After visiting Poland earlier this year I had the worrying realisation that I’d almost entirely run out of new countries with significant rides to visit in Europe, then began wondering whether I had already at least scratched the surface of all the most enticing countries in the world for this hobby.
Canada and Mexico are the only ones left for me that spring to mind, with a larger quantity of major parks or rides, the latter only really standing out to me for having an elusive RMC. But before I get depressed about these thoughts, let’s look back on some highlights of the countries I’ve visited so far, which ones have the best rollercoasters? Where should you go?
I feel like there hasn’t been enough number crunching on this site just yet. It’s always fun to dive into a data set from one of my spreadsheets about rollercoasters and pull a few graphs out, make a few lists. So to find the answer to that question, this is how the process went down.
First we need to define ‘best’ and no, that doesn’t just mean ‘it has Helix.’ I came up with three factors to help me determine this.
1) The total quantity of rollercoasters they have (that I’ve ridden).
2) The number of significant rollercoasters they have amongst this.
3) How good those significant rollercoasters are.
Of course this can only be based on what I’ve personally experienced so far and here’s a graph showing where I’ve been, how many I’ve done in each country and how many of those I deem to be significant. I’d like to consider that, other than perhaps the USA right now, each one has been well represented by that which I’ve already ridden.
We’ll have to define ‘significant’ as well and for that I can use my Top Trumps spreadsheet, which only contains rollercoasters that I consider worthy of having their own entry into the system – whether it’s a unique layout or above a certain size and level of thrill. I find this to be a good measure of something worth travelling for, other than just for the cred count of course.
Take the outlying Switzerland as the example here, I’ve only ridden one coaster there and it’s entirely unique – the only Pax shuttle loop in the world, over 100ft tall with a couple of inversions. That’s significant, that puts you on the map for me.
The Top Trumps come in handy again because in the process of making them I give all of those significant rides a rating out of 20 (it used to be 10, but there just wasn’t enough resolution as time went on). This graph shows how each country stacks up on that factor alone, so we can see on average how much I personally liked their significant rides.
Poor Australia, they’re definitely on the up, but I think we can blame Dreamworld for that one.
Of course none of these data sets on their own give us the best indication towards the original question. Just because I’ve ridden the most in China, just because Switzerland only has 1 significant coaster, just because Singapore, Ireland and Norway have a small handful of highlights doesn’t mean they’re the place to go.
I rammed these three factors together and came up with a list of the 10 best countries to visit for coasters, according to me. As an added bonus, you can now find another top ten list within the name of each country.
Coasters ridden: 30
Coaster significance: 43.33%
Average rating: 10.85
I believe I’ve seen the statistic somewhere that Denmark has the most rollercoasters per capita on earth, which is a great start. I’ve enjoyed all of my trips here immensely and each of the parks has, on the whole, had a fun and varied lineup, from the world’s oldest continually operating woodie to the very first Intamin Megalite.
Interestingly enough I haven’t visited Bon-Bon Land yet which, linking back to the introduction of this post, is perhaps the largest park in Europe I’m still missing out on.
Coasters ridden: 153
Coaster significance: 22.88%
Average rating: 9.89
What? England? I’m always banging on about how bad we have it here. The numbers don’t lie though, we do have quite a lot, albeit not often good. This percentage has even been negatively skewed by the fact that I’ve had far more opportunity to tick off every little insigificant nook and cranny of the local coaster world, here rather than anywhere else.
There’s plenty of interest from an outsider perspective I guess, with lots of heritage and even the second longest coaster in the world, built by a railway company. I suppose we do have a fair few B&Ms for our size too.
Coasters ridden: 49
Coaster significance: 30.61%
Average rating: 11.60
We may never live this one down against our neighbours, but I suppose for as long as I’ve walked the earth they’ve always had Disney over us. That wasn’t enough on it’s own though – France has had an amazing surge of great new builds in the last few years and the trend is continuing while the UK has seemingly come to a standstill again.
Gravity Group woodies and Intamin family launch coasters? I’d kill for one of these a little closer to home (particularly at the moment).
Coasters ridden: 20
Coaster significance: 70.00%
Average rating: 11.00
Spain feels so basic to me, as every Brits’ go to holiday destination and more specfically Portaventura, every British enthusiasts’ go to holiday destination. There’s not a huge amount around for their size but several parks have quite a lot of good stuff packed into them (again, even if it’s not always good, Parque de Atracciones), just look at that significance percentage!
I think there’s a bit of cheating going on here – the B&M invert Batman clone here was my first one, therefore the only version that contributes to a rating and I also haven’t managed to ride either of the notorious RCCA woodies. To be fair to La Fuga it remains my favourite to this day both by intensity and aesthetic.
Coasters ridden: 20
Coaster significance: 55.00%
Average rating: 12.73
Now I’m getting excited. Favourite coaster in the world? Check. Favourite park in the world? Check. Least favourite RMC in the world? Also check, but it’s still an RMC.
Quality speaks volumes in this country and I just love visiting here. I specifically remember standing (perhaps twirling) in Gröna Lund and saying out loud ‘Sweden have it so much better than us.’ They really do.
Coasters ridden: 100
Coaster significance: 32.00%
Average rating: 11.88
Favourite country in the world? Check. There’s something weird going on with the parks over here. All of the Disney attractions seem tamed down in intensity compared to their global counterparts and yet Japan is also home to several of the most extreme rollercoaster experiences ever. They can’t make their minds up and I can’t get enough of it.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that, perhaps due to hosting their own ride manufacturers, they have so many more quirky and interesting coasters to choose from on the small end of the spectrum. Japan doesn’t resort to 100 Wacky Worms to fill in the gaps, instead almost every little kiddie ride has a certain unique charm to it. I’ve often dreamed of spending a month out here going for full completion because the difference in intrigue is that noticeable.
Coasters ridden: 27
Coaster significance: 62.96%
Average rating: 11.88
This one surprised me. Firstly it feels like I’ve done a lot more in the Netherlands than that and then an equal average rating to Japan? Where’s their 4D coaster…
Despite doing several trips to the country it has probably only ever been a bit of a highlight reel. We’ve made plans several times to go and dust off a few of the less significant creds but something else always comes up. They’ve even drawn the short straw in that I rode both my first Vekoma Boomerang and SLC here, which should be dragging that average rating way down.
This isn’t to say that their major parks aren’t really strong. Walibi Holland has entered the European big leagues now with the back to back installations of Lost Gravity and Untamed. Efteling has plenty of quality (perhaps in other areas) and even Toverland is making waves now. Keep up the good work.
Coasters ridden: 106
Coaster significance: 38.68%
Average rating: 11.71
World leaders in ride operations and exporter of many of the world’s top attractions, Germany strikes me as having the drive and the passion to generate a lot of amazing coasters for itself when it comes to fleshing out their theme parks.
They’ve got the full range of everything from corporate mega parks to charming little family affairs with places like Europa Park and to a lesser extent Hansa Park becoming showcases for the home grown manufacturers. There’s also the legendary Phantasialand saying forget all that, let’s see if we can be more immersive than Disney. In other words, something for everyone.
It’s also the easiest country to get around for creds thanks to the Autobahn, one of the main reasons I’ve been so often and then sadly almost visited everything too quickly. I love it here.
Coasters ridden: 159
Coaster significance: 25.16%
Average rating: 14.80
But not as much as I love it here. China is my personal stomping ground for all things coaster related. With the biggest growth ever seen in the industry, new parks are being knocked out on a yearly basis and there’s an ever growing list of things to go and ride.
It’s not just the rate at which these coasters are being built though, so many of them turn out to be world class attractions that would put any park on the map in its own right, to the point at which it almost becomes overwhelming to the casual observer and is perhaps even overlooked by some.
The average rating says it all for me here, though admittedly I’ve actively avoided any real cred runs in China until my most recent visit. It’s just not the way to do it. Sure they have a million Jungle Mouses by now and I could have probably doubled my count with a few hundred extra Didi drivers, but you really need to take your time with the good stuff and there’s just so much of it.
Coasters ridden: 149
Coaster significance: 59.73%
Average rating: 12.02
Of course someone was always going to do things bigger and better and it was bound to be the USA. Even with the exponential growth, China hasn’t come close and with their current business models I don’t think they ever will. Parks just don’t keep on expanding like they do in America, or at least they haven’t yet.
For every park in the world with just one or two signature attractions, there’s one in America with at least ten of them and the significance percentage really highlights this. It’s a real mecca for enthusiasts with coasters as far as the eye can see and a trip planners nightmare when you just keep adding another 4 hour drive, and another, and another until you end up believing you can do all 50 states in 3 weeks.
There’s no time for the little ones, there’s not even enough time for all the big ones. It only took two trips for the country to steal at least half of the spots in my top 25 and I haven’t even done most of what they have yet. I can’t wait to return.
So there’s my recommendations on the best places to consider planning your coaster trip. Who has the heads up on any other contenders yet to come?