Reader, Merle, suggested that I list my Top 3 Scariest Roller Coasters for Top 3 Thursdays. After riding so many roller coasters, I don’t typically get scared. Even on coasters that I’ve never ridden I generally know what to expect. But, as I thought about it I remembered a few moments that stuck out in my mind as pretty scary or unnerving. As I compiled my list I noticed an unintentional X-Men theme to the ride’s names. I used to be really into comic books and I still make it a point to see pretty much any and every super hero movie even terrible ones. Anyway, here’s my list of the scariest roller coasters that I’ve ridden:

3 – X2 @ Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Insane Death Drop
X2 has to be one of the most intimidating roller coasters around. The 4th dimension roller coaster‘s seating places riders in a very vulnerable position. The seats are placed on either side of the track not above or below it and they spin on their own axis. The scariest moment by far occurs during the first drop. At the top of the lift hill, the backwards facing seats rotate over and send riders plummeting face down a near vertical (88-degree) 215′ drop. The woman who rode next to me said, in all seriousness, that she saw her life flash before her eyes. Read my full X2 review.

2 – Phoenix at Knoebels’ Ridiculous Floater Airtime
Phoenix is a critically acclaimed wooden coaster with some pretty unimpressive stats. The 60 year old coaster looks rather pedestrian, but there’s more than meets the eye. After boarding the Philadelphia Toboggan trains I noticed that the lap bar stopped way above my lap. As I traversed Phoenix’s 3,000 foot course the ride floated me completely out of my seat 8 or 9 times. It was a fun ride that bordered on scary. Riders literally held on for dear life as they popped out of their seats on every hill. The airtime was so extreme that I don’t think I even rode with my hands up. Read my full Phoenix review with a video.

1 – Cyclops at Mount Olympus Theme Park’s Extreme Ejector Air
You have to be 18 or older to ride in the back seat of the Cyclops at Mount Olympus. This must be because of the infamous drop towards the end of the ride. It’s innocent looking enough, but has been known to pack ejector airtime that can launch back seat riders out of their seats. This excerpt from a review on the defunct Theme Park Critic does a great job illustrating the airtime:

The next day, however, when the crowds were heavier, seat No. 10 was back in business, albeit with a hand-lettered sign that said no one under 18 years could ride in it, per Wisconsin law. That seemed a bit suspect, and for the record, no one was checking IDs. The securing of restraints was also basically on the honor system, as the ride ops at most only pulled up on the single position lap bars to see if they were locked, and often even neglected to do that. Like any good ACEr, I dutifully fastened the single seat belt that crossed both seats but only took up as much slack as was necessary to keep the belt buckle from rebounding from my chin to my groin. When my wife asked if I should tighten the belt, I told her not to worry.

Famous last words. Approximately 58 seconds later I was sitting in her lap as the ride sped through its final, signature, swooping dive. Whatever else happened during the brief, fast proceeding was fun, but getting bounced out of my seat, over the seat divider, and nearly ejected from the car is what really sticks in my mind. I am a slim guy, and I tend to ride with my hands up. However, I have gained a new respect for the necessity of the proper use of restraints. With a properly adjusted seat belt, any car on Cyclops is perfectly safe. Skip the seat belt, however, and you risk the epitaph of being the anchor whose death ruined a once great ride. –Timberman on Theme Park Critic)

This review was by no means an exaggeration. I experienced it myself and I was launched higher than the seat divider. I probably would have ended up in the other seat too, but I fastened my seat belt pretty tight. On re-rides I avoided the back seat. I enjoy a thrill as much as the next guy, but the airtime on this hill combined with the age of the ride and Mount Olympus’ poor operations take this scary moment beyond my comfort level.

What’s Your Take?
What’s the scariest roller coaster or moment on a roller coaster that you’ve experienced? Leave a comment below. Images 2 & 3 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.

28 Responses

    • Quil

      I've never been in a walk-through haunted house. thanks to his post i probably never will.

      • Merle

        The one at universal in hollywood is the best because of real people and it has a bunch of strob lights that flash on things that you wouldnt normaly see due to darkness. but the path is wide and theres a bunch of exits

  1. The Coaster Critic

    That's a great list Ed. I remember some kind of accident on a similar water ride at Kings Dominion (I think). That would be scary. And the Haunted Mansion at Knoebels is awesome. Easily one of the best dark rides I've been on. Thanks for sharing!

    • Coasterluva97

      what ride?!?! tornado? i'm going on the 8th. to waterworks as well. i heard tornado there is pretty intense.

      • Coasterluva97

        i posted that comment before i read that. were you talking about White Water Canyon?

  2. Prof. BAM

    Love Cyclops. Haven't been to Magic Mountain, yet. Knobels isn't a place that is on my must-do list. If a Cyclops update is desired, please see my comment on 2010 theme park lists.

  3. Merle

    That turned out really well. i couldnt ride when i went to magic mountin due to a broken coller bone, but that first drop looked just about as indimadating as anything i have ever seen.

  4. Nessie

    I find it amusing that the 2/3 of the scariest coasters are old-school woodies with PTC trains in a world of 400ft. tall skyscrapers. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

  5. Hoss

    Intimidator 305 could be on this list. Passing out on a roller coaster can be the most terrifying thing imaginable for many people.

    • Coasterluva97

      lol. I rode before the trim (the one at KD) and scary as all get out. but awesome!!!!!

  6. Jeni

    I nearly pass out on the pretzel loop on Manta at SeaWorld. I don't think I could handle these!!

  7. noahnnoahnoah

    went on went on pheonix when i was 12 and almost got shot out of my seat. HOLY CRAP!!!!!!

  8. James

    No one's mentioned Kingda Ka? Tbh, going up at 128mph up a 450ft track and then plummeting down vertically would scare anyone, i'm surprised they featured an old rattly woodie on there rather than this.

    • The Coaster Critic

      Believe it or not, Kingda Ka's drop wasn't all that scary. The launch was scarier in my opinion. Going that fast was insane. It's weird but the dropping feeling wasn't that intense on Kingda Ka.

      • Quil

        Actualy, I feel that most of the common mind eraser drops are more gut wrenching than Kingda Ka's, but KK's drop is still fun.

    • Mike

      So far out of all the coasters I've been on Kingda Ka had me the most nervous and had butterflies in my stomach before the launch. just sitting there looking at how huge that top hat is was a crazy scene!! haha.

      • Quil

        While the launch was scary, I expected a more intense drop.

  9. connor murray

    I have been to mt olympus and expirienced cyclops. Though it is very rickety and a hell of a bumpy ride, it dosent compare to Hades. Hades will beat you up so badly you will want to go home

  10. Lloyd

    Words just don’t explain the sheer epicness of X2. Its truly something you must experience for yourself, and then again at night.


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