Theme Park Insider

Weekly Top 10: The World's Best 'Upside-Down' Roller Coasters

February 9, 2015, 10:53 AM · For many of us who started visiting theme parks as children, a rite of passage loomed — the day when we would summon the courage to ride a roller coaster that (gulp!) went upside down. Those were the "big kid" coasters, not just the ones with the taller height requirements, but the ones that demanded the courage to believe that physics really did work and that you would not come crashing to the pavement when the train flew through its inversions.

Our Top 10 this week honors the best of the "upside down" coasters, as rated by you, our Theme Park Insider readers. This list differs from our list of Top 10 coasters overall as it excludes the wildly popular Mega and Hyper coasters that have dominated the top of the Theme Park Insider reader ratings in the past decade. But as much as coaster fans love the huge drops and high speeds of the Megas, there's something special about flipping heels over head and seeing the world upside down. And there's something wonderful about reliving that moment when you first were brave enough to climb aboard and let a roller coaster take you there.

10. Full Throttle
Six Flags Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain's newest major coaster plays to that fear of being upside down, with a terrifying/exhilarating (your call) weightless pause at the top of its world's-tallest loop.

9. Incredible Hulk Coaster
Universal's Islands of Adventure

Incredible Hulk Coaster

There might be no better start to a coaster anywhere, with this high-speed launch into a cobra roll and loop.

8. Montu
Busch Gardens Tampa

Montu

Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coasters win much praise from our readers as inverting above a track, rather than below it, amplifies the thrill for many riders.

7. X2
Six Flags Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain returns to our list with the world's first four-dimensional coaster, whose chairs send you upside down in places even when the track doesn't.

6. Manta
SeaWorld Orlando

Our reader's favorite flying coaster, Manta entices you to spread your arms in front of you and imagine that you really can do acrobatics in the sky.

5. Banshee
Kings Island

The winner of our Theme Park Insider Award for Best New Attraction last year, Banshee is the latest B&M Inverted to win over fans.

4. Nemesis
Alton Towers

Nemesis

The United States hardly as a monopoly on great coasters. (Many top manufacturers, including B&M, are located in Europe, after all.) The United Kingdom checks in with this classic B&M Inverted.

3. Maverick
Cedar Point

Non-inverting coasters Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster might dominate the Cedar Point skyline, but many coaster fans know to head to the end of the peninsula for a ride on this delightful Intamin Blitz coaster.

2. Outlaw Run
Silver Dollar City

Thanks to modern engineering's ability to create great new hybrid coasters, woodies are no longer excluded from this list. Outlaw Run well represents the new breed of coaster by being the top U.S. coaster on our list.

1. Blue Fire
Europa Park

Europa Park's Blue Fire wins love from theme park fans for its dark ride element, before proving its thrill ride cred by launching into a delightful series of drops and inversions.

When do you first go upside down on a coaster? And which one is your favorite, today? Tell us, in the comments.

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Replies (16)

February 9, 2015 at 11:17 AM · My first was Mind Bender at Six Flags in Georgia -- I think I as about 7 or so. I remember being scared to death ;-).

My overall favorite today has to be the Hulk.

February 9, 2015 at 11:45 AM · I can't even remember the first time I rode an inverted roller coaster, I have been riding them for so long! But it was probably Montu since I grew up in Tampa, and it still is absolutely one of my favorites, very near The Hulk in coaster perfection.
February 9, 2015 at 12:34 PM · I am not a huge fan of Coasters because most of the big ones leave me feeling a little beat-up, queasy and dizzy-headed. I prefer my attractions to be free from physical discomfort.

Which is not to say that I desire all rides to be as slow and soft hearted as The Haunted Mansion or Jungle Cruise.

Maybe you could feature a Top Ten list of the best "pain free" Coasters or Thrill rides?

February 9, 2015 at 12:35 PM · I've ridden the Hulk and X2. The problem with the Hulk is that it is just too rough, a real head rattler that always gives me a headache. Plus I nearly passed out on that ride, the two times that I braved it. Never again, unless they refurbish the thing (which is highly overdue).
X2 is an amazing adrenaline rush. But it's also too rough unless you sit in the one of the seats furthest inside the ride.
February 9, 2015 at 1:27 PM · My first inverting coaster was the defunct Windjammer Surf Racers at Knott's Berry Farm. That thing was horrible! Fortunately, I ended up going on enough different rides to realize not all inverting coasters are bad and now I enjoy all of them. I've only been on four of the list above (Full Throttle, X2, Banshee, and Maverick), but all are excellent rides and I'd love to ride the rest some day.

For fun, here's my top ten inverting coasters list:

1. Tatsu (Six Flags Magic Mountain)
2. Maverick (Cedar Point)
3. Banshee (Kings Island)
4. Goliath (Six Flags Great America)
5. Griffon (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)
6. Full Throttle (Six Flags Magic Mountain)
7. Fahrenheit (Hersheypark)
8. Mystery Mine (Dollywood)
9. Medusa (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom)
10. Afterburn (Carowinds)

February 9, 2015 at 2:21 PM · The Mindbender at SFOG was also my first looping roller coaster. As I have gotten older, I find I prefer the floating feeling of hyper coasters to the high G-forces found on looping coasters. That said - it's hard to beat The Hulk at IOA for over all non-stop looping excitement. I wish B&M would build more coasters that include a couple of inversions with all the negative g's on hypers.
February 9, 2015 at 5:44 PM · Nice list. Glad to see Outlaw Run made it. For a short ride it is truly remarkable. An amazing and relentless ride from beginning to end. It actually makes the other coasters at Silver Dollar City seem less exciting, so save it for last during your tour of the park's coasters.

I would definitely put SeaWorld Orlando's Kraken on this list somewhere - probably in place of the Hulk, which has a great first ten - fifteen seconds, but then fizzles out quickly. With Kraken you are constantly floating in some state of upside-down-ness. I haven't ridden it for a while, but at the time I rode it (circa 2007) I thought it was easily the best coaster in the Orlando area.

February 10, 2015 at 3:36 AM · What about the world record holder The Smiler at Alton Towers, with its 14 inversions and unique design elements. Its fun theming and compact footprint and great ride time (increased by the vertical lift hill) In my oppinion it should be Number 1 !
February 10, 2015 at 6:19 AM · My first inverted didn't go upside down but was awesome none the less. The Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It is sad that it had to be removed. You have to give some love to Alpengeist at BGW as well though. Fierce ride will definitely shake you up.
February 10, 2015 at 8:54 AM · The old corkscrew at Knotts was my first. Nice to see Magic Mountain still so prominent, I always loved La Revolucion.
February 10, 2015 at 8:57 AM · Nice sound editing on the Full Throttle video! It looks like you had a few choice words to describe the experience of the first inversion that might be better left off the audio! ha
February 10, 2015 at 9:17 AM · Not me. Magic Mountain sat someone in front of me who decided to reach back over his head and cover the RPOV camera for a large portion of the ride... when he wasn't swearing up a storm. Since he was closer to the audio pick-up on that camera, you heard him more than me. It was the worst media day experience I've ever had on a coaster. Now I'm angry again, thinking about it. Sigh.
February 10, 2015 at 9:26 AM · Batman at Six Flags Great America was my first upside down coaster, so I continue to force myself to love it, despite a fetid queue and less than stellar maintenance in recent years. X2 remains the top spot on my coaster bucket list (someday...).
February 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM · Space Mountain (Mission 1) @ Disneyland Paris was mine. Remember being terrified in the queue as it actually passes through the mountain in a tunnel that the tracks get pretty close to! Always remember the music too. FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON! Hopefully they will return this epic ride to its former x glory during the refurbishment this year. No more Mission 2!
February 11, 2015 at 6:11 PM · First Looper: Chicago Loop / Old Chicago (indoor defunct park). Love Blue Fire! And live close to SFMM, but still have yet to ride Full Throttle (down both times I was there). Will keep trying! ;) HATE X2! It is just way too rough a ride at this point - loved it as X. Love Hulk! Wanna hit both Montu and Banshee - been too long since I went to either (amazing) park. Thanks for the article.
February 13, 2015 at 12:07 PM · I've ridden only 3 from this list - Outlaw Run, Maverick and Montu - so cannot comment on the others but these at least are good choices. As to Outlaw Run, right on James! It was my best ride experience of 2013 and I liked it so much that I ended up having the logo tattooed on one leg - after consulting with a lawyer to make sure that I wasn't likely to be sued for copyright infringement!

Montu I found exceptional; it completely altered my perception of inverted coasters (not to be confused with inverting coasters, for the sake of purists). Maverick is a wild and crazy ride like no other but somewhat rougher than is comfortable. Other favorites of mine in the category of inverting coasters are Volcano:The Blast Coaster and Talon. The rollout on Volcano at 155 feet was as much of a blast as anything else in the ride and set a record (broken by Gatekeeper). Oh, and despite the fact that they're redundant, I really enjoy the Batman:The Ride coasters. Been on only two - the one at Great Adventure and the original at Six Flags Great America - but have never ridden anything quite so disorienting.

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