Top 3 Thursdays!

For this edition of Top 3 Thursdays I thought I’d take a look at the most common roller coaster names. Instead of trying to find the specific roller coaster names, I figured naming themes would be a bit easier. I perused the indispensable Roller Coaster Database until I came up with a handful of common nameTriple Hurricane - Cypress Gardens, Now Coastersaurus at Legoland Floridathemes. I’m sure that there are a few others. If you can think of any, feel free to share them. Here’s my list of the most common roller coaster name themes.

High Winds – Powerful Swirling Winds Make Good Coaster Names
One of the most common name themes involves powerful, windy, weather phenomenons. From Cyclones to Hurricanes, many wind-related terms have been used as roller coaster names. It makes sense that the turns and twists found on roller coasters take would remind people of swirling winds.
Popular Examples: Hurricane, Tornado, Twister, & Cyclone
Less Common Examples: Nor’Easter, Typhoon, Storm

Serpents – Steel Snakes & Snake-Like Creatures
Carolina Cobra - CarowindsThose long slithering creatures seem to make for good roller coaster names. The imagery here reflects the trains navigating the mostly steel track in an often twisty fashion. I’ll also include snakes’ mythical cousins the dragons in this group as they’re often snake-like in appearance. With 75 known roller coasters named Dragon, it was one of the most common names I found in my research.
Popular Examples: Dragon, Python, Viper/Vibora, Serpent, Cobra, Anaconda
Less Common Examples: Diamondback, Rattler, Eel, Loch Ness Monster

Ride Types & Model Names – The No Theme Theme
Invertigo Roller CoasterSome roller coasters just fit their manufacturer’s given ride model name or ride type so well that parks just use them as the names. In my brief search of RCDB I found 286 roller coasters containing the word ‘mouse’. Many of these are likely wild mouse coasters. These compact family coasters with hairpin turns are everywhere. There were also 81 that contained the word ‘mine’. Most of these are likely mine train roller coasters. And lastly, I found 33 that contained the word ‘boomerang’. I’d bet that the majority of these are shuttle coasters.
Popular Examples: Wild Mouse, Mine Train, Boomerang
Less Common Examples: Invertigo

Best of the Rest – Super Heroes, Cats, & Classic Names
A few other common naming themes involved super heroes thanks largely to Six Flags (15 Batman coasters & 16 Superman coasters) and large cats of different kinds. There are 48 Wildcats and other feline coasters including Tigers, Cheetahs, and even HellCats. The last major category I noticed were some of the roller coaster names that were more popular in the Golden Age of Roller Coasters. There’s some overlap with the aforementioned Cyclone name, but other historic names are: Jack Rabbit (29), Flyer (25), Racer (40), and Dipper (111). Many of these rides are no longer with us.

What’s Your Take?
Did I miss any major name themes? What are some of your favorite roller coaster names? Leave a comment below. Photo 1 courtesy of JFinkBiner. Photo 3 courtesy of Milst1

About The Author

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

13 Responses

  1. Quil

    This is a very Interesting post, CC. I found that these observations were very accurate, and I found myself luaghing at the amount of parks who simply use copied names. (*cough*Six Flags*cough*)

  2. Matt

    What about themed names for being tall? Behemoth, the goliaths, giant(texas giant and others), titan, etc.

    • The Coaster Critic

      Good one Matt. Big things (titan, goliath, giant, etc) are another one I thought of, but didn't include. Also flying creatures (griffon, sheikra, eagle, phoenix, etc) came to mind, but I was already well over 3 for my Top 3 post.

  3. Prof.BAM

    What about states? When I saw the Carolina Cobra graphic, I could have sworn location would be a part of it.

  4. Piedude81

    How about one name plastered on the logos of the exact same ride 15 times in 15 different parks? (Six Flags) That was sarcastic, in case you didn't pick up on that. Actually, an example is one word names with the occasional the at the beginning. The Ninja (SFSTL) The Boss (SFSTL)… Those are just off the top of my head from my local Six Flags Park. There are a lot more of those too.

  5. Matt McIrvin

    There are a lot of bears out there. Grizzly, Grizzly Bear, Great Bear, Teddy Bear for kiddie coasters.

    Untamed at Canobie Lake has a bear theme, though it's not clear from the name. (The mascot is a grizzly/brown bear–a little inconsistent with the Adirondack theme, but I guess black bears aren't scary enough.)

  6. coasterer22

    How about coasters named after objects in space? Many coasters are named Comet, Shooting Star, or Galaxy. That's the only one I can think of. And yes, Six Flags is the king of unoriginality.

  7. Matt McIrvin

    Also birds of prey: eagles (frequently screaming), falcons, hawks of various sorts.

    In general, any animals that sports teams are named after will also tend to inspire roller-coaster names.

  8. DC

    Back in 1968 when I hit Coney Island for the first time, I remarked even then on the weather related names of their three great woodies: Cyclone, Thunderbolt and Tornado. And, like you guys, I've noticed the a lot of the mythological gods, snakes of all sorts and several avian and mammal species. Comic book and cartoon heroes vary, basically due to licensing agreements and aren't limited to coasters, i.e.Dudley Do Right and Popeye @ IOA. Scooby Doo. And we can't forget movie and TV themes, although they sometimes get lost in the generational shuffle. (Hurler, Italian Job, Outer Limits, Top Gun, Terminator, Joker's Jinx, Batman, ad nauseum)

    I'm just glad that the creativity is better is the actual coaster designs rather than the marketing


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