This country seriously knows what they are doing when it comes rollercoasters, drop towers, and pendulum rides, and I had to find out for myself.
After securing cheap flights across the Atlantic, I went on a quest to find the scariest, adrenaline fuelling rides that the country had to offer, to see if all of the hype and expectation lived up its reputation.
Six Flags Great Adventure Park
My adventure began in the town of Jackson, New Jersey, where I visited the infamous Six Flags Great Adventure Park. I knew I had to go to a Six Flags, my movie memories told me so, but I didn’t realise what I thought was one of tamer amusement parks on my list would end up being one of the most hair-raising.
Six Flags New Jersey was easy to get to, and thankfully it wasn’t by rollercoaster. My cheap fare landed me at Newark Liberty International Airport, where I picked up a hire car (opportunity for an affiliate link to specific Hire Car Company) and drove only sixty minutes to the park.
This particular Six Flags, there are quite a lot scattered across the country, has three rides deemed the most exhilarating, the El Toro Rollercoaster, the Kingda Ka, and the Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth. I decided on the rollercoaster; as lining up for my seat, I quickly wondered what I had got myself into. Staring at the wooden construct, the El Toro, which translates to ‘bull’, looked harmless with its antique style façade. Don’t let this ride fool you; travelling over 110km per hour, I felt every inch of the air time, lifting me out of my seat too many times to count.
My next stop was Ohio to meet the Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point. Just outside of Cleveland, I took the hire car on the eight-hour drive, arriving at the beautiful Cedar Point theme park and hotel. Overlooking the beautiful Lake Erie, this theme park is so much more than I thought. With rides for all ages, places to eat and beautiful accommodation, I could see myself staying for a while.
After much-needed rest and a large glass of wine, I secured my ticket to one of the fastest rollercoasters ever made. The ride claimed to go from still to 190km in just 3.8 seconds. Well, put it this way, it did just that, but as quickly as I found myself at the top of the ride, 420 feet in the air I’m told, there I was hurtling down it at a 270-degree angle, what felt like plummeting to the bottom. It was safe to say the Top Thrill Dragster was everything I imagined, and that was only one of many rollercoasters and rides at Cedar Point. I wasn’t even scratching the surface of thrills.
When I was leaving Ohio, someone mentioned to me about a ride in Virginia, and I remember it distinctly because of the name, the Intimidator 305. Surely a name like that had to be worth the hysteria. I dropped off the hire car at the airport and picked up a cheap domestic fare to Virginia, before making my way to Doswell at Kings Dominion, the theme park where the Intimidator is homed.
What I quickly discovered was Kings Dominion and Cedar Point were a part of the same group of theme parks, so the season pass I picked up in Ohio worked here too. I felt like I was being financially conscious on this trip, saving on airfares and now entry passes, and I was still getting my thrills.
As I entered the park, I felt that same trepidation I had felt before every other ride, but surprisingly somewhat more confident. I think I was becoming an adrenaline professional, either that or I had invested in better throat lozenges. After grabbing my obligatory hot dog, I wandered through the park, past the hotel and restaurants, until I found the Intimidator, stupidly wondering what all of the fuss was about.
It turns out this rollercoaster has a 300 feet drop, at an 85-degree angle, which is essentially a straight line. There are no words to describe the complete fear and exhilaration I felt as the mechanism reach its peak, stall for a second and made its speedy descent. This ride completely lived up to its name.
By this time, I had been thrown around on sky-high rollercoasters, travelled unimaginable speeds and discovered half the country without breaking the bank. While I know I only scraped the surface of what the US has to offer in the way of theme parks, with the cheap airfares and the multi-park passes available, it's safe to say I will be back before I know it.