Six Flags Great Adventure is more than just a unique escape from suburbia. It’s a playground for adrenaline junkies to test their limits on world-famous coasters. Like many people who grew up in the Garden State, my best memories of past park visits always revolve around the iconic rides. Before I was brave enough to face Kingda Ka, I built my thrill tolerance by riding the park’s less chaotic contraptions. Over the years, and many season passes later, I’ve come to learn which rides are worth waiting for…and which are not. Here is a first-hand ranking of the 11 best roller coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure.
The Top Three
1. Kingda Ka
Kingda Ka is feared by most and revered by all. A gigantic spike stabbing into the stratosphere, it’s crowned as the tallest and second-fastest coaster in the world. An extraordinary feat of engineering, Kingda Ka accelerates riders more than 450 feet upwards in less than 10 seconds. Meteoring back to Earth at 128 mph is a thrill seeker’s dream, even if they’re too dazed afterward to remember the journey. The best thing about Kingda Ka is its notorious and hilarious rollbacks. Occurring sporadically every few days, sometimes the ride doesn’t quite reach the summit and rolls backward. Youtube videos of the legendary rollback are bountiful, but seeing it in person is truly a sight to behold.
Nitro will forever be one of best roller coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure. The coaster is high-speed, high-intensity, and incredibly intimidating in the best way. Riding over Nitro’s gigantic arches takes you to speeds of up to 80 mph for more than two minutes of pure thrill. The acceleration is so fast that tears evaporate before streaking the faces of riders. There’s also a wild turn on the track that makes you almost lose consciousness… it’s amazing. Also, Nitro is right next to Congo Rapids, a refreshingly wet mix between a lazy river and bumper cars. Congo Rapid’s waterfalls will certainly bring you back to reality after Nitro’s wicked headrush.
3. El Toro
El Toro is a wooden wonder. Not only are there breakneck drops throughout the whole ride, but its ability to gain momentum is maniacal. Speeds over 70 mph make it the third-fastest wooden coaster in the world. (And one of the top three best roller coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure.) El Toro’s 76-degree drop, one degree shy of the world record for wooden coasters, makes even the bravest rider shake in their boots. Centered in the Mexican-themed area of the park called Plaza del Carnaval, El Toro certainly lives up to its name which translates to ‘The Bull’.
Some Superhero Roller Coasters Are Great
4. Superman: Ultimate Flight
Superman: Ultimate Flight is a roller coaster experience you can’t find anywhere else. Because of the way it’s ridden, it’s classified as a rare ‘flying’ coaster. Passengers board normally, are strapped in, and are then rotated downwards to be parallel to the floor. This gives a whole new point of view when riding. From the way you’re positioned, hanging horizontally feels like you’re soaring like Superman himself. Even though it’s nearing 20 years old, the ride still continues to impress park guests.
Bizarro, previously known as Medusa, is impressively the world’s first floorless coaster. Only adding a purple paint job and giant shooting flames after the ride’s first drop, Bizarro didn’t change much from Medusa. The ride gets a lot of hate because people were expecting an entirely new track, but why fix what isn’t broken? Themed after the DC Comics character of the same name, Bizarro’s funky origin story is told in signs along the line queue. For comic fans, there’s an interesting narrative that plays out over the ride’s speakers about Bizarro attacking Gotham, but it’s hard to pay attention to that between screams.
6. Batman: The Ride
Batman: The Ride, the yellow and black behemoth in the back right section of the park, is usually overlooked. Its semi-hidden location plays a part in that, but also because the ride isn’t exactly groundbreaking anymore. Because it’s right next to the pulse-pounding Nitro coaster, The Batman automatically gives off second place vibes. It also doesn’t help that the coaster sprouts a yellow track that’s darkened eerily over time. Nevertheless, with its few devastating corkscrews and quick twisting tracks, Batman: The Ride does an alright job solidifying Gotham’s savior as a rollercoaster king. It was the world’s first inverted coaster, where guests’ legs hang out from beneath them and the track attaches to their cart from above.
Family-Friendly Can Be Fun Too
7. Skull Mountain
Skull Mountain is a great starter coaster if you’re nervous about riding the rails, as it lands on the lighter side of the intensity index. The whole ride takes place indoors and mostly in darkness, which is perfect for people who are usually intimidated by tall looming rides. Not knowing the swerving track layout may seem scary too, but the 35-foot drop pales in comparison to what else the park has to offer. Its spooky aesthetics, like the eerie cave entryway, are as delightfully cheesy as you’d remember. There used to be heavy metal music to fit the gothic theme, but now EDM and a laser light show have been added as part of the park’s Coaster Power Hour promotion.
8. Runaway Mine Train
So many families have experienced the reliable, yet fun Runaway Mine Train. Since opening in 1972, the ride has remained most kids’ first real roller coaster. The coaster is a scenic track that twists through the treetops, but also has some heart-pumping drops. The last dip towards the lake always brings a nauseous smile to rider’s faces. As old as the park itself, Runaway Mine Train isn’t leaving anytime soon.
You Must Be This Desperate To Ride These
9. The Joker
The Joker looks like a more intense version of the nerve-wracking carnival ride, the Zipper. A ride within a ride, your seats rotate and flip while also maneuvering along a coaster track. This is great for people who love to be disoriented and usually leaves its passengers reaching for a barf bag. One of the newer rides at Six Flags, the swift mechanics make for a fast-paced experience. The Clown Prince of Crime would probably smile for making so many people sick.
10. Green Lantern
The Green Lantern superhero grows stronger through willpower, and that’s exactly what you’ll need to get through this ride. Possibly one of the longest queues in the park, consisting of aggravating metal alleyways that swerve and swivel forever, Green Lantern is not worth waiting for. Although the concept is pretty great, a first-of-its-kind standing coaster, the experience is always physically uncomfortable with awkward ‘seats’. Some fun loop-de-loops help save face for this ride, but Green Lantern is definitely one you could pass over.
11. The Dark Knight Coaster
The Dark Knight Coaster is an indoor, pitch-black coaster that opened in 2009. Riding the popularity Heath Ledger’s “Joker” created, as the film came out just a year prior, park-goers were excited to have a super relevant ride be made. However, the excitement died down when the ride opened its doors to the public.
The Dark Knight Coaster begins with a mini-movie beforehand, delaying riders with comically outdated graphics. Built in the style of the Wild Mouse roller coaster, the ride puts your body through super sharp turns that toss you like a ragdoll into your seatmate. And right at the end, when you’re almost done with the pain of it all, a surprise car horn is blasted in your ears as a final jump scare. The Dark Knight Coaster does not have many fans.
What do you think are the best roller coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo by Olia Nayda