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OpinionOPINION: Best B&M Inverts You Have to Ride

OPINION: Best B&M Inverts You Have to Ride

…That I’ve Been On

Have you ever wanted to get your shoes ripped right off your feet? Ever wanted to have all the blood in your body rush to your legs? It sounds like torture, but it’s the feeling coaster enthusiasts dream of. Very few roller coasters are as intense and disorienting as B&M inverts. The signature roar combined with unmatched intensity make for a fan-favorite ride experience.

Join me on this journey taking a ride on all the fierce twists, snappy loops, and blistering valleys B&M inverts have to offer. Of the ones I’ve ridden, here are my favorite B&M inverts.

What is a B&M Invert?

The defunct Dragon Challenge (Image credit: Universal Orlando Resort)

A B&M invert is a roller coaster model made by the manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard. It is an intense looping coaster type where the train is positioned underneath the track so that riders’ feet dangle freely on the ride. Remember Universal’s Dueling Dragons/Dragon Challenge? That was a B&M invert.

B&M is known for other coaster models as well, aside from the inverted type. You may recognize some of their other work such as Universal’s The Incredible Hulk Coaster or SeaWorld’s Mako.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into it.

The Best of the Best

9. Great Bear

Hersheypark

Hersheypark’s Great Bear glides through one of its four inversions (Image credit: Hersheypark)

Hersheypark is home to probably the most unusual B&M invert out there: Great Bear. It’s more or less shoehorned in a space that isn’t perfectly suited for a coaster. The track has to contour itself around surrounding rides and other constraints, forcing the layout to be a bit more creative than the typical B&M invert. I mean, it’s one of the few coasters out there that doesn’t send you down a huge drop once you reach the top of the lift hill. It circles around before the first major drop, making the payoff a bit more earned.

It’s those kinds of moments that make Great Bear so memorable.

While Great Bear doesn’t have a fully optimized layout as a coaster in a wide-open field would, it does have standout moments that make it a worthwhile experience. On Great Bear, you’ll glide over the water, soar around a forest of coasters, and feel weightlessness that is just about the sweetest Hersheypark has to offer.

Loosley themed to the Ursa Major constellation, Great Bear is certainly a star among other B&M inverts.

8. BATMAN The Ride

Various Parks

BATMAN The Ride at Six Flags Great America (Image credit: Six Flags)

This might be among the most commonly ridden coasters on this list since it’s cloned at numerous Six Flags parks. Depending on the park, the ride may have a different name—such as The Great White at SeaWorld San Antonio.

Being copied and pasted around the country does take away from any allure this ride could’ve had. There’s something special about riding a coaster that’s exclusive to a certain park—that satisfying feeling when you travel far just to get a ride on a one-of-a-kind coaster. That’s not the case with BATMAN The Ride as it has so many installments across the United States. Regardless, it still packs a punch just like the mighty Batman taking justice into his own hands around Gotham.

As a frequently replicated ride, BATMAN has a relatively compact footprint that can be easily installed in essentially any amusement park with minimal customization. For that reason, the coaster is condensed in a way that makes you feel like you’re flying faster than the advertised 50 mph (80 km/h) top speed. Its compact layout and sudden elements make for a surprisingly intense ride experience.

The BATMAN versions of the ride have pretty good theming by Six Flags’ standards—albeit, the chain has an infamous reputation for not caring or putting effort into theming. There’s something funny about the best theming in a Six Flags park being set to a sewer as it is in BATMAN The Ride.

Regardless, BATMAN is a smooth and reride-able coaster that deserves to be in the discussion among other great B&M inverts.

7. Silver Bullet

Knott’s Berry Farm

Silver Bullet scales one of its six inversions as its signature helix is seen to the right (Image credit: Knott’s Berry Farm)

Putting Silver Bullet on this list almost seems unfair as I haven’t been on it in about a decade. If I had been on this more recently, it probably would have a different ranking, in full disclosure. But still, the ride has left me with such an impression that I have to include it.

So, here’s all I remember like it was yesterday.

From the first drop until the final brake run, the coaster is as smooth as glass. Perhaps the years since haven’t been kind, but my rides a decade ago were perfect—no headbanging of any kind, and no headache-inducing rattle.

The other standout feature of Silver Bullet I remember well is its signature helix to end off the ride. It’s almost like the coaster is trying to send you into another dimension.

Like Great Bear, Silver Bullet was built on a confining and oblong plot of land, so there are a few unusual elements that make it a bit unique from other B&M inverts. And one last thing: That cobra roll acting as the park’s entrance icon is just too beautiful.

Silver Bullet, you are golden.

6. Talon

Dorney Park

Talon (Image credit: Storybook Amusement)

This is an example of a coaster that’s solid from start to finish. While some coasters may taper off the closer you reach the end, Talon packs a punch at every turn and doesn’t let up until hitting the brakes. Among its four perfect and intense inversions, Talon doesn’t have a dull moment. The ride experience is just as bright as its flashy orange and yellow paint job.

Talon isn’t designed to break any records or anything of that sort, but it offers variety at a consistent quality throughout the ride’s duration. It’s almost the textbook example of what a B&M invert should be.

Talon has a fantastic climax like no other, racing just inches over the ground through its final turns. This high-speed section makes you feel like your feet could scape the dirt if you forgot to clip your toenails that day. Not to mention, you’re pushed into your seat with forces NASA would be jealous of.

This coaster doesn’t get an incredible amount of recognition, nor does it have a lot of hype surrounding it like some other coasters on this list, but it’s certainly worth a visit if you’re around the Pennsylvania area.

5. Afterburn

Carowinds

Afterburn soars through one of its six inversions (Image credit: Carowinds)

I feel the need, the need for speed. Known as Top Gun: The Jet Coaster when the park was owned by Paramount, Afterburn recreates the sensation of being on a fighter jet—well, not that I would know. Its grand, swooping elements take you to the highest of highs and relentlessly send you down into trenches time and time again throughout the layout.

For me, Afterburn is up there among the greats when it comes to intense inversions. Its best moments are nearly just as thrilling as any other coaster on this list. Afterburn’s flame shines bright through the first half of the ride, but it quickly comes to a smolder as the back portion of the layout is underwhelming compared to the beginning. After a few relatively relaxing turns, the train returns to the station.

All that said, those few closing seconds of placidity are greatly outweighed by the attraction’s standout inversions. Those inversions are scorching stunts that would make Goose and Maverick proud and certainly fuel any coaster enthusiast.

4. Raptor

Cedar Point

Raptor rules the sky at Cedar Point (Image credit: Cedar Point)

This is by far the best raptor-themed coaster out there. …What? Am I forgetting one? In all seriousness, Raptor holds its own. This has been consistently ranked among the top B&M inverts in the world ever since its debut in 1994. Some would even say I have it ranked too low on this list, and others would put it as their No. 1.

Where do I even begin with a coaster like this? Everything it does, it does well. This will throw you out of your seat like a raptor playing with its prey. Coming out of that cobra roll felt like the coaster was trying to fling me off the ride like an asteroid, and that helix nearly evaporated me into dust. It’s the sensation coaster enthusiasts dream of.

One of the few reasons this is ranked at No. 4 is because it beat me up. Raptor definitely has claws and isn’t afraid to use them.

This was my personal experience, and it may be different for you. At times, it felt like I was in the ring with Mike Tyson as my head was getting thrown left and right. Yes, I was looking at the layout ahead and anticipating every move. Yes, I was bracing myself. Regardless of my white knuckles and tensed muscles, this coaster managed to do a number on me. I felt every kink and imperfection in that old track.

Either way, all the knockout punches in the world couldn’t keep me from enjoying Raptor.

3. Banshee

Kings Island

Banshee’s first loop wraps around the lift hill (Image credit: Kings Island)

This is the ride where you finally get to find out how it feels to fly on the back of a banshee. Oh wait, did Disney already do that?

Kings Island’s Banshee is by far the newest B&M invert out there, and it certainly shows in the best ways. The biggest difference is the coaster’s restraints, which are a bit more comfortable and spacious. Unless you’re a football-headed cartoon character, you likely won’t be hitting your head on this one.

Onto the ride experience, Banshee is a daunting coaster. It has heart-pounding, massive inversions, including a rare pretzel knot loop and a frighteningly slow inline twist that hangs you upside down for quite some time.

Between the restraints and a brilliant layout, Banshee is a top-tier B&M invert. It also has some light theming with its spooky cobblestone station with a gothic chandelier. Granted, the theming is a bit vague, so you’ll have to use your imagination to get into the vibe.

2. Alpengeist

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Alpengeist glides across its record-breaking track (Image credit: Busch Gardens Williamsburg)

I’ll admit it—I’m a sucker for the classics. Are there other coasters on this list better than Alpengeist? You could say that, but I personally rank this as my second favorite.

This coaster deserves this honorable spot.

Let’s start off with the theming. The station feels like a cozy ski loft with some cute puns and enough of a story being told that it gets you in the mood to take on this quadruple-black-diamond beast of a coaster. The train has an icy paint job with skis attached to the back of each seat. Even the lift hill is themed as the supports aren’t that of a traditional coaster—they look more like supports for a ski lift as if you have skis strapped onto your feet while climbing up the record-breaking 195-foot (59.5-meter) lift hill.

As for the coaster itself, it starts off with a body-numbing first drop that just so happens to be the tallest in the world for this coaster type. It feels like a never-ending spiral. Then, you’re barrelling through inversion after inversion amidst the thick backwoods of Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Alpengeist is the king of gigantic inversions. Each one flies as high as a snowy mountain, it seems, racing back to the ground over and over like a snowball building momentum.

The coaster ends with some low-to-the-ground sections, passing inches over ravines with snow melting on the rocks as your make your way back to the station.

Alpengeist is an all-time great topped by only one other B&M invert.

1. Montu

Busch Gardens Tampa

Montu glides across its mythological track, giving guests the ride of a lifetime

Whatever I say here isn’t going to do this ride justice. It’s almost as if this ride is beyond words—as if the legend speaks for itself.

Montu joined Busch Gardens Tampa’s thrill-heavy lineup in 1996. The park has gotten many world-class coasters in the decades since, but Montu is still a god within the park’s lineup.

Montu is as intense as it gets. Its vast layout for the most part stays low to the ground with some standout inversions and signature trenches that make it feel like an adventure. The coaster’s batwing inversion has become almost mythical in reputation, rightfully so, for being one of the most intense moments on any coaster in the world. It almost feels like the forceful coaster is trying to make you an inch or so shorter once you get off the ride.

Located in Busch Gardens’ Egypt section, the ride does have some theming here and there with the ride’s menacingly massive inversions welcoming you at the entrance.

(Does anyone else remember when they used to have a pit of crocodiles directly under the ride?)

Montu has set the standard for B&M inverts, offering an absolutely divine ride experience that very few (if any) other coasters come close to.

An Honorable Mention

0. Dueling Dragons/Dragon Challenge

You really don’t want to get me started on this one. We’ll be here all day.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Neuenschwander
Matt Neuenschwander
Hi! I'm Matt. I grew up in the Orlando area, and like many of you, fell in love with theme parks at a young age. I created Storybook Amusement to share about the history and emotional draws of the industry's notable and obscure attractions. (Profile picture by Sonder Quest)

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