Essential coasters for the newbies

I have only been riding roller coasters for approximately 10 years, and I have ridden approximately 40 coasters, many of them being junior coasters or coasters at places like Disney. If anyone can give me a good list of essential coasters I should hit sooner rather than later, that would be fantastic...

The only thing I can say that I have no interest in are coasters that exceed 230 feet for drops. Steel Force at Dorney Park is very nearly my threshold, so Kingda Ka and Top Thrill Dragster are OUT, as well as Millenium Force. Other than that, what do you have for me? Yes, I realize I am a wuss. :)

Not knowing where you live or how far you're willing to travel, here are some I'd like to recommend!

Wood - Phoenix, Voyage, Thunderhead

Steel - SROS at SFNE, Apollo's Chariot, Goliath at SFOG

I think those all meet your requirements.

I survived a Japanese typhoon and the Togo flat ride of death!!!!!!
Come on up here to NH and ride the Yankee Cannonball at Canobie Lake. You could also be crazy enough to hit SFNE.

Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

The drop on Millennium Force happens so fast and the lift is so fast, that I'm not sure your brain would be able to notice any difference in the height, especially if you were to sit in the middle of the train. Obviously, you'd notice the speed difference.

The same goes for TTD/KK as you're up there for so little bit of time that you wouldn't have time to register that you're 400 ft. plus off the ground.

If it's a psychological thing of just looking at the height and not being able to deal with it, it's understandable.

I'd have to agree that if you're looking for an essential coaster to ride, then S:ROS at SFNE is it. The height matches your criteria with a 221 ft. drop, but I'm not sure how you'd handle the ride! It's quite a different beast than Steel Force.

Another one I would recommend is Phantom's Revenge at Kennywood. The initial drop is only 160 ft., with the second drop being 228 ft. Even though this one is all Morgan (like Steel Force) after cresting the second drop, Steel Force it is not. It is absolute insanity once you've plunged down through Thunderbolt.

Ill take another road, and go with essential parks. These are the parks, that while they may not be some peoples favorites, most enthusiasts (well East Coast/Midwest based ones at least or at the very least me) have been to or want to at some point:

New England:
-Lake Compounce
*Not necessarily as popular as the others I to would add Canobie Lake here

New York:
-Coney Island

New Jersey:

-Knoebels Grove

-Busch Gardens Europe
-King's Dominion


-Sea World Orlando
-Islands of Adventure/Universal Studios
-Walt Disney World
-Busch Gardens Africa

-Cedar Point
-Kings Island

-Holiday World


-Schlitterbahn (not a theme park, but trust me you want to go here)

-Knott's Berry Farm
-Disneyland/California Adventure

Edit: Forgot two


-Silver Dollar City *** Edited 5/26/2008 7:41:16 PM UTC by Touchdown***

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

Sheikrafanatic's avatar
I would say

Dark Knight (new ones),
Raging Bull,

Webmaster/Podcast host for

Dueling Dragons, Raptor, Millennium Force, Nitro, Superman SFNE, Kraken, Hades, Cyclops, Voyage, Ledgend, Avalanche, El Toro and Boulder Dash.

Top 5 wood: 1.Hades 2.Voyage 3.Boulder Dash 4.Avalanche 5.Legend
Top 5 Steel: 1.Maverick 2.Fire Dragon 3.Batman 4.Raptor 5.Ice Dragon

I noticed the Ride of Steel seems to be a big one for quite a few people. I'm in the Allentown/Bethlehem area, but I'm quite willing to travel. Thank you so much everyone for all your replies!! Ah, and Bam Bam, I enjoy Talon very much. Sometimes when I'm in the front seat, I see spots cuz the G's are damn good. :) Touchdown, I really appreciate the recommendations for parks instead of coasters. That might be a good way to go because I can check out the quantity and quality of coasters in each one according to ratings and opinions and decide if I want to go there (some parks might not be all that great to go to just for one coaster).

As for the height issue, it's not being super high up that gets me, but the feeling I get when I hit the drops...after a certain point, that feeling goes from fun to terror. I think I'm going to hit higher and higher coasters until I can work my way up to Millenium Force. Storm Runner at Hersheypark right now is my favorite coaster that I've ridden, but that launch is at the threshold for me as well. I think I'd likely have a heart attack on Kingda Ka. Hehehehehe...

I'm so psyched to follow up on these suggestions though! I have a back injury right now related to my job, but as soon as I get off of light duty, it's time for coaster mania!!!

matt.'s avatar
Many people argue that Storm Runner's launch is really more powerful than KK's

bunky666 said:
I have only been riding roller coasters for approximately 10 years

10 years?? I've only been riding for 4 years (if you count 2008), so I really don't think you're a "newbie"!?! LOL...

The only thing I might add is The Beast at Kings Island. While not as good as it used to be (from what I've heard), the double helix is still a coaster experience not to be missed!! And if you're at Great Adventure, add Nitro as well (my favorite B&M hyper).

And about height, I always assumed the more you ride the less of a deal height is?!? Good luck...

Hui Ya Bunky! (An old Eddie Lawrence reference for those old enough to remember...)

I think it might be a mistake to just cram everything in as a check-off list. Go slowly.

The atmosphere of Morey's Piers is very different from Knoebels, yet both are fantastic places that truly need to be savored at a nice pace. Same for any park already mentioned.

If you travel, go more than once and see the parks through several sets of enthusiast's, a non-rider's, a young child's and a tweener's.

I have been doing this a lot longer than ten years, and I am far from even completeing your list.

What's that they say...just enjoy the ride!

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

matt. said:
Many people argue that Storm Runner's launch is really more powerful than KK's

I've been on both and have to disagree. Storm Runner was just right IMO. KK was a little too much for me to enjoy. It was so fast that I felt like I survived it more than enjoyed it. Maybe I just need to do it a few more times though.

I think the thing is that everyone has different opinions, and thus what's an essential coaster? Some people love X to death, and other people don't like it. Some people don't care for Shockwave at Six Flags Over Texas, but others really like it. People think that Maverick is the greatest ride on the earth, but I think it's just a good ride, and not a great ride.

Superman: Ride of Steel is at multiple locations.

People seem to like Six Flags New England the best, but you might hate this ride. There is also a different layout at Six Flags America. There is another one at Darien Lake.

I say go for rides that look interesting to you. Go check a park, and see the roller coasters. Look at Kings Island. The Premier coaster goes in circles. Maybe, you don't want to ride that. The Beast looks like a big coaster, and they made the Son of Beast. That must mean that the Beast is a pretty good ride if they made another ride with it's name in it.

Holy cow, they have flying coaster. That layout looks intense especially with you laying on your stomach. They have indoor coaster made by Premier. Oh, cool it has a cobra roll, sidewinder, and a corkscrew in it, and it goes 54 mph. I think I want to ride that. It also has lap bars instead of the shoulder harness. I must ride that now. It sounds fun to ride.

Good luck on your quest.

Get Ready. Get Set. Spinout! Six Flags America: The Park that is Full of Disappointments
ApolloAndy's avatar
I assume when you mean "Essential coaster" you're referring to the coasters that will allow you enter the conversation. I remember when I first became an enthusiast it was a bit overwhelming to hear all the coasters and I could never chime in with an opinion because I hadn't ridden much.

I would say rather than taking people's top ____ list which will generally heavily favor hyper coasters, look for different experiences. Specifically, look for new ride types by different designers or with unique elements.

Hershey has some very unique rides - an Intamin Rocket Coaster (Storm Runner) an Anton looper (SuperDooperLooper) a GCI dueling/Racing Coaster (Lightning Racer), and the new Intamin beyond vertical drop (Farenheit) and you already have aB&M inverted but they have one too (Great Bear).

Knoebel's doesn't have unique rides from the looks of it, but the Phoenix and the flyers are two of the best out there - cream of the crop for enthusiasts.

If you're looking for an Intamin hyper, S:RoS SFNE is going to be it.

If you're looking for a B&M hyper, Nitro would probably be your closest/best bet.

Floorless : You have Hydra, but Medusa at Great Adventure is very different.

Flyers: S:UF at Great adventure is going to be the closest.

Old school arrow looper: Great American Scream Machine at GAdv. New school arrow looper: Dollywood (a lot better than old school arrow loopers, but not worth the trip by itself).

Launcher/spagetti bowl: Joker's Jinx at SFA (which also has a Vekoma flyer and a different S:RoS).

Best chance for a mouse in your area (other than Dorney's) would probably be Hershey or the new Dark Knight at GAdv but those are far from essential.

The nearest dive coaster is going to be Busch Gardens Europe and you also get one of my favorite coaster (Apollo's Chariot) and a super big invert (Alpie).

Islands of Adventure has some VERY unique rides with Hulk and Dueling Dragons. If you can ride Pteradon Flyers, you win a prize.

You can't go wrong with a trip to Cedar Point, even if you don't ride MF or TTD.

Holiday World has some top of the line wood that every will be talking about for years to come. If you want some other good wood closer to home, Lake Compounce is home to Boulder Dash and GAdv. has El Toro - both are extremely good rides.

X at Magic Mountain is also very unique, and I loved it but I know a lot of people didn't. With the new update, it's definitely showing up in a lot of conversations.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

ApolloAndy, you've really been all over the place for coasters, huh? Yeah, it's kind of frustrating talking to everyone and going, "Gee, how about that Hydra?" Ehehehehe...I'm actually gonna ride Voodoo tomorrow after physical therapy, and I'll be hitting Hersheypark June 27th, and I'll finally ride Fahrenheit and I'll even ride Lightning Racer just to ride it (I'm not a big woodie fan cuz they HURT!). Then I'll have something to talk about! LOL Although Storm Runner and Steel Force aren't for the faint of heart, and I've repeatedly done those. :) My best friend with a cast iron stomach got on Storm Runner with me and was knocked absolutely breathless from that launch (it was both of our first launch coasters). She didn't say anything or scream until we crested the top of the hill. Then she freaked out and was like, "Holy sh**!! What the f*** just happened?!" SR remains a favorite half because it's a great coaster, but that memory just cracks me up as well.

Argh, I REALLY want to do X. I love to spin and flip, and that just sounds like everything I love rolled into one huge amazing package. And Hulk is a MUST someday. That HUGE cobra roll is enough in itself to be drool-worthy.

I would love to do Apollo's Chariot as well, probably over Nitro. Nitro looks like a more complicated layout, but Apollo's Chariot just looks so beautiful, and it looks like it is LOADED with airtime. Alpengeist would be a draw for me as well, but I don't know if I could handle Griffon or not. I HATE drop towers, so I don't think Griffon would be something I'd probably like. I could be wrong though. I thought Steel Force would kill me and now it's old news.

Anyway, again, thank you SO much for your suggestions. I can't wait to make this the summer I do many amusement parks and break 50 coasters.

rollergator's avatar
^Lightning Racer is so smooth, you'll probably have to rethink your statement about them "hurting".

Essential wood: CI Cyclone, Tx Giant, Toro, Voyage, Phoenix, Tremors, and the Kennywoodies.

Other than Antons and Intamin hypers, steel isn't really "necessary", LOL, but I also like the Premier rides alot. B&M makes great inverts and good hypers for the most part, but their layouts tend to be a little too predictable and forces are generally kept within narrow tolerances for my taste.

ApolloAndy's avatar
TX Giant if you consider a spinal adjustment essential. :-P

Seriously though, there is a *much* greater difference between bad wood and good wood than bad steel and good steel. I spent the first few years of my coaster career thinking wood was boring or painful because I was only riding stuff like Mean Streak and Boss and only during the day in the middle of the train.

Find one of the above mentioned great woodies (by anyone) ride it in front, at night, and I dare you not to have a ride better than even the best steel.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

I'll echo S:RoS at SFNE. It's not much of a park, but I do enjoy the water park and Superman is intense where Millennium Force was an "okay" ride for me.

If you head to Tampa Bay, Montu is my favorite of the inverteds. The Archaeology theming is great going through the troughs, though I miss the crocodiles out of the station.

Great Adventure's got Nitro and the still-intense Batman: The Ride. I might suggest Kingda Ka would still be fine since I am afraid of heights, but don't even notice the heights on most coasters. Plus, you go through so fast, you'll be back before you even know it.

I have to recommend El Toro for wood. The Cyclone at Coney Island is a must ride for just the historic aspect, but El Toro will make you rethink what a wooden coaster is good for. Just ignore the once-fun Rolling Thunder nearby. El Toro does so much, you'll wonder how they did it, and it's smooth as glass!

I'll also echo Lightning Racers at Hershey. Wildcat is great until that last helix, but is still kind of rough, but the racers will make you get back in line many times.

The Holiday World wooden coasters have all been highly rated by people who have been there, and the owners have been incredibly supportive of the community as well.

Enjoy the hobby above all!

rollergator's avatar

ApolloAndy said:TX Giant if you consider a spinal adjustment essential. :-P.

You know I do, Andy.... :)

LOL, I'm one of those that forgives a certain amount of "roughness" when the intensity is ratcheted up to an extreme level. Texas Giant certainly fits that mold. And after (finally!) getting more rides on it last week, I can only say that my prior assessment remains intact. The ride is NOT for the faint-hearted....and I'm glad I got a couple of back-seat rides. As I exited after my last lap, there was an older couple (late 50s-early 60s) waiting for *my* row. I asked them if they were ready and knew what they were in for....both smiled a toothy Texas-sized grin and said "Oooooohhhh yessss!"

I only hope that the next twenty years for me goes as well... :)

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