Adrenaline-pulsing terror: The world’s 10 scariest rollercoasters

Forget the little teacups ride and the log flume – it's rollercoasters that really make a theme park. Some coasters are more mighty than others, but adrenaline-pulsing terror comes in many forms. So if you feel the urge for theme park thrills, these are the contenders for the title of the world's scariest rollercoaster.

FORMULA ROSSA

WHERE? FERRARI WORLD, ABU DHABI

G2X8EB Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coaster in the world in Ferrari World amusement park at Yas Island - Abu Dhabi UAE tra5-sixbestAbuDhabi

Photo: Alamy

The Formula Rossa's fear factor comes right at the start. The ride begins with a hydraulic launch system that shoots the cars off along the track at 240km/h. What's more, it hits this speed from a standing start within 4.9 seconds, leaving the body facing G forces of 4.8. The rest of the ride is hardly a timid little putter, but that initial speed hit is unparalleled. See ferrariworldabudhabi.com

KINGDA KA

WHERE? SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE, NEW JERSEY, US

GW3DH4 Kingda Ka is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in North America. It is 456 feet high and accelerates from 0 to 128 in 3.5sec. Six Flags Great Adv credit Alamy
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Photo: Alamy 

There is absolutely no subtlety to Kingda Ka. It takes aim at anyone with a fear of heights and simply puts them through the wringer. A hydraulic launch sends you hurtling up near vertically to a height of 139 metres, then drops you right back down again. It's the highest rollercoaster in the world, and has the biggest drop, too. See sixflags.com

TMNT Shellraiser

WHERE? NICKELODEON UNIVERSE, NEW JERSEY, US

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sometimes it's not about the height but about the angle. TMNT Shellraiser casts off its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kiddy cartoon theme to provide the world's steepest drop. It only goes 43 metres high, but drops you down beyond the right angle. At one point, you're coming down at 121.5°. The horror doesn't stop there, either – there are seven inversions to come afterwards. See nickelodeonuniverse.com

STEEL DRAGON 2000

WHERE? NAGASHIMA SPA LAND, JAPAN

[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] View from Ferris Wheel with huge Steel Dragon 2000 rollercoaster. Taken in 2008 credit Getty
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The Steel Dragon 2000 has a fairly hefty drop to contend with, the main one being 93.5 metres. It also reaches speeds of just under 153km/h. But the Steel Dragon's scariness comes from the fact that the drops just keep on coming. Over the space of four minutes, this coaster covers 2.48 kilometres. That distance makes it the longest rollercoaster in the world. See nagashima-onsen.co.jp

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SMILER

WHERE? ALTON TOWERS, ENGLAND

The Smiler rollercoaster carries visitors around the ride at the Alton Towers theme park, owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments Plc, in Alton, U.K., on Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Merlin owns and operates a global portfolio of assets including city centre and resort-based indoor attractions and national-branded resort theme parks. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images Getty image for Traveller. Single use only.

Photo: Getty Images

"Does it go upside down?" is often the clincher for nervous children just dipping their toes into the world of rollercoasters. There's no doubt involved when it comes to Smiler, which has a lunch-returning 14 inversions. It's not just the same type over and over again, either. Smiler throws in heartline rolls, reverse sidewinders, dive loops and corkscrews. See altontowers.com

BANSHEE

WHERE? KINGS ISLAND, OHIO, US

The Banshee throws in plenty of inversions – seven of them – but its major claim to fame is being the world's longest inverted rollercoaster. This means that the track is (usually) above you, and you're left underneath, legs dangling in the air and held by a metal arm. The Banshee travels a total of 1.26 kilometres, reaching a not inconsiderable 110km/h. See visitkingsisland.com

LEGENDARY TWIN DRAGON

WHERE? CHONGQING SUNAC LAND, CHINA

If inverted rollercoasters are the ones that give you the shakes, Legendary Twin Dragon is your monster ride of choice. A new opening in 2021, it's the highest inverted coaster on Earth, going 70 metres up in the air. And the descent from that height ensures this is the fastest inverted rollercoaster in the world, too, hurtling along at a tasty 119km/h.

WILDFIRE

WHERE? KOLMÅRDEN, SWEDEN

credit Kolmarden
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Photo: Kolmarden

Sometimes, it's not about how high or fast it goes, but how rickety it looks. And wooden rollercoasters have the habit of looking so old-fashioned that they might fall apart at any minute. Wildfire, therefore, is designed to play on that fear. It's the joint-highest wooden coaster in the world, climbing up to 56 metres, and it turns you upside down three times before coming to rest. See kolmarden.com

LEAP-THE-DIPS

WHERE? LAKEMONT PARK, PENNSYLVANIA, US

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The rickety factor only gets scarier when you know how old a rollercoaster is. The older they get, the more the nagging doubt that something is due to go wrong kicks in. Leap-the-Dips is a beginners' coaster by modern standards – it's really not going to terrify many people on height or speed. But the fact that it's a National Historic Landmark should spur second thoughts. Leap-the-Dips opened in 1902, making it the oldest still-operating rollercoaster in the world. See lakemontparkfun.com

SHOCK WAVE

WHERE? SIX FLAGS OVER TEXAS, US

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Shock Wave is another that's pretty long in the tooth by now. But back when it opened in 1979, the back-to-back loop the loops were groundbreaking. They're still quite an experience to tackle as well, putting riders through G forces of up to 5.9G. This is generally agreed to be the highest G force you'll get on any current coaster, although in the past there have been rides that have gone higher to frankly dangerous levels. See sixflags.com

See also: The world's coolest train lines

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