The roller coaster is an invention that has brought millions upon millions of delighted smiles to the faces of children and adults alike since its creation and invention in 1885. A roller coaster is traditionally a form of elevated track, like a railroad, with hills, pitches, and turns throughout its course, that an open line of cars runs along (with passengers; for their enjoyment). Often they start out with a climb via chain pull up to the highest point of the coaster, and it is all gravity from there.
Since the creation of the roller coaster, huge advancements have been made. Wood beams were replaced with steel, the traditional track was replaced with suspended rails, loops were added, the ability to hang upside down, insane corkscrews, chain pull was replaced with complex acceleration systems - roller coasters suddenly stretched up to hundreds of feet high.
Nowadays they can be accelerated from 0-100 miles per hour faster than any car, thanks to magnet acceleration. Indeed, roller coasters have superseded cars in many ways, a far cry from their rickety (yet impossibly fun) wooden ancestors.
It seems unlikely that a rollercoaster could be faster than a car, and of course, when we're talking flat out, most cars these days can reach over 100 miles per hour, and many can even creep up on 200. Roller coasters can't go this fast, but many of them can go faster than highway speeds, and accelerate and turn so much faster than a car. These are the kinds of roller coasters we will consider, so let's take a look at 20.
20 Top Thrill Dragster; Sandusky, Ohio
The Top Thrill Dragster doesn't fail to deliver on giving the top of the top when it comes to thrills and excitement. The faces of these riders tell it all, and so do the stats on the roller coaster itself, which are seriously fast.
It reaches up into the sky a phenomenal 420 feet (just imagine the views from the top), where it quickly drops downwards, hurtling to the earth and reaching a top speed of 120 miles per hour, faster than many cars out there today.
19 Behemoth; Maple, Ontario
The Behemoth, found at the amusement park named Canada's Wonderland, is one of the fastest roller coasters around, with just as many exciting turns and pitches as it has raw speed. The coaster reaches a height of 230 feet and reaches a phenomenal speed of 77 miles per hour.
On a thin track corkscrewing through the air, that speed only gets amplified, and the thrills are more than could even be comprehended, and it'll leave you with a massive grin on your face as you step out and hop right back in line again.
18 Diamondback; Sandusky, Ohio
The Diamondback roller coaster, found at Kings Island in Ohio, is themed after the rattlesnake that it gets its namesake from. While the roller coaster isn't as dangerous as a Diamondback, it is just as intense, and feral, with insane g-forces and gyrations at incredible speeds.
This track reaches over 200 feet in height, and attains a face-melting speed of 80 miles per hour, with its steepest pitch hitting a stomach-dropping 74 degrees. This coaster has plenty of speed, and plenty of thrills, more than almost any car can give.
17 Xcelerator; Buena Park, California
The Xcelerator is an aptly named roller coaster because one of its party pieces is the insane acceleration of the ride. Found at Knott's Berry Farm in California, this roller coaster has some seriously fast speed, and some serious G-force in its turns and bends along a hot pink track.
It climbs to a phenomenal height of 205 feet, and its hydraulic launched, meaning it has nigh otherworldly acceleration at the beginning, and throughout. It reaches a speed of 82 miles per hour in 2.3 seconds, faster than any car, and continues through some seriously fun and scary turns along its run.
16 Dodonpa; Yamanashi, Japan
Across the world, roller coasters have found great commercial success and brought happiness to countless people. Japan has some of the most incredible roller coasters, and the Dodonpa is just such a ride. Found at Fuji-Q Highland, this coaster isn't one to be trifled with.
The top speed of this coaster rivals its height of 171 feet, clocking in at 107 miles per hour. This car is air-launched, which means one thing: preposterous acceleration. It screams to its top speed of 107 in less than two seconds. That will melt your face off.
15 Steel Vengeance; Cedar Point
The Steel Vengeance is a fascinating hybrid rollercoaster, found at Cedar Point, and it's actually a steel track roller coaster that was built on the bones of an older wooden roller coaster.
Voted the most fun roller coaster of them all by coasterbuzz.com, the sheer thrill is outweighed by the sheer experience itself. But, it has its fair share of utter fear, with a true 90-degree drop, which is pretty insane, and a top speed of almost 80 miles per hour. This roller coaster is a fascinating one and a ride that made my bucket list.
14 Formula Rossa; Abu Dhabi, UAE
In the desert of the United Arab Emirates is the fastest roller coaster in the world, in a place known as Ferrari World. While this seems like an unlikely place for one, it's all part of a plan to use their riches from oil to create a stable economy for years to come. This amusement park is a tourist destination designed to draw people from the world over.
This roller coaster reaches a truly manic 150 miles per hour, so fast that the riders are given goggles to keep their eyes safe. This may just be a rollercoaster that is worthy of a trip halfway around the world to experience it.
13 Fury 325; Charlotte, North Carolina
For this one, though we wish it was the speed, instead it is the height, as the climb pulls you ever upwards to an incredible height of 325 feet, towering in the sky before a steep 81-degree plunge takes you hurtling to the earth.
At quite a fast rate of speed, too. 95 miles per hour, in fact. Pair that with the G-force from the tight turns and twists, pitches and rolls, and that speed gets nigh infinitely intensified. Open air always makes it feel even faster, too.
12 Hyperion; Malopolskie, Poland
The Hyperion, located at the amusement park Energylandia, in Poland, is a high thrill roller coaster, and one of the most anticipated in Europe. It boasts some serious height and some serious fun, too, with a steep drop of 85 degrees and a total height of almost 300 feet.
This roller coaster is fast, too, reaching a top speed of 88 miles per hour. The sparse structural work is fascinating, too, though that doesn't necessarily harm the thrills, which there are more than plenty of along the almost 5,000-foot length.
11 Intimidator 305; Doswell, Virginia
The Intimidator 305 is indeed a very intimidating roller coaster found in the King's Dominion amusement park in Virginia. This roller coaster doesn't mess around, either, finding itself on this list due to its extreme stats and even more extreme experience.
The Intimidator 305 reaches a height of, naturally, 305 feet, with its steepest pitch 5 degrees off 90, which is insanely steep. This accelerates you to 90 mph in a snap, and that's just the beginning because from there it gets twisty and full of crazy G-forces along its almost mile in length track. Awesome.
10 Kingda Ka; Jackson, New Jersey
The Kingda Ka is one of the worlds fastest roller coasters, and one of the most fun. It's also one of the biggest, with a massive loop and huge track length. It reaches a truly staggering height of 456 feet, with a second hill topping out at 129 feet. The Kingda Ka is hydraulically launched.
That means it reaches a truly incredible speed of 128 miles per hour. Imagine reaching that speed in the open air, it would be nigh overwhelming. And seriously intense. But, for many, the more intense the more fun.
9 Leviathan; Maple, Ontario
This roller coaster, found at the pretty spectacular and wonderful Canada's Wonderland, takes its namesake from the mythical creature known as the Leviathan, and while it is pictured as fiercely lumbering and lurkingly slow, the rollercoaster delivers the ferocity and raw power via very speedy means.
The giant climb is truly legendary, reaching 306 feet before plummeting at an 80-degree angle to reach a top speed of 92 miles per hour. That is quite fast, and this steel hyper-coaster has a track longer than a mile, meaning there's plenty of thrills, twists, and turns.
8 Millennium Force; Sandusky, Ohio
The Millennium Force is located at Cedar Point in Ohio, and it really is a new age of roller coaster, due to the sheer potential that it has proven to be capable of reaching, all for the delight of thousands of riders every day. This photo highlights the sheer height this roller coaster reaches.
That height is a staggering 310 feet, with an 80-degree angle drop, which accelerates the cars to a truly impressive speed of 93 miles per hour. The ride time is almost three minutes, too, which means it's almost worth the five-hour wait.
7 Red Force; Tarragona, Spain
Red Force can be found at the amazing Port Aventura, in the beautiful city of Tarragona along the southern coast of Spain. Having been to Tarragona, it really is an amazing city, in an amazing country. The Mediterranean views are truly extraordinary.
Much like the views from the top of this massively tall coaster, reaching up to 367 feet. It is new, too, only being opened in 2017, and the thrills are evidence of that, with a top speed of 117 miles an hour reached, making it one of the fastest in the world, though not the fastest.
6 Ring Racer; Nurburgring Motor Sports Complex, Germany
The Ring Racer at the Nurburgring had a short run and is unfortunately no longer open to the public, but while it was running it was some serious fun, designed to replicate the forces and feel of what it was like to be in an F1 car. It's not the tallest coaster by a long shot, but that's not a diss.
This steel coaster is air-launched, which means it accelerates at an inhuman rate to a stunning 135 miles per hour, in less than 3 seconds. That is some serious speed. If only more people went to this while it was open, as it shut down due to it not being economically viable.
5 Stealth; Surrey, United Kingdom
Featuring a huge horseshoe turn, this rollercoaster located in the United Kingdom reaches some serious height, towering upwards above Thorpe Park to a height of 205 feet. The resulting height means that what goes up must come down, and accelerate to a speed of 80 miles per hour.
Paired with some serious turns, twists, G-force, both positive and negative, means that this roller coaster is particularly heart-pounding and will leave you breathless, a smile glued to your face even as you walk home for the day.
4 Steel Dragon 2000; Nagashima, Japan
Japan has some seriously incredible amusement parks, and one of them is the Nagashima Spaland, where some of the world's best roller coasters are located. The Steel Dragon 2000 is found here, and it is a truly titan coaster that is well worth the visit alone.
The thrills are found in its massive 318-foot height, and the coaster's huge length, at well over a mile long. This coaster doesn't mess around, and its speed isn't something to be trifled with, either, topping out at 95 miles per hour. That's only the beginning, too, as the ride is full of endless thrills.
3 Superman- Escape from Krypton; Valencia, California
Built in 1997, but heavily revised and redone to reopen in 2011, this coaster is now seriously relevant, providing incredible thrills, G-forces, and acceleration. The ride is incredibly tall, too, topping out at a dizzying 400 feet. One of the tallest.
The speed is what is special, reaching a top speed of 100 miles per hour, and what makes this ride unique and incredible above the rest is the acceleration. Riders are catapulted backward via hydraulic power to reach a speed of 100 miles per hour in a mere 7 seconds. Sounds intoxicatingly thrilling.
2 X2; Valencia, California
The X2, located at the iconic Six Flags Magic Mountain in California, finds itself on this list due to not only its thrills and speed (though not as fast as many on this list) but also because it is the only 4D rollercoaster, with special effects and gimmicks to give you an even more thrilling ride.
But without all of that, it's still a really fast roller coaster, with a 200-foot drop and the fastest speed of 76 miles per hour, still above highway speeds, paired with quick turns and corkscrews. The X2 is a worthy rollercoaster for those looking for some serious thrills.
1 Tower of Terror II; Queensland, Australia
When this coaster first debuted way back in 1997, it was the tallest and fastest roller coaster ever made, reaching a speed of 100 miles per hour, a speed never before heard of.
Passengers are accelerated to 100 miles per hour in less than 7 seconds, before they pull almost 5 Gs as they shoot upwards, climbing the tower and falling back down in weightlessness (face gravity, face first) before they hit the curve again and are shot back to the starting point. Sounds like a good time to me.
Sources: Coaster Buzz, Trip Savvy & European Coaster Kings