Florida's 7 Tallest Rides

  • 01 of 08

    Do You Think You Could Name Them?

    Sheikra-BGT.jpg
    ••• Sheikra at Busch Gardens Tampa is fairly tall. But is it the tallest ride in Florida?. © Arthur Levine.

    Central Florida is the theme park capital of the world. It is home to some of the most popular and celebrated parks and a slew of rides. In an area and an industry that loves to brag and hype rides with superlatives -- fastest! most inversions! biggest! -- you would think it would be easy to identify Florida's tallest rides. 

    But is it? Could you name them? 

    Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom looks pretty tall, right? In fact, it is a relatively puny 112 feet. And none of the "mountain rides" at the Magic Kingdom really soar all that high either. Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach is one of the country's tallest water slides and is plenty scary. Its height? 120 feet. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios seems way up there. But it tops out at 130 feet.

    Thrill-happy Universal Orlando reaches more for the stars. Its tallest ride, Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit sends passengers straight up a 167-foot tower. The current tallest coaster in the state can be found...MORE at Busch Gardens Tampa. Its wonderful dive coaster, Sheikra, climbs a fairly daunting 200-foot-tall lift hill. And in 2016, SeaWorld Orlando will open Mako, a hypercoaster that will also rise 200 feet.

    But we're just beginning to scale the heights. As it turns out, only one of Florida's seven tallest rides is located in a major theme park. For that matter, five of the seven aren't actually in any park. Confused? Click through as we count down the biggest and baddest rides. The results may surprise you. 

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  • 02 of 08

    Number 6 (tie): Falcon's Fury

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    ••• Busch Gardens Tampa

    The only one of Florida's five tallest rides to be located in a major theme park, Falcon's Fury climbs a daunting 300 feet before it plummets back to earth at 60 mph. It is one of the world's tallest drop rides. (The tallest is Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure.) That alone would make it incredibly thrilling. Before the drop, however, the seats pivot 90 degrees so that passengers face the ground as they take the plunge. Yikes! Read more about Falcon's Fury.

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  • 03 of 08

    Number 6 (tie): SkyCoaster

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    ••• Fun Spot America

    Many parks have SkyCoasters. For the extra-charge ride, brave souls are outfitted in harnesses and slowly lifted to the top of an arched structure. When they summon the courage, they release the tether, freefall down, and swing back and forth a few times. Transplanted from Las Vegas, the SkyCoaster at the small amusement park, Fun Spot America, is the tallest in the world. Fun Spot America operates a second park just off of International Drive in Orlando. It also has a SkyCoaster. At 250 feet, it is the second tallest in the world.

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  • 04 of 08

    Number 5: The Orlando Eye

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    ••• Merlin Entertainments Group
    • I-Drive 360, Orlando
    • Type of ride: Observation wheel
    • Height: 400 feet

    The state's top five tallest rides all have some things in common: None of them are (or will be) located inside a theme park or amusement park; most of them have have yet to open (at the time this is being written in July 2015); and all of them will be located within shouting distance of one another among the cool attractions along International Drive.

    There will be plenty of shouting and screaming going on at the top four rides, but The Orlando Eye offers a slow and gentle experience. Passengers ride in the comfort of climate-controlled cabins and get spectacular views of Orlando's downtown and its many theme parks. The ride is operated by Merlin Entertainments Group, the same company that operates (the slightly taller) The London Eye observation wheel. Merlin also runs Legoland Florida and the other Legoland parks. In addition to The Orlando Eye, I-Drive 360 includes a Sea Life Orlando Aquarium and a Madame...MORE Tussauds Orlando. 

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  • 05 of 08

    Number 4: Vue at 360

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    ••• Unicorp National Developments
    • Vue at 360, Orlando
    • Type of ride: Spinning swing ride
    • Height: 420 feet
    • Scheduled to open late 2015 or early 2016

    Things will really be looking up along International Drive. Across the street from I-Drive 360 and The Orlando Eye, another complex will feature the 420-foot Vue at 360 StarFlyer. When it opens, it will be the world's tallest spinning swing ride. It won't spin all that quickly, nor will it offer any sudden drops or other thrilling maneuvers. But passengers in skimpy swing seats will climb ridiculously high and be able to look down on The Orlando Eye.

    To get a sense of the experience, read my review of the current world's tallest spinning swing ride, the New England SkyScreamer at Six Flags New England.

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  • 06 of 08

    Number 3: SkyFall Drop Ride

    ••• Six Flags

    The featured ride at Skyplex will be the Skyscraper coaster (which is listed on the next page). But aside the coaster on the ride's tower will be SkyFall a 450-foot drop ride -- the world's tallest. To get a sense of what's in store, read about Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure, a similar drop ride. That's Zumanjaro in the picture.

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  • 07 of 08

    Number 2: Skyscraper

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    ••• The Skyscraper at Skyplex.
    • Skyplex, Orlando
    • Type of ride: "Polercoaster" roller coaster
    • Height: 570 feet
    • Scheduled to open 2017

    At the top of Florida's ride heap will be Skyscraper. The impossibly tall coaster will climb an incredible 570 feet before rocketing down and delivering crazy-high inversions and other elements. Not only will it be Florida's tallest ride, it will reign atop the list of the world's tallest roller coasters. Read more about Skyscraper at Skyplex.

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  • 08 of 08

    Number 1: SkyFly

    ••• Stratosphere Tower Las Vegas
    • Skyplex, Orlando
    • Type of ride: Controlled free fall (I think)
    • Height: 600 feet
    • Scheduled to open 2017

    Skyplex is calling its SkyFly attraction a "zip line." But I think it will be more like a controlled free fall ride, such as the one at the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. Intrepid passengers will suit up in a body harness near the top of the Skyplex tower and "jump" 600 feet to the ground. Yikes!