12 of the Tallest and Scariest Roller Coasters in Pennsylvania

Happy Travelers, get ready for some of the best rides of your life on these scream-worthy Pennsylvania coasters, most of which are Golden Ticket award winners and all of which are guaranteed to leave you breathless! With more roller coasters rated in the top 100 than any other state or nation, Pennsylvania just might be considered “coaster central.”

1. Steel Curtain

Kennywood, West Mifflin

Type: Steel

Height: 220 feet

Speed: 76 mph

Length: 4,000 feet

Inversions: 9

Ride Duration: 2 minute

The long-awaited Steel Curtain is finally here! Kennywood and the Pittsburgh Steelers have collaborated to bring adrenaline seekers the tallest roller coaster in Pennsylvania. At a maximum height of 220 feet, the colossal steel structure of the coaster is an incredible addition to the park and a high-energy entry point welcoming guests to Steelers Country. Riders will speed through 4,000 feet of track at 76 miles per hour while navigating through nine inversions (a North American record for most inversions) – including the world’s tallest at 197 feet above the ground!

2. Leap-the-Dips

Lakemont Park, Altoona

Type: Wood – Side friction

Height: 41 feet

Speed: 10 mph

Length: 1,452 feet

Inversions: 0

Ride Duration: 1 minute

Dedicated roller coaster enthusiasts (and even those who aren’t) will want to journey to Lakemont Park in Altoona this summer for the park’s reopening of Leap-the-Dips, the world’s oldest roller coaster, America's last side friction roller coaster still in operation, and a National Historic Landmark.

3. Skyrush

Hersheypark, Hershey

Type: Steel

Height: 200 feet

Speed: 75 mph

Length: 3,600 feet

Inversions: 0

Ride Duration: 1 minute, 3 seconds

Known as the tallest and fastest roller coaster at Hersheypark, this ride is not for the faint of heart! First, you’re propelled up 200 feet of track in just 10 seconds. Next, you crest the hill and plunge down the nearly vertical 85 degrees at 75 mph with forces equal to five Gs. The “ejector airtime” will surely give you the thrill like no other. If that doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping, the next series of four fast, high-banked turns and five airtime hills will, especially for those sitting in the “wing seats.” These seats extend over the edge of the track, are floorless, and are guaranteed to leave you screaming as you realize you’re essentially hanging in mid-air.

4. Thunderbolt

Kennywood, West Mifflin

Type: Wooden

Height: 70 feet

Speed: 55 mph

Length: 3,250 feet

Inversions: 0

Ride Duration: 1 minute, 48 seconds

As you climb aboard Thunderbolt, you might be tempted to expect the usual coaster ride where you exit the station, climb up the steepest hill, then zoom down to gain momentum for the rest of the ride’s tricks and turns. Not this time! Instead of going up, you’re immediately plunging down into a 40?foot ravine. Roaring up the ravine’s other side, the ride makes a sharp right-hand turn and then you’re climbing one of a series of hills — each larger than the one before and saving the best for last with a nearly 100-foot drop!

5. Steel Force

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Allentown

Type: Steel

Height: 205 feet

Speed: 75 mph

Length: 5,600 feet

Inversions: 0

Ride Duration: 3 minutes

Once recognized as one of the best steel roller coasters in the world, you will feel the “force” through this white-knuckle maze with a 205-foot drop, two mystifying tunnels, and dips and turns with speeds reaching 75 miles per hour. At three minutes, Steel Force has the longest ride of any coaster in the region.

6. Phantom’s Revenge

Kennywood, West Mifflin

Type: Steel

Height: 160 feet

Speed: 85 mph

Length: 3,365 feet

Inversions: 0

Ride Duration: 1 minute, 45 seconds

Climb aboard Phantom’s Revenge (if you dare!) and get ready to go faster than you’re legally allowed on any Pennsylvania highway! But first, prepare to climb, and climb, and then climb some more past the treetops until you’re perched 160 feet in the air with a true bird’s eye view of the park and surrounding area. Next, you’re screaming down and around the track at 85 mph, hurtling through other rides in some “headchopper” moments, thrown into laterals, and plummeted down into one of the park’s steep ravines, all while enjoying some serious airtime on the ride’s many hills and wondering if your adrenaline rush will ever wear off!

7. Fahrenheit

Hersheypark, Hershey

Height: 121 feet

Speed: 58 mph

Length: 2,700 feet

Inversions: 6

Ride Duration: 1 minute, 25 seconds

Fahrenheit’s claim to fame is the 97-degree first drop. The looping roller coaster ascends 90 degrees, 121-foot lift before plummeting down for a memorable drop. Ready for more? The coaster’s packed layout features six inversions and plenty of airtime. The Norwegian Loop, Cobra Roll, and Double Corkscrew will keep your head spinning for days.

8. Hydra the Revenge

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Allentown

Type: Steel

Height: 105 feet

Speed: 53 mph

Length: 3,198 feet

Inversions: 7

Ride Duration: 2 minutes, 35 seconds

The floor drops, the front gate opens, and the ride is deceptively slow for the first several feet and you begin to wonder, just what is so scream-worthy about this ride. Just then, you’re launched through a 360-degree Jojo Roll. Then, with just enough time to calm your nerves and close your mouth, you’re climbing a 95-foot hill and six more crazy rolls — just passing inches above the boulder-strewn ground. How are your screaming abilities and coaster mettle, now? Congratulations for surviving Hydra’s more than half mile of coiling steel!

9. Ravine Flyer II

Waldameer & WaterWorld, Erie

Type: Wood-Steel Hybrid

Height: 85 feet

Speed: 60 mph

Length: 2,900 feet

Inversions: 0

Ride Duration: 1 minute, 30 seconds

Ravine Flyer II made quite the debut in 2008, winning Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket award for the world’s Best New Ride. It’s no wonder: this hybrid coaster has almost everything adrenaline aficionados crave: speed, hills with plenty of out-of-your-seat airtime, great track-banking curves and turns — and, if that’s not enough — six darkened tunnels and a 165-foot-long arched bridge that sends you flying over a four-lane highway below — guaranteed to get you smiling and screaming!

10. Phoenix

Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg

Type: Wooden

Length: 3,200 feet

Inversions: 0

Ride Duration: 2 minutes

Don’t be fooled and think this is a tame ride. It’s anything but, offering some of the best airtime you’ll find on any coaster — the reason why coaster enthusiasts from across the globe have rated the Phoenix the second-best wooden roller coaster in the world. With its “double out and back” layout, this classic Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster shoots up and then plunges down hills of different sizes, whips through horseshoe curves, and offers the sensation of almost continuous airtime, delivering a ride that’s definitely scream-worthy!

11. Storm Runner

Hersheypark, Hershey

Type: Steel

Height: 180 feet

Speed: 72 mph

Length: 2,600 feet

Inversions: 3

Ride Duration: 1 minute

Are you ready for speed? The Storm Runner will launch you from 0-72 mph in two seconds flat. Before you even know what happened, you are shot up the 150-foot-tall “top hat” element providing some airtime and then straight down 180 feet. Next, the coaster climbs and rolls left into the “Cobra Loop” followed by several other rolls before hitting on the magnetic breaks and jerking the riders forward at a complete stop. Breathless? So are we!

12. Blue Streak

Conneaut Lake Park, Conneaut Lake

Type: Wooden

Height: 77 feet

Speed: 50 mph

Length: 2,900 feet

Inversions: 0

Ride Duration: 2 minutes, 20 seconds

The Blue Streak is 80 years young this year and has been described by some as “charming” with its simple out and back design, but don’t be fooled thinking this grand dame of Pennsylvania coasters offers a quiet, genteel ride. Blue Streak is just waiting to show you how she can still keep up with those youngster coasters and deliver quite the thrill-packed, scream-worthy ride with some decent airtime. Who ever thought an 80-year-old (coaster) could be this fast and exciting?

Coaster lingo for the budding enthusiasts:

G-force: An abbreviation for gravitational force a measurement of the type of acceleration that causes a perception of weight.
Negative g-force (aka airtime): Is experienced when you accelerate downwards faster than the rate of natural freefall, often resulting in a feeling of weightlessness.
Golden Ticket: Each year, the Golden Ticket Awards ranks the best steel and wooden roller coasters in the world. The awards are presented by Amusement Today, is a monthly periodical featuring news on amusement parks and rides. They rely on a panel of voters from all around the world consisting of experienced park enthusiasts.
Inversion: A roller coaster element in which the track turns riders upside-down and then returns them to an upright position.
Jojo roll: The Jojo roll at Dorney Park is the first-ever pre-lift hill inversion where riders twist upside-down after exiting the launch station.

Want more coaster action? Check out the 40+ roller coasters at Pennsylvania’s Amusement Parks Association website, which are geared to all ages and thrill levels. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to never miss an update and sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter.

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