You should know by now that here at Grown-up Travel Guide we love us a great theme park.
Anyway, roller-coasters are without a doubt the most exciting part of any theme park visit. And when you go to some of Florida’s theme parks, you will find that the state is blessed with an abundance of quality bone-shakers.
Here then – in no particular order – are the 6 roller-coasters we love most in the sunshine state. Disagree? Let us know what we have got wrong by leaving a comment at the end of the article.
Revenge of the Mummy – Universal Studios Florida
Providing arguably the most thrills per minute from an indoor rollercoaster, Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios in Orlando is essentially a modern take on that old favourite, the ghost train. It’s fast, it will scare the beejeezus out of you and is admirably unpredictable.
You definitely don’t need to be a fan of the movie of the same name, just cast away your preconceptions and climb aboard the carriage. We loved it the first time and immediately returned to the back of the queue to ride it again. Twice. It’s better to go in without knowing what is going to happen so we are deliberately keeping this mention spoiler-free. Just go, you will not regret it…
The Incredible Hulk – Islands of Adventure
This is possibly our all-time favourite and holds a special place in our hearts as it was the roller-coaster that finally convinced the oldies in the family (read: my wife and I) that thrill rides were for us. Our daughter was of course way ahead but we soon caught up in enthusiasm.
There’s THAT super-speed launch and miles of sharp bends and amazing drops. It can be a little rough so make sure you are well-strapped in and go with the ride rather than trying to resist it (advice which holds true for all roller-coasters). But don’t let that – or anything – put you off.
SheiKra – Busch Gardens Tampa
Theme park nerds know that SheiKra is one of just two “floorless dive machines” in the whole of the US. The rest of us will simply buckle up and go with it. This one is huge – the vehicles are 10 across and in three rows at a time so you will be in plenty of screaming company. It starts with a 60 metre climb and a smooth turn, then a painfully slow crawl over the edge of a sheer drop.
The ride then stops to let you fully contemplate what is about to happen. And it is exactly what you feared – a free-fall plunge, followed by a gut-wrenching inversion and another drop down into a tunnel. And you pay for the privilege. Gladly…
White Lightning – Fun Spot America, Orlando
This may be a new one for you but don’t pass it by simply because it is found at one of the smaller, independent theme parks in Orlando. It’s old-school; one of just three wooden coasters in Florida. On paper, White Lightning sounds like a walk in the park, but do not be fooled.
You will get plenty of thrills and a surprisingly smooth ride compared to other wooden rides we could mention. It’s a bit of a hidden gem that most people ignore, but you shouldn’t – seek it out.
Manta – SeaWorld Orlando
Manta is a bit like Marmite – people either love it or hate it. No matter where you stand, there’s no denying that this flying coaster is highly innovative. It’s the only one of its kind in Florida, and rather than having carriages on top of tracks, this time things are reversed. You are actually moved into a flying position, parallel to the ground, before take-off.
This alone is too much for some guests and when the crazy inversions are added into the mix you have to be a little hardcore to want to give it a try. A nice touch is the renowned “Pretzel Loop” which will make you feel those G-forces. A clever trick is played using well-timed fountains to give the impression of skimming the surface of a pond with plumes of water shooting into the air. Nice.
Cheetah Hunt – Busch Gardens Tampa
Another family favourite – especially with our family – Cheetah Hunt is all about the speed, topping out at 100 kph or so. It also incorporates no less than three launch stages, whereby electromagnetic force powers the trains forward like a railgun, an exciting inversion, a sections where the trains jump over the park’s skyride cable and a “tree” that the Cheetah train climbs and then drops from.
Even with all the above, it is marvellously smooth – and as one of the longest rides in Florida at 1350 meters, you get plenty of bang for your buck.