: Film director Alfred Hitchcock often said people go to scary movies for the same reason we ride on roller coasters. We enjoy being scared … more or less safely. And we enjoy anticipating the fright and how we'll respond to it.
So, on the anniversary of the opening
of the first gravity-driven amusement-park roller coaster, we offer a small selection of some of the world's finest -- and scariest -- rides. (Be sure to let us know about your own favorite roller coasters in the comments.)
Riders seen on the new Kingda Ka roller coaster, the tallest and fastest coaster on Earth. The ride launches riders from 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds before catapulting them 456 feet into the sky. Kingda Ka opened in 2005 at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.
Photo: Noah K. Murray
: The Scenic Railway in Melbourne, Australia's Luna Park, opened in 1912 and is the oldest continually operating roller coaster in the world. It's also one of only two coasters in existence requiring a brakeman to stand in the middle of the train. For these reasons, the American Coaster Enthusiasts club has dubbed it an ACE Coaster Classic.
: The Cyclone roller coaster hovers over the beach at Coney Island, New York, in 1978.
Photo: William Coupon/Corbis
: The Dragon Khan coaster at the Port Aventura park in Salou, Spain, offers plenty of spins and loops.
Photo: Carlos Lorenzo
: Enjoying the bobsled ride at Disneyland are the shah of Iran and Empress Farah (front) and their host Walt Disney with a Disneyland hostess, Donna Jackson. The shah and his wife toured the park as part of a Southern California visit in 1962.
: Vild-Svinet (Wild Boar), at BonBon Land in Holme-Olstrup, Denmark, has an initial 97-degree (beyond vertical) angle of descent.
Photo: Coasters and More
: The world's oldest wooden roller coaster, Leap the Dips, can be found at Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pennsylvania. It opened in 1902, but was out of operation from 1986 to 1998.
Photo: Bhakta Dano
: The view is pretty good from the Dragon coaster in Hong Kong's Ocean Park.
Photo: Michele Westmorland/Corbis
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