10 of America’s Most Thrilling Roller Coasters


Roller coasters are exhilarating—they get your heart beating and your adrenaline pumping. But not all roller coasters are created equal. Here are 10 of America’s most thrilling roller coasters, based on their speed, height, unexpected drops, and inversions.


Location: Valencia, California

After you board Viper’s green snake train, the ride promptly drops you 171 feet. And with its seven loops, one after the other, Viper doesn’t give you a moment to catch your breath. The red steel tracks cover more than 3800 feet, and you'll travel up to 70 miles per hour during the two and half minute ride.


Location: Mason, Ohio

As the world’s longest inverted roller coaster—it has over 4100 feet of track—Banshee provides a uniquely thrilling experience. The blue and red steel coaster features seven inversions, speeds of up to 68 miles per hour, and the free-floating feeling of having your legs and feet thrashing about during the spins.


Location: Hershey, Pennsylvania

With fast turns and five zero-gravity drops, Skyrush is Hersheypark’s most intense ride. The maximum speed is 75 miles per hour, and the rollercoaster takes you as high as 213 feet. For an extra thrill, grab a spot in one of the end seats, which hang over the sides of the track (rather than directly above the track).


Location: Farmington, Utah

If you want to ride up to 70 miles per hour, experience three inversions, and feel a g-force of 4.2, Cannibal is the ride for you. Lagoon Park rates its year-old Cannibal’s thrill level as "extreme," which makes sense given that riders drop 140 feet and experience vertical free-fall.


Location: Brooklyn, New York

Coney Island’s Luna Park offers two minutes of drops, loops, rolls, and turns with The Thunderbolt. The roller coaster’s steel track, which extends for more than 2200 feet, provides riders with a 100 foot vertical drop, an 80 foot zero-gravity roll, and a 90 degree plunge. And, a gorgeous ocean view to boot.


Location: Jackson, New Jersey

Want to tell your friends that you’ve experienced the world’s tallest (and second fastest) roller coaster? Head to New Jersey to ride Kingda Ka, a behemoth that measures 456 feet high. You’ll start the ride by accelerating to 128 miles per hour in a shocking 3.5 seconds up an actual vertical track, then you’ll drop a staggering 45 stories, making it feel like gravity doesn’t exist.


Location: Gurnee, Illinois

If wooden roller coasters make you nervous, you might want to skip Goliath. But if you’re looking for a truly thrilling timber experience, Goliath is the fastest, tallest, and steepest wooden rollercoaster in the world. The 72 miles per hour ride has two inversions, drops you 180 feet, and features a 180-degree zero-gravity roll twist.


Location: Sandusky, Ohio

The aptly named MaXair thrill ride keeps you spinning, swinging, and jostling around until you lose all sense of equilibrium. As you sit around a big spinning ring, you get swung around at speeds of 70 miles per hour. And at 140 feet high, the far-reaching aerial view gives you an amazing vantage-point for scouting out the next ride.


Location: Williamsburg, Virginia

Apollo’s Chariot may look like a straightforward steel roller coaster, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve. A slow, creaky beginning leads to a series of nine fast, steep drops that feel as if you’re gliding in the sun god’s chariot. Try to sit in the back of the “chariot” to get the most smooth, flight-like experience.


Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Afterburn only lasts 2 minutes and 47 seconds, but the roller coaster will make you feel like a fully trained fighter pilot (albeit one whose legs are allowed to dangle outside the jet). The ride features speeds up to 62 miles per hour, a 113-foot drop, and six inversions (including an Immelmann turn—an actual aerial combat maneuver named for a WWI pilot).

Pop Culture
Solve a Murder Mystery (and Eat Cheesecake) with The Golden Girls

Something is rotten in the city of Miami. A murder has been committed—and nobody knows who’s behind the dastardly crime. The police are likely no match for the killer, so it’s up to the Golden Girls characters to combine their wits (over cheesecake, of course) to crack the case. But they can’t do it without your help.

That’s right: Peddler’s Village, a quaint shopping village in Lahaska, Pennsylvania, is now offering a Golden Girls Murder Mystery dinner and show every Friday and Saturday night through August 25, 2018. The whodunit takes place at Peddler's Pub at the Cock 'n Bull Restaurant, at 7 p.m.

While the major plot details have been kept under wraps (it is a murder mystery, after all), we do know that Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia have "invited a couple of well known detectives to join the party and discuss their famous capers." And given that the show is titled "The Golden Girls: The Curse of Jessica Fletcher," we can only guess (and hope) that an amateur sleuth from Cabot Cove, Maine will be making an appearance.

It's not the first time Peddler's Pub has hosted the gals from Miami; the current show is a sequel of sorts to the original Golden Girls Murder Mystery that Peddler's Pub put on back in 2016. Fun fact: Mental Floss Editor-in-Chief Erin McCarthy beat out a room full of other Betty White sangria-drinking armchair detectives to correctly solve the mystery during its original run. (She has the mug to prove it.)

Tickets are $69.95 per person, and you can make a reservation (which is required) by calling 215-794-4051. As for what you'll be dining on: You can scope out the menu online (and yes, the Girls’ favorite dessert is involved).

Live Smarter
Applying for TSA PreCheck Will Soon Be as Easy as Heading to Staples

TSA PreCheck is about to get a lot easier to access. The program, which allows pre-approved passengers to go through dedicated express lines at airport security, will no longer require hoofing it to an airport or other inconvenient sign-up center to file an application. Instead, you can head to your nearest Staples store, which will soon be offering PreCheck services, according to the frequent flyer blog View From the Wing.

Through PreCheck and Global Entry (its sister program for international flyers), travelers who go through a background check can speed through security lines at the airport without removing their shoes, belts, jackets, liquids, or laptops. After you pay the $85 application fee and get approved, you’re covered for five years. TSA says that most of its PreCheck passengers spend less than five minutes per airport trip waiting in security lines, so it essentially pays for itself as long as you run late for a flight at least once a year (or just really hate waiting in line).

Though the PreCheck program has expanded its locations in the past few years, offering application services in some H&R Block storefronts, DMVs, and other easily accessible public places, it’s still harder than it should be to enroll. From my hometown in California, for instance, the nearest enrollment center is almost 50 miles away. Even in big cities like New York, high demand and few enrollment centers mean you could be stuck waiting weeks for an appointment, depending on the location and time of year.

This summer, Staples will become one of the few national businesses to host PreCheck enrollment centers. The Staples PreCheck application program will be administered by the security agent IdentoGO, which already provides PreCheck application services at places like H&R Block, and will begin in Boston, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, and Los Angeles. The first wave of the program will encompass 50 new centers, but eventually, the company hopes to expand it even further.

The lack of accessibility might be one reason the program initially fell short of its enrollment goals, signing up just 2.7 million members in its first three years. Now it has 6 million people on board, but that’s still a far cry from the 25 million the agency hopes to get enrolled in its trusted traveler programs by 2019.

It looks like you’ll only be able to apply for the domestic PreCheck program at Staples, not the Global Entry program. The latter, while a bit more expensive, comes with domestic PreCheck benefits as well as express service at U.S. customs.

[h/t View From the Wing]


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