Over the past few years, a change in roller coaster rankings has been afoot. Have you noticed? I know The Coaster Critic has, when Montu fell off of the top ten steel coaster list for the annual Golden Ticket Awards, he made mention in a blog post. I’ll admit it, at the time I thought nothing of it, but later, I had a revelation.

No one questions the little wooden brother on the block. Aside from possibly The Voyage or El Toro, I think it’s entirely safe to say that there is not a single wooden coaster in the world that would be “top ten” if the rankings were ten and done. I think it’s also tough to say that either ride, as wonderful as they are, would be a shoe in for that list.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘that’s not fair, the construction rigors are limited, wood is different than steel’, blah blah blah. There is a separate top ten list for wood coasters because they are entirely different animals, right? Not inferior, just different, with a different playing field, different rules, and a different ride. Here’s my question, why are looping coasters any different?

I propose a toast to the looping coaster, and with that toast, a separate top ten ranking for our occasionally upside down friends. Not because of what they cannot do, like wood, but because, just like wood, of what they can do because they are different.

Can a wood coaster be used as a chassis for a four hundred foot tall strata coaster? Maybe, but you won’t see this guy on it. What a wood coaster can do though, and I’m talking about those in the top ten, is give a ride so unique from steel, so infinitely different, that no one thinking rationally conceives twice about ranking the two separately. Who among us feels that a coaster with inversions is similar to their favorite hyper?

Doesn’t matter, Arrow proved over and over again that the two are on disparate territory, and still living examples like New York, New York’s terrible Manhattan Express function as a history lesson. Ask anyone who went to Kennywood when Steel Phantom was introduced, should a hyper coaster have loops? The answer for the vast majority of folks is going to be no, and finding that out cost everyone involved a fair chunk of change.

So, here is the question posed. Since history has proven that different coaster types deserve separate rankings, why shouldn’t those coasters that choose to go upside down be afforded their own rankings?

I can already hear the smart guy in the back, ‘What’s next Aric, rankings for best flyer and best inverted? How about best floorless or sitdown looper?’ To that guy, I say hogwash. These coasters are few enough by type that I feel they can be lumped together, just as wood and steel were once lumped together. Don’t get me wrong, if Ohio has another spendy war based on who can build the tallest flyer, I say we support it. Until that day though, let’s have a third top ten, a new top ten, a top ten just for coasters that go upside down. Imagine one like this, partially hypothetical, as I’ve not ridden all of these:

1. Maverick

2. Tatsu

3. Montu

4. Kraken

5. Fahrenheit

6. Kumba

7. Alpengeist

8. X2

9. Manta

10. Griffon

Good list, right? Ready to challenge it? Good! That’s the point of what I’m saying, we are letting good loopers go by the wayside, and if we don’t acknowledge their awesomeness, they will begin to dwindle. We aren’t arguing enough! Remember when The Coaster Critic put on his flame proof suit for his still positive, yet slightly negative Millennium Force review? I want to argue like that about loopers, and if you don’t agree with my selections, tell me why I’m wrong, and what yours would be.

One of my most exciting moments from last season was the first ride on Diamondback, it was wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to see how the general public felt it stacked up amongst its brethren. The red rattler landed firmly in seventh place, and ironically, by earning its ranking, Montu, the last looper on the list, got the boot.

Parks listen to the general public more than they do you or I, but has a park ever been embarrassed for being able to brag about a new coaster being proven to be among the best coasters in the world? Let’s not blame Intamin, B&M, Premier, Vekoma or any of their fellows for being engaged in making looping coasters, and let’s not have parks suffer for buying them. I love a B&M hyper as much as anybody, but parks don’t need two.

So why don’t we, the hardcore coaster fanatics, demand a separate rankings, a place for designers and park owners to see the true fruits of their labors, and maybe in the process, slow down all that world’s “steepest drop” style of nonsense. A top ten list for coasters that go upside down even once makes sense, and it allows for a real amount of bragging rights, not an entitlement, a place for the real top ten loopers to do battle in our hearts, and a place to be officially honored.

What’s Your Take?
Does anyone else get chills from seeing a twisted mess of loops, hills and drops? Does anyone else enjoy a cobra roll, and an airtime hill? In my opinion, the question is not whether looping coasters deserve a separate top ten list; the question is what your top ten lists are. Leave a comment below and vote in this poll.
[poll id=”6″]

About The Author

19 Responses

  1. CFC

    Interesting argument, Aric. And you know what? I'm supporting it completely! My 3rd and 4th favorites(Afterburn and Carolina Cobra, respectively) are both loopers.

    • Quil

      just saying, you don`t need such a long name. this isn`t exactly Gmail, so you don`t realy need to make it so that no one else would likley take it.

  2. Prof. BAM

    Some of my favorite coasters invert. Others don't. I still enjoy them just as much. It doesn't make any since to me why there isn't a seperate category for coasters that invert. All the top ten lists are proving is that racism doesn't just exist among humans, but among coasters too.

    • Quil

      all it seems he`s trying to say (by my point of view at least.) is that since loopers are entirley different, and since no one else is simply saying this how it is, much less raved about than hypers, people put the two types apart, and usualy pick the one everyone else dose. Therefore, there probably should be a seperate ranking lists, even if just to remind people that they`re fun too every once in a while.

  3. Ducky

    Tatsu and X2 i love! live 45 minutes away from six flags i go there ALOT

  4. The Coaster Critic

    When I re-worked my top ten a few months ago it was difficult comparing loopers like Alpengeist & Montu to world-class woodies like Ravine Flyer II, Boulder Dash, & Hades. A separate looping coaster list makes complete sense to me and I'll likely make one soon. Great post Aric!

  5. Brian

    I completely agree. Pitting hypers/stratas and loopers together is comparing apples and oranges. Too many people rank thrills higher based on height and speed so some fantastic coasters are getting lost amongst (notably great) products of the height/speed arms race. It's great to see Fahrenheit in your top ten! Although I'm a proud Marylander, I consider my "home park" to be Hersheypark. Yeah, I've got a Six Flags, but if I wanted to risk my life for a day of fun (and I use that term extremely loosely), I'd rather try heroin.

    Anyway great idea and a good list, but I think Maverick is a bit too weak on the first drop and a little too painful toward the end to be #1. Honorable mention for Raptor @ CP??

    • adavis

      I'm a huge fan of Maverick, my rides on it were flawless, if a bit violent. Raptor on the other hand rode horribly the last time it took me for a spin, and honestly I'd take a Batman over it based on that ride.

      It was however a hypothetical list, and I could certainly see alterations in an official top ten, possibly rearranging or even removing all of my chosen rides. This kind of exchange however, is exactly why I wrote the article.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the piece, it was a blast to write it.

  6. Austin

    I'd definitely put Medusa (or, ahem, Bizarro) ahead of Griffon and even Fahrenheit – Bizarro's ride is better than both; longer than Griffon and Fahrenheit, and MUCH smoother than Fahrenheit.

    • Quil

      yeah medusa is a full 3 minutes, and griffon is just about as short as you can get.

    • adavis

      I've never ridden "Bizzaro Floorless Edition", but I have ridden Fahrenheit, and it was not rough at all. At least at the time I clambered across those orange tracks, that thing was as smooth as glass.

      As I said a couple of posts above, this is no more than a hypothetical list, a conversation starter more than anything else, and the fact that other coasters are being suggested makes me happy.

      • Mike

        I was at hersheypark a couple of weeks ago and rode Fahrenheit 6 times. It was a chilly day and the train was rattling around the tracks but it wasn't rough at all. As far as Bizzaro goes it is not that long of a ride and the speakers are annoying. I perfer Dominator at Kings Dominion which is another B&M Floorless coaster. Also even tho Bizzaro is a smooth coaster there were a few times my head was banged on the OTSR. I also agree with Brian above that so many coasters now are so completely different. I used to think Apollo's Chariot was intense. Then I rode El Toro, Kingda Ka, Stormrunner & Intimidator 305 and now Apollo's Chariot seems very weak to me in the intensity/thrill category. I don't mean that Apollo is not a great coaster as it is my favorite because i love the airtime but it is just not as "thrilling" as some other coasters.

  7. merful

    great idea my favriotes are looping coasters but they rarley apera on top ten lists. i think coaster enthusiests tend to like non-looping coasters full of airtime or woodies better though.

    • Quil

      yup, at the moment air time is the average large theme parks primary weapon.

  8. Tom

    I haven't really thought about it, but through this interesting argument, I have to support it. I mean, your completly right now that you bring it up.

  9. Matt

    I'll be honest, I don't even like separate top 10 lists for steel and wood coasters in the first place. Among steel and wooden coasters, there are still dozens of excellent coasters that will never make a top 10 list. I feel like separating the lists is just putting off the inevitable; cutting out a coaster that just can't make it, no matter what. Not making a top 10 list doesn't equal a bad coaster. There are hundreds of coasters in the world to ride and so many of them are great experiences. And I prefer to think of them as that; experiences. It doesn't matter how they thrill me as long as they manage to thrill me. Boulder Dash is the best coaster I have ever ridden, without having any fancy huge drops or inversions. I feel like I should be able to compare it to say, Maverick at Cedar Point, because overall a roller coaster should be about fun. Period. Fun is not defined by what material a coaster is made of, or if it has loops or not. It doesn't matter what a coaster can't do, but what it CAN do.

    That isn't to say I will never compare coasters of the same type, or have a favorite wooden coaster, or a favorite steel coaster, but I still believe that overall coasters should be able to coexist in a general overall ranking as well. What's the point in saying Maverick is #1 if it isn't really my #1, but my #2 or #3?

    Also, your point about Manhattan Express is silly. Manhattan Express is a badly designed roller coaster by a company notorious for making $*#(# coasters in the United States. Take my Maverick example earlier in my comment. Maverick is a great coaster that has inversions and airtime hills in its layout. Granted, inversions are not the main focus of the ride, but the ride doesn't really HAVE a main focus; it's a hodgepodge. More importantly, it's an example that you can have both types of elements in a ride and have it be good.


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