AAA Magazines

Top roller coasters in Southern California

Pony Express ride at Knott's Berry Farm Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm

With some of the best theme parks in the country, the region offers thrill-seekers a lot of options. Here’s a guide to top scream-worthy rides.

In Southern California, every day is the perfect time to ride a roller coaster or two or three. We took a spin on our favorite coasters at popular Southern California theme parks. Here’s a taste of what you'll experience—if you dare.

Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park

Knott's Berry Farm has 10 roller coasters, from the gentle rides to adrenaline-pumping speedsters, three of which we review here. To cut wait times, buy a Fast Lane wristband, which are available when purchased with admission. 


GhostRider wooden roller coaster.

Photo courtesy of Knott's Berry Farm

Top speed: 56 mph

Thrill factor: This wild ride is one of the longest, fastest, and tallest wooden roller coasters on the West Coast. Although the rickety feeling of the coaster and its two big drops might make some riders uneasy, it has no inversions or loops.  


HangTime drop coaster.

Photo courtesy of Knott's Berry Farm

Top speed: 57 mph

Thrill factor: Knott’s Berry Farm’s newest coaster (it was unveiled in May 2018), HangTime is a must for thrill-seekers, with five inversions and a 96-degree vertical drop. Best (or worst) of all, the coaster keeps you suspended for a few seconds right before the big drop to heighten the anxiety. 

Silver Bullet

Silver Bullet roller coaster.

Photo courtesy of Knott's Berry Farm

Top speed: 55 mph

Thrill factor: On Silver Bullet, riders will spiral, corkscrew, fly into a cobra roll, and experience overbanked curves as they find themselves upside down six times including the giant vertical loop of 105 feet. Silver Bullet’s 3,125 feet of track snakes in and around itself, high above a reflecting lake, providing incredible views of Knott’s throughout the ride.

Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia

With 20 roller coasters spread throughout Six Flags Magic Mountain—many on hills you may need to climb to get to the ride—you’ll want to wear your comfiest walking shoes. To cut wait times, purchase a Flash Pass. 

Twisted Colossus

Riders on parallel tracks reaching for one another on Twisted Colossus.

Photo courtesy of Six Flags Theme Park

Top speed: 58 mph

Thrill factor: Wood and steel combine to create this hybrid coaster, one of the longest in the world. You’ll experience unrelenting rolls and spirals that'll leave you breathless.


Tatsu roller coaster.

Photo courtesy of Six Flags Theme Park

Top speed: 62 mph 

Thrill factor: Ready to feel like you’re flying? You’ll hang facing toward the ground, occasionally going upside down. This coaster has 3,602 feet of twisted steel track with dips, corkscrews, and a 124-foot-tall pretzel loop. 


X2 roller coaster.

Photo courtesy of Six Flags Theme Park

Top speed: 76 mph

Thrill factor: At 200 feet in the air, this coaster has 360-degree rotating seats, making face-down drops terrifying. Music and sound effects heighten your experience, along with dives, flips, twists, and half loops that suddenly stop midway and become drops.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, Anaheim

The Disneyland Resort has an array of thrill rides that get your heart pounding. To cut wait times, consider purchasing the Genie+ Service via the app of same name and get Lightning Lane passes to save time. Adult park admission varies by season. 

Space Mountain

Sign for Space Mountain roller coaster.

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks

Top speed: 28 mph

Thrill factor: This Disneyland coaster zooms through a dark, enclosed room and sends riders hurtling through a star field in outer space, generating strong g-forces on tight turns.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks

Top speed: 35 mph

Thrill factor: At this Disneyland attraction, riders careen on a cursed train ride, peel under a waterfall, dodge a falling boulder, and drop into desert canyons.



Photo courtesy of Disney Parks

Top speed: 55 mph

Thrill factor: This steel-frame coaster (formerly California Screamin') built to resemble a wood one has more than a mile of track, making it one of the longest steel coasters in the world. Riders launch from 0 to 55 mph in 4 seconds, with loops and tight turns. The Disney California Adventure ride is themed to the Incredibles movies, with enclosed tunnels and special effects.

Follow us on Instagram

Follow @AAAAutoClubEnterprises for the latest on what to see and do.

Read more articles

You'll find more of the articles you love to read at AAA Insider.

Travel offers & deals

" "

Hot travel deals

Get the latest offers from AAA Travel’s preferred partners.

" "

Travel with AAA

See how we can help you plan, book, and save on your next vacation.

" "

Entertainment savings

Save big with AAA discounts on tickets to your next adventure.

" "

Travel with confidence

Purchase travel insurance with Allianz Global Assistance.

back to top icon