We love thrill rides here at HostelBookers, and not just the spinning teacups at Disney World.
Roller coaster junkie Lauren Smith swears the best coasters around are in the USA, and has tried and tested a fair whack over the years, thanks to a pair of particularly adventurous parents! So to whet your appetite for some white knuckle rides, check out her guide to America’s best coasters…
I LOVE rollercoasters – loopy ones, wooden ones, ones that plummet to the floor – and have been dragged around theme parks from an early age. America takes the prize for the most thrill rides – especially the ‘Six Flags’ and ‘Busch Gardens’ parks, where each ride has high speeds and hairpin turns worth booking a flight for.
Forget high admission prices, theme parks in the states are surprisingly cheap, and even better value if you buy your tickets online in advance. Many also offer discounts if you’re a student, family, or traveling in a group (go after dark, or during the week, and you’ll save even more on your tickets).
If you’re planning on backpacking around America, or want an adventurous Spring Break, then check out some of my favourite roller coasters in the USA. These will really make your hairs stand on end… just make sure you go for greasy amusement park food AFTER the ride!
Apollo’s Chariot, Busch Gardens Europe, Williamsburg, USA
This is my personal favourite because when it launched, the goofy supermodel Fabio went on the first ride (dressed in a toga), and got hit in the face by a pigeon at the top! Don’t let that put you off though – Apollo’s Chariot is consistently ranked as one of the top ten steel coasters in the world, with 4G climbs and drops leading to a ‘weightless’ or floating feeling as you ride. Busch Gardens is in historic Williamsburg, the Colonial capital of the US, with a range of museums and the well-preserved Colonial district, with people walking around like it’s the eighteenth century.
There are plenty of motels and hostels in Williamsburg for a cheap place to stay.
The Riddler’s Revenge, Six Flags Magic Mountain, LA, California
Six Flags Magic Mountain is one of the best theme parks around for thrill rides, and the Riddler is probably the scariest of the bunch. This is the world’s tallest and fastest stand-up coaster, spinning you head over heels six times in dizzying 360 degree loops – try walking in a straight line after this one!
Montu and SheiKra, Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida
The original Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, has enough thrill rides to give Orlando a run for its money, and both of these coasters are well worth a mention. Montu is one of the tallest and longest inverted roller coasters in the world, racing at 60 miles an hour and with a 60 foot vertical loop. SheiKra is Florida’s tallest roller coaster, and the tallest ‘dive’ coaster in the world, plunging into an underground tunnel and through a ‘water feature’. This coaster packs a hell of a punch in only three minutes flat! Stay in a Tampa hostel to experience these adrenaline pumping rides.
Thunderhead, Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Wooden roller coasters are far from outdated – in fact these babies are sometimes even more frightening than steel rides, as you can feel every bump and jerk on the way down! Head to Dolly Parton’s own theme park ‘Dollywood’, in the Deep South for one of the best-loved wooden coasters in the world. With a surprising number of twists and turns, Thunderhead doesn’t stop for breath until the final break.
The Incredible Hulk, Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida
Skip the cheesy back lot and movie rides at Universal Studios Florida, and head to the Islands of Adventure park for something more hardcore. You’re supposed to ‘Feel the Rage’ on this green monster of a ride, accelerating from 0-40 miles per hour in two seconds flat – that’s the same as a jet taking off! Forget the overpriced theme hotels at the Orlando resorts – book an Orlando hostel, and save your money for the rides.
Storm Runner, Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania
I’ve been going to Hersheypark (the home of Hershey’s chocolate) since I was a little girl, and once I got bored of the chocolate factory, I moved on to its great thrill rides. Storm Runner is a one of a kind, launching riders from 0-72 miles per hour in 2 seconds flat. Speeding 18 stories high, and then plummeting to earth, with a load of loops, rolls and dives thrown in for good measure, this is one ride to be tackled before scoffing the free chocolates!
Thanks to mgrayflickr, Joe Roller fan, sdettling, Brian Marshall, Teny Jr, JefferyTurner for the excellent images from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.