Memorial Day, long considered the unofficial start of summer is both an important day to celebrate all who served.
Families throughout the U.S. also use the extended holiday as an opportunity to spend some quality time with their loved ones. And for some, there’s no better way to bond and ring in the summer than a trip to a favorite an amusement park. Of course, no amusement park trip would be complete without a thrilling roller coaster ride or five, or ten.
But, with so many roller coaster options across the nation to choose from, picking one can be just as daunting as working up the courage to strap in. Luckily theme park experts and roller coaster fans have determined which ones are top-tier rides, according to 10 Best.com – a travel review website under USA Today.
Here is a list of the top 10 roller coasters in the U.S. Some may be within a Memorial Day’s drive for you.
10. Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City (Branson, Mo.)
- Height: 107 feet
- Track length: 2,937 feet
- Speed: 68 mph
Outlaw Run is a western stagecoach-themed wooden coaster at Silver Dollar City that has both a double barrel roll and 720-degree double barrel row. Its 2,937 feet of track is also one of the steepest with a 162-foot drop at 81 degrees. According to Silver Dollar City, "Outlaw Run is the only wood coaster to twist upside down three times" and "is one of the fastest wood coasters in the world, reaching a top speed of 68 miles per hour."
9. Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay & Adventure Island (Tampa, Fla.)
- Height: 151 feet
- Track length: 3,983 feet
- Speed: 60 mph
Montu is an inverted roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay that has a mythological Egyptian theme. The steel ride includes a 60-foot vertical loop, a weightless roll, seven inversions and a batwing along its 3,983-foot track. Busch Gardens lists Montu’s ride thrill level as "extreme" and claims it was is "first coaster in the world to incorporate an Immelmann loop (a simultaneous loop and roll), named for a German fighter pilot."
8. Phantom's Revenge at Kennywood (West Mifflin, Pa.)
- Height: 160 feet
- Track length: 3,365 feet
- Speed: 85 mph
Phantom’s Revenge is a ghost-themed steel roller coaster at the Kennywood amusement park. It includes a 232-foot drop, hills, 280- and 180-degree turns and three bunny-hops at a maximum speed of 85 miles-per-hour. The thrilling ride’s 3,365 feet of track takes about one minute and 45 seconds to experience.
7. Lightning Rod at Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tenn.)
- Height: 165 feet
- Track length: 3,800 feet
- Speed: 73 mph
The Lightning Rod roller coaster in Dollywood is a 1950s hot rod themed ride that runs along a "hybrid track structure," which is made from wood and steel. It goes up its lift hill at 45 miles-per-hour and soars up higher than 20 stories. The Lightning Rod’s 3,800 feet of track also includes twin summit airtime hills and a 165-foot drop.
6. Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion & Soak City (Doswell, Va.)
- Height: 305 feet
- Track length: 5,100 feet
- Speed: 90 mph
The Intimidator 305 is a race car-themed coaster that takes inspiration from late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, who was also known as "The Intimidator" back in his heyday. This steel ride includes a 300-foot drop at an 85-degree angle and "high-speed twists and turns," according to Kings Dominion. The thrilling coaster travels down 5,100 feet of track at 90-milies-per-hour for a duration of three minutes.
5. Fury 325 at Carowinds (Charlotte, N.C.)
- Height: 325 feet
- Track length: 6,602 feet
- Speed: 95 mph
Fury 325 is a hornet-themed roller coaster that is located in the Carowinds amusement parks. The ride features the longest steel track in North America, which measures a whopping 1.25 miles and takes more than three minutes to travel down. It also has three 32-passenger cars that travel 95 miles-per-hour along a 325-foot drop, a 190-foot tall barrel turn, a high-speed S-curve and horseshoe turn and more. Riders of the Fury 325 also get views of both the North and South Carolina state lines.
4. The Voyage at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari (Santa Claus, Ind.)
- Height: 173 feet
- Track length: 6,442 feet
- Speed: 67 mph
The Voyage is a Pilgrim-themed wooden roller coaster that takes inspiration from the voyage early American settlers made in 1620, according to Holiday World. It is designed to provide riders 24.3 seconds of "weightlessness" with an out and back layout and steep drops. The 6,442-foot track also includes 90-degree banking, five underground tunnels at a maximum speed of 67 miles-per-hour. "The Voyage is 1.2 miles long, placing it among the planet’s top two longest wooden coasters," Holiday World’s website states.
3. Phoenix at Knoebels Amusement Resort (Elysburg, Pa.)
- Height: 78 feet
- Track length: 3,200 feet
- Speed: 45 mph
The Phoenix roller coaster at Knoebels is themed after its mythological namesake and takes riders through a double out and back layout, which extends 3,200 feet. While this wooden coaster isn’t the tallest or fastest, it has been consistently ranked in the top 10 since its restoration in 1985. It’s also been named a "Coaster Landmark" by the American Coaster Enthusiasts – a nonprofit rollercoaster group.
2. Mako at SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, Fla.)
- Height: 200 feet
- Track length: 4,760 feet
- Speed: 73 mph
Mako is a steel roller coaster at SeaWorld Orlando that takes inspiration from the mako shark. The "extreme" thrill hyper coaster reaches a maximum speed of 73 miles-per-hour and zooms through a ship wreck reef along its 4,760-foot track. According to SeaWorld, the Mako has "deep dives" that descend 20 stories over water. Moreover, it has nine hills and is considered to be "Orlando’s tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster."
1. Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
- Height: 205 feet
- Track length: 5,740 feet
- Speed: 74 mph
Steel Vengeance is a frontier-themed roller coaster in Cedar Point. The "hyper-hybrid" track measures 5,740 feet in length and includes a 200-foot drop at 90 degrees. Riders also get treated to many twists, turns and four "head-over-boots inversions," according to Cedar Point. The ride western-inspired ride reaches a maximum speed of 74-miles-per hour and takes about two and a half minutes to complete.
THEME PARK UPDATE: Here's when Disney World could go to 100% capacity
While roller coaster critics have narrowed down a list of the best roller coasters, theme park experts at the attractions industry resource Blooloop say three highly-anticipated rides will be opening in 2021, including the Universal Orlando VelociCoaster at the Islands of Adventure, the Kings Dominion S&S 4D Free Spin and the Adventureland Dragon Slayer.
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