If you’re anything like me, you woke up this morning and got ready for work with zero clue that there was anything special about today. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as August 16 is National Roller Coaster Day! I admittedly had no idea this was even a thing, but as an avid fan of roller coasters and a frequent traveler to Orlando, Florida, I felt obliged to give our readers a quick list of the best roller coasters in Orlando to celebrate!
We have to start by laying down a foundation for how a roller coaster makes my list. First and foremost, they have to be in Orlando, Florida. As the area is the unofficial Theme Park capital of the world, there are plenty of options to choose from. Next, the included rides have to be an actual roller coaster, meaning that simulated coasters are a no-go on this list of the best roller coasters in Orlando. Lastly, I have to have ridden the roller coaster multiple times. Pretty easy checklist, right? So without further ado, here are my top roller coasters that call Orlando, Florida home.
5. Mako – SeaWorld Orlando, 2016
The Mako at SeaWorld Orlando holds the title of the tallest roller coaster in Orlando, with an initial drop of 200 feet. This steel coaster is categorized as a hypercoaster and reaches speeds of 73 mph with a track length of 4,760 feet. The roller coaster, named after the infamous Mako shark species, is a smooth, fast, and death-defying ride all the way through. It’s deceptively frightening in the best of ways. My first ride on the Mako left me in total shock as I had left change in my shirt pocket, which ended up floating in front of my face for a couple of seconds prior to taking that initial plunge at the start of the ride. Although the ride does not contain any inversions, it’s a long experience that keeps you gasping for air the entire time.
4. Revenge of the Mummy – Universal Studios Orlando, 2004
One thing is for sure, Universal Studios knows how to do roller coasters, and their Parks in Orlando are home to some of the most exciting rides in Florida. Next on the list is Revenge of the Mummy, which opened in 2004 in Universal Studios Orlando. Although this ride is a roller coaster, it could easily be defined as an entire experience. Using exciting track transitions, larger-than-life sets complete with special effects, and high-speed excitement, Revenge of the Mummy is a masterpiece, highlighting everything that Universal does well. The six-story roller coaster reaches speeds of 45 mph while whipping Guests through a tomb uncovered during the filming of the Mummy franchise starring Brendon Fraiser. Complete with blasting furnaces, Guest appearances by Fraiser and Imhotep, riders are sure to feel as if they actually “survived” a deadly ordeal once they are unloaded.
3. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure, 2019
Although officially named Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, we’ll just use “Hagrid’s” for the sake of time. Hagrid’s opened to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, replacing a dueling set of coasters that would have certainly found themselves on this list. We miss you Dueling Dragons. The $300 million roller coaster is a multi-launch steel coaster located in Hogsmeade village outside Hogwarts Castle. To say that Hagrid’s is a blast is a bit of an understatement. The ride, using motorbike and sidecar seating, features multiple launches which reach speeds of 50 mph, a sharp hill that stalls riders leading to a backward plunge, and a track drop that boggles even the brightest of minds. If all of this doesn’t sound awesome enough, you’re certain to run into a few of those fantastic creatures that Hagrid is always carrying on about in the Harry Potter films. Although not as fast as some of the other Orlando-based roller coasters on this list, Hagrid’s is designed to leave riders feeling exposed, and it’s a great time for all who meet the height requirement.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy – Cosmic Rewind, Walt Disney World, EPCOT, 2022
Although not the first place you think of when considering the best roller coaster in Orlando, Walt Disney World is no stranger to a few thrilling experiences. Typically not as fast-paced and daring as their neighboring competition, Disney isn’t a slouch in the coaster department. The reigning king of Theme Parks in Orlando welcomed its second newest coaster, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, in 2022, and fans (myself included) immediately fell in love. Assuming they weren’t hunched over a trash can after finishing the roller coaster, riders are treated to a unique experience alongside Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy characters. The goal of this coaster, which reaches speeds of 60 mph, is to help the popular superheroes retrieve a Cosmic Generator that a Celestial being has stolen. The fast-paced action places riders right in the middle of the fun as they zoom through wormhole after wormhole, twisting along the way, all to a fantastic soundtrack.
It’s safe to say anyone who didn’t already know what the number one roller coaster in Orlando was going to be, has yet to ride many coasters in the several Theme Parks that call the city home. The Jurassic World VelociCoaster opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in 2019 and quickly gained notoriety as one of the most thrilling and scary roller coasters in Orlando; some may even consider it the best in the country. Reaching speeds of 70 mph, riders will experience the absolute rush of outrunning velociraptors looking for an easy meal once you enter their paddock. The roller coaster features two high-speed launches, its signature 155-foot top hat, and several corkscrews and stall-outs. There’s just something about the pacing and ridiculous motioning of this ride. Many claim to spend very little time in their actual seats as it feels like the VelociCoaster is designed to expel riders. Of course this isn’t the case, but you’ll definitely want to make sure your heart is in good working order prior to boarding!
For the sake of time, we only included our top five in this list of the best roller coasters in Orlando. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t several out there to try. SeaWorld, Walt Disney World, and Universal Orlando are home to a total of 25 roller coasters to try out, amidst a ton of other offerings. Of course, with any list, we have to have honorable mentions, and as Orlando is home to so many Theme Parks, there are few who deserve a shout-out!
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Walt Disney World Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Universal Studios Orlando
The Incredible Hulk, Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Space Mountain, Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom
Manta, SeaWorld Orlando
Expedition Everest- Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom
So, there you have it! Some may agree, some may completely disagree, and some may have a different order for their favorite roller coasters in Orlando. Luckily for us, Orlando hosts so many amazing and thrilling attractions and rides there’s something everyone will love. As we celebrate National Roller Coaster Day, it’s awesome to think there’s a place where everyone can find something at their speed and get their adrenaline fix! Even if roller coasters aren’t your thing, there’s a thrill ride in Orlando with your name on it!