The top 10 most overrated roller coasters aren't necessarily terrible coasters. In fact, some of them offer fine rides. But they are overrated in the sense that they don't meet expectations. Maybe the parks overhype them. Or, perhaps a coaster has not been maintained well, and its current condition doesn't live up to its legendary status. Whatever the reason, these are the roller coasters in the U.S. that leave us the most disappointed.
The Beast at Kings Island in Ohio often shows up on coaster fans' top-10 lists. Some are rabid about their affection for the classic ride. There's no denying it's one of the world's most famous wooden roller coasters. And at one time, it may have been great. But simply put, The Beast is the single most overrated coaster in the country.
The Big Apple Roller Coaster (which used to be known as Manhattan Express) at New York, New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV, has a formidable presence on the famed Vegas Strip. Even in one of the most hyped-up places on the planet, the casino's faux New York City skyline, with its Statue of Liberty and other landmarks, is quite a sight. Screaming riders aboard The Big Apple Roller Coaster cause a stir as they ride through and around the Manhattan cityscape.
So how's the ride? In a word: OUCH!
It's rare for a coaster that surpasses 200 feet to include inversions. The Big Apple Roller Coaster offers a compelling reason why it's not a good idea. The ride's over-the-shoulder harnesses include head restraints. When it reaches high speeds, passengers' heads careen back and forth in the restraints like unwitting audience members at a revved-up tennis match. Flipped to and fro, heads banging unmercifully, it's a relief when the ride ends.
Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA is another really tall, really fast ride. It generated a lot of buzzes when it first opened, and lots of fans had rated it highly. But be warned, you might nearly pass out from Goliath's extreme G-forces.
Granted, most riders do just fine on the hyper coaster (although we've heard from plenty of passengers who had a similar gray out experience). Regardless, the layout of the ride is puzzling. It drops 255 feet, reaches an impressive speed of 85 mph, and then slams into a series of punishing helixes. Instead of coasting along at breakneck speed and including some fun elements, it delivers high and sustained positive G-forces that are unpleasant at best and gray out-producing at worst. While I haven't ridden it, it's likely that the very similar coaster, Titan at Six Flags over Texas, would offer a similar ride.
By the way, don't confuse the same-named coasters at other Six Flags parks. They are all different, and some of the other rides, especially the incredible Goliath at Six Flags Great America, are great.
The high-profile Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, which lets passengers choose their own musical soundtrack as they ride, seems to generate two responses. People either love it, or they say it's too rough and loathe it. Because of the split opinions, fans have surmised that some of the trains have developed problems which result in rough rides for a percentage of passengers.
Like the Big Apple Coaster in Las Vegas, Universal's ride looks great. It climbs high into the sky and snakes around near the front entrance of the park. It makes an appearance in CityWalk as well. It also makes a dramatic entrance when it soars through one of the buildings in the park's New York backlot area. But looks can be deceiving. We find it uncomfortable, bordering on painful, to ride.
There are identical Dark Knight rides at both Six Flags Great America in Illinois and Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. So why are the Batman-themed coasters on the list?
Timed to debut around the 2008 release of The Dark Knight movie, Six Flags tied its hype bandwagon to the Hollywood hype machine. Billed as indoor, themed coasters, the park chain forgot two essential ingredients: the theme and the coasters. Except for a so-so pre-show, the attractions hardly feature any effects. The few onboard effects are mostly lame. And the rides are fairly standard–and tame–Wild Mouse-style coasters.
A third Dark Knight coaster was supposed to open at Six Flags New England, but the project was canceled and the coaster opened at Six Flags Mexico instead.
This is another case of dashed hopes. The Swiss coaster manufacturing mavens at Bolliger & Mabillard create some of the world's greatest thrill machines. Many of its hypercoasters, such as Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, are especially wonderful. That's why you'd expect great things from Raging Bull at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. In terms of layout and specs, it would appear to be quite similar to other B&M rides.
But it's missing one critical element: airtime. That sweet out-of-your-seat sensation is the hallmark of all other B&M hyper coasters. But Raging Bull, while it has plenty of raging speed, has virtually no pops of gravity-defying air.
Oh oh, another coaster from Six Flags Great America? To be fair, the Chicago-area park includes some incredible rides such as the wild woodie, Goliath, and the wooly wing coaster, X-Flight. Viper, sadly, is a ride that apparently has not aged all that well.
The wooden coaster has a lot of fans. Through the years, it has generated plenty of positive reviews and high grades from riders. But now it offers an excessively rough ride. A rough and tumble ride is expected for a wooden coaster. But a woodie that is not maintained well–and that would seem to be the case here–can go from pleasantly rough to just plain rough and mean.
The world's tallest coaster (and the fastest when it debuted), Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey has naturally generated loads of hype. But the ride isn't so much a roller coaster as a thrill machine designed for bragging rights. The launch–128 mph in no time flat–literally and figuratively takes your breath away. But the entire ride is over in no time flat and will leave you wondering what just happened.
If the best coasters, such as Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure, are designed like elegant pieces of music with great pacing and a symphony of lows, highs, and piercing crescendos, Kingda Ka is like a heavy metal onslaught. It's just amplifiers turned up to 11 with ear-piercing feedback for a few seconds.
It could probably be argued that similar rocket coasters, such as Top Thrill Dragster or Xcelerator should be included in an overrated coasters list, but as the tallest and fastest standard-bearer, Kingda Ka nabs the spot.
We know, we know. Many ride enthusiasts love Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, and quite a few place it at or near the top of their favorite coasters lists. There's no denying the ride's impressive stats, including a 300-foot drop and a top speed of 93 mph. But it's precisely for those reasons why Millennium Force lands on our most overrated coasters list.
The hype surrounding may be deafening, but Millennium Force is a very tall and very fast coaster that delivers little-to-no airtime. It is a decent coaster, but it is vastly overrated. Sorry Cedar Point fans. For a "Giga-Coaster" (one that breaks the 300-foot threshold), we prefer Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland.
Note that we are referring to the Space Mountain at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The one at Disneyland, which was extensively refurbished in 2005, is considerably better than its Florida counterpart.
Space Mountain is certainly one of (if not the) most famous roller coasters on the planet. When it first opened, it was cool to be space truckin' 'round the stars. But since its 1975 debut, the classic indoor ride has become very rough and is long overdue for its own refurbishment.
Also, for all of its fame and hype, you may be surprised to learn that the ride reaches a relatively puny top speed of 27 mph. If it was outside with no effects or themeing, Space Mountain would be regarded as a not-all-that-well-maintained junior coaster.