Like other hobbies, riding roller coasters has its mountaintop experiences. Those unforgettable, glorious, mind-blowing rides that make other rides pale in comparison. As a group, we came up with our picks for these rides. In case you missed it, see what we consider the 10 best roller coasters in America.
What makes those rides so special is that we all have some less than stellar rides to compare them to. More than that, at times we’ve had the opposite of those mountaintop experiences; times when we’ve walked away extremely underwhelmed, bored, bewildered, or banged-up. So we decided to share a combined list of our worst roller coaster experiences.
Given that you can ride a coaster and have a bad experience one visit and a better one on another visit, we decided to make this our worst experiences; not necessarily worst roller coasters. Also, the timing of maintenance and rehab can make a ride more or less enjoyable based on when you rode it.
Brace yourself! This is our collective worst roller coaster experiences. Click the links for pics and more info about these rides.
Flying Ace Aerial Chase at Kings Island
This Suspended Family Coaster seemed like a harmless choice in a pursuit to ride all the credits Kings Island had to offer. However, I was unpleasantly surprised to find that not only was it painfully jerky for a full-size adult, there were no redeeming factors. It lacked any semblance of charm nor did it offer even the slightest inkling of an interesting ride. It left me embarrassed for enduring the line with the much young riders. My advice, just skip it and head to the other junior coaster at the park, Woodstock Express, where no one needs to endure any shame and seemingly everyone enjoys their ride.
Manhattan Express at New York, New York Hotel & Casino
The ill-fated manufacturer TOGO was not known for smooth coasters and ‘M-Express’ was no exception. One experience was enough to deter me for life.
Uncomfortable shoulder restraints and track warping equated to plenty of head banging throughout the 3 minute excursion past the fake New York skyline. Though it’s technically a hyper-looper at 200 feet tall, the first drop is only 144 feet and at a whopping $14, it’s easily the most expensive roller coaster in the world to ride…..and it sucks.
Exterminator at Kennywood
Back in 2001 when I approached this indoor spinning Wild Mouse coaster, I was intrigued as I had very few indoor coasters under my belt at the time. However, once the ride got going, all I remember is darkness, what seemed like unending spinning, and no ability to really see any of the ride’s theming. When I got off the ride, I noticed a woman that rode with me that almost fell as she was getting off. It was so disorienting that we probably looked like we were walking away from a car crash.
Exterminator was a real head-scratcher as I really enjoyed the rest of Kennywood’s rides. Experiences like this must be why Silver Dollar City emphasized Time Traveler will have magnetically controlled spinning.
Ninja at Six Flags Over Georgia
Ninja was an impressive-looking tangle of twisted steel situated atop a pond near the back of Six Flags Over Georgia. Living up to its name, Ninja was quite adept at delivering blows. This rough looper repeatedly threw my head against the restraints. Surprisingly, it pummeled me worse than any of those aging, rough Arrow roller coasters I’ve complained about over the years. Even with my defensive riding skills, Ninja still gave me a good beating.
Raging Wolf Bobs at Geauga Lake
Since it was new in 1988, Raging Wolf Bobs always looked promising, before it was painted, and certainly afterwards. However, I never really found it all that fun. Really, it wasn’t any fun at all. I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about and the Big Dipper certainly won the match in a fight over airtime with it’s much younger brother at Geauga Lake. As the years went by, it seemed to grow slower and rougher, and truly all show and no go. It didn’t have a long ride cycle or any great moments. I feel the best parts of the ride were its signage and the original advertising campaign or, in other words, it was all hype and no follow through.
Georgia Cyclone at Six Flags Over Georgia
The recently deposed Georgia Cyclone rattled me to the bone. Personally, it was the worst experience I’ve had on a roller coaster. The moment we left the station, I knew it was about to be a bad time. Each turn and bump was magnified, and not in a good way. It had the shakiest car I’ve ever been in—not like it was falling apart, but just that it shook like crazy. RMC should get an award for saving poor and unassuming souls from having to experience this rough ride.
Steeplechase at Luna Park
For those of you fortunate enough never to have ridden it, Steeplechase is a small launch coaster at Luna Park on Coney Island. It actually had the potential to be a fun little ride, but the riding position and the very unusual restraint ruined whatever enjoyment I might have otherwise experienced. Because the theme is horse racing, riders are positioned like jockeys, leaning forward. They are restrained in a way that I have never come across on any coaster. The restraint is jammed into the riders’ backs, propelling them forward and pressing them again the vehicle. Riding in this position was not only extremely uncomfortable; it actually made me nauseated. Never again.
Vortex at Kings Island
Allegedly, this iconic looper has a “magic” seat where it rides smoothly. I most definitely did not sit in that seat. The ride started off okay, but at the end of the second loop my vision began to go fuzzy. The brake run, normally a moment of recovery, made me gray out! My misery was compounded with the back-to-back corkscrews, and punctuated with the batwing. Some headbanging and jolting is to be expected on classic Arrows, but this crossed the line.
Cyclone at Six Flags New England
This coaster is probably the most boring one I’ve ever ridden, even more boring than Mean Streak. The lift hill looked fairly promising but was deceptive because the drop on the other side is 22 feet shorter than the lift. Although the turns – this is a twister – did offer some airtime, Cyclone seemed to be going nowhere in no hurry. It struck me as both tame and lame.
Mean Streak at Cedar Point
As with most Dinn-built wooden coasters, ol’ Meanie aged like milk (as opposed to a fine wine). Offering almost no airtime with jarring lateral G’s, trim brakes were added throughout the years taking it from a wild, painful ride to a boring, painful one.
Mercifully, it’s getting the RMC treatment for 2018, and when it debuts as Steel Vengeance it’ll be the fastest, tallest, craziest and only hyper-hybrid with a mind numbing 4 inversions.
When compiling our lists, there was a clone or identical ride that appeared on multiple lists with different names. While they are individual roller coasters, for us they consistently delivered the same rough, headbanging experience whether we were north of the border or near the Nation’s capital. Well, at least they’re consistent. The make and model for these offenders are: Vekoma Suspended Looping Coasters (SLCs). They’re technically inverted roller coasters that were (for some reason) so popular with park operators that there are 12 in North America and nearly 30 in the World!
When tight on time, or just not up for the beating, we’ll skip these altogether. Need help identifying this punishing ride? Note the Roll Over loop (looks kind of like a pretzel) and riders positioned below the track. These are tell-tale signs you’ve found a Vekoma SLC and should back away slowly. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, role the dice and experience it yourself. We’ve collectively found these deliver the worst experiences.
Here are a few of our thoughts:
Numerous Vekoma SLCs
Vekoma SLCs should be sponsored by Advil.The seemingly winning formula of a compact looper unfortunately fails greatly on the execution. These roller coasters are plagued with bad to horrible head banging as riders heads bounce of the head restraints like pinballs. The ear boxing can result in headaches and disdain from victims in the exit ramp.
Mind Eraser at Six Flags New England
This mass of twisted steel doesn’t lack thrills but it certainly lacks enjoyability. A Roll Over is supposed to be fun but this felt more like getting hit by a truck. The ride was so brutally rough – on not only my head but my neck and shoulders – that I couldn’t wait for it to end. What should have been awesome was absolutely awful. Having ridden Mind Eraser at Six Flags New England, I gave it a miss at Six Flags America. I’m not that much of a masochist!
What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden any of these roller coasters and had similar or better experiences? What would you consider your worst roller coaster experiences. Let us know by commenting below!