Intimidator 305

Intimidator 305 – Flickr

Ask 10 thrill seekers which roller coaster is their favorite, and you’ll get 10 different answers. Some riders prefer smoothness. Others prefer intensity. Some will pick an old-school woodie, based on family memories and childhood nostalgia. Others will select a modern-day steel attraction, complete with six loops and speeds approaching 100 mph.

Favorites are mostly subjective. But fear—fear is universal. For a handful of rides, even the bravest theme park enthusiasts will think twice before sitting down and strapping on their restraints.

With this in mind, we set out to find and rank the 21 most terrifying roller coasters in America. We started with over 500 candidates and a dozen different technical factors, from speed to height to inversions. In the end, we settled on this formula:

Top speed – 30%
Maximum height – 30%
Number of inversions (i.e. loops, corkscrews, twists, etc.) – 30%
Duration – 10%

For each coaster, we calculated an overall index score to come up with these rankings. Without further ado, here are the 21 most terrifying coasters in America:

Note: Again, we’re focused on America here. With apologies to Formula Rossa (a 149 mph coaster in Abu Dhabi) and The Smiler (a UK coaster with 14 inversions), we’re staying stateside for this list. For those curious, we re-ran the numbers with those two attractions included, just for fun. Formula Rossa would have placed 10th, while The Smiler would have placed 3rd overall.

Dominator

Ascending to over 150 feet, reaching 67 mph, and featuring five inversions, Dominator has a little bit of everything.

Dominator

Dominator at Kings Dominion – Wikimedia

Titan

As we’ll see with several coasters on this list, Titan may not have any inversions, but it makes up for it with speed (85 mph) and height (245 feet).

Titan

Titan at Six Flags Over Texas

Kraken

This aquatic-themed Kraken at SeaWorld Orlando features seven separate inversions—among the most in the country.

Kraken

Kraken at SeaWorld Orlando – Wikimedia

GateKeeper

One of just eight Wing Coasters in the world, GateKeeper features an open-air principle, where there is nothing above or below riders for the entirety of the ride.

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper at Cedar Point

The Riddler’s Revenge

The Riddler’s Revenge requires riders to stand up while they run through six inversions at a top speed of 65 mph.

Riddler’s Revenge

Riddler’s Revenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain – Flickr

Kumba

Kumba may not rise as high as its terrifying compatriots (143 feet, max), but the ride’s seven inversions keep things plenty harrowing.

Kumba

Kumba at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – Wikimedia

The Incredible Hulk

The movie-themed theme park Universal Studios has at least one truly terrifying attraction—The Incredible Hulk. And you thought the acting in the movie was scary.

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk – Flickr

Montu

Montu features seven inversions—across three full minutes of terror.

Montu

Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – Wikimedia

Bizarro

With a ride time of 3:15, Six Flag Great Adventure’s Bizarro is one of the nation’s longer—and more terrifying—attractions.

Bizarro

Bizarro at Six Flags Great Adventure

Millennium Force

Considered by many to be the best roller coaster in the world, Millennium Force is also a beast of a ride, with top speeds exceeding 90 mph and a max height of over 300 feet.

Millennium Force

Millennium Force at Cedar Point – Wikimedia

Scream!

From a distance, Scream! just looks like a tangle of metal, loops and corkscrews. With three full minutes and seven inversions, approach with caution.

Scream!

Scream! at Six Flags Magic Mountain – Wikimedia

Intimidator 305

Intimidator 305 hits 90 mph, rises 305 feet, and lasts three minutes from start to finish.

Intimidator 305

Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion – Flickr

Medusa

Medusa’s snake-like design is both creepy and thrilling, a ride that earns its name through seven, twisty inversions.

Medusa

Medusa at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – Wikimedia

Superman: Krypton Coaster

Superman’s long, perilous journey (3:20, six inversions) is good enough for a top-ten finish.

Superman: Krypton Coaster

Superman: Krypton Coaster – Wikipedia

Banshee

Banshee’s spooky design and swift, 68 mph top speed leave riders feeling creeped out, both before and after riding.

Banshee

Banshee at Kings Island

Alpengeist

Tall (195 feet), frenetic (six inversions) and long (3:10), Alpengeist is one of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s most terrifying attractions.

Alpengeist

Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg – Wikimedia

Viper

Sure, Viper’s stats are impressive, but the true terror might come from the fact that this is a 25-year-old ride. Be prepared to take a beating.

Viper

Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain – Wikimedia

Fury 325

The brand new Fury 325 rockets to a top five spot on this list, with its 95 mph top speed and 300+ foot drop.

Fury 325

Fury 325 – Wikimedia

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Some might argue that it’s not a traditional roller coaster, but no one can argue with Superman: Escape from Krypton’s frightening concept: a 100 mph, magnetically powered launch, and a vertical rise of 415 feet.

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Superman: Escape from Krypton – Wikimedia

Top Thrill Dragster

With an insane top speed of 120 mph and a max height of 420, even a blink-of-an-eye ride time (17 seconds) can’t drag the Dragster down.

Top Thrill Dragster

Top Thrill Dragster – Wikimedia

Kingda Ka

Not to be outdone by rival park Cedar Point, Six Flags Great Adventure takes the same Top Thrill Dragster concept and kicks it up a notch: to 128 mph and 456 feet…earning Kingda Ka the title for most terrifying coaster in America.

Kingda Ka

Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure