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Planned Insanity: The Best Roller Coasters In America

Let’s face it. If you like traveling at ninety miles an hour with no windshield in front of you, turning upside down and doing corkscrews, if you like it well enough to travel hundreds of miles and pay an entrance fee, you may well not have a completely sane outlook on the world.

It is, unfortunately, incurable.

Roller coasters come in two flavors; wooden and steel…

Wooden coasters don’t go as fast as steel and never turn over, but they have a unique feel to them. Steel coasters are the crack cocaine of the coaster world. Here are two wooden and two steel coasters worth traveling for just to get a chance to ride.

Wooden Roller Coasters

For anyone who likes complicated framing with special attention to off-line forces, wooden roller coasters provide all the satisfaction possible. Unlike steel coasters with just a few thin support members, wooden coasters use thousands of board-feet of timber in intricate shapes and combinations. When you ride a wooden coaster, pay attention to the framing on the outside of the turns. It’s delicate and impossibly complex.

Ghost Rider in Knotts Berry Farm

Ghost Rider Roller Coaster at Knotts Berry Farm

Ghost Rider Roller Coaster at Knotts Berry Farm

Start with a 108 foot tall drop, add twelve more drops with g-forces of 3.14 and do it all in a setting reminiscent of the coasters of the ’30’s and 40’s and you’ve got Ghost Rider. The ride travels for 4,533 feet and takes two minutes to complete. When you get in the ride, take time out to smell the creosote on the timbers and listen to the click-click as the car goes over joints in the track.

Mean Streak in Cedar Point, Ohio

Mean Streak Roller Coaster at Cedar Point

Mean Streak Roller Coaster at Cedar Point

Cedar point contains fifteen coasters in all stages of thrill production on a 364 acre plot of ground. If you’re just starting in coasters, go to Cedar Point twice. Then go again. The Mean Streak is labeled an ‘aggressive thrill’ ride by the park. That means lean into it or stay away. It’s made of 1.7 million board-feet of Southern Yellow Pine. It’s a delightfully long ride at two minutes and 45 seconds. Good drops, tight turns and an interesting layout.

Steel Roller Coasters

Steel takes away any kind of subtlety from the coaster. It’s tremendously strong, allowing structures higher than the Statue of Liberty with dangerously thin support beams. Steel gives the coaster designers freedom to take the riders upside down and through corkscrews and in different positions. You could travel standing up, as in Shockwave in Kings Dominion, Virginia or prone in a flying position on Firehawk at Kings Island Ohio or sitting down on almost any ride anywhere.

Millennium Force

Millennium Force Roller Coaster at Cedar Point

Millennium Force Roller Coaster at Cedar Point

It’s brutal. You go way up in the air, travel virtually straight down at incredible speed and fling yourself through very high speed turns until the car stops suddenly enough to drag your eyes out of your head. Millennium Force takes you 310 feet in the air then drops you at an angle of 80 degrees. You go 93 miles an hour at the bottom. The ride take two minutes. A hint: don’t ride the Millennium Force in the rain, especially in the front seat. Each rain drop feels like a little bullet at that speed.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster

The Incredible Hulk Coaster at the Islands of Adventure

The Incredible Hulk Coaster at the Islands of Adventure

The Hulk doesn’t have that leisurely ride along the clicking steel chain that takes you to the top of the first hill. The ride puts you in a narrow tube and flings you into the air, without warning, which makes it better. You go from zero to 40 miles per hour in two seconds. The Hulk stays close to the ground, It’s only 150 feet high, and travels slower than most coasters at only 67 miles an hour, but it takes you through seven inversions and two subterranean trenches in the dark for two minutes and 15 seconds.

The Best Roller Coasters In America

Kevin Caldwell is a creative writter for www.hotelcirclhotels.com who helps people find accommodations in Hotel Circle San Diego. Kevin travels often and write about the experiences he has as well as advice for fellow travelers. You can connect with Kevin on Google+ to learn more about him.

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About the author

-Vagabond, editor and founder of  EVASER. Find on Facebook, follow via Twitter or view his personal site.

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