It starts with a breathtaking 87-degree drop that boosts you to speeds of up to 58 mph before a series of twists, turns and flips take you through dark forest along its over 3,000 feet of track. It’s the Jersey Devil, set to open this summer at New Jersey’s Six Flags Great Adventure as the world’s tallest, fastest and longest single-rail roller coaster.
The amusement park industry is on an endless mission to provide scream machines to adrenaline junkies for whom life isn’t thrilling enough. The Garden State’s biggest theme park is already home to the tallest roller coaster in the world, Kingda Ka, which skyrockets to a whopping 456 feet, drops straight down and hits a max speed of 128 miles per hour—the fastest in the country—all in 28 seconds. Alongside that ultimate rush is the third-fastest wooden coaster, El Toro, which reaches a head-rocking 70 miles per hour. Wood may have its construction limitations, but when it comes to fear factor it’s shaking, tremulous ride is unparalleled.
In a business that is driven by superlatives, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Southern California packs the country’s biggest
selection. Its 19 thrill rides include the wooden Apocalypse that runs through a desert, as well as the tallest and fastest looping coaster, Full Throttle, which flips 160 feet in the air. A “hypercoaster” called Goliath dives 255 feet into an underground tunnel. Weighing in at just one roller coaster shy of Magic Mountain is
Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Its Top Thrill Dragster starts by going 0 to 120 miles per hour and climbing 420 feet, only to free fall at a completely vertical, 90-degree angle.
For all their thrills and chills, meticulously designed amusement rides are remarkably safe: you’re 50 times as likely to be struck by lightning as to be involved in a serious roller coaster accident. But try to remember that when you’re screaming along, turned upside down.