Thrill seekers are always on the lookout for which roller coasters give the most bang for their buck. Some go fast, some aim for height, and others try for both—anything to give riders that teeth-gritting, white-knuckle surge of adrenaline.
And when it comes to scary roller coasters, most riders focus on one thing: height. Theme parks are well aware of this and are constantly pushing to take the crown as the owner of the tallest roller coaster in the world. Here are the five top contenders.
1. Kingda Ka – 456 feet
Located in New Jersey at Six Flags Great Adventure, Kingda Ka is the undisputed tallest roller coaster in the world at 456 feet. It opened back in 2005, and since then, no other roller coaster has matched its world-record height. Kingda Ka may be tall, but it’s also short—a short ride, that is. In fact, the short ride is one of people’s biggest complaints about it. But given its height, a quick trip might be excusable.
2. Top Thrill Dragster – 420 feet
Ranking second, you can find Top Thrill Dragster at the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Opened in 2003, Top Thrill Dragster features an impressive height of 420 feet at its peak and held the crown as the tallest roller coaster in the world for two years until Kingda Ka entered the scene. But even though it comes up short these days, this coaster isn’t for the faint of heart. Top Thrill Dragster has the third-highest top speed and second-highest drop of any steel roller coaster in the world, making it a worthy runner-up in our rankings.
3. Superman: Escape from Krypton – 415 feet
From Valencia, California, at Six Flags Magic Mountain, we have Superman: Escape from Krypton. Like Top Thrill Dragster, Superman was among the tallest roller coasters in the world at the time of its opening, holding the title from 1997 to 2003. But times change, and Superman’s 415-foot tower was eventually eclipsed. Still, the ride is impressive, particularly after its 2011 makeover that improved on several of the operational difficulties the ride had experienced.
4. Tower of Terror II – 377 feet
For those who thought the first Tower of Terror just wasn’t terrifying enough… we have the Tower of Terror II, brought to us by the Dreamworld amusement park in Gold Coast, Australia. Created in 1997 just months before the opening of Superman: Escape from Krypton, Tower of Terror II didn’t hold the title of world’s tallest roller coaster for long, but it still bears the distinction of being the tallest coaster in Australia. With an impressive 377-foot tower and a 100-mph top speed that ties it for fifth fastest coaster in the world, the Tower of Terror II is a must-see for those visiting Down Under.
5. Red Force – 367 feet
Last, we have Red Force, a steel roller coaster at the PortAventura World amusement park in Catalonia, Spain. Opening relatively recently in 2017, Red Force never sought to be the tallest or fastest roller coaster in the world, but it cracked the world’s top five tallest roller coasters all the same and stands as the tallest roller coaster in Europe. At 367 feet, Red Force’s height is nothing to sneeze at, but it shares a similar issue with Kingda Ka in its brevity. Red Force is little more than a single hill; a steep climb and a big drop.
The Future of the Tallest Roller Coasters
As new coasters rise and fall, the title of “world’s tallest roller coaster” is in constant flux. Even now, plans are being drawn up for bigger, taller, and more powerful roller coasters that will put this current crop to shame. Snag a ride on one of these while you can—they won’t be around forever!