5. Bat – Kings Island
Part of the problem with this list is that Vortex is dead. That was our favorite. In a world that now blossoms with B&Ms, Intamins, and RMCs several times over, the value of a good Arrow Looper cannot be overstated. Furthermore, you’re not going to convince any of us that Bat isn’t the most valuable steel coaster at Kings Island now. This thing is a tank. It’s between you and those beautiful horizontal physics – no fiberglass rattle, no brain-melting vibrations – just an Arrow Suspended coaster giving chase with a sturdy, satisfying performance the likes of which cannot be found elsewhere (not even at Canada’s Wonderland).
4. Steel Vengeance – Cedar Point
If this list has rubbed you the wrong way at any point, we apologize. That genuinely was not our intention. To make it up to you, we offer an olive branch in the shape of a bloated RMC Iron Horse than none of us are really that crazy about. We u n d e r s t a n d the abject goodness of Steel Vengeance – it makes a lot of people very, very happy, and we like that very much. There’s plenty we would change (most of which is after the midcourse), but no aspect would be more urgent for us than the shin-snapping abomination that is RMC’s current generation of Iron Horse trains.
3. Beast – Kings Island
We’re going to be old people for sec and try to convince you, if possible, that Beast really is one of the best. Although, actually, “best” isn’t the word – let’s go with “special.” Frankly, “best” is a hard modifier, especially in this context; there is no “best” in roller coasters – only favorites and least-favorites; likes and dislikes; normal and abnormal. Beast is an abnormal coaster. Mass-produced rides like Diamondback and Valravn aren’t bad; if you live in Ohio, and those rides give you the warm fuzzies in your heart, that’s great. Hold onto that. The Beast, meanwhile, will almost always register as overhyped upon first impressions. Then you go to some new parks. You ride a B&M Dive Machine with normal harnesses and great airtime. You ride a hyper that tracks like butter-on-ice. You ride an invert that doesn’t feel like your head is in a coffee grinder. You ride a new wooden coaster, and then another, and another. You’ve ridden 100 wooden coasters now. You go back to Kings Island and you eventually make your way to Beast. It’s been 2 minutes since you left the station and you think “wow. I can’t believe they built this. Nobody did this before, and no one has done it since. Is it the best? No. It’s a mile-and-a-half long and has two lift hills and, if you’re lucky, the train on the first drop will welcome you back to the station. Your ride on the Beast was a little journey – just like this description of it. And it was special.
2. Magnum – Cedar Point
The Top 2 are the same from last year – we just swapped them. Spoiler: we gave the #1 spot to Maverick this year, although that’s probably obvious by now. Magnum charts pretty high in that “special” category we just talked about – nothing at Cedar Point can claim to have made the same level of impact as Magnum. What started as a curiosity project during the “inversion war” turned into a global phenomenon whose ripple effect is still breaking waves in every direction – every time a new hyper coaster is built, its another victory lap for Cedar Point’s weird flex from 1989. Sure, Magnum will break your legs. It beats you up. But, like, so does Steel Vengeance, and you don’t see anyone complaining about that one (well, besides us. And maybe a few others. But, you get the idea).
1. Maverick – Cedar Point
Winner winner chicken dinner. Bleeding hearts for legacy designers come and gone cannot deny the majesty of a well-done modern coaster. We would be hipsters to cling to the idea that Magnum will objectively please the average rider more than Maverick – though both rides are basically the roller coaster equivalent of a Renaissance painting. The highest honor we can bestow on Maverick is one that love: “How did this get built? Who signed off on this? My neck is bleeding, you guys.”
We hope some of you enjoyed this list. We know some of you didn’t. Please direct your dissatisfaction to our social media outlets so we can work it out! A big thank you again to all of our media poll participants – we’re eager to continue picking your brains for future articles like this. Until next time!