Associate Sports Editor
Pennsylvania is home to a vast collection of roller coasters, and is among the top five states for thrill rides in the country. This sentiment rings true in the number of rides within Pennsylvania as the state boasts over 50 roller coasters. More importantly, Pennsylvanian coasters feature a higher level of quality and upkeep when compared to the rest of the nation. For that reason, an agreeable ranking of these rides can be difficult to produce. None-the-less, these are the ten best roller coasters in the state of Pennsylvania.
10. Hydra the Revenge
Rounding out the bottom of this list is Hydra the Revenge, a floorless steel coaster at Dorney Park. While its sister coaster Talon barely missed a spot on this list, Hydra earns tenth place with its creative layout. Hydra begins with a corkscrew immediately out of the ride station, before heading up the lift hill. Because this corkscrew is taken at such a slow speed, riders experience a lengthy amount of time upside-down. The ride features seven inversions, including an oddly angled cobra roll which provides riders with a unique feeling due to the shape, according to CoasterPedia. This coaster would be higher on the list if it were not for the slight rattle that shakes riders.
9. Steel Curtain
The number nine spot may be a shock to most readers. Steel Curtain at Kennywood holds three impressive records: the tallest inversion in the world at 197 feet, the most inversions “loops/twists” in North America at 9, and tallest roller coaster in Pennsylvania at 220 feet according to Roller Coaster DataBase. Those statistics alone would make this one of the best coasters in the country on paper, so why is it near the bottom of this list? A myriad of small yet notable complaints can be made about Steel Curtain. To start, the setting is quite boring. The ride does provide a spectacular view of Kennywood at the top of the lift hill, but after riders take the first drop Steel Curtain does not stray from its confined concrete plot of land. The ride also has a slight rattle, below par restraints, and is obnoxiously loud. While this coaster is amazing, the slew of concerns bumps it down several pegs.
8. Great Bear
Hersheypark is home to a handful of world class coasters, and Great Bear is the first of many to appear on this top ten. Unlike the previous mention on this list, Great Bear appears mild on paper. The ride only has four inversions across a relatively short amount of track. However unlike the previous mention on this list, Great Bear has arguably the best setting in Pennsylvania. The ride grazes over and around a river, trees, footpaths, and other coasters in the park. Even the most timid of riders can appreciate the beautiful setting of Great Bear.
Fahrenheit is a crowd favorite at Hershey, and consistently has the longest lines in the park. This steel coaster headlines a 90 degree vertical lift hill, with a beyond vertical drop of 97 degrees (the Hersheypark website mentions that this was a world record when it opened). The ride then enters a Norwegian loop, described by Roller Coaster DataBase as a double inverting loop with a shape similar to that of a pretzel. Afterwards Fahrenheit speeds riders through a cobra roll, two corkscrews, and an intense air-time hill. Though the ride is only 121 feet tall, and has a short layout, it packs a punch for even the most seasoned coaster riders.
6. Ravine Flyer II
The first wooden roller coaster to appear on this list is also the only coaster from Waldameer Park to appear on this list. Ravine Flyer II won the title of Best New Ride in 2008 from the Golden Ticket Awards (the most notable and prestigious amusement park award ceremony). Ravine Flyer II has also been ranked among the top 10 wooden roller coasters by the Golden Ticket Awards for the past decade. Ravine Flyer II has an impressive layout as riders traverse over a busy highway twice before the ride is over. Though the ride restraints can be uncomfortable, there are few complaints that can be made about this coaster otherwise.
5. Storm Runner
Hersheypark returns on this list with Storm Runner. This launched steel coaster sends riders to a speed of 72 mph in just two seconds. The ride features Flying Snake Dive, described as a corkscrew followed by a half corkscrew that immediately dives in a different direction, according to CoasterPedia. In fact, Storm Runner is the only roller coaster in the world to feature this specific element. For those reasons Storm Runner is one of the best launched roller coasters in the country regardless of its incredibly short layout. One of the only negative things that can be said about this roller coaster is that it will be closed for the entirety of 2020.
4. Phantom’s Revenge
Phantom’s Revenge at Kennywood is a remodeled steel coaster. The ride originally opened up as Steel Phantom in 1991. However the ride was redesigned and partially rebuilt in 2001, renamed Phantom’s Revenge. This ride was popularized for its second drop being taller than the first, according to CoasterPedia. After a 160 foot first drop the coaster travels up a hill where riders plummet a staggering 228 feet down the second drop. Phantom’s Revenge has been considered by park goers the best coaster at Kennywood since it opened. While the recent addition of Steel Curtain has given Phantom’s Revenge some competition in the park, the ride proves that you don’t have to break records to be the best.
Skyrush at Hersheypark is possibly the most polarizing roller coaster in the world. Riders either love or hate this ride, and that is entirely due to the restraints. The restraints on Skyrush are without a doubt horrible. They dig into your thighs and feel as though they are cutting off blood flow to your legs. However, some people can look past them and enjoy the amazingly intense layout. Skyrush crushes riders in their seat, and then lifts them out of it with phenomenal ejector air-time. There is no question that this would be a top ten roller coaster in the world if the restraints were better; however this only places third in Pennsylvania because of said restraints.
Though Phoenix is the only roller coaster from Knoebels Amusement Resort to find a spot on this list, it deserves the number two spot hands down. This wooden coaster was originally built in 1947 for Playland Park, but after the park closed Knoebels purchased the ride in 1985. The simple layout of Phoenix uses countless air-time hills that lift riders out of their seat (in part thanks to the wonderful restraints). Phoenix has also won the Golden Ticket Award for Best Wooden Coaster twice. This coaster stands the test of time due to the tremendous upkeep that Knoebels dedicates to Phoenix. For that reason this ride remains spectacular over 70 years later.
The newest addition to Hersheypark is not only the best roller coaster throughout the park, but the best roller coaster throughout all of Pennsylvania. Despite the weak name for the ride, Candymonium is a monster of a roller coaster. The coaster is the tallest, fastest, and longest at Hersheypark with a height of 210 feet, speed of 76 mph, and length of 4,636 feet, according to Roller Coaster DataBase. This coaster is also the smoothest ride in Pennsylvania. The restraints are extremely comfortable as the seats feature a lap-bar shaped to contour comfortably around the thighs. The roller coaster has no rattle and guests float in their seats during the air-time hills. Candymonium travels through the forested valley of the park, which adds to the graceful and delightful nature of this roller coaster. Additionally the candy and chocolate theme of this ride is executed phenomenally, as the queue lines and loading station have a fascinating, Hershey themed look to them. Candymonium belongs to an elite class of roller coasters that are near flawless, few of which exist in the world.