It just wouldn’t be a day at the park – the amusement park that is – without a hearty chorus of screams. Parks have long appealed to our innate, cathartic desire to get our pulses racing and our adrenaline pumping. To better help us confront and conquer our fears, they’ve upped the ante lately with taller, faster, and more devilish contraptions. How devilish? Any one of the country’s most thrilling rides would surely leave you breathless (after you’ve finished screaming, of course).
Note: While there are more than 10 rides below, similiar attractions have been grouped into categories where applicable.
(By the way, none of the rides that follow are roller coasters. The kings of the midway are so popular, USA Today has compiled a top-10 list devoted exclusively to the most thrilling coasters. For that list, see the gallery at the bottom.)
Many things can trigger anxiety, including extreme heights. At 400 feet tall, both of Six Flags’ SkyScreamer rides are pretty extreme. In fact, they share recognition from Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest swing carousel rides. If they remained closer to the ground, they wouldn’t be nearly as thrilling. (Actually, both parks also have more conventional swing rides that don’t climb nearly as high as the SkyScreamers.) But spinning around at 35 mph where the air is rare on skimpy seats that are attached to a ride platform by thin chains is plenty unnerving.
9. Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colo.
A pendulum ride, the Giant Canyon Swing moves four passengers back and forth, takes them nearly vertical at the height of each swinging arc, hits a top speed of 50 mph, and delivers potent, tummy-tickling, negative G-forces. That would be plenty thrilling. But what distinguishes this screamer from similar rides is that it is perched at the edge of a cliff on top of a mountain and swings out 1,300 feet above the…