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This is the second year for the poll and participation was substantially higher than 2017, with the number of ballots increasing by 47% over last year. Many thanks to the 169 people who sent in their ballots and a big shout-out to the Friends of ElloCoaster sites who helped get the word out and supported us this year.
Thanks again this year to Grant Barker, who kept the tabulation code working and made a few welcome tweaks to the overall workings.
The voter pool was spread out over the globe again this year:
The voters were also fairly well-traveled again this year as well. The average number of wood coasters ridden was 46.5 - a pretty healthy number, considering the increasing scarcity of wood coasters. The world gained four new woodies in 2018, but it also lost four woodies. Several voters actually had their ballots decrease in size between 2017-2018 due to the defunct coasters being removed. Here’s the breakdown of the number of wood coasters each voter had on their ballots:
Here are the Top 25 Wood Coasters in the World, 2018 edition.
#25 Tremors - Silverwood, Idaho, USA
Tremors burst onto the scene just before the turn of the millennium and it’s still getting rave reviews. Steep drops, wicked turns, and a plunge through a gift shop are just some of the thrills in store for riders.
#24 Wodan Timburcoaster - EuropaPark, Germany
Perfectly straddling the tightrope of “thrilling enough for enthusiasts, but tame enough for the masses”, Wodan Timburcoaster is one of those rides that makes you giggle and run back around for another ride. The fact that it lives at EuropaPark, often considered one of the best amusement parks on earth, doesn’t hurt its appeal, either.
#23 Shivering Timbers - Michigan’s Adventure, Michigan, USA
Many wooden coasters can be considered twisters, full of tight corners and rapid changes of direction. Not so with Shivering Timbers. One steep drop after another with floaty camelback crests keep riders happy for what seems like miles of track before finally turning around for the hilly trip back home. No-frills wood coaster goodness!
#22 Prowler - Worlds of Fun, Missouri, USA
Prowler is hidden back in the woods in the Africa section of Worlds of Fun. Until you’re on it, you have no idea what it’s going to do, and by then it’s too late to change your mind. If you really want to push your limits, hop on board at night for one of the best pitch-black coaster rides in the world.
#21 Wooden Coaster Fireball - Happy Valley Shanghai, China
The first modern wood coaster in China is still one of the best. Happy Valley’s game-changer created a frenzy in China and suddenly every park wanted one of their own. Intense, crazy fun.
#20 Mine Blower - Fun Spot America, Florida, USA
Wood coasters are surprisingly rare in Florida, given how many parks exist in the state. Quality outranks quantity, though, as evidenced by the inclusion of Mine Blower in the Top 25. Don’t let the size fool you, this thing is wild.
#19 Gold Striker - California’s Great America, California, USA
Gold Striker combines relentless pacing, quick direction changes, and lots of tunnels to disorient and thrill its riders.
#18 Boardwalk Bullet - Kemah Boardwalk, Texas, USA
Boardwalk Bullet is longer, taller, and faster than it looks from the ground. Folded in on itself multiple times and crammed into a tiny L-shaped plot of land on Galveston Bay, this waterside woodie packs a punch. A wicked first drop leads to a blur of track stacked on itself with more crossovers than any coaster on earth. Get the full story here.
#17 Troy - Toverland, The Netherlands
The Netherlands’ highest-ranked wood coaster has been thrilling riders since 2007 with its wild and convoluted layout. Well worth a visit to Toverland.
#16 Renegade - Valleyfair!, Minnesota, USA
Since it’s a Great Coasters International design, you’d expect Renegade to be full of tight turns, quick direction changes, and relentless pacing… and you’d be right on all counts.
#15 Goliath - Six Flags Great America, Illinois, USA
With its innovative minimalist steel structure, insanely steep first drop, zero-G upside-down “stall”, and other craziness, Goliath redefined what a wood-tracked coaster can do.
#14 Rampage - Alabama Splash Adventure, Alabama, USA
There is a short list of things that every coaster lover should do at least once in their lives. Riding the back seat of Rampage after a heavy rain is one of those things. Trust me.
#13 Balder - Liseberg, Sweden
One of only four Intamin brand “plug-and-play” coasters made with computer-cut prefabricated rails (only three of which are currently operating), Balder is known for its butter-smooth ride while still delivering insane airtime, tunnels, and steeply-banked turns.
#12 Coaster - Playland at the PNE, British Columbia, Canada
While Ontario and Quebec often steal the Canadian coaster spotlight with their giant collections of steel coasters, you shouldn’t overlook the west coast for coaster thrills in the Great White North. Playland’s Coaster runs exactly as it has since 1958 with handbrakes, classic trains, and genuinely terrifying airtime. Get the whole story here.
#11 Ravine Flyer II - Waldameer, Pennsylvania, USA
A spectacular view of Lake Erie from the top of Ravine Flyer II’s lift is just the first treat in store for riders on this masterpiece. Airtime, crossing a road (twice!), a turn banked at 90 degrees, and quick pacing draw thrill seekers to this coaster every year.
#10 Mystic Timbers - Kings Island, Ohio, USA
The newest coaster at Kings Island is smallish in stature compared to other coasters in the park, but many consider it to be the best of the bunch. That’s no small feat for a coaster in a park full of iconic rides.
#9 Cú Chulainn - Tayto Park, Ireland
Ireland was without a major coaster until 2015, but it was worth the wait. Named for an Irish hero of legend, Cú Chulainn is relentless, full of surprises, and definitely worthy of booking a trip to the Emerald Isle.
#8 Phoenix - Knoebel’s Amusement Resort, Pennsylvania, USA
The oldest coaster in the Top 25, Phoenix began life as The Rocket in San Antonio, Texas, where it ran from 1948 - 1980. Knoebel’s purchased it, numbered each board, then moved it to Pennsylvania and reassembled it, re-opening it in 1985 with the appropriate moniker “Phoenix.” The success of this move changed the industry forever, as it proved that relocating a wood coaster was not only possible, but would provide a smaller park a cost-effective means of owning a world-class coaster. This new paradigm saved many classic woodies from certain doom. Even without that significance, Phoenix stands on its own as a seriously great ride in one of the country’s best classic parks.
#7 Boulder Dash - Lake Compounce, Connecticut, USA
Clinging to the side of a mountain, buried in the trees, most of Boulder Dash is completely hidden from view. Only when the trains make the final turn into a series of short bunny hops back to the station will park patrons see the coaster do its thing. What lurks back in the woods is some of the most thrilling, fast-paced coaster track in the world, taking riders on an incredible journey with no let-up from start to finish.
#6 Lightning Rod - Dollywood, Tennessee, USA
Dollywood is laid-back, charming, quaint, and absolutely appropriate for everyone in the family. Lightning Rod is none of those things. The world’s fastest wood coaster is also arguably the most intense wood coaster ever built, pushing the envelope of airtime, speed, G-forces, and insanity. The launched lift hill, the steep drops, and the quadruple drop near the end are already legendary. See what all the fuss is about with the full story and video here.
#5 The Voyage - Holiday World, Indiana, USA
Three enormous camelback hills. Eight underground tunnels. Three 90-degree banked turns. A ridiculous 24.2 seconds of combined airtime. Nearly 70mph top speed. The stats don’t even begin to describe what awaits you on this Voyage, however. By the time this thing hits the final brakes, you’re literally exhausted from adrenaline and G-forces. Totally worth it. Get the full story here.
#4 Outlaw Run - Silver Dollar City, Missouri, USA
“The World’s Most Daring Wood Coaster” as it was advertised upon its opening in 2013 is still one of the best in the world. The park touted its first-ever-for-a-woodie double corkscrew as its signature move, but that’s just one tiny piece of a layout that contains some of the most mind-blowing wood coaster acrobatics anywhere. See the full article here.
#3 T-Express - Everland, South Korea
Perhaps you don’t think of South Korea when you go in search of world-class wood coasters. Perhaps you should. Intamin’s “plug-and-play” track allows an incredibly intense coaster to also be incredibly smooth - and with this being one of only three Plug-and-Play coasters in operation anywhere in the world, Everland’s wicked machine should be on your bucket list.
#2 El Toro - Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey, USA
With El Toro, we see all three of Intamin’s “plug-and-play” coasters make the Top 25. It begins with spectacular, steep, airtime-laden hills and ends with a twisting, zig-zag finale hidden from view. Spoiler alert: the best moment of the ride happens between those two sections. You’ve been warned.
#1 Wildfire - Kolmården, Sweden
For the second year in a row, ElloCoaster readers voted Kolmården’s Wildfire as the best wood coaster in the world. Breakneck speeds, smooth transitions, relentless intensity, disorienting inversions, and a spectacular hillside setting give riders a truly one-of-a-kind coaster experience.
You probably noticed the same coaster companies popping up over and over. Here’s how the makeup of the Top 25 breaks down by manufacturer:
It should be noted that all four of the existing Rocky Mountain Construction wood “topper track” coasters and all three of the Intamin “plug-and-play” coasters in operation made it into the Top 25. It should also be noted that The Gravity Group’s percentage of the Top 25 would be much higher if more of their coasters in China had gotten the minimum number of riders to make the cutoff. Those voters who have ridden them tended to rank them very highly and five of them would’ve landed in the Top 25.
Speaking of The Gravity Group, have a look at the Top 50 in the chart above, noting the listings in yellow. In addition to having several world-class coasters in the Top 25, there are three small family-friendly coasters in the top 50: Oscar’s Wacky Taxi, Twister, and Wooden Warrior. While one could make an argument against Twister being a kid’s coaster, its top speed of just 38mph plants it squarely in the kid-accessible category. The other two are designed specifically for kid-friendly parks. The fact that such small rides are good enough to make the Top 50 wood coasters in the world puts The Gravity Group in a league by itself when it comes to getting big thrills out of small coasters. Oscar’s Wacky Taxi missed the Top 25 by less than 0.3 percentage points.
Also worth noting: Wildfire had nearly twice as many riders casting ballots this year as it did in last year’s poll, but not only did it keep its #1 ranking, it increased its win percentage. How long can the Swedish monster keep up its winning streak? Time will tell.
If you have never voted in the ElloCoaster Wood Coaster Poll before and would like to be included in the next poll, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get put on the list. If you’ve voted before, you’re already in! Voting begins November 1, 2019.