10 Oldest Roller Coasters in the USA

10 Oldest Roller Coasters in the USA

Roller coasters have been a staple of amusement parks for over a century, providing thrills and excitement for riders of all ages. But have you ever wondered which roller coasters have stood the test of time and are still operating today? Look no further than the United States, where some of the oldest roller coasters in the world continue to attract visitors year after year.

From the classic wooden structures of the early 1900s to the steel giants of the modern era, the history of roller coasters in America is a fascinating one. Join me as we take a journey through time and explore the 10 oldest roller coasters in the USA, each with its own unique story and legacy. So buckle up, hold on tight, and let’s dive into the thrilling world of roller coasters!

10. Millennium Force

Year Opened: 2000
Length: 2,010 m.
Height: 310 ft.
Speed: 150 km/h

Millennium Forcephoto source: Coaster101

Millennium Force is a steel roller coaster located at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, USA. It was opened in 2000 and had a track length of 2,010 meters.  The coaster stands at a height of 310 feet (94 meters) and reaches a top speed of 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour).

At the time of its opening, Millennium Force was the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, and it held these records until the opening of Steel Dragon 2000 in Japan in 2001. The coaster features a series of hills, drops, and turns, providing riders with a thrilling and exhilarating experience.

Did You Know?

The coaster’s layout also includes several airtime hills, where riders experience a sensation of weightlessness as they crest the hill and momentarily leave their seats.

9. Blue Streak

Year Opened: 1964
Length: 780 m.
Height: 78 ft.
Speed: 64 km/h

Blue Streakphoto source: Pinterest

With a track length of 780 meters, Blue Streak is a wooden roller coaster situated in Cedar Point amusement park, which is located in Sandusky, Ohio, USA. The coaster opened its doors to the public in 1964 and has since been a popular attraction among visitors. Despite its relatively modest size compared to some of the park’s newer coasters, Blue Streak remains a popular attraction among visitors for its classic wooden coaster experience and its historical significance.

As one of the oldest operating roller coasters in the United States, Blue Streak is regarded as a landmark of the amusement park industry. It was designed by legendary roller coaster engineer John C. Allen, who is known for his innovative designs and contributions to the field of coaster engineering.

Did You Know?

The coaster features a “double out and back” layout, which means that it includes two separate sections of the track that run parallel to each other. This allows for multiple trains to run on the coaster at the same time, increasing the ride’s capacity and reducing wait times for guests.

8. Little Dipper

Year Opened: 1952
Length: 213 m.
Height: 27.99 ft.
Speed: 40 km/h

Little Dipperphoto source: Coaster101

Situated in Brooklyn, Ohio, USA, Little Dipper is a wooden roller coaster that can be considered a classic ride among enthusiasts. The coaster was built in 1952 and has since become a beloved attraction at Memphis Kiddie Park. With a height of 27.99 feet (8.53 meters) and a top speed of 40 kilometers per hour (25 miles per hour), the coaster may not be as large or as fast as some of the other coasters in the park, but it still manages to captivate its riders with its gentle thrills.

Designed specifically for children and families, Little Dipper features a series of gentle drops, turns, and hills that are suitable for younger riders. Its compact size and simple layout are perfect for families who want to enjoy a coaster experience together. As a “kiddie coaster,” Little Dipper provides a great introduction to the world of roller coasters for children and helps them build up their courage and confidence.

Did You Know?

Little Dipper was manufactured by the National Amusement Device Company (NAD). NAD was a prominent manufacturer of amusement park rides during the mid-20th century, and Little Dipper was one of their most popular coaster designs.

7. Thunderbolt

Year Opened: 1941
Length: 790 m.
Height: 70 ft.
Speed: 64 km/h

Thunderboltphoto source: Six Flags

Thunderbolt is a historic wooden roller coaster located at Six Flags New England amusement park in Agawam, Massachusetts, United States. The coaster’s unique layout features a series of tight turns and steep drops, including a famous “double dip” element that sends riders racing down two consecutive drops at high speeds. These elements help to create a thrilling and exhilarating ride experience that has made Thunderbolt a fan favorite for generations.

In 1968, the coaster was partially rebuilt and modernized by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, which added new trains and reprofiled several sections of the track. In 2016, the coaster underwent a major refurbishment that included the installation of new tracks and supports, as well as the restoration of several classic elements, such as the coaster’s distinctive “whip” turn.

Did You Know?

Thunderbolt was designed by the legendary coaster engineer John A. Miller, who was responsible for creating some of the most iconic coasters of the early 20th century. Miller’s innovative design features a series of lateral supports that help to keep the coaster stable during high-speed turns and drops.

6. Wildcat

Year Opened: 1927
Length: 837 m.
Height: 85 ft.
Speed: 77 km/h

Wildcatphoto source: Pinterest

Wildcat is a wooden roller coaster located at Lake Compounce amusement park in Bristol, Connecticut, USA. This classic coaster has been thrilling riders for over 90 years since its opening in 1927. Designed by the renowned coaster engineer Herbert Schmeck, Wildcat is considered one of his masterpieces. Its classic design and thrilling ride experience have helped make it a fan favorite for generations.

One of the unique features of Wildcat is its distinctive double out-and-back layout. The coaster features long straight sections of the track that are punctuated by steep drops and tight turns, creating a thrilling and fast-paced ride experience. The coaster also includes several moments of airtime, where riders are lifted out of their seats as the coaster races over hills and drops.

Did You Know?

Despite its age, Wildcat remains one of Lake Compounce’s most popular and iconic attractions, drawing visitors from all over the world to experience its classic design and thrilling ride experience.

5. Thunderhawk

Year Opened: 1924
Length: 843 m.
Height: 80 ft.
Speed: 72 km/h

Thunderhawkphoto source: Coasterpedia

Thunderhawk is a classic wooden roller coaster located at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States. This coaster was originally built in 1924 as the “Edgewater Airplane Coaster” and was later relocated to Michigan’s Adventure in 1947, where it was renamed Thunderhawk.

One interesting fact about Thunderhawk is that it was originally designed as a side-friction coaster, a type of coaster that is now extremely rare. Side-friction coasters use a series of wheels mounted on the sides of the coaster cars to keep the train on the track, as opposed to modern roller coasters that use under-track wheels to guide the train. While this design made for a thrilling and bumpy ride experience, it was also prone to derailment and became obsolete in the mid-20th century.

Did You Know?

The coaster features a series of drops, turns, and hills that provide a thrilling and fast-paced ride experience for visitors.

4. Roller Coaster

Year Opened: 1921
Length: 762 m.
Height: 62 ft.
Speed: 72 km/h

Roller Coasterphoto source: Flickr

Roller Coaster, also known as the “White Roller Coaster,” is an iconic wooden coaster situated at Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington, Utah, USA. Constructed in 1921, it is one of the oldest operating coasters in the world and continues to be a popular attraction for visitors of all ages.

Interestingly, the coaster was initially built as a strategy to boost attendance at Lagoon during the summer season. The construction of the Roller Coaster took just six weeks to complete, and it quickly became a crowd favorite. The coaster features a simple layout with a series of hills and drops that offer an exhilarating ride experience without any loops or inversions.

Did You Know?

The white color of the Roller Coaster is another unique feature of the ride. The original purpose of the paint was to keep the wooden structure cool during hot summer days, and it has become an iconic symbol of the coaster’s history and heritage.

3. Jack Rabbit

Year Opened: 1920
Length: 650 m.
Height: 40 ft.
Speed: 72 km/h

Jack Rabbitphoto source: Coaster101

Jack Rabbit is a historic wooden roller coaster located at Kennywood amusement park in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, USA. The coaster was built in 1920 and is one of the oldest operating roller coasters in the world. Jack Rabbit is known for its unique double dip element, which features two steep drops back-to-back, providing riders with an exciting jolt of airtime.

One unique aspect of the Jack Rabbit is its use of a traditional chain lift system to pull the coaster cars to the top of the initial hill. While many modern coasters use a magnetic or hydraulic launch system, the Jack Rabbit’s chain lift gives riders a more gradual ascent to the top of the coaster, building anticipation for the upcoming drop.

Did You Know?

Jack Rabbit is known for its iconic “dip” sign, which sits at the top of the coaster’s first hill. The sign serves as a warning to riders that they are about to experience the coaster’s signature double dip element, adding to the anticipation and excitement of the ride.

2. Zippin Pippin

Year Opened: 1912
Length: 873 m.
Height: 70 ft.
Speed: 64 km/h

Zippin Pippinphoto source: WTAQ

Zippin Pippin is a wooden roller coaster located at Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. The coaster has a storied history, having originally been built in 1912 at the former Libertyland amusement park in Memphis, Tennessee. Over the years, the coaster underwent several changes and updates, but it eventually fell into disrepair and was closed in 2005.

In 2010, the city of Green Bay purchased the coaster and brought it to Bay Beach for restoration and renovation. The project was a massive undertaking, with the coaster’s entire track and support structure needing to be rebuilt from scratch. However, the efforts paid off, and the new and improved Zippin Pippin opened to the public in 2011.

Did You Know?

One of the most unique features of Zippin Pippin is its association with rock and roll legend Elvis Presley. The coaster was a favorite of Presley’s during his time in Memphis, and he was known to rent out the entire park just to ride it.

1. Leap-The-Dips

Year Opened: 1902
Length: 443 m.
Height: 41 ft.
Speed: 16 km/h

Leap-The-Dipsphoto source: Reddit

Leap-The-Dips was built in 1902 and is considered as the oldest roller coaster in the world. It is a wooden roller coaster located at Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pennsylvania, USA. The coaster’s unique design features a series of gentle dips that provide a smooth and comfortable ride experience, making it a favorite among families and younger riders.

One interesting fact about Leap-The-Dips is that it was almost lost to history. The coaster was closed in 1985 due to safety concerns, and many believed it would be demolished. However, a group of dedicated roller coaster enthusiasts worked to restore the coaster and reopen it to the public in 1999. Today, Leap-The-Dips is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and a treasured piece of coaster history.

Did You Know?

The coaster’s dips are unique in that they are curved instead of straight, creating a more gentle and fluid ride experience.


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