forced to anxiously await its reopening, as Kingda Ka has faced numerous technical problems since being struck by lightning earlier this year. This isn’t the coaster’s first long shut-down though. It was also shut down a while for repairs in 2005 due to launch cable problems.
I don’t know about you, but technical problems have a better chance of scaring me away than the title of “World’s Tallest Roller Coaster.” That said, to say Kingda Ka looks like “one sweet ride” would be a serious understatement!