Florida’s sun, sand and surf draw vacationers from around the world looking for relaxation. Florida also draws a number of visitors whose vacation plans center around being hurtled through the air at top speed, roaring around hairpin curves and being suspended for a heart-stopping few seconds before plummeting hundreds of feet.
Thrill-seeking roller coaster fans know the state’s theme parks are home to some fearsome and famous rides. Lists of the best roller coasters in Florida out of Disney World likely will vary from rider to rider, but this selection definitely covers some of the most revered and feared rides in the state.
SHEIKRA (Busch Gardens, Tampa)
The litmus test for roller coaster fanatics, Sheikra dangles riders over a precipice for a few heart-stopping seconds before plunging 200 feet for a series of twists and turns that reach 73 miles per hour. The ride’s design mounts seats to a chassis with no floor, side or back, adding to the thrills (or terror). If that description fills you with more fervor than fear, then all aboard!
CHEETAH HUNT (Busch Gardens, Tampa)
With a top-speed of 60 miles per hour, Cheetah Hunt may seem tame compared to Sheikra, but it still has plenty of peaks, drops, twists and turns to keep riders screaming with delight. At 4,400-feet it’s the longest of Busch Garden’s coasters, giving riders a fantastic aerial view of the park before plummeting down to tear through a twisting ground-level tour.
MONTU (Busch Gardens, Tampa)
This coaster may have riders asking, “Which way is up?” at its conclusion. Its route includes seven inversions to ensure riders get to spend maximum time roaring down the tracks upside-down. Also, while Montu is acclaimed for its smooth ride, it also features an Immelmann loop, described by Busch Gardens as “a simultaneous loop and roll,” and named for World War I German ace fighter pilot Max Immelmann.
KUMBA (Busch Gardens, Tampa)
Opening in 1993, this coaster is a long-time favorite. It packs in plenty of thrills, including an initial 135-foot drop into a diving loop, three seconds of weightlessness and a 360-degree spiral. Small wonder it remains on best-of lists almost 30 years since its debut.
ROCK ‘N’ ROLLER COASTER STARRING AEROSMITH (Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Orlando)
This may be the loudest roller coaster on the list, with a 125-speaker, 24-subwoofer, 32,000-watt audio system blasting a soundtrack of hits by hard rock veterans Aerosmith. The ride itself features three inversions – two rollover loops and a corkscrew – and a launch that goes from 0 to 57 miles per hour in less than three seconds.
MAKO (SeaWorld, Orlando)
No mere roller coaster, Mako is a hypercoaster, a ride devoted to height, speed, acceleration, G-forces and airtime, the sensation passengers feel when they rise out of their seats during the ride. It’s 200 feet tall at its peak and reaches speeds of 73 miles per hour, so it’s little wonder that SeaWorld touts it as “Orlando’s tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster.”Buttons
MANTA (SeaWorld, Orlando)
Described as a flying roller coaster, the ride begins with passengers strapped in facing the ground. After an initial head-first inverted nosedive, Manta soars through four inversions and reaches speeds of greater than 55 miles per hour. Riders whip past lush landscaping and even catch some spray from the water below.
KRAKEN (SeaWorld, Orlando)
A floorless roller coaster definitely not for the faint of heart, this rolling monster features 4,000 feet of track, a peak height of 150 feet, speeds as fast as 65 miles per hour and several inversions including a breath-taking dive loop.
These are some of the best rollercoasters in Florida you can try that are outside of Disney World. Give them a try and you’ll discover why people come to the Sunshine State for more than just the beach.