At any amusement park, it has the highest “wow” factor. On National Roller Coaster Day, August 16, take a ride on one and get a thrill a minute! If you’re an adult, relive a child’s anticipation of a slow, rickety climb way, way up the loopty-loop and dashing way, way down to the bottom.
In this age of high tech sophistication, roller coasters can still make us giddy over a ride that was popular back in the ‘1920s. Rediscover the latest cutting-edge coaster tech that will still give you goose bumps and you don’t even have to stand in line!
National Roller Coaster Day timeline
The first roller coasters appear in Russia
Russian roller coasters are made of wood with icy ramps on which people slid down, often hurting themselves in the process.
- 18th century
Wheels on carts make all the difference
In Russia, the early roller coasters were such a hit that wheels are added to the carts so people could continue to ride during the summer as well as during the winter.
- 20th century
It was the “Golden Age of Roller Coasters”
From the early teens to right before the Great Depression, roller coasters rise in popularity featuring innovations like the world’s first looping coaster.
Roller coasters tumble out of favor
Between the harsh, economic realities of the Great Depression and WWII when metals and land were critical for the war effort, roller coaster popularity wanes.
Disneyland's a game changer
Walt Disney's visionary Matterhorn roller coaster debuts four years after the Southern California park opens.
National Roller Coaster Day Activities
Build up your courage and take a ride
Even though the basic design has changed little over the years, these aren't your grandparents roller coaster rides! If you're near Sandusky, Ohio, on National Roller Coaster Day, take a ride on Steel Vengeance, voted "Best New Ride of 2018" with its "high-speed hyper-hybrid roller coaster turning riders upside down four times." At Pittsburgh's Kennywood Park, riders on the death-defying, Steel Curtain coaster will experience nine inversions, reaching speeds of 75 mph. So go ahead, take a ride — we dare ya'!
Experience a virtual roller coaster ride
Having problems getting up the courage to take an actual roller coaster ride? That's no problem because in today's digital world, you can get all the thrills and spills with a virtual roller coaster ride. Since their introduction in 2015, many virtual reality (VR) roller coaster rides are housed in their own buildings at various amusement parks. But, if you really can't wait to try out a ride, try the Steel Vengeance ride online.
Read up on the history of roller coasters
Some folks just can't get on a roller coaster without knowing a little more about them. On National Roller Coaster Day, hit the library and read some books about roller coaster history. It's fascinating!
5 Of The Most Insane Roller Coasters You Must Face Your Fears To Ride
This one has the deepest drop
Travel to Canada's Vaughn, Ontario, to experience the Yukon Striker with riders dangling during a three-second (!) hold at the very top of the ride over a 90-degree drop, then swooshing down 245 feet into a tunnel below ground.
It's called Steel Vengeance for a reason
Head to Cedar Point Park to ride in Steel Vengeance, a super hybrid roller coaster, said to be one of the fastest in the world, clocking 74 mph while traveling along 5,740 feet of track.
New Jersey's home to one of the world's tallest coasters
The Kingda Ka roller coaster, extending upward with the equivalent of about 45 stories or 456 feet in the air, delivers eye-popping thrills at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.
This one faces backwards
It's called the Superman: Escape from Krypton roller coaster and features a 100 mph launch up 415 feet while backwards. You can ride it, if you dare, at Six Flags Magic Mountain just north of Los Angeles.
It is aptly named
The Intimidator at Virginia's Kings Dominion will turn your hair white with its 85-degree first drop straight down.
Why We Love National Roller Coaster Day
It's old-school fun
Roller coasters were at their highest popularity in the U.S. during the 1920s, eventually falling out of fashion by the middle of the century. Still, for the approximately two minutes that you're on the ride, the high highs and the low lows of a whirly, curly roller coaster can make all your troubles disappear.
Your great grandparents would still recognize the roller coaster you ride on today
With a roller coaster ride, you can bask in the same chills and thrills that your grandparents (or even your great-grandparents) enjoyed. No matter how twisty, twirly a roller coaster is, its design is basically the same as it was at the turn of last century. People ride in wheeled carts along side-by-side, parallel tracks. Over the years, "bells and whistles" were added, like the figure 8 coaster, underfriction wheels and even, roller coasters that jumped! So, what's old is new again.
Roller coasters are safer today than ever before
Roller coaster designers are constantly looking for new ways to keep people safe while having fun. So if fear is keeping you from taking a roller coaster ride, fear not! Most roller coasters are constantly safety-tested and there are new state-of-the-art innovations like lap belts and harnesses that are secured electronically over passengers' shoulders or waists that lock in place until released by the person running the roller coaster. There is also signage with specific information on exactly how tall or big passengers must be to ride or what articles are and aren't allowed because the goal is to have safe, worry-free fun.