Ride a Rip-Roaring Roller Coaster

Seeking steep thrills? Look no further than these five knockout options.

roller coaster

Illustration by Annelise Capossela

[MORE: Your Ultimate Guide to Summer Fun in New Jersey]

For a small state, New Jersey has had a big impact on roller coaster history. Many records have been broken here, perhaps most famously with the opening of Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in 2005. As the tallest coaster in the world, Kingda Ka practically scrapes the sky at 456 feet. It was the fastest coaster in the world when it opened, too; now it must settle for fastest coaster in North America.

This year, New Jersey’s reputation as a thrill-ride capital will be further cemented by Six Flags’ long-awaited Jersey Devil Coaster. Poised to be the world’s tallest, fastest and longest single-rail coaster, it will feature a 130-foot hill climb, a top speed of 58 mph, and 3,000 feet of track. In anticipation of this addition to New Jersey’s impressive lineup of coasters, we’ve put together a list of the biggest and baddest in the state.

Nitro

Six Flags Great Adventure · Jackson

Before there was Kingda Ka, there was Nitro. When it first opened in 2001, Nitro was the fastest roller coaster in New Jersey and the tallest on the East Coast. The 230-foot lift hill makes for a strong first impression. On a clear day, riders can see Philadelphia from the crest. Riders then plummet 215 feet, reaching a top speed of 80 mph.

1 Six Flags Boulevard, 732-928-2000

The Great Nor’Easter

Morey’s Piers · Wildwood

With a 95-foot drop and a top speed of 55 mph, the Great Nor’Easter certainly lives up to its name. This steel inverted coaster opened on Morey’s Surfside Pier in 1995. The Nor’Easter has been upgraded twice over the years; first in 2008, when Freedom Seats were added for comfort, and again in 2016, when 90 percent of the track was replaced—all in the pursuit of a smoother (and faster) ride.

3501 Boardwalk, 609-729-3700

Sea Serpent

Morey’s Piers · Wildwood

When it debuted in 1984, Sea Serpent was the country’s first boomerang-style coaster. It is located on Morey’s Mariner’s Pier, along with the Giant Wheel, another Morey’s icon. The ride begins with a tense, 30-second, backwards climb up the first 116-foot lift hill. After that, it’s three inversions going forwards, a ride up the second lift hill, and the same three inversions again—this time, backwards.

3501 Boardwalk, 609-729-3700

Hydrus

Casino Pier · Seaside Heights

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy famously swept Casino Pier’s Jet Star coaster out to sea. Its replacement, Hydrus, was built on the beach instead of the pier to prevent a similar fate. It is the sixth of German manufacturer Gerstlauer’s Euro-Fighter coasters in the U.S. and the first Model 320. Like other Euro-Fighters, it features a 97-degree, beyond-vertical drop. Our advice: Hold on to your hat.

800 Ocean Terrace, 732-793-6488

TMNT Shellraiser

Nickelodeon Universe at American Dream · East Rutherford

When it opened in 2019, TMNT Shellraiser grabbed the world record for steepest roller coaster. Shellraiser drops riders 138 feet at an angle of 121.5 degrees. Before taking the plunge, it briefly stops at the top of the lift hill, giving riders a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline (and a chance to catch their collective breath).

1 American Dream Way, 833-263-7326

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