Best summer fun roller coasters in the U.S.

The Cyclone is a New York classic.
The Cyclone is a New York classic.

Amusement park expert Pete Trabucco gave us the 411 on roller coasters and travel tips from his new book, “America’s Top Roller Coasters and Amusement Parks.”

Hottest new coaster:

Gatekeeper
Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
www.cedarpoint.com

Trabucco calls Cedar Point the “mecca for all roller coaster enthusiasts,” adding that Gatekeeper is “one of the most anticipated rides that’s coming out of that location.”

“It’s an absolutely amazing wing coaster in which you are actually suspended on the other side of this entire track,” he says. “You are flying with nothing but air. It’s just an amazing ride.”

Cedar Point, the “roller coaster capital of the world,” according to its slogan, has 16 coasters, including Gatekeeper, which was introduced in May. It is also the only amusement park to have four coasters taller than 200 feet, including Top Thrill Dragster, the second-tallest roller coaster in the world.
Tallest thriller:

Kingda Ka
Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, N.J.
www.sixflags.com/greatadventure

If you’re living in the New York City area, you don’t have to go very far to enjoy the world’s tallest and second fastest roller coaster. Going from 0-128 mph in about four seconds, this steel accelerator reaches 456 feet before it drops you 418 feet at a 90-degree angle.
Best wooden coasters:

Cyclone
Luna Park, Coney Island, N.Y.
www.lunaparknyc.com

With six 180-degree turns and 12 drops, including a fall from 85 feet, this 86-year-old historical New York City landmark will take you for a bumpy ride.

“You can’t talk wooden rides without talking the Cyclone,” Trabucco says. “It’s still one of my favorites, even though it might now be as a good a ride as El Toro.”

El Toro
Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, N.J.

Becoming the first wooden coaster to use a cable lift instead of a chain lift — allowing for a much faster and steeper ride — El Toro has one of the steepest wooden coaster drops and was voted the 2013 number 1 Wooden Coaster by Amusement Today.

Best Florida coaster:

Dragon Challenge
Harry Potter World, Universal Park, Orlando, Fla.
www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter

“The Dragon Challenge is basically two coasters that actually come tip to tip,” says Trabucco. “When you’re on the ride you actually almost touch toes as you loop the loop simultaneously.”

Best kiddie coasters:

“Any park that you go to, you’re going to find at least one or two kid rides that are really well worth going on,” Trabucco says. “If you’re an adult and you’re like me, you’re not going to fit, but you hold your breath!”

Trabucco recommends:

Sesame Place, Langhorne, Pa.
www.sesameplace.com/en/langhorne

Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
www.disneyworld.disney.go.com

Runaway Mine Train, Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, N.J.
www.sixflags.com/greatadventure

Little Laser, Dorney Park, Allentown, Pa.
www.dorneypark.com

 


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