For every obvious coaster destination in Georgia, there’s another coaster destination hiding in plain sight. Wild Adventures and Lake WinInie sit on the borders of Florida and Tennessee, respectively, but together they add a solid eight coasters to Georgia’s tally, the best of which being Lake Winnie’s splendid PTC Cannonball. Around the Altanta area we have the beautifully restored Wildcat that entertains guests at the North Georgia State Fair, and just south of the Atlanta Airport we have one of 2023’s top coasters, the tantelizingly turbulent RMC ArieForce One. At the center of Georgia’s coaster constellation is Six Flags Over Georgia, home to one of the chain’s most thrilling collections. Come for the quadruped of B&Ms, stay for the four distict generations of traditional, sit-down loopers, the crown jewel of which remains the painstakingly maintained Schwarzkopf Riddler Mindbender. The park’s prototype Intamin Ultra Surf Rider will also finally give the Georgia its first modern launch coaster when it opens in 2024.
9. New York
New York is a state with an impressive scatter shot of interesting parks, and while the state is lacking when it comes to modern standout coasters, their collection of classics is tough to beat. Brooklyn is home to easily the most famous wooden coaster, Luna Park’s Coney Island Cyclone, but the borough boasts ten additional coasters including custom Vekoma invert Phoenix at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Long Island’s Adventureland is home to two unique modern family coasters, and just across the bay you’ll find Rye Playland and the 1929-built Dragon Coaster. Further upstate we have new regional destination Legoland New York and its pair of dragon-themed coasters, and about half way to Montréal you’ll find The Great Escape, home to easily the largest permanent collection of relocated rides, most notably the Crystal Beach Comet. In Rochester you’ll find Seabreeze and its pair of vintage gems: the 1920-built Jack Rabbit and the in-house designed Bobseld, one of the world’s oldest steel track coasters. Finally, the Buffalo-Niagara region boasts two parks on the USA-side of the border: Niagara Amusement Park, home to the CCI Silver Comet, and Six Flags Darien Lake. Of the park’s eight coasters, most notable would be Intamin’s first hyper coaster, Ride of Steel, and the Arrow Viper, the first coaster with five inversions.
The near-perfect equilateral triangle formed by Six Flags St. Louis, Kansas City’s Worlds of Fun, and Silver Dollar City in Branson, is a coaster road trip itinerary that’s free for the taking. If it exists (and if it’s 200ft tall or less), there’s a good chance you’ll find your fix on one of these parks’ 25 coasters. Six Flags St. Louis is a scenic, well-rounded park with an excellent trio of wood coasters and the flawless Mr. Freeze: Reverse Blast. Worlds of Fun has three more woodies, including the peculiar new Zambezi Zinger. All wooded out? Modern classic hyper Mamba and the breezy B&M invert Patriot beg to be sessioned. Finally we have Missori’s best overall park and coaster collection, Silver Dollar City. Whether you’re looking for a perfect B&M Looper, a pneumatically-launched airtime machine, or the country’s best Arrow Mine Train, the coasters of the Ozarks won’t disappoint. Oh, and the RMC Topper Track Outlaw Run and Mack Extreme Spinner Time Traveler? Two of America’s best.
The largest of our coaster states, Texas has the numbers to back up its size: notable one-offs, like the coast’s superb GG twister Boardwalk Bullet and precarious Gerstlauer Iron Shark, or Seguine’s exquisite Switchback wooden shuttle, can be found throughout the state as well as a variety of regional parks. Austin’s ambitious Cotaland is poised to welcome several coasters to complement their Schwarzkopf Wildcat, and Amarillo’s Wonderland has entertained generations with notable steel coasters from four consecutive decades. Six Flags Over Texas is as Dallas as the Cowboys and as notable as Disneyland (for theme park historians, anyway): the first Arrow Mine Train, the first RMC conversion, the first Premier Rides coaster, the first log flume, and more can be found at this 14-coaster Lone Star icon (but like St. Louis, Mr. Freeze may just be the best thing here). And then there’s spoiled San Antonio with their sweetheart of the Six Flags chain and a SeaWorld park (every state with a park owned by SeaWorld places well on this list). Of the 17 coasters San Antonio has at their disposal, pretty much every industry trend since 1997 is represented, with each park’s newest coaster – B&M Dive Machine Dr. Diabolical’s Cliffhanger and GCI triumph Texas Stringray – among the best of what was already a strong menagerie of rides.
6. New Jersey
New Jersey is, without a doubt, the best coaster state per capita in the country – you can fit 30 Jerseys in Texas, yet New Jersey still has the better lineup of coasters. The sun of Jersey’s solar system of coasters is Six Flags Great Adventure, smack dab in the center of the Garden State. This park and its 14 (soon to be 15!) coasters might be the single-most important coaster park outside of California or Ohio, with Intamin’s record-breaking Kingda Ka and El Toro making arguably the best 1-2 punch of any park in the world (for a more traditional wood coaster experience, you’ll need to stop at nearby Clementon Park for Hell Cat). In the New York area we find the Largest Indoor Park in the U.S., Nickelodeon Universe, which opened in 2019 with an ambitious collection of five buzzworthy coasters, including the World’s Longest/Tallest/Fastest Fully-enclosed Coaster, and a prototype LSM Intamin that sends riders through its course both forward and backward via a turntable. From here, if you follow down the coast you’ll delight in an aray of seaside parks delivering coasters in both quantity and quality. In particular, Playland Castaway Cove’s LSM S&S Gale Force and the encircling Miler Wild Waves are easily the country’s best works from these manufacturers, and further south, Morey’s Piers’ immaculately preseved coasters will remind you why parks fell in love with Vekoma and CCI in the first place.
Somehow, some way, two parks located within a 90 minute drive of each other managed to carry a state all the way to the Top 5 on our list, but if you’re a fan of Kings Dominion or Busch Gardens Williamsburg, it should come as no surprise. While they couldn’t be more dissimilar in terms of execution, the roller coaster arms race that has embroiled these parks since their respective 1975 openings has made the citizens of Virginia’s eastern metros their benefactor. If something, somewhere has been done with a coaster in the last 50 years, Virginia has almost certainly gotten a piece of the action. Four of B&M’s best call the state home – Alpengeist, Apollo’s Chariot, Dominator, and Griffon set standards upon which followup installations of these models are judged. Intamin is in a similar position, with Intimidator 305 and Pantheon pushing their respective product lines to their limits. In all, 23 coasters call these parks home, and no two are alike.
Everyone reading this probably understands why Ohio is in our Top 5, but some of you may wonder why it isn’t in our Top 3. Simply put, Ohio currently is in a state of flux: Vortex, Firehawk, Wicked Twister, and Top Thrill Dragster – all superb coasters – have all left us, and as of 2023 only a spinning mouse and a blazé B&M have offered consolation. The Lake Erie legend, Cedar Point, is poised to launch perhaps their greatest thrill yet with Top Thrill 2, but Snoopy’s Soap Box Racers will have to suffice for Cincinnatians until Kings Island redevelops theVortex plot. While we’re here, let’s highlight some unsung heroes of Ohio: the family woodies at Stricker’s Grove and Columbus Zoo and the state’s uncanny collection of Herschel Little Dippers – the one at Cleveland’s Memphis Kiddie Park is the Oldest Continuously-operational Steel Coaster in the US.
The arc of operating roller coasters begins and ends in Pennsylvania – Central PA’s Leap the Dips is the world’s oldest roller coaster and just one of twelve vintage coasters in the state. On the other end of the spectrum is Wildcat’s Revenge, the latest RMC conversion and yet another top-tier roller coaster for Hersheypark. Nearby Dorney Park will extend the trend with Iron Menace, B&M’s steepest coaster, in 2024. Fifty-seven coasters at over a dozen parks operate in seemingly every inch of Pennsylvania, with other highlights including GG’s elite modern woodie Ravine Flyer II in Erie’s Waldameer, and Arrow/Morgan’s legacy terrain hyper Phantom’s Revenge at Kennywood in Pittsburgh. Fan favorite Knoebels is one of several parks in east PA, home to industry sweetheart Phoenix in-house designed Flying Turns, among others.
Despite its eight globally renounded theme parks, Florida has just now entered a new rollercoaster weight-class since 2021, with four of the country’s best coasters opening inside of a 22-month period: Islands of Adventure’s Intamin masterpiece Velocicoaster (an uncanny two-year followup to fellow Intamin masterpiece Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure), Busch Gardens Tampa’s best-in-class RMC Iron Gwazi, and what are now arguably Walt Disney World’s two best rides: Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy – Cosmic Rewind and Magic Kingdom’s TRON Lightcycle // Run. SeaWorld has also kept busy, with the prototype “Surf Coaster” Pipeline now the eighth member of Florida’s exquisite B&M collection – and they already have #9 on the way. Speaking of which, Florida will again extend their roller coaster legacy in 2025 with the opening of Epic Universe and its five marquee coasters.
It had to be you – California is our pick for the best state in the union to ride roller coasters. There are NINETY unique coasters here, and exactly 22% of them can be found at Six Flags Magic Mountain – the world’s largest (and in our opinion, best) collection of operating roller coasters. Follow I-5 South from there and you’ll find a majority of Southern California’s rich amusement park landscape, including global icon Universal Studios Hollywood; the world’s oldest theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm; and the birthplace of the modern amusement park (and the modern roller coaster), Disneyland Resort. Further south you have SeaWorld San Diego – which can be credited with popularizing the marine life park concept – and Belmont park, home to one of two vintage Giant Dipper coasters. The other Giant Dipper is the jewel of Santa Cruz, and just one of many standout coasters in Northern California. Bay Area enthusiasts can also enjoy coasters at nearby Gilroy Gardens (home to the world’s largest (and oldest) collection of arborsculpture), and further north, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and California’s Great America offer a combined nineteen coasters (the latter is expected to close before the end of decade, so enjoy it while you can).
We hope you enjoyed our tour through the USA’s best states for coasters. We look forward to see how the ranks continue to evolve in the following years. As always, we encourage you to weigh in on our social media outlets, and make sure to follow us on InstaGram, Threads, TikTok, Facebook, and be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube and wherever you listen to podcasts!
Until next time!