The Roller Coaster Thrill Scale
So my current roller coaster rating scale is my grade or rating for roller coasters. Like any critic it’s my rating of how good a roller coaster is. It takes into account the rideability, fun, uniqueness, theming, g-forces, airtime, and other factors.
I realized my current rating scale isn’t terribly helpful for those less concerned with quality and more concerned with whether they’ll be able to ‘handle’ the ride. I feel there’s a need for an additional scale that is a measure of a ride’s thrill factor. It has nothing to do with the quality of the ride, just the level of intensity that riders will experience. I know there are many who are less concerned with the overall quality and more concerned with whether a ride goes upside-down, how tall it is, etc. The new Coaster Critic Thrill Scale will help these readers.
The scale will be especially helpful for my readers who fall into the general public category; those who aren’t terribly familiar with the different roller coaster makes, models, and designs. I doubt seasoned coaster enthusiasts will find much value, but please feel free to read on and tell me what you think. Again, this not a quality or even a fun scale, just an intensity or thrill scale.
Tame Roller Coasters (1 out of 5) Small, Compact Roller Coasters and Kiddie Coasters
These roller coasters are generally kiddie coasters. They’re often small enough to fit in your back yard and aren’t likely to be taller than your house. I seldom review these rides, but they are listed in the theme park reviews. They are typically steel coasters, but there are some smaller wooden coasters that fall into this category as well.
For Riders: kids, parents with their kids, novices, and desperate coaster enthusiasts trying to increase their coaster count
Examples: Taxi Jam at Kings Dominion, Percy’s Railway at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure Train at Six Flags Great Adventure, Catwoman’s Whip at Six Flags New England
Traditional Roller Coasters (2 out of 5) Old-School Run of the Mill Woodies & Smaller Steel Coasters
These full-sized roller coasters offer the typical ups and downs that roller coasters are known for. A common example of a 2/5 is the old-school woodie at your local park. Your common theme park-goer would look at one of these and think of them as fairly run-of-the-mill. Most mine train coasters would fall into this category as well. These coasters are not extremely tall or fast.
For Riders: A large portion of the general public as well as all coaster fans will be candidates for these roller coasters.
Examples: Thunderhead at Dollywood, Racer at Kings Island, Phoenix at Knoebels, Twister at Knoebels, Big Thunder Mountain Disney World
Thrilling Roller Coasters (3 out of 5) Contains 1 Thrill Factor (Loops, Launch)
Thrilling roller coasters are just enough to get the adrenaline pumping for seasoned riders and quite a test for some general public riders. The older steel loopers are good examples of these roller coasters. They include loops, but they aren’t especially tall which in turn makes them not especially fast. This group also includes some of the tamer launch coasters that don’t involve loops.
For Riders: General public visitors with a little more bravery.
Examples: Mindbender at Six Flags Over Georgia, Anaconda at Kings Dominion, Italian Job (Backlot Stunt) Coasters at Kings Dominion & Kings Island, Carolina Cobra at Carowinds, Pony Express at Knott’s Berry Farm
Intense Roller Coasters – (4 out of 5) Contains 2 Thrill Factors (High Speeds, Loops, G-Forces, Height) These roller coasters are easily adventurous enough to scare away many would-be riders. Park-goers marvel at the rides themselves and the ‘insane’ riders who brave them. You’ve likely got to be at least a casual roller coaster fan for these coasters due to their launches, loops, and higher altitudes. Another example would be the more extreme wooden roller coasters. Coasters like The Voyage and El Toro have exceptional height and speed would fall into this category. All of these roller coasters have two thrill factors.
For Riders: Expect fewer general public riders on these coasters. If they did conquer one of these babies, they likely write home about it.
Examples: Stormrunner at Hersheypark, Griffon at Busch Gardens Europe, Volcano at Kings Dominion, Goliath at Six Flags Over Georgi & Magic Mountain, Superman Ride of Steel at Six Flags America, Millennium Force at Cedar Point
Extreme Roller Coasters (5 out of 5) Contains 3 Thrill Factors (High Speeds, Loops, G-Forces, or Height)
Extreme roller coasters are not for the faint-hearted. If you’re at all adverse to roller coasters, you probably shouldn’t even look in the direction of these monsters. In fact, most who enjoy these coasters probably consider themselves thrill seekers. When I rode X2 I sat next to a general public rider and she was scared half to death. Afterwards she said that she thought she was going to die. I think that pretty much sums up extreme roller coasters.
For riders: Only thrill seekers and coaster enthusiasts need apply.
Examples: X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure, Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point
There may always be exceptions to the rules, but I think most roller coasters will fit in these categories based on the thrill factors. Over time, I will be adding the thrill ratings to all of my coaster reviews. Hopefully, this new scale will be useful to those planning trips or doing research.I’ll reiterate once again that this is not a measure of the quality of the coaster. I don’t consider X2 or Kingda Ka the best coasters on the planet because they are the most extreme (although I’m sure that some do).
What’s Your Take? What do you think of the Roller Coaster Thrill Scale? Got any suggestions? Leave a comment below.