What makes a great theme park ride? Is it the speed, the height, the drops? Everyone has a different idea of what qualifies a ride as the “best”, but we’ve done some fact-gathering and compiled a list which, we think, has something for everyone. Whether you like to be scared out of your wits or charmed by magical characters, find out which rides you should bother queueing for in our Top 10 Theme Park Rides.
10. Most Magical: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (USA)
Not the fastest ride, and not even a rollercoaster, but certainly a contender for most magical theme park ride in the world. Based at the Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, visitors enter Hogwarts castle and walk through various rooms, faithfully recreated from the books and movies, until they reach a flying bench that whisks them away on a journey through the world of Harry Potter. Along the way are dragons, Quidditch and lots of spells, along with video projections of scenes from the movies. Riders even get their souls sucked out by Dementors, before being rescued by Harry himself. A great one for fans of the franchise or anyone who enjoys a bit of magic alongside their theme park ride.
9. Longest-Lasting: Ultimate (UK)
It must be fairly galling to the the owners of Ultimate that it’s no longer the ultimate rollercoaster in terms of length, but it was for 9 years. At a length of 7,442ft it was the longest in the world when it opened in 1991 but was eclipsed in the millennium by Steel Dragon 2000 in Japan. Still, it retains the record as the longest-lasting ride, at a staggering 7mins 34secs. It’s also said to be surrounded by beautiful woodland, although that proved to be a problem with a rogue woodland creature (a deer) stumbled onto the track in 1994, causing an accident. It can be found near Ripon, in Yorkshire, so somewhat off the tourist track, but worth visiting if you’re in the UK.
8. Tallest Flat Ride: Tower of Terror (Australia)
Found on Australia’s Gold Coast, at the Dreamworld amusement park, this ride is the 4th tallest in the world but the tallest one based on a tower. Riders board what is perhaps ironically named an “escape pod” (there is no escape) and pulled up to the top of the tower before plummeting down again. The entire experience takes 28 seconds, or just 6% of the time it takes to ride Ultimate. Opening in 1997, this ride was notable as the first one to reach 100mph and it’s still the 4th fastest in the world. It almost goes without saying that this is not one for those with a fear of heights….but if you do get stuck on it by accident, at least you know it’ll all be over quickly! It offers beautiful views but only if you look quickly and you don’t have your eyes tightly screwed up…
7. Most G-Force: Millennium Force (USA)
Opening, appropriately, in the year 2000 this set a clutch of new world records but only retains one – the most G-force used on a rollercoaster at any one time (4.5Gs). It is also one of the tallest and fastest in the world, although its neighboring ride, Top Thrill Dragster, means it’s no longer even the fastest in the park (Cedar Point in Ohio).
It is,however, very popular. It’s had a lot of industry recognition, with several wins at the Golden Ticket Awards for best steel roller coaster in the world. Its design was very innovative at the time, being the first to use a cable-lift system, and many others have followed its design in the years since. It’s widely acknowledged as a design classic, and even its engineer, Werner Stengel, has stated that its his favorite out of the 500 rollercoasters he’s engineered. When it opened, there was a 4-hour wait – 21million rides later, the wait has decreased but it remains a top draw for the park.
6. Most Anticipated: RingRacer (Germany)
Certainly the most freshly-opened on our list, there is some skepticism among Formula 1 fans over whether the RingRacer has opened at all. After all, it’s been a long and arduous labor and numerous delays have meant that the July 2013 opening date seemed for a time like an unattainable dream. For those not in the know, the RingRacer is a rollercoaster based at the racing circuit known as the Nürburgring. It’s perhaps fitting that such a tricky race circuit should give birth to a tricky rollercoaster, that opened with great promise in 2009, only to shut a few weeks later. Then an explosion further delayed things, and the rollercoaster remained out of action until now. Intended as a record -breaker, it has since been eclipsed by newer rides, with its intended 105mph looking quite pedestrian now. Only time will tell whether this rollercoaster becomes a success after such a difficult start.