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Top 10 Rollercoasters in PA and the Surrounding Area
As soon as I sit down in the car the anticipation and excitement start to build. As we slowly click up the hill I look forward to the ride of a lifetime. We reach the top and I throw my hands up and scream as we descend for what seems like an eternity. Then come the twists and turns of the intricate loops and corkscrews. I love the way my stomach drops and even the moments when I black out. When we pull into the station, I quickly unfasten my seatbelt and run down the ramp to get back in line so I can experience the adrenalizing feeling all over again.
If you are looking to have a similar experience while not having to travel far from home, then you are in luck. Pennsylvania and the surrounding area have a variety of theme parks that offer world class roller coasters for thrill seekers to enjoy. With the summer months approaching, a favorite past time is to hit the amusement park. Here are 13 top-tier coasters in PA and the surrounding area to add to your coaster bucket list.
- Skyrush- Hershey Park, Hershey, PA
Skyrush lives up to its name as it climbs 200 feet into the air and then gives riders a rush as it plummets at a rate of 75 miles per hour. The best part of the ride is the airtime as riders experience 5 zero-G airtime hills. Each hill makes you fly completely out of the seat. The ride is so forceful that, at moments, it feels as though you could fly out of the car. If you want to feel like a bird in the sky and be the ultimate thrill seeker, then be sure to ride the winged seat. Having no floor makes the ride twice as thrilling. “I love that even though the ride is quick you are still able to get an adrenaline rush,” shared junior, Lauren Retkovis. Skyrush has won multiple gold ticket awards from Amusement Today which is a monthly periodical that features articles, news, pictures, and reviews about all things relating to the amusement park industry. It is by far the most thrilling roller coaster in Hershey Park and is a top contender for PA.
- Phantoms Revenge- Kennywood, West Mifflin, PA
Want to feel the need for speed? Then climb aboard Phantoms Revenge, the fastest roller coaster in PA and at one point in time the fastest coaster in the world! Reach up to speeds of 85 miles per hour as you run through a track with unique twists. Just when you think you are comfortable, the phantom takes its revenge, as the second drop is the tallest on the coaster. Riders are shot down 232 feet which was introduced as the longest drop of any ride. Roller coaster enthusiast and senior at Cardinal O’Hara, Noah Sharretts loves the unexpected second drop. This coaster also offers moments of insane airtime. This ride has also received golden ticket awards for being in the top 50 coasters.
- El Toro- Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson Township, NJ
El Toro is a wooden coaster unlike any other. Despite being wooden, it is extremely smooth compared to others that can be rickety. It is one of the tallest and fastest wooden coasters on earth and was voted number one wooden coaster by the golden ticket awards. Like the other two coasters, you experience exciting moments of airtime thanks to the insane hills. For junior Amanda Iswalt the coaster is nostalgic. “It is the first big rollercoaster I had been on,” she shared. For many, a first rollercoaster ride is one they will remember forever and the fact that Iswalt’s was El Toro is pretty special.
- Storm Runner- Hershey Park, Hershey, PA
“Now get ready. Here we go” are the last words you hear before you are launched from 0-72 miles per hour in 2 seconds! You then run through barrel rolls, a snake dive and a 135- foot cobra loop all before skidding into the station. For sophomore Immaculata University student Nora Saunders, the launch is the best part. “I love the immediate rush start” she shared.
- Phoenix- Knoebels, Elysburg, PA
If you're looking for a classic coaster, look no further than Phoenix. There is a reason phoenix is consistently ranked as one of the top wooden coasters. Throughought the entire ride your butt never touches the seat. You are like a phoenix flying through the beautiful woods of Elysburg, PA. If you want to fly high, be sure to secure a seat in the back row. Phoenix is nostalgic for me because it was my first big roller coaster. The joy I felt after getting off Phoenix is what sparked my love of roller coasters. Every year my family travels to Knoebels and every year I look forward to laughing along with my family and making memories on my first coaster.
- Steel Force- Dorney Park, Allentown, PA
The longest roller coaster on the east coast and the 9th longest steel coaster in the world keeps riders smiling for the entire trip. This is a great ride to throw your hands in the air and scream as you plummet down multiple steep hills and dark tunnels. Steel Force is one of the most thrilling parks. “The scarier it was the more they liked it” shared Professor James Kain about bringing his daughter and her friends to Dorney. I’m sure Steel Force was at the top of their list!
- Thunderbolt- Kennywood, West Mifflin, PA
This coaster is nostalgic for Professor Kerry Hustwit. “The iconic Thunderbolt is an old wooden roller coaster. Tame by modern standards, I still think it’s pretty fun,” shared Hustwit. What makes Thunderbolt a great ride is the fact that everyone can enjoy it. Thrill seekers to those trying to get on a roller coaster for the first time can enjoy this exciting ride full of surprises. Thunderbolt and Kennywood itself have become beloved parks for families to visit and to enjoy classic rides such as this. Thunderbolt was named the Ultimate Roller Coaster and King of Coasters by the New York Times in 1974 and was also named a Landmark Ride by the American Coaster Enthusiasts.
- Possessed- Dorney Park, Allentown, PA
After getting off this ride you may feel possessed. Riders are launched forward and backward, accelerating in speed each time they are launched, until they reach the top of the U-shaped spiral. You flash in and out of the station and just when you think it is over you are launched into the sky again! Junior Megan Snyder ranks possessed in her top coaster list.
- Kingda Ka- Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson Township, NJ
Neumann alum, Irene Moll, gave the perfect description of what it feels like to ride Kingda Ka. “It gives you pure excitement, and fear, as you are launched 456 feet high, accelerating from 0 to 128 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. Soon as you know it you are on your way down an intense spiral. It is a true rush of adrenaline,” she shared. The tallest coaster in the world and the fastest coaster in North America, Kingda Ka packs the punch and definitely has the fear factor. Just looking at the ride could cause a coaster lover to get excited. The anticipation of sitting on the runway is a feeling like no other. Conquering Kingda Ka is a major sense of pride for coaster enthusiast.
- Thunderhawk- Dorney Park, Allentown, PA
Last is the classic Thunderhawk. This is another great coaster for those of all ages to enjoy. For over 95 years families have made memories on the Thunderhawk. Junior Rachel Meehan is one of those people who shares a special connection with the coaster. “It was my first legitimate roller coaster, and it is nostalgic because it helped me overcome my fear and tackle other bigger roller coasters,” shared Meehan. While it may be one of the oldest coasters in the northeast, it still is jam packed with thrills and hills to bring smiles and laughter to guests.
Now it is your turn to take an adventure and ride these coasters for yourself. See if you agree with our top 10 or if there is a coaster you think deserved to be ranked higher. From our list it is apparent that Hershey Park, Dorney Park, Kennywood, and Six flags are beloved parks in our area, but there are plenty of others to explore. I hope this list helps you discover some exciting rides that you may have never known about before.