Seeking thrills in Central Florida? Orlando theme parks made a name for themselves as kid-friendly… at first. Now, all ages can get their scream on, as some of the most exciting new roller coasters in North America are finding their way to Orlando. If you live for lift hills and dream of drops, we have your guide to the best roller coasters in Central Florida. Feature Photo: The Incredible Hulk at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Credit Flickr/ffg
Scream… er… Sing Along
Two roller coasters in Orlando take you on a musical journey while you’re spiraling through space. At Universal Studios Florida, you can choose your own soundtrack on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, then try to hear it over all your screaming as you start the coaster with a healthy 17-story drop. The music selections include a blend of classic rock, heavy metal, EMD, country, hip-hop, and disco songs. Afterwards you can buy a DVD of your ride, complete with music. If you’re not sold on the DVD, some riders swear by the “secret song” list, but we can neither confirm nor deny these songs exist! (Height Requirement: 51”)
You can’t choose your soundtrack at Walt Disney World’s Rock’n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, but if you really like Aerosmith and inversions, you’re in luck. This coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has an elaborate storyline, as you’re trying to get Aerosmith to their concert on time. You’ll even ride in a “stretch limo” as you burn rubber through Hollywood’s landmarks, taking off at a scream-inducing 60 miles per hour. (Height Requirement: 48”)
Ascend (and Descend) Mountains
Conquer the Disney mountain range! With four mountain-themed roller coasters, Walt Disney World seems to have the mountain-climbing market cornered in flat Central Florida. Of course, they have varying levels of thrills, ranging from a Snow White-themed coaster suitable for a first coaster experience, right up to a backwards-hurtling mountain expedition that comes in close contact with a roaring monster. One isn’t a roller coaster at all, but we love Splash Mountain for its 50-foot drop anyway!
For gentle beginnings, start at the Magic Kingdom with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This fun coaster has some decent little drops and tight turns, coupled with just enough Disney magic in the form of the Seven Dwarfs working in their mine, and Snow White dancing in their cottage. The 38” height requirement is indication this is a gentle ride, but wait times still hit the two-hour mark during busy times of day.
Next try Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. For slightly older children, with a 40” height requirement, the drops are higher and the turns faster. Sit in the back for the best experience and enjoy the panoramic views of the Magic Kingdom.
If you’re afraid of the dark, avoid Space Mountain, Tomorrowland’s landmark attraction, which features rocket-ship ride vehicles hurtling through darkness, under a universe of stars and spinning asteroids. The 44” height requirement means this is an intermediate coaster, for older children… but there are plenty of adults who won’t get on this one!
Finally, head to Disney’s Animal Kingdom for Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. The most challenging of the Disney mountains, Everest is relatively short but packs a punch, with disorienting spirals, a steep 80-foot drop, and a race backwards ingeniously designed to make you feel like you’re spinning upside-down (but you’re not!). You’ll also get an incredible view of Central Florida during one well-timed stop at the mountain’s peak, nearly two hundred feet in the air. Oh… and there’s a massive Yeti waiting for you inside the mountain, too. (Height Requirement: 44”)
Make a Splash
Who knew SeaWorld Orlando would have some of Florida’s most thrilling roller coasters? Taking a cue from sister park Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, SeaWorld has been expanding their hold on the thrill ride market with Orlando’s tallest, fastest coasters. Start with Kraken, a floorless coaster (the only one in Orlando), which soars more than 150 feet over Central Florida. Then try out a flying coaster, with the head-first experience of Manta. Now you’re warmed up for Mako. At two hundred feet tall, with speeds up to 73 miles per hour, and state-of-the-art design created to give you the ultimate feeling of flight, Mako leads the way in roller coaster innovation. (Height Requirement on all three coasters: 54”)
For a zero-gravity experience, think Hulk. The Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure is a mean, green machine which launches you at nearly seventy miles an hour and doesn’t let up after that. With seven inversions and two subterranean trenches, the Incredible Hulk is not kidding around. This coaster means business. (Height Requirement: 54”)
If you’re a roller coaster fan, it’s hard to imagine a better destination than Orlando. Central Florida’s roller coasters are world-class, and with so much fun clustered into one place, you can ride them all in one action-packed vacation.
Start planning your Orlando vacation now by visiting our Destinations tab. Here you can find information on Summer Bay Orlando by Exploria Resorts and Crown Club Inn Orlando by Exploria Resorts, both located on a sprawling lakeside resort with amenities and activities for all ages.