With Dollywood’s Lightning Rod just days from opening, it feels the right time to take a step back and recognize some of the best wooden roller coasters in the world today. GCI, Intamin, Gravity Group and Rocky Mountain Construction are the primary manufacturers of wooden roller coasters today. They build upon the designs of the past from legendary ride designers such as John Miller, Harry Traver and Herb Schmeck. These are the wooden roller coasters we believe distinguish themselves from the rest:
Honorable Mention: Gold Striker at California’s Great America
Would it be built, wouldn’t it be built? For a while there, we weren’t sure what was to come at California’s Great America. Fortunately this ride was built, and it definitely is a hit. Built by GCI in 2013, this ride packs a great punch. Gold Striker contains sound shields around its first couple drops to keep the noise of screaming riders inside the park and not in the business parks it sits besides.
10: Wodan Timburcoaster at Europa Park
While some of the wooden coasters later in this list may be more thrilling, none is more themed than Wodan. Built by GCI, Wodan is a short, but thrilling ride. What sets it apart is its interaction with Nordic scenary, its immaculate station complete with flythrough and a fairytale queue.
9 : Raven at Holiday World
This former Golden Ticket Award winner for best wooden coaster still holds a special place in many coaster enthusiast’s hearts. Built by CCI, the Raven is a terrain coaster that does not let up as it dives you in and out of a valley beside Lake Rudolph.
8: Phoenix at Knoebels
Dubbed by some as the perfect ride, Phoenix contains maybe the most floater airtime of any ride in the world. This ride was designed by Herb Schmeck and originally built in Playland Park in San Antonio. Knoebels rescued the ride and the rest is history. On this ride, you will find yourself more often out of your seat than in.
7: Beast at Kings Island
The Beast, perhaps, may be the most notable wooden coaster. Designed by Kings Island in house, this wooden coaster is the longest in the world. It contains several tunnels, two lift hills, and a signature double helix finale during its course through the Maumee river valley.
6: Thunderhead at Dollywood
Thunderhead is GCI’s gem. This wooden twister set in the heart of the smoky mountains was the first ride to contain a station fly-through mid course.
5: Ravine Flyer II at Waldameer Park
Ravine Flyer II was another ride that was in the works for seemingly a decade, in fact, Ravine Flyer 3 came before it. The wait did not disappoint. This CCI masterpiece crosses a bridge across the Presque Isle entry road twice.
4: Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City
Let’s face it, everything RMC is touching is turning out amazing! Outlaw Run was their first custom wooden coaster layout and they did not go for something simple. Outlaw Run has gone and done what Son of Beast before it could not, successfully add inversions to a wooden coaster, and not just any inversion… a double barrel roll!
3: El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure
Intamin’s prefab track changed the wooden coaster game. El Toro provides possibly the smoothest wooden roller coaster experience ever. Add a cable lift (think Skyrush and Millennium Force) and relentless ejector airtime and you get this ride. Very easily this ride could have been #1.
2: Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce
Boulder Dash is a terrain wooden coaster that is built entirely onto a cliff. Boulder Dash sets itself apart from the rest based on its unique layout and awesome airtime.
1: The Voyage at Holiday World
No ride touches the Voyage in terms of airtime, excitement, and intensity. This ride goes underground 8 times on its 1.2 mile course. The Voyage’s signature elements are a spaghetti bowl and a triple down after its mid course brake. This is the one ride you absolutely need to ride at night.