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Brace yourself for death-defying
thrills when you board the world’s scariest roller coasters.

You’re climbing slowly up the
roller coaster’s first hill. Tiny cars gleam a few hundred feet below and trees
look like broccoli florets. The rickety chain clanks as it thrusts you forward,
and there’s nowhere to go but down. As your car teeters at the pinnacle, one
thought flashes before you: “I paid to do
this?”

Crazy as it seems, we are predisposed to pay up for such
heart-pounding thrills. A few thundering turns on a roller coaster set off a
chemical reaction—the release of adrenaline and dopamine—that makes us feel
giddy and intensely alive. As roller coasters continue to push the extremes of
acceleration, speed, and corkscrew-like inversions, what does it take to be
among the world’s scariest?

The answer turns out to be highly personal; there’s little
consensus among even the most discerning riders about the recipe for a good
scare. “Some like smooth rides full of floating zero Gs while others want to be
thrown around and brutalized so they can live to brag about it,” says Scott
Rutherford, a senior writer and editor for Amusement Today who has
experienced more than 500 coasters on four continents.

Even so, record-breakers can be counted on to deliver some
of the biggest adrenaline rushes. At 45 stories, Kingda Ka is the world’s
tallest roller coaster, one of only two Stratacoasters that plummet more than
400 feet. (Call the other, Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster, the scariest and
you could be in for a heated debate.)

A memorably scary coaster gets inside your head, employing
suspense, the element of surprise, and the illusion of fragility. It’s not only
a matter of mind-boggling statistics like accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in—count
them—two seconds. Older, wooden coasters bring their own set of thrills, since
they actually move. When a train whips around a turn, the coaster sways
with it.

The most infamous, The Cyclone, still draws thrill-seekers
to Coney Island, NY, where the first roller coaster debuted in 1884. Today,
2,472 are operating around the world, and there’s one for whatever scares you
the most, be it speeds of 150 mph or a series of 10 stomach-churning
inversions. As Rutherford says, “You have no choice but to let go, to surrender
to the ride.”

See if you can stomach the world’s scariest roller
coasters, and share your opinions in the comments below.

World's Scariest Roller Coasters

Brace yourself for death-defying
thrills when you board the world’s scariest roller coasters.

You’re climbing slowly up the
roller coaster’s first hill. Tiny cars gleam a few hundred feet below and trees
look like broccoli florets. The rickety chain clanks as it thrusts you forward,
and there’s nowhere to go but down. As your car teeters at the pinnacle, one
thought flashes before you: “I paid to do
this?”

Crazy as it seems, we are predisposed to pay up for such
heart-pounding thrills. A few thundering turns on a roller coaster set off a
chemical reaction—the release of adrenaline and dopamine—that makes us feel
giddy and intensely alive. As roller coasters continue to push the extremes of
acceleration, speed, and corkscrew-like inversions, what does it take to be
among the world’s scariest?

The answer turns out to be highly personal; there’s little
consensus among even the most discerning riders about the recipe for a good
scare. “Some like smooth rides full of floating zero Gs while others want to be
thrown around and brutalized so they can live to brag about it,” says Scott
Rutherford, a senior writer and editor for Amusement Today who has
experienced more than 500 coasters on four continents.

Even so, record-breakers can be counted on to deliver some
of the biggest adrenaline rushes. At 45 stories, Kingda Ka is the world’s
tallest roller coaster, one of only two Stratacoasters that plummet more than
400 feet. (Call the other, Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster, the scariest and
you could be in for a heated debate.)

A memorably scary coaster gets inside your head, employing
suspense, the element of surprise, and the illusion of fragility. It’s not only
a matter of mind-boggling statistics like accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in—count
them—two seconds. Older, wooden coasters bring their own set of thrills, since
they actually move. When a train whips around a turn, the coaster sways
with it.

The most infamous, The Cyclone, still draws thrill-seekers
to Coney Island, NY, where the first roller coaster debuted in 1884. Today,
2,472 are operating around the world, and there’s one for whatever scares you
the most, be it speeds of 150 mph or a series of 10 stomach-churning
inversions. As Rutherford says, “You have no choice but to let go, to surrender
to the ride.”

See if you can stomach the world’s scariest roller
coasters, and share your opinions in the comments below.

Anna Armstrong

World's Scariest Roller Coasters

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