Top 10 Most Expensive Roller Coasters Ever Built


Top-10-Most-Expensive-Roller-Coasters-Ever-Built

The first-ever roller coaster debuted in Paris in 1817, and it was essentially a gravity-fed cart in the middle of a park. But since then, roller coasters have become far more elaborate and far pricier to build. But what is the most expensive roller coaster ever built?

According to the Guinness World Records, the most expensive roller coaster ever built is Expedition Everest, located in the Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World. This roller coaster cost about $100 million to build in 2006, which would be about $142.6 million today.

If you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, you’ll want to make a beeline for one of these legendary roller coasters!

Here Are the Top 10 Most Expensive Roller Coasters Ever Built (all prices adjusted for inflation to 2022 U.S. dollars):

  1. Expedition Everest – $142.6 Million
  2. Steel Dragon 2000 – $86.8 Million
  3. Thunder Dolphin – $57.8 Million
  4. Millennium Force – $41.7 Million
  5. Top Thrill Dragster – $39 Million
  6. Kingda Ka – $36.8 Million
  7. Leviathan – $35 Million
  8. Intimidator 305 – $32.9 Million
  9. The Smiler – $25 Million
  10. Storm Coaster – $16.3 Million

10. Storm Coaster – $16.3 Million

storm-runner-roller-coaster
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Sea World isn’t exactly known for its thrilling roller coasters, but the Storm Coaster is a notable exception. Located on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, this roller coaster is one of the park’s most exciting (and expensive) attractions.

After all, the Storm Coaster doesn’t only offer stomach-churning drops and dizzying turns. It also has some unique water elements, making for a memorable splish-splashing good time. But these distinct features did add to the final cost of building this coaster.

The Storm Coaster was built in 2013 and cost about AUD 20 million. Accounting for inflation, that would be about AUD 23 million, or approximately $16.3 million today.

And while this building cost is on the lower end of the spectrum, it’s still far more costly than the priciest Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs!

Why It’s Expensive

The primary reasons Storm Coaster was so expensive include the hundreds of feet of steel track, an expedited construction process, and tons of design elements.

Remember, the average steel roller coaster takes about a year and a half to build. But the Storm Coaster ride was completed in only about six months!

9. The Smiler – $25 Million

the-smiler-roller-coaster
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Alton Towers is the most popular theme park in the United Kingdom (though Thorpe Park is a close second). This amusement park contains more than 40 rides, including one of the world’s most expensive roller coasters—The Smiler.

This steel roller coaster isn’t the tallest, fastest, or longest roller coaster in the United Kingdom, but it is the costliest coaster in the country, costing about £18 million in 2013.

Today that would be about £20.4 million, or about $25 million. But if this ride isn’t breaking any records, why is it so expensive? Well, this coaster is actually a world record holder!

Why It’s Expensive

The Smiler features a jaw-dropping 14 inversions, making it the twistiest roller coaster on the planet. These loops generate a decent amount of G-Force, making this ride one of the most intense experiences for roller coaster lovers.

But designing these multiple inversions was no small task. As such, ride engineers required a longer-than-average amount of time to plan, build, and test The Smiler.

Those costs added up, resulting in the coaster’s hefty construction cost.

8. Intimidator 305 – $32.9 Million

Intimidator-305
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

This roller coaster’s bright red track and 305-foot-tall lift hill are impressive. But they’re not nearly as intimidating as its original construction cost of $25 million.

Finished in 2010, the Intimidator 305 is one of the newest coasters included in this rank. But it’s certainly not the lowest-cost example, with an adjusted build price of $32.9 million.

In fact, this coaster was the priciest investment the owners of Kings Dominion ever made.

Why It’s Expensive

This eye-catching roller coaster was an expensive build for several reasons. Firstly, it consists of more than 5,000 feet of steel track. Some of this track features hairpin twists and turns, which required additional weeks of engineering and evaluation to approve.

This coaster was designed to honor Dale Earnhardt, the late NASCAR driver. So the park owners were likely determined to ensure that every aspect of the ride was exceptional, including its safety ratings.

These extra safety checks and engineering evaluations likely helped increase the final cost of the Intimidator 305.

7. Leviathan – $35 Million

leviathan-roller-coaster
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

This massive Canadian roller coaster cost $28 million to build in 2012, equating to about $35 million today. But the owners of Canada’s Wonderland (an amusement park in Ontario) probably don’t mind the high construction cost.

After all, the Leviathan is the fastest roller coaster in Canada. With a top speed of 92 miles per hour, it’s not the fastest coaster in the world, but its reputation for being the speediest Canadian coaster attracts millions of park guests each year.

Consequently, the profits made from park entry tickets have probably outweighed the initial cost of building this wickedly fast ride, making the Leviathan a smart investment.

Why It’s Expensive

Unlike some other roller coasters in this ranking, the Leviathan is far more than one steep drop (we’re looking at you, Top Thrill Dragster). Instead, it’s a series of inclines and declines, with a total track length of almost 5,500 feet.

The amount of steel required to build this coaster is why construction costs were high. Top-notch safety components used to keep riders secure also added to the final price of building this ride.

6. Kingda Ka – $36.8 Million

Kingda-Ka
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Kingda Ka is the fastest roller coaster in the United States, with a top speed of 128 miles per hour. It’s also one of the most expensive ever built, costing an astounding $25 million when it was built in 2005.

That works out to about $36.8 million today. Still, it’s not hard to understand why this Six Flags Great Adventure coaster was such a costly project.

Why It’s Expensive

Though the ride duration for Kingda Ka sits at slightly less than one minute, this coaster features incredible speeds and one sweat-inducing 417-foot drop.

The materials required to safely create this drop and ensure that riders remain safe while pummeling down the steel tracks aren’t anything to shake your head at.

In summary, this ride’s steep drop and record-breaking speed helped make it one of the priciest roller coasters in the world.

5. Top Thrill Dragster – $39 Million

Top-Thrill-Dragster
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

When you think of Sandusky, Ohio, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For many, the sights and sounds of the state’s most popular amusement park, Cedar Point, come to mind.

This park is chock-full of thrills, tasty snacks, and unforgettable experiences. It’s also home to two of the world’s most expensive roller coasters.

The more affordable of the two is Top Thrill Dragster, which cost $25 million to build back in 2003. Accounting for inflation, that would be about $39 million today.

Why It’s Expensive

Top Thrill Dragster has a top speed of 120 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest roller coasters in the United States. In addition, its highest point sits 420 feet off the ground, a notable feat.

This combination of high speed and incredible height made this steel coaster so pricey. However, this simple ride (it’s essentially just one big drop) isn’t the most expensive roller coaster at Cedar Point.

4. Millennium Force – $41.7 Million

Cedar-Point-Millennium-Force
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Cedar Point’s Millennium Force roller coaster features a 300-foot drop that produces enough G-Force to incapacitate riders, albeit only briefly. That isn’t something you could say about most roller coasters!

Completed in 2000, this coaster cost $25 million to build. Nowadays, that would equate to a whopping $41.7 million. As such, it’s the most expensive roller coaster at Cedar Park.

Why It’s Expensive

Creating a roller coaster with dramatic drops and a maximum speed of 93 miles per hour isn’t an inexpensive task.

For example, you need sturdy steel beams to support elevated track sections and pricey braking systems to keep riders safe.

In short, the Millennium Force roller coaster’s incredible size and speed made it such a costly endeavor. Still, the United States is home to an even pricier roller coaster. But we’ll touch on that in just a moment.

3. Thunder Dolphin – $57.8 Million

Thunder-Dolphin
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Japan’s capital city of Tokyo is home to a wealth of attractions, including Tokyo Dome City Attractions. This amusement park is home to the second tallest roller coaster in Japan, Thunder Dolphin.

This roller coaster was finished in 2003, and it gets its name from its dolphin-like movements, seemingly swimming between and through buildings and other rides. But this coaster’s maximum height of 260 feet isn’t nearly as steep as its construction cost.

This roller coaster cost $37 million to complete. That comes to about $57.8 million today when you factor in inflation.

But Thunder Dolphin isn’t the longest or tallest roller coaster in Japan. So, why did it cost so much to build?

Why It’s Expensive

Thunder Dolphin is one of the tallest continuous-circuit roller coasters on the planet, featuring almost 3,500 feet of steel track. The engineering feats required to build this coaster contribute to its high build cost.

But height and length aren’t the only reasons why Thunder Dolphin cost a small fortune to construct. This coaster passes through a massive Ferris wheel and a building.

It took a good deal of planning and engineering to ensure that the coaster could safely pull this off, which increased its final construction cost.

2. Steel Dragon 2000 – $86.8 Million

Steel-Dragon-2000
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Nagashima Spa Land is an amusement park in Japan, and it’s home to one of the world’s most expensive roller coasters—the Steel Dragon 2000.

As the coaster’s name suggests, the ride opened more than two decades ago, in 2000. At the time of its completion, it was the longest roller coaster in the world, a title it still holds. It’s also the tallest roller coaster in Japan!

However, this record-breaking ride wasn’t cheap, costing about $52 million to complete. Accounting for inflation, this same roller coaster would likely cost about $86.8 million if built today.

Still, while the Steel Dragon 200 is the second-most expensive roller coaster ever built, its incredible price pales in comparison to the world’s most expensive pearls.

Why It’s Expensive

The average roller coaster ride only lasts about two minutes. But the Steel Dragon 2000’s ride duration is double that, offering riders a full four minutes of heart-pounding thrills.

That’s because the Steel Dragon 2000 is the longest roller coaster on the planet, featuring more than 8,000 feet worth of track.

Naturally, the more tracks a roller coaster has, the pricier it will be. Besides, this ride’s tracks are made of durable steel, which is far more expensive than other types of common metals.

So, the primary reason why the Steel Dragon 2000 cost so much to build was because of high-priced, high-quality construction materials.

1. Expedition Everest – $142.6 Million

Expedition-Everest
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The most expensive roller coaster ever built is Expedition Everest, a yeti-themed ride located in the Animal Kingdom park of Orlando’s Walt Disney World.

Built in 2006, this roller coaster cost approximately $100 million to construct. That would be about $142.6 million today when you factor in inflation. Still, this is far less than the cost of building the world’s most expensive NFL stadiums!

Fortunately, this ride is still open to the public. With slightly more than 2,000 riders per day, it’s also one of the most popular rides in Animal Kingdom.

Those who’ve ridden on this coaster may understand why it’s the world’s most expensive roller coaster. But if you’ve never had the chance to experience Expedition, you may be asking yourself, “Why did this roller coaster cost so much to build?”

Why It’s Expensive

The initial planning for this roller coaster began in 2000, but it would take six years of dedicated research and engineering to bring the idea of Expedition Everest to life.

Like the best luxury roller coasters, this one has several unique design elements, many of which are quite complex and expensive.

Firstly, an artificial mountain (the Forbidden Mountain) had to be built to accommodate this coaster. This process took several months to complete and required millions of dollars worth of construction materials.

Secondly, this roller coaster features a massive animatronic yeti creature, requiring a fair bit of electrical engineering and some pricey components.

All-in-all, years of research, an exceptional amount of construction, and hi-tech animatronics all contribute to Expedition Everest’s incredible price tag.

What Is the Most Expensive Roller Coaster Ever Built?

The most expensive roller coaster ever built is Expedition Everest. This ride cost $100 million to construct in 2006. Accounting for inflation, that would be about $142.6 million today.

That’s more than double the cost of building the second most expensive roller coaster, Nagashima Spa Land’s Steel Dragon 2000!

Are you curious to learn more about the world’s most expensive entertainment? Check out these related articles now!

Eric Lyons

Eric is a subject-matter expert on the world's most expensive luxuries and collectibles. He has explored thousands of luxuries and collectibles over the past few years and now brings them to readers around the world.

Recent Posts