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Roller coasters are not for everyone. But for those who love the stomach-dropping, wind-whipping, heart-stopping thrill, there is nothing like a ride on a coaster. The excitement can be shared by parents and kids, and the thrills keep getting better, as coaster designers try to outdo each other. Here are some of the country’s top rides:
- Raging Bull has been a huge hit ever since it opened in 1999 at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill., as the world’s first hyper-twister roller coaster. With an elevation of 200 feet and a length of almost a mile, riders reach 73 mph during the 2½ minute ride. You can save money by buying your ticket online or taking advantage of one of the many promotions offered by the park. You can also buy a season ticket.
- Millennium Force made history when it was unveiled in 2000 at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. The steel coaster towers over the park with a high point of 310 feet and reaches a top speed of 93 mph. It has 6,595 feet of track, covering three hills (310, 169 and 182 feet tall), two tunnels and two 122-degree turns. Since it opened, about 12 million people have ridden Millennium Force. You can buy a daily pass, and discounts and multi-day passes are available.
- Storm Runner in HersheyPark in Hershey, Pa., is a launched roller coaster that goes from 0 to 72 mph in about 2 seconds. It goes 150 feet up a nearly vertical incline, then goes down about 180 feet at a nearly 90-degree angle. The 2,600-foot ride lasts only about a minute, but fans say it is one of the most exciting minutes of their lives. One-day, multi-day and season passes are available.
- The Kentucky Rumbler, in Beech Bend Park, Bowling Green, Ky., drew lots of attention and praise when it opened in 2006, because it was one of the few new wooden coasters being built. The ride is 2,827 feet long, with a maximum elevation of 96 feet. The coaster reaches a top speed of 50 mph. Beech Bend Park has been in operation since 1898, and in addition to the amusement park that houses the Kentucky Rumbler, the park includes a raceway, water park and campground. There is an admission charge to enter the park, and rides can be paid for individually or by purchasing a daily armband.
- Superman: Ride of Steel has been ranked as one of the world’s best steel roller coasters ever since it opened in 2000 at Six Flags New England in Springfield, Mass. The ride goes up 20 stories and reaches a top speed of 77 mph. You can save by buying your pass online or by buying a season pass.
- Ghost Rider, at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., has been called the best wooden roller coaster in the west. Its 4,533 feet of track is made of southern yellow pine to blend in with the Ghost Town theme of the park. A single chain-driven lift raises the cars, which look like mining cars, up the first hill, and gravity takes over from there. Riders reach a maximum speed of 56 mph as they go over three bridges and up (and down) 14 hills during the two-minute ride.