10 Best Roller Coasters in Florida

Ranking the Best Rides at Florida Theme Parks

There are no shortage of theme parks in Florida, and they offer plenty of roller coasters. But which ones are the very best? It's subjective, of course. But I've logged plenty of miles riding Florida's rails, and these are what I consider to be the top 10 coasters.

Before we get to the rankings, a few notes: A couple of classic rides are conspicuous by their absence. Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, both at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, are certainly two of the most popular and beloved coasters on the planet, let alone Florida. While they are nicely themed, neither offers ride experiences or thrills that compare to the attractions that made the list.

Also missing is Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida. The highly unique ride offers plenty of thrills and is quite a sight, but I have found it to be fairly brutal, with lots of head banging, shimmying, and generally uncomfortable moments. I therefore cannot recommend it.

If you are heading to...MORE the Sunshine State, check out my Florida Theme Parks overview, which includes many resources, including the latest Florida Theme Park Deals.

  • 01 of 14

    Honorable Mention: Revenge of the Mummy

    ••• Universal Orlando. Used with permission.

    Park: Universal Studios Florida

    The combination of an intense dark ride and a thigh-speed thrill ride makes Mummy one of my picks for best theme park attractions. But the coaster experience alone is quite wonderful. Read my review of Revenge of the Mummy.

  • 02 of 14

    Honorable Mention: White Lightning

    White Lightning Coaster at FunSpot Florida
    ••• Fun Spot America

    Park: Fun Spot America, Orlando

    One of only two wooden coasters in the state (the other is at Legoland Florida), White Lightning's stats (67-foot drop, 44 mph top speed) would appear to put it in the "family" category. Stats can be deceiving, however. This little ride packs a wonderful punch, yet remains rock-solid smooth. Although it is a wooden coaster, its structure is actually made of steel. The ride (and the park) fly under the radar amid the area's mega theme parks, but should be on your radar.

  • 03 of 14

    Honorable Mention: Expedition Everest

    ••• Arthur Levine 2006. Licensed to About.com.

    Park: Disney's Animal Kingdom

    Another combination dark ride/thrill ride, the Himalayan-themed attraction offers a compelling story. But the coaster itself, with its moments of darkness, intense G-forces, and backwards motion, holds its own in Florida's thrill machine showdown. Read my review of Expedition Everest.

  • 04 of 14

    10: Rock 'n' Roller Coaster

    ••• Disney. Used with permission.

    Park: Disney's Hollywood Studios

    The Aerosmith-themed ride offers a launch that propels passengers from 0 to 57 mph in 2.8 seconds -- yikes! It also includes three inversions. All while rocking out to amped-up songs such as "Dude Looks Like a Lady." The thrills don't compare to coasters higher on the list, but they are nonetheless intense.

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  • 05 of 14

    9: Kraken

    ••• SeaWorld Parks.

    Park: SeaWorld Orlando

    The floorless coaster leaves riders exposed as they navigate its 4000 feet of twisted track. Dropping a hearty 144 feet, Kraken reaches 65 mph and includes diabolical inversions such as a dive loop and a cobra roll. This (sea) monster of a ride is not for the faint of heart. Opened in 2000, Kraken has not aged gracefully, and can be a bit rough as it navigates its elements and transitions.

  • 06 of 14

    8: Kumba

    ••• SeaWorld Parks.

    Park: Busch Gardens Tampa

    The park has a stunning array of coasters, including this aggressive monster that drops 135 feet, reaches a top speed of 60 mph, and includes some intense G-forces. At nearly 3 minutes long, Kumba keeps its passengers screaming for awhile. Read what Joel Bullock, the Coaster Critic has to say about Kumba, one of his favorite rides.

  • 07 of 14

    7: Manta

    Park: SeaWorld Orlando

    One of the best flying coasters I've ridden, Manta is also nicely themed with lush landscaping. The inversions and "flying" position may prove to be too intimidating for some thrill-challenged guests. Read my review of Manta.

  • 08 of 14

    6: Dragon Challenge

    ••• © Arthur Levine, 2010. Licensed to About.com.

    Park: Islands of Adventure

    The dual-track, inverted coaster really pours on the positive G-forces. It also includes lots of inversions and a top speed of 60 mph. Located in the parks' Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the coaster is (lightly) themed to the boy wizard.

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  • 09 of 14

    5: Montu

    ••• ©Arthur Levine, 2008. Licensed to About.com.

    Park: Busch Gardens Tampa

    An incredibly smooth, yet potent thrill machine, Montu is one of the best examples of an inverted coaster. Among its wonderful elements, the ride navigates into underground trenches for some dizzying fly-by moments. And speaking of dizzying, it offers plenty of inversions.

  • 10 of 14

    4: Cheetah Hunt

    ••• Busch Gardens Tampa, 2010. Used with permission.

    Park: Busch Gardens Tampa

    The non-traditional coaster incorporates three launches and reaches a fairly robust 60 mph. Despite its speed, it remains accessible as a "family" coaster. Cheetah Hunt is wonderfully themed, delightfully smooth, and eminently re-rideable. It's not even close to the biggest, but it's surely one of Florida's best coasters. Read more about Cheetah Hunt.

  • 11 of 14

    3: The Incredible Hulk

    ••• Jeremy Levine 2004. Licensed to About.com.

    Park: Islands of Adventure

    Boasting perhaps the most unique launch in all of coasterdom, The Hulk sends passengers peeling UP its "Gamma Force Accelerator" tube and into a wacky inversion 110 feet off the ground. From there, it never lets up as it sends riders roaring through a series of heart-stopping elements and rib-clenching positive G-forces. Read my review of The Incredible Hulk.

  • 12 of 14

    2: SheiKra

    SheiKra coaster at Busch Gardens
    ••• What a dive!. Busch Gardens

    Park: Busch Gardens Tampa

    Four out of ten of Florida's top roller coasters are at the Tampa Bay park, and its floorless diving coaster, SheiKra, is the best of the bunch. It doesn't just dive 200 feet and reach a top speed of 70 mph. Before it releases its torrent of thrills, the coaster teases its passengers by dangling them over the edge for a protracted moment of terror. And it includes a second dive for good measure. Read my review of SheiKra.

    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    1. Mako

    Mako coaster at SeaWorld Orlando
    ••• SeaWorld Parks

    Park: SeaWorld Orlando

    The region's only hypercoaster, Mako really delivers the thrills. At 200 feet and a top speed of 73 mph, it features a flurry of airtime that is sheer bliss for coaster fans. The themed ride casts passengers as sharks on the prowl. 

  • 14 of 14

    To Be Determined: Skyscraper

    The Skyscraper at Skyplex, world's tallest coaster.
    ••• Skyplex at I-Drive

    Park:  Skyplex

    When it opens in 2019, Skyscraper will be the tallest roller coaster in the world, let alone Florida. The unique attraction, known as a "Polercoaster," will wind around the outside of a 570-foot observation tower. Who knows where it might rank among Florida's coasters? But it will surely generate plenty of attention. Read more about Skyscraper.