What's the best roller coaster park in America?
We've shown you the best roller coasters in America
, as well as the worst
. But few people plan a vacation or even a day trip around a single roller coaster. Fans are looking for value from a theme park admission than that. Thrill ride fans want to find the parks that deliver the best collection of roller coasters — the most thrills for their money.
So what are the best roller coaster parks in the United States? Once again, we're turning to you — Theme Park Insider readers — to make that call. We've collected the reader ratings you've submitted on roller coasters at top parks around the country over the past year. From them, we've calculated our collective picks for the country's best roller coaster parks.
Here's how we did it: First we looked for excellence. To be considered for the top five, a park had to have had at least two coasters rated a "9" or above by Theme Park Insider readers. From there, we looked for high-quality quantity, too, giving parks points for roller coasters rated "8" or above. We wanted to weigh the excellent coasters even more, so we gave parks an extra point for each coaster rated "9" or above. (Rankings were determined on the basis of ratings submitted by last Friday afternoon. Coasters had to have had a minimum number of votes to be considered.)
With this system, parks aren't penalized for having mediocre coasters or other types of rides, since we're ignoring them in the rankings. So long as a park offers plenty of high-quality coasters, they're good by us. No sense marking a park down for offering other rides, too. Hey, if those rides draw a few people out of the queues for the top coasters, all the better. ;^)
So, here they are:
ThemeParkInsider.com's Top Roller Coaster Parks in America, 2013
1. Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California
2. Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
3. Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Illinois
4. Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey
El Toro, which also was our pick for the best roller coaster in America.
5 (tie). Busch Gardens Tampa, Tampa, Florida and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia
Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Again, if you're a coaster fan, you'll do well at any of these
five six parks, as well as several others that lurk just below in our rankings. Here's to looking back at a great summer at the country's regional amusement parks, and looking forward to another great season of riding coasters, starting next spring.
Once again Busch Gardens Williamsburg inexplicably shows up high in ratings in which it does not belong anywhere near the top. It rightly deserves a top-five rating for cleanliness and landscaping, but it has too few roller coasters to even be considered for a top 20 in "Best roller coaster park." It isn't even close to being the best in Virginia alone, where Kings Dominion is a far better park for roller coasters.
I want to make a comment about Magic Mountain. I have never felt unsafe in a theme park...until I went to Magic Mountain. I was scared to death all day in that park and thought I was going to be shot by gang members. All day long, I observed groups of rival gangs having issues with one another, at times pushing and yelling. It felt like being in the middle of a gang war all day. It was the worst feeling ever.
I agree with the other Michael above about BGW, and I'll take it one step further. I have not been on Verbolten, and I have a whole lotta love for the Loch Ness Monster. But not only does the park have relatively few coasters, the remaining three, in my opinion, are inferior examples of their respective genres. I can easily think of five inverts I like better than Alpengeist, and at least five B&M hypers I'd rate higher than Apollo's Chariot. I also much prefer Sheikra to Griffon..although, granted, I only rode the latter once. Of course, this is subjective, but it's my takeaway.
Disclaimer- I don't consider myself a coaster enthusiast even though I have been on a lot. I haven't been to 1 or 2 or 3 but have been to 4 and 5a and 5b. I never thought of BGT or BGW as coaster parks even though the coasters there are top notch. As others said, not enough coasters. Mike, Shiekra is much better than Griffon even if some coaster sites rank Griffon high and barely mention Shiekra. However, I think that as a group, the BGT and BGW coasters would be equal to the top coasters at any park. Montu at BGT is great, Verbolten at BGW is unlike any coaster I've been on, also great.
Putting BGW on this list is a joke. While it is a fine park, it is certainly not one of the top roller coaster parks out there. I also really question SFGAm as none of their current coaster line up is any where close to best of breed in any category. Hopefully Goliath will be on par or better than El Toro.
Well, I've only been to the first two parks (grew up an hour from Magic Mountain, & made my first pilgrimage to Cedar Point this summer!), and I must say, I agree with the ratings! I hope to visit the next two Six Flags parks on the list next summer. But, I'm a bit confused by the Six Flags Gurnee, IL position on the list. I live in Minneapolis, and the overwhelming majority of people say the park isn't worth the price of admission, let alone the 6 hour drive! I guess I'll just have to be the judge of that myself next summer.
Thank you for giving props to Six Flags Great America.
@Annette: "I want to make a comment about Magic Mountain. I have never felt unsafe in a theme park...until I went to Magic Mountain. I was scared to death all day in that park and thought I was going to be shot by gang members. All day long, I observed groups of rival gangs having issues with one another, at times pushing and yelling. It felt like being in the middle of a gang war all day. It was the worst feeling ever."
There is no question whatsoever in my mind that Six Flags Great Adventure is the best roller coaster park. One reason is that it's only one of two parks I've visited - the other is Kings Island - that has both a wooden coaster and steel coaster exceptional enough to consistently be in the top ten. (As for KI, I don't think that either The Beast or Diamondback can rival El Toro or Nitro.) To me this is an important consideration. And of course it's the only park with a great woodie, a great hypercoaster and a launched strata coaster.
Not sure how to rate a park as the "best" for coasters.
BTW, until the past couple of years, I would have rated Mean STreak as an excellent wooden coaster. But it has just gotten so rough that even in the front, it is hardly fun. And Gemini was a pretty good coaster, but I just never want to take the time anymore.
The way I see it, there are three ways to look at coaster parks: quantity, quality, or variety. Very few parks have all three of these traits in their lineup. Parks that have a large number of good coasters often have little variety, parks with a good variety of top tier coasters generally don't have very many rides, and at parks with lots of coasters of various types there are often few good rides (for the purposes of this discussion, we'll define a good ride as one you'd ride multiple times per visit). I have not been to Six Flags Great America or Busch Gardens Tampa, but for the other parks listed:
An experienced roller coaster enthusiast would never rank Six Flags Magic Mountain as one of the best. The park is all quantity and very little quality.
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