Henry David Floyd’sFavorite Roller Coasters (that I’ve personally ridden)

Millennium Force Cedar Point
Sandusky, OH
Built
2000
Height
310 ft
Speed
93 mph
It would have been worth it just for the famed record-breaking 300-foot, 93-mph drop overlooking Lake Erie, which more than delivered on its promise. But it delivered so much more than that. It is impossible to overstate the sheer magnitude, the sheer size and speed of this machine, or properly judge it from a YouTube video. Towering hills and banked turns that looked on video like graceful, sweeping, relaxing moments in which to admire the landscape and catch your breath turned out in reality to be shockingly intense moments of scraping along the ground at 90 mph in the open air with nothing but a lap bar separating you from the ground and the lush trees, and cresting deceptively powerful hills that each delivered five or six impossibly long seconds of heart-in-throat pulled-out-of-your-seat weightlessness. Even the tiny, curiously-placed “bump” leading up to the final banked turn delivered a perfectly-timed jolt of airtime that I could never have imagined. Onboard video
Superman: The Ride Six Flags New England
Agawam, MA
Built
2001
Height
208 ft
Speed
77 mph
I rode this both in its original Superman: Ride of Steel form, and during its 2009-2015 Bizarro rebranding, during which it featured purple track and chaotic onboard audio. It was fun, but I’m glad to hear it’s been returned to its original Superman theming. It’s really a toss-up between this and Millennium Force—Millennium has that insane height and speed, while Superman has sharper hills, quicker twists, and that famous mist-filled underground tunnel. Onboard video
El Toro Six Flags Great Adventure
Jackson, NJ
Built
2006
Height
181 ft
Speed
70 mph
I don’t know who came up with the idea to start building wooden roller coasters again in the modern era, but this is a prime example of why it’s back in vogue now. One of the most intense coasters of any kind I’ve ever experienced, with sharp hills that try to eject the train from the tracks so forcefully you can hear the upstop wheels grinding against the underside of the track at each peak. The aggressive ground-level right-left-right-left “bucking bronco” action towards the end is one of my favorite parts. Onboard video
Kingda Ka Six Flags Great Adventure
Jackson, NJ
Built
2008
Height
456 ft
Speed
128 mph
Some would say Kingda Ka is barely a roller coaster at all because of its short runtime, consisting of a launch from zero to 128 mph in 3 seconds, a completely vertical climb up and over a record-breaking 456-foot hill with a vertical corkscrew back down to earth, and one final 100-foot hill of weightlessness before hitting the brakes less than 30 seconds in. Some say this type of coaster is a cop-out just built to break world records. But it deserves a spot on this list simply for creating otherworldly physical sensations that the human brain doesn’t know what to do with. I love fast cars, but no car ever made—not even a Formula 1 car—goes from 0 to 128 in 3 seconds, and the resulting in G-forces are so intense that I grayed out the first time I rode it and only regained consciousness near the top of the hill. I only remember the launch from my second time, using the clenched-teeth and held-breath trick that fighter pilots use. Between the biblical intensity of the launch and the beautiful but fleeting 456-foot view of the world, it was unforgettable. Onboard video
Outlaw Run Silver Dollar City
Branson, MO
Built
2013
Height
162 ft
Speed
68 mph
An absolutely rollicking ride. The amount of full-body twisting created by this is unrelenting, its pacing doesn't let up. The huge array of wild flings and turns nails the balance between feeling “tossed around” without actually feeling jerky or uncomfortable like older roller coasters attempting similar maneuvers. Other riding notes: The prolonged 90-degree hill that keeps you on your side for its entire duration feels surprisingly natural, as the hanging-sideways feeling takes a back seat to the more prominent floater airtime of the hill. And that final double barrel roll is almost the opposite—the fact that these trains only have a lap bar holding you in during these surprisingly drawn-out upside-down moments makes for truly frightening hangtime the first time you experience it. Onboard video
Powder Keg Silver Dollar City
Branson, MO
Built
1999
Height
110 ft
Speed
64 mph
The launch is an absolute blast (pun not intended), the first few hills deliver outsized airtime for their compact size, and even the old section of Premier track through the woods felt much faster than expected, the intense lateral G's and minimal banking making me think it wasn't originally intended to carry quite that much speed—the final twist into the lift hill section is particularly wrenching, though not in a painful way. And even the final section after the lift hill, brief as it is, was quite enjoyable with a good steep drop and a surprisingly vicious left twist down into the helix. Overall it felt very much like what is: two short rides joined together, in the best possible way. Even despite the obvious signs of aging (a once-white track desperately in need of paint, an all-day glitch requiring all restraints to be secured, opened, and re-secured on each ride, and a lack of the on-track siren and flame effects once used when newer) it just felt... fun. In this way it was the opposite of Wildfire at the same park, which felt oddly sterile and lifeless despite its time-tested menu of inversions found in its many clones nationwide. Powder Keg is slower, shorter, and older, but just had something intangible that made it vastly, vastly more fun. Onboard video
Boulder Dash Lake Compounce
Bristol, CT
Built
2000
Height
115 ft
Speed
60 mph
Boulder Dash’s biggest asset is the terrain it’s built on. Making full use of the hillside and its lush foliage means the ride is not only beautiful, but also feels much faster as branches and boulders race by. Its terrain also gives it deceptive pacing for those familiar with roller coasters expecting the largest drop (and therefore fastest speed) to be at the very beginning of the ride—Boulder Dash’s lowest point (and top speed) don’t arrive until almost halfway through the ride. Minus only one point for the home stretch before the station, which can be extremely violent and painful on the neck and tailbone. Onboard video
Magnum XL-200 Cedar Point
Sandusky, OH
Built
1989
Height
205 ft
Speed
70 mph
Magnum was already on my bucket list for being the tallest and fastest in the world when built, and being in every way a picture of the 80s, from the name to the Star-Wars-y train design to the neon-lit tunnels. Apart from a slightly jolty ride that’s definitely rougher than today’s computer-aided designs, it exceeded expectations in every way. The 200-foot first drop and steeply banked horseshoe turn were as thrilling as ever and faster than they appeared on video, but the second half of the ride is what really surprised me. What looked like a series of relatively tame bunny hops as it nears the station was actually a hair-raising, unrelenting slew of increasingly forceful ejector airtime, the last of which takes place in a dark, neon-lit tunnel until the ride abruptly ends. Truly an out-of-breath moment once the brakes hit. Onboard video
Nitro Six Flags Great Adventure
Jackson, NJ
Built
2001
Height
230 ft
Speed
80 mph
Apart from its soaring 230-foot height, 80-mph speed, and impressively smooth-riding trains, one thing that struck me when experiencing Nitro in real life was the feeling of open-air freedom. Sure, there may be something nostalgic about wooden roller coasters and the way they utilize their insanely dense wooden support structures to make it feel like you’re going to whack your head as you pass through it—but there is something equally impressive about the openness of twenty-first century steel rides with support poles that are so few and far between that you really feel like you're floating on air as a you rocket around the track. Onboard video
Gatekeeper Cedar Point
Sandusky, OH
Built
2008
Height
160 ft
Speed
60 mph
One of my favorite recent trends in modern roller coasters is rider seating that is neither above nor below the track, but floating out to each side of the track. This not only gives you an incredible sense of openness as your views both above and below you are completely unobstructed, but also makes the physics of the various corkscrews and banked turns more unpredictable as your side of the train is leveraged up or down with the twists of the track. It also passes through impossibly narrow holes in the towers which flank the park’s entrance gates, and it’s an incredible first thing to see as you walk in. Onboard video
Superman: Ultimate Flight Six Flags Great Adventure
Jackson, NJ
Built
2002
Height
106 ft
Speed
51 mph
This coaster’s relatively common layout might not otherwise be that interesting, were it not for the position you’re strapped into: in the Superman flying position, face down, back against the track above you. This makes it twice as exciting before you’ve even reached the first drop, as the complete lack of any track or floor between you and the ground beneath you on the lift hill makes for some great suspense. Cliché as it sounds, the experience of flying like Superman is tremendously fun, and it’s the very first element after the drop that really makes the ride: an inverted loop that starts up high and sees you diving down towards the ground until your back is against the ground, then back up to proceed with the rest of the ride. Onboard video
Blue Streak Cedar Point
Sandusky, OH
Built
Height
Speed
I never thoguht a coaster this old could have so much life left in it! Surprising speed and powerful airtime from what I thought would be a pretty tame first ride of the day.
Mamba Worlds of Fun
Kansas City, MO
Built
1996
Height
201 ft.
Speed
70 mph
Definitely a little. Best moments were the hangtime before the first drop—especially given the loose restraints and lack of any handles to hold onto—the end of the helix with the “head chopper” supports, and the final run of bunny hills. A lot of its charm comes from the unexpected and probably entirely accidental jolts of ejector air that come in the transition between the handbuilt sections, which are actually stronger than the bunny hills.
Bizarro (Medusa) Six Flags Great Adventure
Jackson, NJ
Built
Height
Speed
I rode this during its temporary 2009-2015 Bizarro branding, meaning it gets the leg up on its identical twin Batman in New England because of the added fire and mist effects it had at the time.
Batman: The Ride Six Flags New England
Agawam, MA
Built
Height
Speed
Batman: The Ride Six Flags Great Adventure
Jackson, NJ
Built
Height
Speed
Inverted coasters just don’t wow me. I can’t place why, but the somewhat more traditional floorless model at New England is more exciting to me. Maybe it’s that I like being able to see the sky? All I know is that I have never really understood the now-decades-long obsession with inverted coasters compared with their traditionally oriented counterparts.
Wildfire Silver Dollar City
Branson, MO
Built
2001
Height
168 ft.
Speed
68 mph
Perhaps it’s just a victim of being cloned endlessly by its manufacturer across the country, but Wildfire felt predictable, sterile, and lifeless compared to its neighboring rides, despite no specific objections. This model’s over-the-shoulder restraints restricting movement and sightlines have always been a peeve of mine, it feels just as surprisingly short as its sibling Batman at my home park, and the fact that this earlier coaster does have a floor (though your feet don't touch it) and a bizarrely huge lead car took even further points off its completely floorless Batman sibling at my home park. Its age also didn’t help—I know from riding Gatekeeper less than a year ago that new B&Ms can be silky smooth, but this one was beginning to show the rattles and vibrations of a coaster nearing end-of-life.
Thunderbolt Six Flags New England
Agawam, MA
Built
Height
Speed
Pandemonium Six Flags New England
Agawam, MA
Built
Height
Speed
Thundercat Lake Compounce
Bristol, CT
Built
Height
Speed
Flashback Six Flags New England
Agawam, MA
Built
Height
Speed
Another Vekoma boomerang.
Zoomerang Lake Compounce
Bristol, CT
Built
Height
Speed
Another Vekoma boomerang.
Catwoman's Whip Six Flags New England
Agawam, MA
Built
Height
Speed
A harmless but completely forgettable family coaster.
Mind Eraser Six Flags New England
Agawam, MA
Built
Height
Speed
Torture from beginning to end. The worst part, ironically, is that you can’t erase this experience from your throbbing, concussed mind.
Bucket list (yet to ride)
The Beast King’s Island
Mason, OH
Built
1979
Height
141 ft
Speed
64 mph
One of the most famous roller coasters in the world, it was once the tallest and fastest in the world and is still one of the world’s longest. Almost 2 miles of track travel far into a beautiful woodland landscape, riding the terrain through the forest at over 60 mph. It’s so long it has a second lift hill, which rather than ending in a steep drop instead culminates in a uniquely stretched-out descent back down into the woods that tilts the train gradually to the side at it picks back up to 60 mph during its seemingly infinite descent. The fact that the coaster is approaching 50 years old makes it all the more impressive. Onboard video
Intimidator 305 King’s Dominion
Doswell, VA
Built
2010
Height
305 ft
Speed
90 mph
Onboard video
Maverick Cedar Point
Sandusky, OH
Built
2007
Height
105 ft
Speed
70 mph
Maverick was unfortunately closed during my trip to Cedar Point, but one day I’d love to go back and experience this coaster which marked the shift from the speed and height wars to the age of compact but more intense coasters. Featuring a beyond-vertical 95º drop, a stop and launch midway through the ride, and scenic banked turns over a pond, this is a must-ride for me. Onboard video
Top Thrill 2 Cedar Point
Sandusky, OH
Built
2003
Height
420 ft
Speed
120 mph
Another coaster that was sadly unavailable during my trip to Cedar Point, the second-tallest roller coaster in the world was midway through being transformed from its original Top Thrill Dragster layout to its new layout which features a new weaker first launch forward and a stronger launch backwards up a vertical spike before continuing with the final forward launch up its 420-foot tower. Onboard video
Jack Rabbit Kennywood
West Mifflin, PA
Built
1920
Height
70 ft
Speed
45 mph
One of the oldest operating roller coasters in the world. It is insane to me that a roller coaster 103 years old is still running like clockwork. Onboard video
Phantom’s Revenge Kennywood
West Mifflin, PA
Built
1991
Height
228 ft
Speed
85 mph
Despite breaking records in 1991 and having a super cool second drop directly into the structure of a nearby wooden coaster, the once-cutting-edge Steel Phantom got a reputation for being rattly and having uncomfortable shoulder restraints that were required due to its four loops. It got a major makeover in 2001 by replacing the loops with airtime hills, increasing its overall speed and allowing for simple lap bars. Now smoother and faster while still retaining its awesome layout, this has always been a bucket-list coaster for me. Onboard video
Fury 325 Carowinds
Charlotte, NC
Built
2020
Height
325 ft
Built
95 mph
One of the world’s only coasters taller and faster than Millennium Force, and the tallest lift hill in the world (the only coasters taller than it are launched and then climb towers). It doesn’t give up after its record-breaking hill like Kingda Ka, though—it boasts a very long and varied layout. Dads everywhere will be sure to joke that it’s so long it goes into another state! (Carowinds is located on the NC-SC line.) Onboard video
Thunder Dolphin La Qua
Tokyo, Japan
Built
2003
Height
262 ft
Speed
80 mph
Think Superman: The Ride, but smack in the middle of a city block and goes directly through a skyscraper and the center of a Ferris wheel. Onboard video
Shambhala PortAventura
Catalonia, Spain
Built
2012
Height
255 ft
Speed
83 mph
Nitro, but slightly taller, plus a way cooler dive loop and a run through water spray towards the end.
Formula Rossa Ferrari World
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Built
2016
Height
95 ft
Speed
149 mph
For almost a decade, I could say I’d ridden the fastest roller coaster on earth, Kingda Ka. Then Ferrari World opened in Abu Dhabi, and with it Formula Rossa, eclipsing Kingda Ka’s 128 mph with a staggering 149 mph. I wouldn’t otherwise want to bake in that desert heat, but to ride this ride… maybe. Onboard video