If dropping through the air from a dizzying height at 60 mph or better is your idea of a good time, your decision to choose the Garden State as your base of operations was a wise one. At latest count, there are 44 roller coasters inducing near-cardiac arrest across New Jersey, according to the Roller Coaster Data Base. That puts the state in the fifth spot when it comes to ways to scare yourself witless, tied with New York and behind California, Pennsylvania, Florida and Texas.
But you can do more than flood your body with adrenaline and cortisol in New Jersey; you can do so in high (pun intended) style. Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township boasts Kingda Ka, the tallest and fastest coaster in North America. It accelerates from 0 mph to 128 mph up a 90-degree climb in 3.5 seconds, and when it hits the top of the hump (450 feet) plunges back down into a 270-degree spiral. Six Flags has thoughtfully provided a front-seat POV video. Don’t be embarrassed if you close your eyes.
Six Flags in Cream Ridge has just cut the tape on a new coaster that claims three titles. The Jersey Devil is the world’s longest (3,000 feet), tallest (130 feet) and fastest (58 mph) single-rail roller coaster. (In a single-rail setup, passengers sit in a row rather than side by side.)
The highlight of the experience for coaster aficionado Taylor Bybee? The Zero-G stall, which flips riders upside down and briefly holds them in that position. As to why you don’t fall out of a car when it’s upside down: inertia — resistance against a change in direction. It keeps you pressed against the bottom of the car with a force stronger than gravity.
Of course, you’ve only begun your journey into terror. There are another 40-plus coasters to check out.
GaleForce! at Playland’s Castaway Cove reaches 64 mph as it climbs 125 feet and then plummets in a beyond-90-degree drop.
Don’t let its cartoonish name lull you into a decidedly false sense of security, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (TMNJ) Shellraiser boasts a vertical drop at an angle of 121.5 degrees, the steepest of any roller coaster in the world. This indoor scream machine, located at Nickelodeon Universe American Dream in East Rutherford, tops out at 62 mph and features seven inversions — when the cars flip over completely. Listen carefully to the video: Is that woman really saying, “I wanna die”?
The Great Nor’Easter at Morey’s Piers in Wildwood is a suspended looping roller coaster, which means the cars hang from the track rather than ride on it. The “advantage” to this approach is that the cars can sway from side to side. Presumably they can do so during the coaster’s five inversions. Just keep telling yourself, “inertia, inertia, inertia …”
If your need for speed remains unfulfilled, Canobie Coaster has posted a YouTube video that rates his Top 25 coasters in New Jersey.
In order to gain true coaster cred, it’s not enough just to ride these beasts. You’ve got to learn the lingo. Hills and curves won’t cut it; you need to be conversant with headchoppers, batwings, sea serpents, bent Cuban eights and (our personal favorite) demon knots.
If you’re eager to share the shivery details of your brush with death, we’ll be at the water park. In the kiddie pool.