Ranking Every Florida Thrill Coaster

I'd always maintained that an Orlando holiday was never a 'coaster' holiday - it was a whole package theme park holiday. You had some great coasters sure but they were never the life and soul of the party, it was the dark rides, the character meet and greets, the shows, the food. But I would say since Blackfish aired in 2013 and forced Sea World to seriously rethink their brand and experience strategy and opting to invest heavily in coasters, we've seen a 'boom' of world-beating coaster action across the Florida state. Catalysed by Sea World, each park has competed to build the next biggest and best coaster to draw tourists' attention, and us coaster enthusiasts are reaping all the benefits!

I've wanted to write this for a while but for obvious reasons had to wait until I was back from my most recent trip to Florida before I could get stuck in. Now that the state really has something to bring to the table in terms of world-class coasters, I wanted to take some time today to sit and rank every 'extreme' coaster in the state, as identified by RCDB. There are seventeen in this category in total, and as always this is based solely on my experience and opinion. I'm sure there will be rankings here that you disagree with, and by all means let me know in the comments which you think I've got wrong! Let's get stuck in. 


17. Manta, Sea World

I...don't actually remember the last time I rode this but as a general rule I just do not vibe with flying coasters. I find the riding position uncomfortable, the forces are too much and I have to deal with my hair flying in my face the entire time. Manta is one of those coasters that looks breathtaking off-ride, so I'd rather spend some time admiring it from the ground while others ride instead. 


16. Tigris, Busch Gardens Tampa

I rode it for the cred in 2019, and honestly didn't hate it as much as I thought I would. I didn't ride it on this visit as I opted for more re-rides on Iron Gwazi instead. If I visited the park on a totally dead day I probably would get back on this, but the 'comfort collars' are atrocious and the coaster just doesn't really do a lot for me sadly. 


15. Cheetah Hunt, Busch Gardens Tampa

As a launch-coaster fan girl, I think Cheetah Hunt was probably one of the most disappointing coasters I've ever been on. I remember riding it for the first time and being soooo exciting at the prospect of so many launches, such a long track and such a neat concept for a coaster, only to be met with what is really a brisk sprint across the plains. I do think it's a good 'entry level' thrill coaster for those looking to build up their courage and the trains are cool but yh, it's not one of my favourites. 


14. Mine Blower, Fun Spot America

Despite this coaster being a little on the brutal side, I enjoy Mine Blower. Do not board this thing expecting smooth sailing, it's gnarly as hell and the Orlando sun has not been kind to it, but I kind of like that in a janky amusement park coaster. It's fun, it's got some great little airtime moments, an inversion that seems to come out of nowhere and fantastic train design. It's definitely worth a ride if you're in the area. 


13. Scorpion, Busch Gardens Tampa

Look, I'm not going to lie to you like some coaster enthusiasts will and tell you Scorpion is the #bestthingever just because it's an old Schwarz. There are PLENTY of better coasters out there, even in the same park (as we will discuss). But, Scorpion is a TON of fun and is still packing those forces 42 years later, which is some feat given the intensity of the Florida weather. It's one of those coasters you know is on the chopping block soon just given how old it is, so certainly make time to ride it and appreciate it for what it is next time you're at Busch Gardens. 


12. Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit, Universal Studios Orlando

Stupid name, stupid coaster, so of course I love it. I remember the uproar when this thing was being built, everybody moaning how it didn't fir the Universal aesthetic and how it's an eyesore. And they're absolutely right on all accounts, and yet something about it endears me. Terrifying lift-hill start, great views across the park, some incredibly fun airtime moments, mad forces swooshing between the sound stages and of course, the soundtrack of your choice. Mine is, and always will be, Kickstart My Heart by Motley Crue and a ride on this coaster never fails to leave me with a smile on my face. 


11. Incredible Hulk, Islands of Adventure 

Before this coaster was retracked it was getting into Manta territory for me: ie it was unrideable just because of the sheer intensity and roughness of it. Thankfully Universal gave it a lot of TLC and it's now just...a really fun coaster again. As B&Ms go it's not the most interesting or innovative coaster in the world but its inarguably one of the most iconic/recognisable coasters in the world and that first section launch-zero-g-cobra roll-loop combo is an absolute knockout every time. 


10. Kraken, Sea World

Here we go, Top 10 time baby! I've always had a soft spot for Kraken and I don't really understand why. Typically speaking I don't rate B&M floorless coasters but there's something about Kraken that sets it apart. It's just really gentle, and floaty and glides elegantly through every element with just the right amount of force that it doesn't become nauseating. Repaint looks awesome too. 


9. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Disney's Hollywood Studios

I saw a meme somewhere that was like 'if you grew up emo, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is your favourite coaster at Disney World' and lol, there's definitely something in that. As an 'alternative' (cringe) teen, coming to Disney World with my family in the noughties and entering a coaster queue past a giant Fender Stratocaster whilst listening to Blink-182 playing in the queueline felt like this coaster was designed specifically for me. Throw in all the glam-rock kitsch of a Disneyfied LA and Aerosmith storyline and there's very little fault I can find with Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. The launch with Steven Tyler screeching in your ears accompanied with strobe lighting kills me every time and the layout is just a solid fun time. 


8. Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom

OK so...I'd say 85% of my enjoyment of this coaster comes from the theming. I truly do not think there is a better themed coaster in the world than Expedition Everest and I will say that again. I do not think there is a better themed coaster in the world than Expedition Everest. You fall head-first down the rabbit hole of immersion the second you glimpse the mountain from wherever you are in the park and are swallowed deeper again once you enter the queueline. Every inch is dripping with narrative lore, luring you into the legend of the yeti and alluring adventure that awaits once you board the train. The coasters itself is...fine. I forgot how short it was truth be told. But that theming and storytelling perfection is second to none and enough to have me running back around for an immediate re-ride. 


7. Sheikra, Busch Gardens Tampa

I think Sheikra might be my most-ridden coaster at Busch Gardens, and whatever way I enter the park, whatever time of day, I somehow always end up riding this first. As B&M dive coasters go I would say it is my third favourite behind Oblivion and Yukon Striker, but there's really no flaws in its design. It manages to make a centrepiece of its first drop, as all dive coasters should, but then really doesn't let up with the follow up layout. The Immelman is glorious, the second secret sneaky drop is totally fun and really catches you off guard if you don't know it's coming and the splashdown is a great element both on and off ride. 


6. Montu, Busch Gardens Tampa

Damn I forgot how long and intense Montu is - this thing is absolutely relentless! Another iconic coaster for me and a design I based all of my best RCT B&M invert work on, it's crazy how much Montu holds up over 25 years later. The huge swooping first drop is still to die for and that batwing is still one of my all time favourite inversions on any coaster. I wish there were more vantage points for getting great photos of this thing because it's stunning too.


5. Revenge of the Mummy, Universal Studios Orlando

Mannnn I was so bummed out this coaster was closed for our most recent visit because let me tell you, I love me some Mummy. This indoor coaster-cum-dark ride by Premier Rides is probably the best 'ghost train' we have at the Orlando parks. Gnarly, insanely horrific animatronics throughout, obscene fire effects and incredibly detailed dark ride scenes accompanied with genuinely forceful launches and intense coaster sections make it one of the best examples of how to do a 'cred in a shed' ride in the world. I miss it a lot. 


4. Kumba, Busch Gardens Tampa

When I visited the park recently nobody wanted to ride this with me so I queued alone until my dad ran up and joined me. I think people sleep on Kumba. When I heard the rumours it might be going I was genuinely devastated. Despite this being a 'veteran' B&M at this point, it's still as intense as ever and I am always impressed with a coaster that can have such a huge, twisted layout without causing me to feel nauseous. The view going up that lift-hill and through the giant vertical loop is incredible, and the zero-g is my favourite inversion on any coaster in the world. Long may she roar. 


3. Mako, Sea World Orlando

For a lonnnng time Mako was my number one coaster in Florida, and for good reason. It's still my favourite B&M hyper coaster and re-riding it last month reminded me why. It's just nuts, especially at the front. I adore it when you feel totally at the mercy of the machine and physics you're putting all your trust into and Mako does that to the Nth degree. Dragged mercilessly down that first drop then propelled up and over each airtime hill drowning in glorious ejector airtime with every single one. The pacing never lets up, we pause to catch a breath intermittently then we plough onwards. I could sit on this thing all day. 


2. Iron Gwazi, Busch Gardens Tampa

Won't go into too much detail here as full review to come but...relentlessly chaotic in the BEST way. Incredible, insane piece of engineering that I miss daily. Even if my thighs were bruised after just one ride...


1. VelociCoaster, Islands of Adventure


If you already read my review you knew this was coming, but yes, my new favourite coaster in Florida is indeed the sensational VelociCoaster at Islands of Adventure. It really is coaster perfection, the perfect balance of theme and thrills, forceful enough to have me losing my mind with every ride but not too forceful that I don't want an instant re-ride. Theme park excellence. 

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Long may the Florida coaster-wars reign! I'll be intrigued to see where the new Sea World and Universal investments end up on this list, but right now I'm taking a moment to sit back and marvel at the fact that we live in a world where there's a single state in the US that has such an excellent coaster line-up with such offering and variety we go back year after year after year for our fix. 

What do you think of my list? Are there any positions you'd swap? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,


2 comments

  1. Out of interest, Jordan, how come White Lightning isn’t on here? Have you not done Fun Spot Orlando?

    Great list, though; I haven’t done VelociCoaster or Iron Gwazi yet, but of the ones I’ve done, I certainly agree with Mako’s top placement!

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    1. So I only ranked coasters listed as 'Extreme' as per RCDB. White Lightning is 'Thrill' so it's not here. Mako is a fantastic coaster!

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