Eight Unusual Roller Coaster Types Around The World

From the generic Wacky Worm to the tallest and fastest roller coasters at parks around the world, there is often a pre-conceived notion of what a roller coaster should be, but in reality, there are some unusual roller coasters around the world!

Picture a generic roller coaster in your mind. It’s probably made of wood or steel, features a lift and a few drops, or maybe a launch. It may or may not go upside down. It ends with some brakes. However, not all roller coasters are created equal. Roller coasters truly come in all shapes and sizes. Around the world, there are a number of unique roller coaster types that are few and far between, and sometimes are truly one (or two) of a kind!

In case you’re looking for a unique coaster to add to your personal credit count, seek out one of these unusual roller coaster models to add a litle variety! (And no, we’re not going to include the Tilt Coaster known as Gravity Max on this list. Your wacky relatives have probably shared it enough on social media for you to know that it’s unusual, unique, and does indeed exist.)

Full-Circuit Nautic Jet

Manufacturer: Fabbri
Locations: At Least Two

Last year, Michigan’s Cedar Valley Wild Frontier Fun Park made history with North America’s first full-circuit “Nautic Jet.” Riders ascend a chain lift hill, make a 180-degree turnaround at the top, and head down a tracked drop before catching some serious air and landing in water. The circuit then completes. Part roller coaster, part water ride, total fun. While “Water Jump” at the Michigan Park is the only coaster of its location in North America, a larger version of the attraction exists as “Water Jumping” at Hawally Park in Kuwait.

Check out the Water Jump in Michigan at this Reddit Post!

Pretzel Dark Ride Coaster

Manufacturer: Pretzel Amusement Rides
Operating Locations: Two, Dependent on Conneaut Lake Park

The now-defunct Pretzel Manufacturing group was responsible for a number of dark rides during their history, but of the five (four) remaining, two (one) of them can be considered a roller coaster, depending on who you ask. A hybrid dark ride and unusual roller coaster, both remaining attractions – Haunted House at West Virginia’s Camden Park and Devil’s Den at Pennsylvania’s Conneaut Lake Park (as of this writing, anyway) start with a chain lift, and feature a sizable gravity powered drop, before entering a series of tight hairpin turns in the dark ride section. When the ride comes to a stop at the end of its course, we suggest you get ready for the brakes — a ride attendant at the end of the track physically stops each ride vehicle before it unloads!

Human Powered Roller Coaster

Location: China

We’ve discussed our fair share of home-built roller coasters on Coaster101, but none quite like this. Designed by Wei Ruoyu, this unusual roller coaster is powered by an adult on an exercise bike, which operates the lift hill chain mechanism. For enthusiasts, there are a few airtime hills, but this ride is primarily designed for children.

“I just had a child and my family buys toys for the children all the time, but I specialise in making playground equipment such as bumper cars and other larger equipment. My kid can’t play with them yet, so I just wanted to design something he can play with,” said Ruoyu.

Butterfly Coaster

Locations: 65 Operating Throughout Europe
Manufacturer: Sunkid Heege

These butterfly coasters don’t look too imposing, but when you take into consideration that it’s a roller coaster without an operator, there’s an all-new level of thrill. Yes, these coasters are self operated, and feature two riders, facing each other, mimic the motion of a swinging ship until physics eventually slows the pendulum motion down. What seems to be a relatively “low tech” ride in this era of high octane thrills, the newest Butterfly coaster opened at Germany’s Affen- und Vogelpark in 2020.


Manufacturer: Chance Rides
Operating Locations: 1 (One More Currently Under Construction)

One of the most unique track profiles can be found on the Chance Toboggan. Riders are secured in a two-passenger car (that closes around you) and ascend a 45′ tall enclosed vertical lift, before reaching the top and circling around the enclosed lift five times while descending. After a few jarring drops and a tight turn around, riders make it back to the ride platform. Currently, there’s only one Toboggan still in operation in the world, located at Wisconsin’s Little Americka, but one is scheduled to open later in 2022 at Animalia in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Screamin’ Squirrel

Operating Locations: 2
Manufacturer: S&S Worldwide

The S&S Screamin’ Squirrel (known as Sequoia Magic Loop at Italy’s Gardaland, and Man-O-War at China’s Mysterious Island) gave riders the sensation of a prolonged inverted stall long before the days of Rocky Mountain Construction. The slow moving roller coaster takes riders completely upside-down for an extended period of time, giving new meaning to the phrase “beyond vertical” drop! Fortunately, the ride is only about a minute long, so the blood isn’t rushed to your head forĀ too long!

Roller Ball

Manufacturer: Ride Engineers Switzerland
Locations: 4 (As of Summer 2022)

A relatively new model on this list – the first opened in 2018, the Roller Ball features a vertical lift and looks a lot like an S&S 4-D Free Spin or an Intamin Zac-Spin. However, the train is only on one side of the structure, and rides sideways along a track that faces outward rather than on top of the track. While imposing, the Roller Ball is largely designed as an attraction for families and never fully inverts. The first Roller Ball in North America will open later this year at Adventureland in Long Island, New York.

Maximum RPM

(Photo: Theme Park University/Irvine Ondrey Engineering)

Manufacturer: Premier Rides
Opened 2008, Closed 2009

There has been just one roller coaster with a Ferris Wheel style lift, and that is the former Maximum RPM/Round About at Hard Rock Park/Freestyle Music Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carollina. After exiting the station, riders in vehicles that resembled MINI Coopers, would ease into one of the four “pods,” which would rotate around a central point before reaching the top of the drop, easing out of the Ferris Wheel and proceeding through the course. Unfortunately, when Freestyle Music Park closed amid the great recession, Maximum RPM, while shipped and erected at Sun World Danang Wonders in Vietnam, would never operate again.

Have you ever ridden an unusual roller coaster? What are some unique rides we missed? Let us know in the comments below!