By Jason Heidemann for the Orbitz Travel Blog
Never mind the merry-go-round. August 16 is National Roller Coaster Day, which means we're aiming for high-stakes thrills, baby! You wanna go for the ride of the life? Check out these seven roller coaster wonders and remember: Keep your hands inside the car at all times.
1. The Great Scenic Railway at Luna Park: Melbourne, Australia
Roller coasters operate almost entirely on fear factor and what could be scarier than riding the world's oldest continuously operated roller coaster -- and a wooden one at that? In truth the Scenic Railway at Luna Park, constructed in 1912, is modest by today's thrill ride comparisons, but the expansive views atop the coaster certainly justify its name. Plus, how cool is it that an actual brake operator rides in the middle of each car?
2. The Cyclone at Jolly Roger Amusement Park: Ocean City, MD
The newest entry into the pantheon of theme park attractions, this "cart coaster" is a 1,500 foot-long hybrid go kart track and roller coaster in which passengers control their own speed and ride individually as they whiz and whir around a track that takes drivers up five spiral stories, down a small hill and back down again via another set of spirals. The Cyclone opened in May, but already we're amazed.
3. Formula Rossa at Ferrari World: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
This coaster goes so freakin' fast (250 mph to be exact) that all riders are required to wear protective goggles lest they collide with bugs along the route. Formula Rossa, modeled after Italian racetrack Autodromo Nazionale Monza, currently holds the record for world's fastest roller coaster -- it reaches 60 mph in just two seconds. We have a better name for it: How about Hell on Wheels?
4. Goliath at Six Flags Great America: Gurnee, IL
Poor David wouldn't stand a chance against this 165-foot tall wooden monstrosity, a recent addition to the Six Flags family. Upon its June debut last year, Goliath shattered three Guinness World Records, including steepest, longest and -- at a top speed of 72 miles per hour -- fastest wooden roller coaster in the world. That thing that dropped out of your body after the first steep drop? That would be your stomach.
5. Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land: Mie Prefecture, Japan
Death-defying chills and thrills occasionally come with a steep price tag. The construction of the world's longest roller coaster -- 8,133 feet -- required more steel than any other for earthquake protection, bringing the total cost to $50 million. The ride consists of an initial 306-foot drop, a figure eight-shaped helix, seven camelback hills and two tunnels and is named for the Year of the Dragon.
6. The Beast at Kings Island: Mason, Ohio
7,349 -- that's the number, in feet, of the world's longest wooden roller coaster -- a record that's been held by the Beast since 1979. It's also still the longest roller coaster -- regardless of construction materials -- in the United States. That's nearly a mile and a half of thrill ride goodness which takes riders up a 110-foot hill and then drops them 135 feet and spins them through dark tunnels, forested areas and one helix after another. When can we go?
7. Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure: Jackson, New Jersey