Looking for thrills and chills this summer? New York's amusement parks have you covered with some of the world's best roller coasters! In addition to these favorites, keep an eye out for news on Darien Lake's newest coaster, Tantrum, scheduled to open in 2018.
Best Wooden Coasters:
The Cyclone at Coney Island
While some states are seeing their wooden roller coasters disappear, New York has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to these classic thrill rides.
The Cylone at Coney Island is known to every roller coaster enthusiast in the world. Since 1927, its 2,640 feet of track, 85-foot drop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and speeds of 60 mph have kept it at the top of best roller coaster lists.
Older still, Seabreeze's Jack Rabbit in the Rochester suburb of Irondequoit, was built in 1920 and is the longest continuously operating roller coaster in America. There are awesome dips, a wild last curve, and a fun finale through a dark tunnel.
Just north of the New York City, the eighty-year-old Dragon Coaster at Rye Playland is not only famous—having been featured in Mariah Carey's music video for "Fantasy" and the film Fatal Attraction—it also has the unique feature of running into the mouth of a fire-breathing dragon!
Between Rochester and Buffalo you'll find Darien Lake and the Predator coaster, a newer wooden entry built in 1990. The ride offers some beautiful lake views...if you have time to enjoy them before careening down the tallest wooden roller coaster drop in the state.
Just north of the Capital District right near Lake George, the massive 4,200-foot Comet at Great Escape has been providing 90 years of thrills with drops of up to 85 feet.
On Grand Island, south of Niagara Falls, the Silver Comet at Martin's Fantasy Island is an unusual wooden roller coaster with a hybrid steel frame and impressive 55 mph speeds.
Best Modern Steel Coasters:
Ride of Steel at Darien Lake
Those who crave multiple inversions and serious g-forces have pulse-pounding steel coasters to choose from in up- and downstate New York:
Darien Lake in Western New York boasts six coasters, including the Ride of Steel, the tallest and fastest roller coaster in New York State—and one of the tallest east of the Mississippi. After climbing more than twenty stories in forty seconds that feel like forever, the coaster takes a 70-degree drop and reaches speeds in excess of 75 mph. You'll see what it feels like to fly—right over the lake itself. The Mind Eraser suspended coaster also takes advantage of Darien Lake's waterside setting, this time by taking riders through four loops and leaving their feet dangling over the water. The Viper is Darien Lake's signature coaster, with five inversions, a tunnel, and a 70-foot drop.
Take the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn's Coney Island to experience the roller coasters of Luna Park. The Soarin' Eagle imitates the flight of America's most majestic bird by having you lay horizontal for your ride, taking you up a spiral lift hill, and sending you over 1,293 feet of track at speeds over 40 mph through inversions, hairpin turns, barrel rolls, sudden drops, and exciting twists. Coney Island's Thunderbolt takes you on a two-minute rolling adventure over 2,233 feet of track. Go straight up before plummeting down a 90-degree vertical drop. Speed up to 55 mph around a 100-foot vertical loop, over airtime hills, through an 80-foot zero-g roll, and around a 112-degree over-banked turn, corkscrew section, and heartline dive.
Best Classic Steel Coasters:
Galaxi Roller Coaster Sylvan Beach
You don't have to be young to be a real whipper snapper, as these classic roller metal coasters prove:
The Crazy Mouse at Rye Playland in Westchester County, in keeping with the traditional Wild Mouse roller coasters, glides you around hairpin turns where you feel almost certain that you're heading off the edge of the track.
The Galaxi Coaster at the charming, retro Sylvan Beach Amusement Park on Oneida Lake between Utica and Syracuse features dips and spins that go back and forth through the canyons and tunnels of its serpentine metal frame.
Best Spinning Coasters:
Turbulence at Adventureland
Some New York parks offer a new spin on the classic metal coaster:
The green and yellow Turbulence Coaster at Long Island's Adventureland is a modern steel coaster with fast twists and dips, and the added thrill of spinning cars with seats in the front and back.
The Tickler at Coney Island calls itself "The Coaster That Doesn't Take Itself Too Seriously" and pays homage to the original 1906 thrill ride and the original Luna Park. A half-moon shaped four-passenger car climbs towards the famous Coney Island Tillie Face sign before embarking on a course of over-the-edge-switchback turns, rapid-fire drops, and unexpected g-force-causing spins.
The Whirlwind at Seabreeze Amusement Park in the Finger Lakes takes you forwards, backwards, sideways and down, racing along a winding track at breath-taking, lake-view heights. Let the spinsanity begin!
The Crazy Mouse at Martin's Fantasy Island on Grand Island in the Greater Niagara region is a magenta and yellow spinning Wild Mouse coaster, with some good dips and plenty of twists and turns.
Most Unique Coasters:
Alpine Bobsled at the Great Escape
New York State offers a number of coasters that defy categorization, where the ‘twist' doesn't only refer to the track:
In 2016, the Great Escape in the southern Adirondacks became home to the New Revolution Virtual Reality Coaster. The Steamin' Demon—a park favorite for more than 25 years—was outfitted with wireless headsets that allows riders to enter a virtual world with high-resolution imagery and 360-degree views that synchronize to the action of the coaster. The coaster's loops and corkscrews are the setting for an alien battle on this ground-breaking new ride experience. Also at the Great Escape, the Alpine Bobsled is an amusement park version of its Olympic cousin to the north in nearby Lake Placid. The 1,490-foot-long ride features a rolling sled inside a smooth, high-walled, half-pipe course without any track at all. You simply glide like a bullet down the mountain, from 64 feet up, surfing the walls of every turn at speeds up to 35 mph, just like the Olympians do.
The Bobsleds at Seabreeze Amusement Park near Rochester are another ride entirely. Custom-made for the park in 1962, this Seabreeze original is a unique combination of wood structure and 1,240 feet of tubular steel track. Reaching heights of 31 feet, with a collection of runaway hills, speedy dips, and quirky curves, the Bobsleds are a favorite among coaster fans.
Both the Motorcoaster at Darien Lake in Western New York and the Steeplechase at Coney Island's Luna Park start by launching riders from zero to 40 mph in three seconds, and have innovative pedestal vehicles that you straddle, offering a thrilling free-ride feel. The Motorcoaster is, of course, themed like a breezy motorcycle ride, while Steeplechase gives a nod to the signature attraction of old Steeplechase Park in Coney Island with a horse race theme.
Best coasters for kids:
Lady Bug at Adventureland
Every great coaster thrill-seeker has to start somewhere, and New York's amusement parks offer some great coasters that provide a thrill for the whole family without overwhelming the little ones:
Adventureland on Long Island is home to the Lady Bug Coaster, whose whimsical design belies a smooth but fairly thrilling ride. Its custom layout has 652 feet of track, starts with an 18-foot drop and reaches a top speed of 20 mph, even buzzing through a tunnel.
At the Great Escape, the brakes are off on Canyon Blaster, the fast-paced, family runaway train adventure in the park's Ghost Town area. Board a mine car and get ready to brave the swift curves and five-story hills at 45 miles mph. With no major drops, it's well suited for daredevils-in-training learning to take on bigger rides.
Seabreeze in the Finger Lakes offers a fun and exciting introduction for younger guests to the world of roller coasters. Their Bear Trax junior steel coaster has a height of 12 feet, a track length of 380 feet and a top speed of almost 17 mph, but it's probably the lovely landscaping that really puts these twists and turns on the map.