Time to Vote for the Best Roller Coaster

December 21, 2022, 6:17 PM · We're now ready for our last three votes for "Finals Week" here on Theme Park Insider, with today's opening of the vote for Best Roller Coaster bringing us into the home stretch.

Eight coasters ranked a step above the competition in our reader surveys earlier this month, so these are the finalists for your consideration (in alphabetical order):

Fury 325, Carowinds

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure

Intimidator 305, Kings Dominion

Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure

Lightning Rod, Dollywood

Mako, SeaWorld Orlando

Maverick, Cedar Point

Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point

The winner of the vote will earn the Best Roller Coaster honor in our 21st annual Theme Park Insider Awards, to be revealed on January 1, 2023.

If you missed any of the previous final-round votes, here they are: Best Show, Best Restaurant, Best Hotel, Best Holiday Event, Best Halloween Event.

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Replies (8)

December 21, 2022 at 7:29 PM

Toughest vote for me by far. I’ve ridden four of the coasters on this list and they’ve all been amazing for different reasons.

Mako is the smoothest coaster I’ve ever ridden in my life. VelociCoaster is intense and loads of fun, especially in the back row. And Lightning Rod is the first ride of any kind in a long time that I’ve gotten off of and said “Holy ****, what just happened? Let’s go again!!”

But my vote has to go for Hagrid’s — not because it’s necessarily the best coaster (it isn’t), but because it gives me the most pure, unadulterated, end-to-end JOY of any of them.

December 22, 2022 at 2:32 AM

As probably one of the most well ridden regulars on here when it comes to coasters (at least within the US), I'll go ahead and throw out my top 25 with the positions of these ones bolded...

1. Steel Vengeance (Cedar Point)
2. Iron Gwazi (Busch Gardens Tampa)
3. VelociCoaster (Universal Studios Islands of Adventure)
4. Lightning Rod (Dollywood)
5. El Toro (Six Flags Great Adventure)
6. Fury 325 (Carowinds)
7. Maverick (Cedar Point)
8. Twisted Timbers (Kings Dominion)
9. Twisted Colossus (Six Flags Magic Mountain)
10. Wicked Cyclone (Six Flags New England)
11. Intimidator 305 (Kings Dominion)
12. F.L.Y. (Phantasialand)
13. Expedition GeForce (Holiday Park)
14. Storm Chaser (Kentucky Kingdom)
15. Skyrush (Hersheypark)
16. Shambhala (PortAventura Park)
17. Schwur des Karnan (Hansa-Park)
18. X2 (Six Flags Magic Mountain)
19. Millennium Force (Cedar Point)
20. Taron (Phantasialand)
21. Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
22. Voyage (Holiday World)
23. Superman the Ride (Six Flags New England)
24. Outlaw Run (Silver Dollar City)
25. Iron Rattler (Six Flags Fiesta Texas)

For the curious, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is at 43 on my list. If talking about the best theme park attractions overall, it's definitely a contender, but for best roller coaster it's not even in the conversation.

December 22, 2022 at 3:14 AM

Jurassic World VelociCoaster

December 22, 2022 at 6:50 AM

I’ve been on all of these, with exception to Fury 325 and Intimidator 305 (I hope to hit those in ‘23). I’m finding it really hard to cast a vote, as I can’t decide between Steel Vengence, Maverick or Velocicoaster..

It’s crazy that at 15 years old that Maverick is still in the conversation, but it’s that good. Velcicoaster is really the first roller coaster that I feel rivals it’s.

Lightning Rod is good, but once you’ve ridden Steel Vengence, it’s easy to eliminate as a possible best. Personally, I don’t even consider it my favorite at Dollywood, that would go to Mystery Mine.

December 22, 2022 at 12:26 PM

I think Maverick is a bit of an odd choice here as both next generation Intamin launching coasters (Velocicoaster and Pantheon) are superior. Mako is also a bit further down my list, but I can understand why it would be a finalist given its visibility in Orlando (personally, I prefer Manta to Mako and have other B&M hypers like Nitro, Candymonium, and Apollo's Chariot rated higher).

However, among the rest of this list, it's a really tough choice. Iron Gwazi is fresher in my mind as we didn't make it to Cedar Point this summer, but I think the 2 best RMCs in the world are neck and neck. Fury 325 is also an amazing experience (hopefully it's warm enough to run when we're at Carowinds next week), as is Lightning Rod, which we rode for the first time last summer (riding Fury and Lightning Rod in the same week, Fury was a bit better in a close comparison). Hagrid's, which we rode for the first time in October, is a great attraction, but from a pure coaster standpoint just cannot match the other finalists on this list. Theming does go a long way in my book, and the seating position is pretty cool in the motorcycle seat, but it just lacks the intensity and thrill elements to top the other finalists (I'd probably still have it in my top 25 though).

That leaves Intimidator 305, which is still one of the most unique coaster experiences in the world despite being 12 years old. So many hyper and giga coasters focus on airtime and large-swooping elements, but I-305 is a non-stop pulse-pounding adrenaline g-force machine from beginning to end. The re-profiling of the first turn and, most importantly, transition to the soft-padded OTSRs, has made the coaster more accessible without significantly impacting the overall experience. There's never been a time where I haven't walked off this coaster without the feeling of pure exhilaration and the desire to hop back on (after catching my breath for a second of course), which is easy to do since there are rarely lines to board.

December 22, 2022 at 8:30 PM

VC, F325, SV, Mav, LR, Mako, I305 and HMCMA

December 22, 2022 at 8:54 PM

I've been lucky enough to ride them all, and in order, my preference would be:

Lightning Rod

December 23, 2022 at 10:00 PM

I’ve got all of these except Lightning Rod, I’d go:

Steel Vengeance (3 overall on my list)
Fury 325 (4)
Velocicoaster (5)
Intimidator 305 (11)
Maverick (13)
Mako (19)
Hagrid’s (21)

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