Our Most Regrettable Roller Coaster Experiences

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.CoasterCritics Picks Roller Coasters List

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.

– John

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.

– Eric

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.

– Joel

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.

– Joel

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.

– John

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.

– Jon

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.

– Bobbie

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.

– Jon

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.

– Bobbie

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.

– Eric

Vekoma SLC Coasters: Our 5 Worst Roller Coaster Experiences

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!

The five individual roller coasters that made our lists were: T2 at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Thunderhawk at Michigan’s Adventure, Flight Deck at Canada’s Wonderland and the aptly-named Mind Erasers at Six Flags New England and Six Flags America.

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.

Mind Eraser at Six Flags America

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.

– Joel

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!

– Bobbie

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!

15 Responses

  1. Brian MacDonald

    My “worst ride ever” is an easy pick for me: Outer Limits: Flight of Fear at King’s Dominion. I rode it in 1996, when I was a coaster novice, with the original restraints. The head-banging started with the launch and never let up. In the dark, I couldn’t see what was coming so I could ride defensively, even if I’d know what that was. When I got off, I had a headache so bad I couldn’t walk straight. I tried resting with my eyes shut, having some food, but nothing helped. We eventually left the park without riding anything else. Unfortunately, that was my first and only ride of the day.

    In a way, that horrible ride helped turn me into a coaster enthusiast. When I first discovered coaster sites online, around 2000, the first thing I did was research whether Flight of Fear was really that awful, or if it was just me. Doing that research led me to discover more about coaster types and manufacturers, which eventually led to my fandom.

    • Jon

      I suppose if Flight of Fear got you interested in coasters and parks, it was evil with a purpose. I didn’t have as bad an experience as you with it, but I did have quite the wicked disorientation at the end. My brain thought we went through a barrel roll right before the brakes; in actuality, of course, there wasn’t even an inversion. But, you’re right, all those loops and curves in the dark can take a toll.

    • Bobbie

      Interesting that two of you have described an unpleasant experience on this coaster. This is one that I actually enjoyed, a lot. I skipped it on my 1st visit to King’s Dominion b/c I was frankly intimidated by the thought of going through 4 inversions in the dark. On my next visit, however, I summoned my courage and took the plunge. I don’t recall experiencing anything painful or disorienting. What I do recall is liking it enough to ride again.

      • Phillip

        I think that you might have took a ride after the redesign on the restraints. When it was new the restraints were hard and close to the sides of your head. The ride would bang your head so much that you could not enjoy the ride because you were trying to not end up with a concussion .

    • worldsyoungestenthusiast

      I hated FoF at KI too, but just because I don’t like launch coasters. Yeah, I’m weird.

  2. Evelyn B

    Son of Beast at Kings Island, which they thankfully shut down & then removed, was probably my worst experience. I think I rode it about a month or 2 before they had the bad accident on it that lead to them removing the loop. Not as painful as SOB, but I didn’t like Cedar Point’s Mean Streak much, too bumpy. For rides that are still operating, I can’t stand Green Lantern at Magic Mountain; it is awkward and uncomfortable.
    After reading your comments about Vekoma SLCs, I went to RCDB.com to look up the suspended coaster at my local park, Kong at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and sure enough, it is a Vekoma. I still ride that one occasionally, but pretty much only if I can sit in the front seat where I can better brace myself for each turn. I think they changed out the trains or the restraints within the last couple years to make it a tiny bit less painful. But I will generally only ride it once a year.

    • Jon

      I typically envy those who have gotten to experience Son of Beast, but sounds like I saved myself from some pain. It seemed to have so much promise, it’s a shame it didn’t live up to expectations.

      I agree with you on Green Lantern. It was on the periphery of my worst experiences list.

      Even though they’ve put new trains & restraints on SLCs, as you pointed out, there is little improvement to be felt. The thicker over-the-shoulder restraints make the blows to your head softer, but also increases the frequency of those blows due to how close it comes to your ears. T3 at Kentucky Kingdom, another SLC, got completely new trains & restraints in 2015, and it is still incredibly painful. Now there’s tremendous pain in the legs on top of the previous headbanging. Honestly, I can’t see a fix for these coasters. I just wonder how park executives convinced themselves SLCs are worthy investments in the first place.

    • Eric M.B.

      What I experienced on SoB in each of the giant helices was what some referred to as “searching”……as in, at those high speeds the side wheels on the train were searching to make contact with the track! This led to some extreme vibrations that echoed throughout my body, especially in the ribcage area. It was brutal and I walked off clutching my chest. 200ft of wood looked daunting, but the vertical loop was gimmicky and the ride itself was painful. Kings Island profoundly pooped the bed with that one.

  3. Mr. Mookenpook

    I actually like Georgia Cyclone (probably because at one point it got a re-track). Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Over Georgia.

  4. Roger

    No contest. Mean Streak. No other coaster comes close. Just a horrible experience. It left me with a bad headache, a sore neck, a bruised hip and elbow from being slammed against the side of the car, and a shoulder that felt out of joint for several days. Out of the 190 coasters I’ve ridden, it’s the only one I ever truly hated. I can’t wait to ride RMC”s revamp of it next year!

  5. Mandy

    Vortex at PKI actually put me on my back with a splitting headache and (even more unforgivable) ruined a ride on the Beast. So I second that nomination. Other potential picks for worst:

    -Predator at Darien Lake (chewed me up and spit me out and wasn’t even thrilling to compensate)
    -Ninja at SFOG (it looked so pretty, too…)
    -Road Runner at SFKK (I hate wild mice and this is an especially wild mouse-y wild mouse)
    -Flashback at SFMM (WTF was this nonsense, and by Intamin too)

    Mean Streak Henry, one of my usual coaster buddies, and I are apparently the only three people in the world who felt this way, but I legit loved Mean Streak and was salty at Cedar Point for murdering it (though now that I’ve ridden it, Steel Vengeance is a very worthy successor). My friend and I would go for night rides over and over (that ride had the best ops team) and as long as we sat in the first three rows, it really wasn’t that rough, especially when they let us have trimless rides. I never understood people who said it was boring – yeah, not a lot of airtime, but airtime isn’t everything, and I really enjoyed the way it used its own architecture. I, for one, will remember that coaster fondly.

    Vekoma SLCs suck, but I dunno, I can’t muster up the energy to hate them. But wasn’t it some marriage counselor somewhere who said the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference? I can go on and on about that godawful ride on Vortex. With a Vekoma SLC, it’s more like “…oh yeah, I rode that once and it wasn’t very good.”

  6. Olivia Brown

    The worst coaster I’ve ever ridden was Goliath at Six Flags New England. It was so uncomfortable the moment it started and I wanted to get off. I just hate boomerang rides in general.

  7. Phillip

    I think the worst coaster that I ever rode was Jokers Jinx at Six Flags America. They opened the ride the same year that I worked at the park as one of the 17 year old operators of Roar. We used to have ride parties after hours and the 1st one I went to was for Jokers Jinx. I rode it two times back to back and that was the end of my night. My head hurt so bad that I just laid on the ground in the middle of Gotham City.

  8. Matthew Tackett

    Grizzly at Kings Dominion. There were 4 of us. All 4 thought we had internal bleeding after riding that one.


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