Top 5 Best Years of New Roller Coasters

2015 is going to be a great year for new roller coasters here in the United States. Two rides in particular, Wicked Cyclone and Fury 325, I think will have a legitimate shot to overtake Voyage at Holiday World as my personal favorite. And you’ve still got the incredible looking Twisted Colossus and the interesting Cannibal at Lagoon. Oh, and don’t forget about Batman: The Ride, Impulse, Tempesto, Laff Trakk, etc. Heck, it took CoasterRadio two shows to preview all the upcoming rides this year.

The more I think about it, the more I think 2015 may be one of the best years for new roller coasters in America ever. However, we won’t be able to fully judge it until all the new rides open and operate successfully. But that got me thinking: besides 2015, what year had the best coaster “class” ever?

To come up with the list of top five best coaster classes, I used the following determining factors to try and be as objective and impartial as possible:

  • Quantity of new rides: I looked up the total number of new roller coasters opened per year according to RCDB.
  • Quality of new rides: I looked at how many are coasters are currently ranked in the Coasterbuzz Top 100, an enthusiast poll updated weekly. I also looked at the last Mitch Hawker polls from 2013 (he does separate wood and steel polls).
  • Innovation: Was technology pushed forward or were the rides all proven models?
  • Historical significance: How big of an impact did a coaster have despite whether it was actually good or not?

Based on this criteria, here are the top five best years for new roller coasters in America:

5. Class of 2012

  • Total number of new coasters: 23
  • Currently in Coasterbuzz Top 100: 4 (5 if you include Leviathan)
  • Mitch’s 2013 Steel Coaster Poll Top 100: 2
  • Mitch Hawker 2013 Wood Coaster Poll Top 100:0
  • Notable coasters: SkyRush, Wild Eagle, X-Flight, Manta (San Diego), Verbolten

class of 2012 -2

2012 saw the addition of several unique types of coasters. Wild Eagle and X Flight, the first wing coasters in America opened. Verbolten was the first US coaster with a vertical dropping track segment. SeaWorld San Diego opened Manta, first Mack launched coaster in the US. And SkyRush at HersheyPark may be the most extreme steel coaster in the US (#5 in Mitch’s 2013 steel poll).


4. Class of 1998

  • Total number of new coasters: 50
  • Currently in Coasterbuzz Top 100: 4
  • Mitch’s 2013 Steel Coaster Poll Top 100: 2
  • Mitch Hawker 2013 Wood Coaster Poll Top 100: 3
  • Notable coasters: Shivering Timbers, Volcano, Mr. Freeze, Great Bear, Mamba, Riddler’s Revenge, Roar, Twisted Twins

 class of 1998

1998 was a really solid year. Certainly, the quantity of new coaster was very high but the quality not quite as good as the other classes. Shivering Timbers at Michigan’s Adventure is one of the biggest wooden coasters and highly rated (Larry’s favorite coaster). A pair of Mr. Freeze LIM launch coasters opened. Twisted Twins was a new dueling wooden coaster for Kentucky Kingdom. Riddler’s Revenge is the pinnacle of the stand-up coaster model.


3. Class of 2001

  • Total number of new coasters: 39
  • Currently in Coasterbuzz Top 100: 7
  • Mitch’s 2013 Steel Coaster Poll Top 100: 5
  • Mitch Hawker 2013 Wood Coaster Poll Top 100:1
  • Notable coasters: Nitro, Phantom’s Revenge, Talon, Titan, Cornball Express, Wildfire, California Screamin’, X-Flight (Geauga Lake), Deja Vu, Hypersonix XLC

 class of 2001

After a stellar coaster season in 2000, one might have expected a large drop off the following year. On the contrary, 2001’s coaster class is almost as good as the one that preceded it. Deja Vu and Hypersonic XLC were two new innovative creations that, while not successful long term, did keep pushing technology and the industry forward. Phantom’s Revenge may have been the template to show parks that you can retrofit an existing ride to take it from good to great.

2. Class of 2006

  • Total number of new coasters: 32
  • Currently in Coasterbuzz Top 100: 7(4 top 50)
  • Mitch’s 2013 Steel Coaster Poll Top 100: 2
  • Mitch Hawker 2013 Wood Coaster Poll Top 100:3
  • Notable coasters: The Voyage, El Toro, Goliath, Tatsu, Kentucky Rumbler, Expedition Everest, Patriot


2006’s Class is ranked number two for mainly two reasons: The Voyage and El Toro. Ask any coaster enthusiast what their favorite ride is and chances are it’s one of these two. They’ve both held the number one spot on Coasterbuzz’s poll. You also have what may be the best flying roller coaster ever built in Tatsu. And it’s a good year anytime Disney opens a new coaster as they’re few and far between.

1. Class of 2000

  • Total number of new coasters: 60
  • Currently in Coasterbuzz Top 100: 11 (6 rides in the top 50)
  • Mitch’s 2013 Steel Coaster Poll Top 100: 8
  • Mitch Hawker 2013 Wood Coaster Poll Top 100:4
  • Notable coasters: Millennium Force, Goliath, Son of Beast, Superman (New England), Kraken, Stealth, Villain, Legend, Boulder Dash, Lightning Racer

 class of 2000

The year 2000 was by far the best year for new roller coasters ever, not just in quantity but in quality as well. Two of the most beloved steel roller coasters ever built opened this year with Millennium Force and Six Flag New England’s Superman. You can argue whether or not Son of Beast was a good ride (it wasn’t) but you can’t argue its historical significance and the impact it had (park guests still talk about it). An incredible five roller coasters stood over 200 feet tall and that’s not including Steel Dragon 2000. Technology was pushed with looping wooden coaster, cable lift on Millennium Force, and Stealth was the first successful flying roller coaster also opened to the public that year. Living in Ohio at the time felt like the center of it all with Millennium Force, Son of Beast, and Six Flags Ohio. Ironically, only Millennium Force is the only thing still operating in the state. Yes, 2015 will be a good year but 2000 may never be topped.

Honorable Mention: Class of 1996, 1999

There you have it, the top five best coaster classes. Looking back, it’s pretty obvious 1998 – 2001 was a very special time. It’s crazy that three of these classes occurred during a four year period – another golden age of roller coasters for sure. Next time we’ll list the top five worst coaster classes ever. Any guesses?

Do you agree with our list? Where do you think 2015’s coaster class will ultimately rank?


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5 Responses

  1. rcr22 says:

    How do I participate in the Mitch Hawker Poll?

  2. Nick says:

    When the 2014 Mitch Hawker poll ballot is posted, you can fill out a ballot and email in.

  3. Eric says:

    2015 looks like it ought to be a good year.

    Thunderbird at Holiday World is being billed as first B&M launched wing coaster. Switchback at ZDT’s Amusement Park will be a first of its kind wood coaster. Fury 325 being the tallest B&M giga-coaster yet. RMC transforming Six Flags wood coasters into Twisted Colossus and Wicked Cyclone. We could also be seeing debut of new Skyscraper poler-coaster and observation tower attraction in Orlando.

  4. Kevin says:

    I am in total agreement about 2000 being the best class. MF is the coaster that I initially looked at online and said, “Wow. Coasters THAT big actually exist?” It was the coaster that truly got me addicted. Even though I don’t consider it a “Top 10” ride anymore, a fellow class member, Boulder Dash, certainly is! Great write up!

  5. Brian says:

    Has anyone heard why we haven’t seen the poll yet? Definitely should have seen it by now.