Top 10 coaster reasons to visit the USA

Following on from my cold and calculated list of top ten countries for coasters, I thought it would be good to follow up with some warm and fuzzy (weather permitting) examples of the actual coasters that each one has to offer, a top ten within a top ten as it were.

In order to put some closure on this series for now I have to tackle America and to be honest I’m still in my early stages of stateside exploration. Before anyone thinks “where’s Steel Vengeance?” I won’t be speculating here on what I think the answers should be (secretly hoping for the Gravity Group woodies to win out) as that’s likely a topic for another time and this lot below will purely be based on what I’ve experienced so far myself.
As home turf to the current coaster Gods that are RMC, a traditional top ten of personal favourites here would be suspiciously similar to another list, so in the interests of keeping this fresh I’ve reluctantly skipped a whole bunch of their creations and opted to mix up the ride types a little by heading deeper down into my spreadsheet.

#10 Verbolten – Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Not everything over here has to be the biggest and baddest (wolf?). I’ve got a soft spot for all things with a good theme, a dark ride section or even multiple launches. Verbolten happens to tick all of those boxes and is very unlike anything else you’ll find on this list, or anywhere.

#9 Storm Runner – Hersheypark

Feels like it took forever for me to find an Intamin accelerator that actually had a layout worthy of it’s launch and after much nervous anticipation (they often break themselves) the moment finally happened on Storm Runner. With unique elements and crushing forces, this one really stands out to me as something special.

#8 GhostRider – Knott’s Berry Farm

From what I can tell, getting GCI in to retrack this legendary CCI was the best thing that could have happened to it. I only ever tried the end result (nowhere near enough times) and was amazed by how exciting and varied the layout was, exactly how I like my woodies.

#7 Fury 325 – Carowinds

While honestly not the coaster for me, I cannot deny the unique style of ride this B&M Giga brings to the table nor how much fun I had on it. It’s all a bit much when the staff are literally shouting in the station that it’s the best coaster ever, but I guess you have to be bold to draw attention sometimes and this creation certainly does that.

#6 Copperhead Strike – Carowinds

My heart lies with the Mack multi launch at the other end of the park though. Quirky in both theme and ride experience there’s a lot going on here and like Verbolten above it pretty much has everything I look for in a ride.

#5 Railblazer – California’s Great America

I can’t stay away from RMC forever can I? There’s only one layout of these off the wall single rail coasters (for now) and I don’t think you can really appreciate how ridiculous and amazing they are until you see one in action before your very eyes. As someone who cherishes the dwindling amounts of new ride types and experiences to be found in this hobby, the sensation of watching this thing zip around the course at unnatural speeds would have been enough to make this list, let alone riding it.

#4 Lightning Rod – Dollywood

Now I’ve started on them I probably won’t be able to stop. This particular RMC stands out across the whole industry for obvious reasons, namely for the launched lift, being the fastest wooden coaster on the planet and having the legendary quad down element. Also Dollywood.

#3 El Toro – Six Flags Great Adventure

Winner of the Intamin woodie collection, this monster does everything you could ever want with the ride type and provides some of the best airtime on the planet. That statement alone is the holy grail to most enthusiasts and it’ll make you wonder why that big dull green thing in the background even exists.

#2 Skyrush – Hersheypark

You can only use phrases like ‘some of the best airtime’ if there’s also a the best and that’s probably Skyrush for me right now. It’s certainly the scariest anyway, with the unnerving power of the winged seating and those one of a kind, make or break restraints that I happened to get on with ridiculously well. An evening on this thing – ain’t nothin’ else like it.

#1 Twisted Colossus – Six Flags Magic Mountain

But that phrase applies to this one at all times of the day and night. Combining the ridiculous intensity of an RMC layout with the insane joy I get from duelling coaster interactions is just about the best thing I could have hoped for in a ride. To me it’s still their greatest achievement, but I’ll be more than happy when, not if, it gets topped.
Here’s to many more life changing rollercoaster road trips.

Top 20 coaster reasons to visit China – Part 2

Following on from my cold and calculated list of top ten countries for coasters, I thought it would be good to follow up with some warm and fuzzy (weather permitting) examples of the actual coasters that each one has to offer, a top ten within a top ten as it were, except this one’s a twenty!

Part 1 already had some cracking rides but there’s still room for improvement, here’s my personal top ten favourites in the country so far.

#10 Coaster Through the Clouds – Nanchang Sunac Land

This massive Intamin hyper certainly blends in with the weird and wonderful look of certain coasters in China with it’s unusual turnaround at the top. While the layout seems to focus more on speed, the airtime in the first drop and on certain hills is a force to be reckoned with, and I only ever experienced these in the front! I need to visit again myself for that back row.

#9 Flash – Lewa Adventure

I’m more of a Mack hyper man myself though and this ride is a perfect testament as to why. Beautifully executed inversions, powerful airtime and a twisty section to finish – I love a variety of sensations in my layouts and this one has a bit of everything.

#8 Extreme Rusher – Happy Valley Beijing

China have been keeping these fantastic S&S air launch models all to themselves for a good while now and it was only last year that somewhere else gave it a try. As a fantastic evolution of the original in Japan which was only really built for speed, these combine THE fastest accelerating launches in the business with highly competent layouts full of airtime and other powerful forces. The world simply needs more of them.

#7 Wooden Coaster – Fireball – Happy Valley Shanghai

The original woodie in China remains one of the strongest for me. The Gravity Group combined some traditional big airtime hills in an out and back layout and then switched it up for the second half with a fantastic demonstration of what they do best.

#6 Jungle Trailblazer – Oriental Heritage Wuhu

And that was just the start of a fantastic run of coasters they’ve built in the region since. In some ways the first portion of this layout is a modernisation of the above, complete with new trains and the rarely seen inversion.

#5 OCT Thrust SSC1000

My favourite version of the S&S air launch layouts (though not the best looking one) has every element hit with maxiumum impact, never faltering. Intamin accelerators wish they could be this good.

#4 Fjord Flying Dragon – Happy Valley Tianjin

Did I mention I love Gravity woodies yet? This was the third and so far final time (sadly) that OCT/Happy Valley decided to purchase one from the manufacturer and it’s just astoundingly well tailored to my personal tastes.

#3 Wood Coaster – Knight Valley

But it’s not quite up there with the top 3, all of which currently sit in my top ten overall coasters. The set begins with this obviously lunatic inspired layout off the side of a tropical mountain. The fact that this one exists at all is nothing short of a coaster lovers dream.

#2 Jungle Trailblazer – Fantawild Dreamland Zhengzhou

My ultimate Gravity Group coaster remains the most intense woodie experience of my career. Everything they do best wrapped up into one perfectly paced package.

#1 Python in Bamboo Forest – Nanchang Sunac Land

And finally my ultimate GCI coaster. Thus far the biggest they’ve ever made and miraculously not a single foot of track is wasted. The terrain layout of this ride seemingly defies physics and remains a non-stop world class experience from first drop to brake run. Due to the location I can’t even show it to you properly, so you’ll just have to go and see for yourself.

Top 20 coaster reasons to visit China – Part 1

Following on from my cold and calculated list of top ten countries for coasters, I thought it would be good to follow up with some warm and fuzzy (weather permitting) examples of the actual coasters that each one has to offer, a top ten within a top ten as it were, except this one’s a twenty!

There’s a reason China came 2nd in that list and why so far I’ve visited it more (and ridden more) than anywhere else for coasters. New parks appear on a yearly basis and almost all of them start life with an exciting headline attraction that I generally consider world class. The main issue so far is that these parks aren’t fleshed out over time, so they mostly end up stuck with just the one real pull, but there’s just soooo many of these that we’re gonna have to do a 2 parter.
I’ve removed some cloned layouts and started with a bit of token intrigue, but otherwise this is just a straight list of my favourites, no time for messing around with so much to see and do.

#20 Mine Coaster – Quancheng Euro Park

With the largely over exaggerated and unfounded reputation of ‘CRAZY knock off Chinese coasters’ you can’t visit the country without at least trying a homegrown build for yourself. I’ve done the legwork to save you the suffering and can tell you now it needn’t be an SLC, they don’t require any further confirmation.
My personal favourite at the moment is from the lesser known Beijing Jiuhua Amusement Rides Manufacturing Co., Ltd. with this surprisingly intense and, as far as I’m aware, (almost?) entirely unique mine train model. I found it both enjoyable and refreshing, in a sea of 500 Vekoma/Golden Horse mine train clones at least.

#19 Starry Sky Ripper – Joyland

Now let’s move onto some proper coasters. The B&M flyer that changed the game for the ride type, introducing the ridiculous 540° twist and loop combo that feels ridiculously out of control and intense in such an unusual riding position. Superman’s got nothing on World of Warcraft.

#18 Euro Express – Romon U-Park

The idea of Kanonen with a lift hill didn’t get me particularly excited but having lap bar restraints and then sticking it indoors amongst some mind blowing theming and interaction makes it a vastly superior experience in every way.

#17 Jungle Dragon – Happy Valley Chongqing

China’s woodie game is insane and has played a major part in my ever growing appreciation for attractions of this type. A large part of what I relish about visiting is tracking down these monsters and spending as much time as physically possible on them, so the list is going to be full of this stuff. We begin here with a quality terrain GCI sprawled across a large hill. The unique bonus feature about this one is that you have to take a lift from the queue to get to the station.

#16 Parrot Coaster – Chimelong Ocean Kingdom

As the most accomplished B&M wing coaster I’ve experienced to date, I admire the range of forces provided by the parrot as it weaves it’s way through the attractive theming and landscaping. This is such a good looking coaster and it’s great to ride too.

#15 Dauling Dragon – Happy Valley Wuhan

The first on here of much Gravity Group goodness out there, this time in a duelling format. It probably won’t be easy to experience this pair at their best unless you come on a very busy day (which will present you with a totally different set of issues). Even if you only manage the one side like I did, it’s still a fantastic ride.

#14 Jungle Trailblazer – Oriental Heritage Jinan

It was inevitable that this name was going to appear and it’ll be cropping up a few more times before we’re done here. I’ve already described the key differences of all the Jungle Trailblazers elsewhere on the site so all you need to know here is that each and every layout is worth the effort.

#13 Harpy – Xishuangbanna Sunac Land

I was never sure if this one was worth the additional effort of an internal flight. It’s about as far away from the rest of the world as you can get in terms of cred hunting but I can confirm that I was super glad I made the effort. Don’t be fooled by the similarities to a certain clone, it has a couple of surprises up its sleeve and is also perfectly paced.

#12 Dinoconda – China Dinosaur Park

If you ever hope to complete the current set of 3 Arrow/S&S 4D coasters then you’ll have to give Dinoconda a spin. These super rare contraptions are very unlike anything else in the world and if you have any appreciation for the most extreme types of hardware in the hobby I highly recommend savouring the moments of pure disorientating madness on these as often as possible.

#11 Soaring With Dragon – Hefei Sunac Land

Yes, there’s a lot of dragons out here, but how can you resist the face on the front of this one? This Intamin triple launch coaster is huge, fast and full of wonderful sensations. How can there still be 10 more to come? Click here to find out.

Top 10 coaster reasons to visit Germany

Following on from my cold and calculated list of top ten countries for coasters, I thought it would be good to follow up with some warm and fuzzy (weather permitting) examples of the actual coasters that each one has to offer, a top ten within a top ten as it were.

As we enter the top three countries the overwhelming quantity of coasters starts to climb again. Part of what makes Germany so good is the amount of trips you can make out of their lineup. Coupled with their world beating ride operations and the almighty autobahn it’s a cred hunters paradise. Whilst I will still of course be considering unique and interesting draws, the sheer number here will largely lend itself to being a list of highlights and personal favourites.

#10 Speed Bob – Altmühlbob

Wiegand appear to have been having tremendous success in supplying their comparatively lightweight and easy to install systems to practically anywhere in the world that contains a hill. Alpine Coasters in particular are spreading at a rate of knots and leaving enthusiasts divided in their wake – are they creds or not? (yes they are) and how can we keep up?
With Germany being home turf, the country has seen a lot of other interesting types of build from the company and this one is by far the most exciting to date. With no rider controls and an overly relaxed position, this airtime machine is unique, incredible and very German. Bucket list material for the weird and wonderful.

#9 Krake – Heide Park

As both my personal favourite in the park and one of the most pacy B&M Dive Coasters out there, I’ve opted for the Krake to represent Merlin’s contribution to the German coaster scene. The aesthetic of this ride, situated within the lovely centrepiece of Heide Park’s lake, is particularly strong with fantastic music, a great looking set piece to dive into and the satisfying splash effect for extra viewing pleasure. It may be short, but it packs an all important punch.

#8 Wodan – Europa Park

When it comes to GCIs in Europe you can’t do much better than this terrifically themed and amazingly aggressive wooden coaster. Once the soundtrack soars and the statues in the station turn to look you in the eye, you’ll know you’ve come to the right place.

#7 Dynamite – Freizeitpark Plohn

Whilst I still take issue with the park, I can’t deny how much I enjoyed Dynamite this year. The world needs more Mack big dippers for their crazy antics in exposed seating and right now Europe has the monopoly on them. Sadly the only one sold on native soil is at Plohn, so good luck. It’ll be fine.

#6 Star Trek: Operation Enterprise – Movie Park Germany

Sticking with Mack for now, they joined the fray for the recent spread of triple launch coasters with this installation at Movie Park Germany, giving them a fantastic signature attraction to decorate the entrance plaza. The queueline is highly themed and contains some preshow action, a somewhat loose storyline and the main highlight is the replica of the bridge from the Enterprise in the Next Generation series. If you’re a fan of the greatest era of the franchise, or coasters I guess as you’re reading this, not one to miss.

#5 Black Mamba – Phantasialand

Phantasialand was bound to come up at some point wasn’t it, but I won’t bore you again with my misgivings about the place. All that matters is that Black Mamba is one of my preferred B&M inverts, ridiculously well themed and full of force.

#4 Silver Star – Europa Park

I’m not one to get overly excited for B&M hypers these days but we don’t have much to choose from in this part of the world. Silver Star was my very first and it set the bar reasonably high. While the presentation is easy to mock (Europe has the odd ‘car park coaster’ too), the airtime in the back row of this ride cannot go without a mention.

#3 Expedition GeForce – Holiday Park

Nor can the legendary ‘best coaster in the world’ for a million years in a row. Though the pacing issues and lack of variety in the overall experience of GeForce mean it pales in comparison to the more recent generations of hardware, this ride still packs some of the best ejector airtime in the business and no enthusiast should feel complete without at least one marathon on this bad boy.

#2 Taron – Phantasialand

Time for a consecutive controversial placing in 2nd for these lists. The thing is that if you know much about Europe and this hobby then I probably don’t need to sell you any more on this park, or specifically this ride (they’ve also got that new one that I missed by a week… bah). Immersive theming, a killer soundtrack and the most exhilarating second launch in the world. Everyone wants Taron. But what does everyone need?

#1 Schwur des Kärnan – Hansa Park

Kärnan. That’s what. Terrifying, intense and completely one of a kind, this should be the singular attraction that tops the list for why you’d visit Germany for coasters. One of my most memorable experiences across the entirety of what I’ve seen and done in this hobby was created by this insane contraption and that was before they made it even better. This attraction keeps topping lists on here, I suppose I should write about it properly one day.

Top 10 coaster reasons to visit The Netherlands

Following on from my cold and calculated list of top ten countries for coasters, I thought it would be good to follow up with some warm and fuzzy (weather permitting) examples of the actual coasters that each one has to offer, a top ten within a top ten as it were.

Seemingly the underdog in my list of countries due to ranking so highly, but having much lower quantities than those that surround it – quality must be doing all the talking here. Let’s take a look at the most interesting and exciting offerings in the Netherlands.

#10 Troy – Toverland

Go on then, I’ll stick the critically acclaimed tallest, fastest, longest wooden coaster in the Benelux (what a claim…) on here. While I personally don’t rate it as anything particularly special in the GCI world, unless you’ve only done the UK’s meager offerings, everyone loves this thing and I’m sure you will do too.

#9 Vliegande Hollander

This isn’t here at all for the coaster aspect but for the incredible dark ride section that houses the first half of the experience. The music alone is worth travelling to hear in person and it’s just one of the most gorgeous attractions in a world class park.

#8 Goliath – Walibi Holland

Go on then, I’ll stick the once critically acclaimed tallest, longest, fastest steel coaster in the Benelux (not for long…) on here. I used to love this ride because it basically taught me what airtime was (thanks again to the UK’s meager offerings). Now it’s a bit dated in terms of ride experience, particularly as the park has grown around it, but Goliath is still a bit of a classic that deserves some love.

#7 Formule X – Drievliet

Maurer X-cars aren’t the most consistently rewarding ride type out there, but this little pocket rocket is full of fabulous sensations. You probably shouldn’t spend more than an hour at this park for coasters, and enjoying this will comprise 90% of the visit.

#6 Baron 1898 – Efteling

On hardware alone this ride wouldn’t stand out in a sea of middling dive coasters, but the theming is a significant cut above all other attractions of this type and as a dark ride fan I can’t let that major part of this experience (or the park) go under appreciated.

#5 Gold Rush – Attractiepark Slagharen

As one of a string of swing launch coasters that started cropping up over the last few years, this Gerstlauer Infinity replaced a stock Schwarzkopf model and helped put this park on the map for coaster enthusiasts. As with Formule X, this could easily end up being treated as a pop in and say hello to the coaster type affair, but with fun and forces all over the place it’s well worth the visit.

#4 Fēnix – Toverland

Toverland knocked it out of the park on this one. For an average park that didn’t impress me to suddenly buy a B&M and theme it to this scale, I was simply staggered at the result and couldn’t get enough of it. The queueline alone would be recommendation enough then of course there’s a huge surprise before the lift hill and, you know, the actual coaster is pretty decent too.

#3 Joris en der Draak – Efteling

My personal favourite woodies in Europe and kickstarter of my love affair with both GCIs and racing coasters. Music, theming, airtime, fun, this thing has it all and it’s just so well presented.

#2 Untamed – Walibi Holland

You may well be reeling at this one coming in second. Yes, it’s my favourite coaster in the Netherlands, but we didn’t bond on a personal level. I see Untamed as synonymous with me falling out with the park and though it’s a world class piece of hardware, as all RMCs are, it’s in the lower half of what they can offer. You could honestly do better.

#1 Lost Gravity – Walibi Holland

But you can’t do better than this for a Mack Big Dipper. There’s only 2 in the world right now and that’s just criminal in my eyes. Vicious, quirky and an all round bag of laughs, Lost Gravity has the power to make me doubt my feelings about the RMC in the same park. Chuck in the theme song, a couple of flamethrowers and a winged version of the best coaster seat in production, you’ve got no excuse to not visit the Netherlands now.

Top 10 coaster reasons to visit Japan

Following on from my cold and calculated list of top ten countries for coasters, I thought it would be good to follow up with some warm and fuzzy (weather permitting) examples of the actual coasters that each one has to offer, a top ten within a top ten as it were.

The first few lists in this series fell into place relatively easily as there wasn’t a huge amount to choose from. Japan is the first of a different story though, I’ve ridden over 100 coasters here and still have a fair few that I really want to visit. Whilst I will still of course be considering unique and interesting draws, the sheer number here will largely lend itself to being a list of highlights and personal favourites.

#10 Milky Way – Greenland

We’ll start with something distinctly Japanese. Togo are the kings of stand-up coasters and I think it’s a real shame the ride type has seemingly died out. The best local example of this hardware is one half of this racing coaster at Greenland that happens to include some terrifying standing airtime.

#9 Do-Dodonpa – Fuji-Q Highland

I have a huge amount of respect for Fuji-Q and the way all 4 of the headline attractions almost have equal billing in terms of legendary ‘big name’ status throughout the industry, something almost no other park has achieved on the same scale.
I’m going to jump at another opportunity to demonstrate why I don’t like clones here and say that Takabisha would have had this slot in the list as I preferred it to the Donp. BUT, there’s one in a mall in America now, to satisfy all those who would look at a coaster in Asia and say ‘they should build one of those over here’, instead of ‘they should build something unique’ and taking the opportunity to travel abroad (win win). So why would you bother going to Japan?
Fortunately they still uniquely have the world’s fastest accelerating coaster. Is it thrilling and fun? Yes. Is it worth travelling for? Yes. Is it as good as I wanted it to be? Sadly not.

#8 Steel Dragon 2000 – Nagashima Spa Land

Another giant that I found slightly underwhelming, but simply by merit of its existence you can’t deny a Giga coaster, particularly when it’s also the longest coaster in the world. The first half leans much closer to ’90s hyper in execution in that it’s all visual with no sensation, but the second half with its ridiculously long consecutive sequence of decent airtime hills is great fun.

#7 Bandit – Yomiuriland

Honestly if I’m looking for that style of huge ride with not much going on, I’d much rather ride this monster (and visit this park). I have a bit of a thing for the Japanese Jet coaster, characterised by having shallow drops and layouts that are… less than inspired, they’re just so quaint and happy fun time. Bandit is by far the largest example of these, is a terrain coaster and is actually rather intense to boot. Then you chuck in the experience of ‘Wet Bandit‘ and it’s on a whole different level.

#6 Fujiyama – Fuji-Q Highland

Back to Fuji-Q but sticking to Togo, this is what happened when they stretched beyond Jet coaster, went for some more world records and tried out some hyper style significant drops. The result is a little off, but in a way that I greatly appreciate, particularly in the final moments when it just totally loses any sense of control. It’s very different and a hugely welcome change to the underwhelming cookie cutter hypers out there.

#5 Hollywood Dream (Backdrop) – Universal Studios Japan

Another hugely welcome change to the hyper scene, this one isn’t even tall enough. It also follows a rather untraditional layout which I’m all for. The best ride I’ve ever had on a B&M hyper, a ride type I respect more than love, was on this one, backwards, in the dark, music blaring from the onboard speakers. How many places can you have all of that at once? We’re in game changing territory now.

#4 Pyrenees – Parque Espana

Another exceptional B&M coaster in Japan, this time in the form of an invert. It’s my overall favourite of the type, perfectly blending all the things I love about them most. Not to be missed.

#3 Flying Dinosaur – Universal Studios Japan

These are all segueing rather nicely, from my favourite B&M invert to my number one B&M flyer. I consider this to be the finest creation to ever come from the manufacturer, being ridiculously intense and pushing the human body to limits it may or may not be able to handle.

#2 Hakugei – Nagashima Spa Land

I literally came back to this country just for this ride, in a park I’m not too keen on, so that should say enough about how significant Hakugei is to me. As the first RMC to break into the Asian market, they really pulled something special out of the bag here with their conversion of the classic woodie White Cyclone. It’s a top ten worldwide for me right now and I hope it caught the eyes of several neighbours.

#1 Eejanaika – Fuji-Q Highland

But there’s another coaster in my top ten out here and it happens to be the greatest working example of an S&S 4D coaster, one of the rarest and most sought after ride types in the world. No other piece of hardware in existence can do to you what Eejanaika does. I can’t process it or describe it, I almost can’t handle it, but I know that I love it beyond description. X2 needs to bow down to this one, there is no comparison.

Wait, no heartline coaster? Not just yet. I’m still saving myself for this bad boy.

Top 10 coaster reasons to visit Sweden

Following on from my cold and calculated list of top ten countries for coasters, I thought it would be good to follow up with some warm and fuzzy (weather permitting) examples of the actual coasters that each one has to offer, a top ten within a top ten as it were.

As home to my current favourite coaster and park, there won’t be much surprise in how most of this list turns out. Like Spain it’s actually a hard one to do as Sweden’s strength is in its consistency of ride quality and there really isn’t that much to choose from, with most being spread across just a handful of parks. I learnt today that there’s a lot of Wacky Worms outside the big 3 parks, a project for the future no doubt, but in the meantime here’s their most interesting, unique and enjoyable rollercoasters – probably with favouritism, it can’t be helped.

#10 Gruvbanan – Skara Sommarland

Which all means I’m stretching a bit to start here. Sweden’s only powered coaster? Not much of a claim. It does have a charming indoor section with some unusual decoration though. A solid and unique family coaster.

#9 Vilda Musen – Gröna Lund

I didn’t think much of this Gerstlauer Bobsled but it is a custom layout and has the potential for some good interaction with neighbouring Jetline. As a bonus bit of intrigue they like to play POVs of rides from around the world on queueline TVs – I do like a bit of fan service.

#8 Jetline – Gröna Lund

And here’s that neighbour. It’s had an interesting history, with almost too many manufacturers getting involved. Designed by Schwarzkopf, made by Zierer, built by BHS and modified by Maurer – there’s plenty of claims for the spreadsheet you can worm around there. It lacks a bit of punch in comparison to the Swedish brother further down the list and this is likely due to location constraints, but those limitations make the visual spectacle fascinating all by itself.

#7 Tranan – Skara Sommarland

Pure one of a kind. An S&S Free Fly with winged seats that freely rotate around an entirely different axis to what you’d usually find on Free Spins and more famously the 4D coasters. If you enjoy trying new models and any sense of completionism then this is definitely one to make the effort for. Tranan does feel like a prototype/proof of concept as it doesn’t do a huge amount with this special technology, I’m a little sad that it hasn’t been taken any further as of yet.

#6 Twister – Gröna Lund

Though admittedly my least favourite coaster from the Gravity Group, it’s still a great little woodie and reason enough to go to Gröna Lund on its own. If anything it will give you a greater sense of appreciation for how many sensations the manufacturer is able to create from so little potential energy. Like Tranan, a taster of better things to come.

#5 Valkyria – Liseberg

The announcement of any new B&M dive coasters has almost become a bit of an eye roll moment for enthusiasts and I have to admit I’m guilty of the same mindset. It’s a very predictable ride type which, while amazing for local patrons to experience for the first time, once you’ve done one you feel like you’ve done them all.
In spite of all that Valkyria to me is the best B&M dive in the world and I was beyond happy with the result. It feels different. It moves with purpose throughout the layout. It looks fantastic. Even if you’ve done all the others, you need this one.

#4 Lisebergbanan – Liseberg

This ride still blows my mind every time I see and ride it. The efficiency and amount of trains it runs is sheer delight, but it’s the landscaping, terrain and interaction that really make it a world class attraction. There’s just nothing else out there like it. Visit Sweden specifically for this hillside.

#3 Balder – Liseberg

Tons of airtime, one of only 4 Intamin prefab woodies in the world. What more reason do you need?

#2 Wildfire – Kolmården

Location, location, location. While I’m not Wildfire’s biggest fan, entirely due to what I feel like is a bit of wasted potential, RMCs feel like that new set that is both reasonably achievable and that everyone wants to finish. And rightly so. Even the worst of them is incredible.

#1 Helix – Liseberg

Forget everything you read above. Visit Sweden for the next level of rollercoasters. Here’s why.

Top 10 coaster reasons to visit Spain

Following on from my cold and calculated list of top ten countries for coasters, I thought it would be good to follow up with some warm and fuzzy (weather permitting) examples of the actual coasters that each one has to offer, a top ten within a top ten as it were.

When it came to Spain I felt like I’d shot myself in the foot by trying to stretch to ten coasters (across a healthy range of parks) worth a mention for every country in the list, it’s all very concentrated here. Might be some more cheating going on, but I think I pulled it off. Here’s their most interesting, unique and enjoyable rollercoasters, not necessarily in the order of favouritism.

#10 Abismo – Parque de Atracciones de Madrid

I was torn between putting this and Tornado, the Intamin invert (or even TNT Tren de la Mina the Gerstlauer family coaster – my actual favourite ride in the park). Although extremely rare, Tornado is just so forgettable and while Abismo was abysmal, at least it was memorable.
As the world’s only Maurer Skyloop with an extended layout, this one decides to compliment the usual discomfort of the starting sequence with providing airtime directly to the chest due to poor restraint design. The result is obviously rather lung crushing, but also highly amusing if experienced in good company.

#9 Stunt Fall – Parque Warner Madrid

This ride wasn’t running when we visited the park back in 2017, but I have ridden an equivalent model in China (did you expect anything less from me?). Giant Inverted Boomerangs are relatively few and far between throughout the world and seem to be plagued with reliability issues, so that makes actually getting on one of them feel that extra bit special. Despite the negative associations that would come with being a Vekoma Boomerang, I didn’t actually mind the experience – the backwards vertical lift is very unnerving and it caused me no specific harm.

#8 Dragon Khan – PortAventura

The first of many Portaventura resort entries here, obviously, though I don’t have a lot of love for old Dragon Khan. As well as being a past holder of the record for most inversions, B&M’s traditional sit down coasters are rather rare throughout the world as well and it should have been an intense and thrilling experience, complimented by that smooth B&M goodness. By the time we got around to riding it, there had been a noticeable deterioration in the quality, but at least it looks fantastic.

#7 Red Force – Ferrari Land

I still think Red Force is daft. Sure it’s the tallest and fastest coaster in Europe now, but it took those titles directly from its sister park and it’s just so… uninspired to keep building these one up, one down Intamin launch layouts. I will admit that the punch of the LSMs (fastest in the world) was surprisingly forceful after we spent many months mocking what it may be like compared to the older Hydraulic versions and if you haven’t done anything like this before then it should probably be well up there on the list of things to do.

#6 Furius Baco – PortAventura

Previously Europe’s fastest coaster (except during Ring Racer’s ridiculously brief stint at the top), this is another of PortAventura’s marmite attractions. Often declared to be downright brutal, I actually found it hilarious as it bounced around a stupid layout at stupidly high speeds. It shows off the power of the hydraulic technology particularly well and that inversion is way better than it should have been. It’s also extremely well presented, preshow and all.

#5 Stampida – PortAventura

Although they’re generally not very well received I actually loved these racing CCI woodies. Anything that races is already onto a winner for me as I’m a big fan of ride interaction. At the time they were riding with a near perfect amount of shake, rattle and roll for my personal tastes on wooden coasters and we had many, many enjoyable laps (and victories) on both sides.

#4 Batman: Arkham Asylum – Parque Warner Madrid

A heavily cloned B&M Invert as a reason to visit? Bah.
This is actually by far the best Batman I have ridden to date and it’s just so damn intense. If you’re coming from the states I wouldn’t expect you to bat an eyelid, but we only actually have one of them here in Europe so it’s at least a little bit special.

#3 Muntanya Russa – Tibidabo

This gem of a park on top of a mountain in Barcelona is also home to a hidden treasure. An unassuming Vekoma coaster with incredible views and intense terrain based helices, make sure you spend an evening up here at least once while in the area.

#2 Superman / la Atracción de Acero – Parque Warner Madrid

Luckily, just next door to that Batman above, there’s a custom B&M floorless that is also one of my favourites of its type, providing a great one two punch for Madrid. I’m not quite sure what sets this Superman apart from the many I’ve ridden since but it has a certain flow and satisfying sequence of elements that impressed me more than it perhaps should have.

#1 Shambhala – PortAventura

To be clear again, this is not my favourite ride in Spain. I was massively underwhelmed by my experiences with Shambhala, not helped at all by the reputation that precedes this legendary European coaster. But it is just that, a legend, and you probably shouldn’t go through life without riding it. It’s a primary reason to visit Spain for rollercoasters and definitely highly rerideable and fun. Just don’t expect anything ground breaking, I’d much rather you were pleasantly surprised.

Top 10 coaster reasons to visit France

Following on from my cold and calculated list of top ten countries for coasters, I thought it would be good to follow up with some warm and fuzzy (weather permitting) examples of the actual coasters that each one has to offer, a top ten within a top ten as it were.

Other than the obvious Disney & Asterix combo, ‘major’ parks seem to be less of a thing in France. Everything else is a bit more low key and I’d say that actually works in their favour, especially with each of their own little quality highlights that all really start to add up to a solid trip or two (or ten from my location). Here’s their most interesting, unique and enjoyable rollercoasters, not necessarily in the order of favouritism.

#10 Space Mountain – Disneyland Paris

Somehow this ride has eluded me on two separate resort visits now. Knowing that it was another indoor Vekoma Looper like Rock’n’Rollercoaster just next door meant that missing out never bothered me too much. I’m sad about missing the old theme, but with the more recent revamp (I’m also a sucker for Star Wars), the fact that it’s unique against the other Disney variants across the globe and that I’ve just discovered it has the world’s only element called the ‘tongue’ means I am rather intrigued now and definitely need to give it a go.

#9 Gaz Express – Bagatelle

France have their own manufacturer in Soquet and it would be a shame to not try out at least one of their offerings while you’re in the region. This one comes with an amazing theming package along with both water and fire effects. The back seats can be brutal too.

#8 Yukon Quad – Parc Le Pal

I know we had Juvelen in the Denmark list and you know I’m not big on clones, but it’s such a good family launch coaster that it put this lovely zoo on the map for enthusiasts and ticked one final box to make me personally visit. If you haven’t ridden Juvelen – bonus. If you have, come for Azteka instead – it’s my favourite Soquet and quirky as anything.

#7 Pégase Express – Parc Astérix

Yes there are more significant creds at Parc Astérix but honestly I don’t think those are currently any more worth the visit than this wonderful Gerstlauer family coaster. The world definitely needs to invest in more of these builds as they’re high quality, well rounded attractions. Of course now you’re in the park there’s a B&M invert, a CCI woodie and the infamous Goudurix (which is fine) and you know we’re just keeping the spot in the list warm until that Intamin finally opens anyway.

#6 Big Thunder Mountain – Disneyland Paris

As far as I’m concerned this is the best Big Thunder in the world for the location and layout. The way it builds to such a climactic, disorientating and out of control ending sequence makes me very happy indeed. One of Disney’s finest coasters anywhere.

#5 Alpina Blitz – Nigloland

I’m so torn on the existence of this ride (and where to place it).
It’s a Mack – that’s good.
It’s a clone of the Intamin Megalite layout – that’s bad.
It comes with my favourite trains – that’s good.
It’s not as good as Piraten – that’s bad.
It’s still a highly enjoyable ride though and to some degree a different experience at least – worth a shot.

#4 Monster – Walygator Parc

This B&M invert tried to kill me and for that reason it’s one of my favourites. It’s a stupidly intense ride and the weather was in excess of 40°C. Even if you’ve done Raptor at Cedar Point (unlike me) you obviously need to experience the clone without a mid course brake run.

#3 Timber – Walibi Rhône-Alpes

Of course I think you need to give this one some attention, it’s a Gravity Group woodie and I’m their biggest fan. Timber packs a ridiculous amount of airtime into the tiniest of layouts. It’ll leave you wanting more, but in the best way.

#2 Wood Express – Parc Saint Paul

Gravity woodies! I can’t get enough of them and I love that France appears to think the same way. Every small park in the world should get a little wooden coaster of this quality because you just can’t go wrong. Low cost + incredibly fun = instant hit. Why, Wicker Man, why?

#1 Mystic – Walibi Rhône-Alpes

It’s a bit out of the way, but this park (and chain) has really stepped its game up in terms of investments recently. I wasn’t ready for how good this Gerstlauer Infinity was. They throw so much creativity and such a wide range of amazing forces into their recent layouts and I just adore that. Stop selling the Eurofighter now. This is the future.

Top 10 coaster reasons to visit England

Following on from my cold and calculated list of top ten countries for coasters, I thought it would be good to follow up with some warm and fuzzy (weather permitting) examples of the actual coasters that each one has to offer, a top ten within a top ten as it were.

Obviously I have a skewed perspective (hugely negative of course) on why you should come here for coasters because I don’t need to. I am here.
The first few on the list definitely wouldn’t be my go to rides for a pure coaster fix in the UK as that would almost entirely revolve around just one or two parks. So here’s our most interesting, unique and (generally) enjoyable rollercoasters, not necessarily in the order of favouritism.

#10 Millennium – Fantasy Island

I know, Vekoma Looper. No one really wants that. This one is disturbingly smooth though and the layout and location couldn’t be more unusual, with the station literally hovering over a street corner, complete with both a fish ‘n’ chip and a betting shop. How British. There’s also the world’s biggest SLC wrapped around it, but all I’ll say is good luck with that one.

#9 Shockwave – Drayton Manor

Stand up coasters of any type are getting very rare throughout the world now and this is the only remaining Intamin version still in operation. There are far better examples out there, but I believe it’s a sensation you need to at least try in as many forms as possible in order to appreciate the best (Togo). This park has already given up on its other major thrill coaster (no big loss), so grab it while you can.

#8 Ziggy’s Blast Quest – The Milky Way Adventure Park

Formerly known as Clone Zone, this Caripro Batflyer is more dark ride than rollercoaster and more haunted walkthrough than dark ride. You’ll be hard pressed to find another one of these (Top 10 coaster reasons to visit Indonesia? It’s on my bucket list). It recently had an overhaul and now includes guns so I can’t speak for it currently, but I trust that they’ve kept it equally weird and wonderful.

#7 Cannonball Express – Pleasurewood Hills

A Schwarzkopf Jumbo V? What’s that? Well this is your only chance to find out. The manufacturer’s signature tracking, tight turns and a cute baby train make this one to at least consider. We’ve obviously got a bit of a thing for using name changes as a cheap rebrand because this will always be called Enigma to me.

#6 Ultimate – Lightwater Valley

While I rather prefer Raptor Attack as an attraction at this park, I cannot deny the monster that is Ultimate and the draw it should have on people. It will hunt me down and hurt me if I do. Completely unique, completely vicious, completely bonkers. Watch out for deer.

#5 Dragon’s Fury – Chessington World of Adventures Resort

Although it is one of our major theme parks, Chessington doesn’t appear all that special when viewed solely from the likes of RCDB or coast2coaster. The sprawling layout of this custom Maurer spinner actually lends it to being one of the best of its type in the world. Surprise backwards airtime? I didn’t know we had it in us.

#4 Smiler – Alton Towers

I don’t want to sing the praises of records for the sake of records but going for most inversions in the world and making an interesting layout out of it – that’s a respectable feat. Smiler can be a bit too much sometimes and there’s a section of dodgy track in there, but I secretly love it and it’s definitely one to tick off your list.

#3 Swarm – Thorpe Park

Sticking to the theme of not just making this my 10 favourite rides (and secret loves) here, I’m opting for this B&M over the obvious Invert. Come for Swarm. It’s our only wing coaster, it has an abundance of Thorpe’s unique brand of depressing thematics and they might even chuck in a fire effect for you. Sadly I can’t offer you the backwards facing seats any more.

#2 Nemesis – Alton Towers

This is why this list would have just been Alton Towers x10 if I had approached it any differently – and we’ve already got one for that. Obviously an absolute legend and it was probably THE coaster in Europe back in the ’90s. It’s still hugely well regarded and undoubtably a quality coaster package that should not be missed.

#1 Icon – Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool is a must visit regardless, but my favourite UK coaster has to top the list. Put all the interest and intrigue aside for now, if you want the most enjoyable ride experience we have to offer then Icon is where it’s at. There are a ton of other interesting creds at this park but this is the one to make the journey for. In fact I’ll be doing that tomorrow.