Top 3 Thursdays!

If you’ve read my blog for a while you’ve noticed how often I point out the rougher wooden coasters. Rides like the Cyclone at Six Flags New England and Wildcat at Hershey Park are abusive and terribly uncomfortable. This week, we’ll look at some of the roughest steel roller coasters around. This is a tough Top 3 to pull together. There are rides that have some pretty rough moments like Kings Dominion’s Anaconda during the brake run, but usually roughness is momentary on steel coasters. Thanks to Quil for suggesting this week’s topic.

Mantis at Cedar Point3 – Mantis at Cedar Point
Mantis, one of the largest stand-up coasters in the World, added a new dimension to roller coaster roughness. During my ride I felt a strong pain in my legs from the g-forces and some unwelcome head banging from a few of the loops. From the comments on my review, others seem to have had similar experiences. For me, Mantis was one of the biggest disappointments in Cedar Point’s lineup and possibly one of B&M’s worst roller coasters.

2 – Ninja at Six Flags Over Georgia
When I rode the Ninja in 2008 it was my worst ride of the year. It looks cool with it’s twisted red track situated on a pond near the back of the park. Unfortunately, the ride is rough, shaky, and has your head bouncing off of the hard over-the-shoulder restraints. Also, other than its appearance there wasn’t anything from the ride that was enjoyable. Ninja makes me glad that there aren’t more Vekoma seated loopers in the U.S.

1 – Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Great Adventure
Great American Scream Machine is an egregiously rough Arrow looper sitting on a picturesque parking lot at Great Adventure.  Like the other rough coasters on this list you’ll definitely find your head bouncing off the should restraints. But, on GASM there is also significant head-bang during the transitions and in places that are usually harmless on other rides. This roller coaster has almost nothing to offer and I can’t believe how some people can look past the rough, jarring, and just un-fun ride.

Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Great Adventure

Dishonorable Mention
The Vekoma SLC’s Mind Eraser clones were definitely in contention for the Top 3, but some of them are actually rideable. T2 at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom was probably the roughest of the clones. The Flight of Fear at Kings Dominion and Jokers Jinx were both super painful when they had over-the-shoulder restraints. In fact, Flight of Fear would probably take the worst spot if it wasn’t for that change. I remember wanting aspirin every time I got off of that ride.

What’s Your Take?
Do you agree with my list of the roughest steel coasters? What were some of the roughest steelies you’ve ridden? Leave a comment below. Pictures courtesy of CoasterImage.

About The Author

Founder of My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

40 Responses

  1. DC

    Arrow coasters did not age well. Even Nessie, my firts Arrow, is showing its age. The Scream Machine was brutally painful in its later years as was it's sister up in Gurnee. Drachen Fire was barely tolerable when it was brand new and Steel Phantom was also a bone-crusher. (Had a brakes-free ride once during an ACE ERT. TRIPLE OUCH!!!)

    Across the board, Vekoma clones are just plain BAD. The only redeeming quality of the one in Wildwood, NJ is its layout through the water slides.

    And except for the Georgia Scorcher, I've found no comfort on any stand-up coaster, whether Inatamin, B&M or Togo. Those saddles are just not "guy" friendly, if you fellas know what I mean. Wearing a jock should be a reqirement.

    I can't complain about the Wild Mouse genre, since even the originals were meant to be abrupt with their 18" wheelbases. The current generation doesn't disappoint it that aspect. i have to admit I loved Exterminator though. We had one unbalanced right with two little kids on the other side the had us spinning like a Tilt-A-Whirl.

    The older I get, the smoother I like them. I re-ride all the time, when possible, but only the coasters that don't put thoughts of litigation in my head. Thank the steel coaster gods for Intamin and B&M.

  2. Matt

    I completely agree. Scream machine is very rough and im glad Great Adventure removed it. All arrow loopers ive been on have been rough. I've heard Loch Ness Monster isn't rough, though. I will have to find out, i'm going to BGW this year.

  3. Bryoux

    I'm only subject to a few parks in California, since I don't travel much. The only coaster I have a major complaint about is Scream! at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It's a B&M Floorless coaster and let me tell you, that thing beats you up! The sad thing is, it is relatively new. I believe it was introduced to the park in 2003!

    • Kevin

      Did you ride Viper at SFMM? Scream's admittedly a bit shaky, but Viper beats you into submission. After one ride my wife hasn't gone since, and she loves coasters.

      • The Coaster Critic

        I skipped Viper as I was running out of time at the park, but I've met my share of abusive Arrow loopers. So I know what you mean.

  4. Trent

    Ninja at Six Flags over Georgia is the only one that I have been on and is my least favorite coaster of all time. I went on it once and never went on it again, if you watch the trains, you can see them banging from side to side. 🙁

    • Zombie

      Really? I found GNE quite smooth compared to other compact inverts.

  5. Matt

    I think Anaconda is just as bad as or worse than scream machine. They both throw you around horribly, but anaconda's post brake run section is just horrible. The roughness is untolerable. I like anaconda's layout better though because it has the underwater tunnel and is on top of water instead of a parking lot. But i hate them both.

  6. Michael Anderson

    Great Adventure's Viper (a heartline coaster) was torn down after only a few years. When I got off, battered and broken, I remember the guy in front of me telling his friend GA should tear it down and put up something useful, like a water fountain.

  7. brian fishman

    the roughest steel had to be drachen fire at busch gardens it got on the crurve to the lift hill and the cork screw after the brake run.But what i heard was the roughest coaster of all though storys is the comet at crystal beach back in the 20,s

  8. L.J.

    Ive never been on Mantis, but it looks so fun its a bummer that so many find it painful -__- is it still fun tho? I totally agree with Ninja im from GA and I've ridden that ride a million times headbanging nonstop lol.

  9. Jack

    I thought scream machine was smoother than the other loopers. Annaconda is fine, but right in-between the helix is rough. I thought superman at six flags was rough last time I rode. And batman had a train that vibrated like a massage chair. I still think that rough steels are better than smooth ones. And I'd take scream machine over green lantern any day.

  10. Michael

    Don't hate on Arrow, I love the Iron Wolf, Ninja is another Vekoma-copies-Arrow thing. Never been on a SLC, or a normal boomerang, but G.I.B.s don't hurt. Anyway, the roughest steel that I've been on…….. V2 at SFGAm. The front hits that twist and My head went flying past anything that the Iron Wolf, Demon, GASM, Shockwave, Viper, and Mind Eraser could have ever done to me. I fell down the ramp leaving the exit, my ears were bleeding. Roughest woodie hands down Zeus at Mt. Olympus. Close second A.E. at SFGAm (Intamin woodie) I don't hate it it's really great BUT comin out of the huge helix cracked my neck every time.

  11. Matt McIrvin

    I think I'm lucky to be about the shape and size that they make coaster restraints for, and as a consequence rough coasters with OTSRs don't beat me up as badly as they do most people. My head doesn't bang even on the Canobie Corkscrew, and everyone gets headbanging on the Canobie Corkscrew.

    But Drachen Fire was rough and headbangy even for me. Since I didn't know any better, what I took away from it was "this was fun, but gee, the big coasters are getting really rough these days", and it took over a decade and the rise of Internet fandom for me to learn that it was actually an unusual case.


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