The Best Roller Coasters In Florida (And Which Ones To Skip)

Roller coasters are a staple of any self-effacing amusement park. This is especially true when you're talking about a place like Florida – the unofficial state capital of some of the best theme parks in the world. With world-famous parks found in Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando found in Orlando alone, there's no shortage of excellent rides to venture onboard in the Sunshine State. These include everything from iconic attractions like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to newer roller coasters that have quickly garnered critical acclaim from park visitors, like Jurassic World VelociCoaster or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

As fantastic a place as Florida is in terms of its numerous theme parks and adjoining roller coasters, it's easy to see that certain coasters in the state tend to be far better than others. In some cases, Florida even boasts some incredibly underwhelming rides that likely won't impress prospective visitors, including more than a few attractions at Universal or Disney. With that in mind, it's worth knowing which roller coasters to experience during your trip to Florida, as well as which ones you should actively try and avoid.

From beloved roller coasters at Walt Disney World to high-speed thrill rides at Universal Studios Orlando, here are some of the best roller coasters in Florida, as well as some of the state's absolute worst coasters. We made this list starting with the worst and ending with the best, so buckle up and read on! 

16. The worst roller coasters at Universal Studios Orlando

Compared to their main competition at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando offers largely more intense roller coasters rather than rides designed with the whole family in mind. This is great if you're going with a group of older or experienced riders, but you'll quickly find that not every coaster at Universal Studios Orlando is worth going on. In particular, you can avoid two: Flight of the Hippogriff and Pteranodon Flyers, both of which are found at Universal's Islands of Adventure.

Something admirable can be said about Flight of the Hippogriff, an attraction that serves as a welcome break from the other simulation-heavy rides in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, when you hold it up to something as truly fantastic as Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, it's clear Hippogriff lacks the speed, imagination, or creative facade as its fellow Hogsmeade attraction. It's one of the most generic rides you'll find in all of Universal, connecting to The Wizarding World in name alone.

Likewise, most riders are bound to be disappointed with Pteranodon Flyers. A child-friendly attraction that prohibits adults (except when accompanying younger riders), it's technically not even really a roller coaster, serving more as a leisurely flight over the Jurassic Park area of the park. The ride is also known for being plagued with long lines, owing to the fact that only three ride vehicles are permitted to operate at the same time, with said vehicles accommodating a maximum of two people.

15. The worst roller coasters at Walt Disney World

Given the number of families that visit Walt Disney World, it's fair to say most of their roller coasters are designed purposefully for riders of all ages. Yet, like any theme park, some Disney roller coasters utterly fail to measure up to the bigger, better roller coasters Disney has to offer. Thankfully, these middling roller coasters are relatively few in number, the prime offenders being The Barnstormer and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, both of which are found at Magic Kingdom.

A junior roller coaster located in the Storybook Circus area of the park, The Barnstormer's biggest fault is its short length, the entire ride's duration lasting roughly 53 seconds. As an entry-level roller coaster, it's the ideal attraction for younger riders, moving at speeds of 25 mph and going no higher than 30 feet in some spots. Anyone else should avoid it at all costs (especially when you factor in that it's tucked in the far right corner of Magic Kingdom, isolating you from everything else).

On a similar note, it's advisable to keep clear of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, an attraction with a fairly impressive facade, but little else that makes it worth riding. Guaranteed to form a long line on any given day, the Mine Train is essentially a tamer version of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. As with The Barnstormer, it's great for younger or inexperienced riders, but anyone looking for a truly remarkable coaster can simply do without it.

14. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (Universal Studios Florida)

If there's one fair criticism you can lob at Universal Studios Orlando, it's that they have a tendency to revert to more screen-heavy, simulation-based rides rather than more traditional attractions people associate with theme parks. Still, while some might view this characteristic as a weakness, others maintain a decidedly more positive outlook on Universal's ride layouts, complimenting them for their mix of practical and special effects. Such an effective combination can be seen most clearly on a ride like Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, one of the stronger attractions found at Universal Studios Florida.

The main attraction of the Diagon Alley section of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts takes riders on an epic journey into the subterranean caverns beneath Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Once there, you'll board a train cart that takes you deeper into the passageways below Gringotts, encountering infamous figures like Bellatrix Lestrange and You-Know-Who himself, the Dark Lord Voldemort, who pursues riders throughout the attraction.

As with most of The Wizarding World's rides, you'll either love Escape from Gringotts or find the heavy reliance on digital screens and simulations a bit nauseating. Fortunately, the occasional scenes built into the attraction – including the sporadic appearances of Voldemort, Harry, Ron, and Hermione – help break up the ride long enough to temporarily recuperate (unlike the Forbidden Journey ride, which rarely lets up throughout its four-minute-long duration).

13. Slinky Dog Dash (Disney's Hollywood Studios)

As mentioned previously, Walt Disney World perhaps isn't the ideal spot for travelers looking for intense roller coasters, most of the attractions catering to families and younger vacationers who are looking for relatively tamer rides. However, that's not to say these roller coasters aren't worthy of praise in their own right, each of them delivering manageable thrills meticulously themed to Disney's most popular movies, television shows, and fictional characters. Case in point with Slinky Dog Dash, the second-best roller coaster in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Dominating the center of Toy Story Land, Slinky Dog Dash is meant to appear as a custom-made "Dash & Dodge" roller coaster kit personally constructed by Andy. Boarding a cart made to appear as Slinky Dog from the film series, riders then take off on a medium-speed journey through Andy's backyard, passing giant Crayola crayons, towering sticks of glue, and more than a few familiar faces from Pixar's hit franchise.

Moving at speeds of 40 mph and climbing hills up to 50 feet high, Slinky Dog Dash is a perfect halfway ride for children and older adults. It's manageable for kids, tying in amazingly well with the series it's based upon, and has enough speed and velocity to satisfy thrill-savvy riders as well.

12. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom)

In terms of the Disney roller coaster hierarchy, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a definite step up from junior roller coasters like The Barnstormer and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, as well as a ride that's perfectly suitable for older riders and those wholly new to coasters alike. A well-loved attraction guaranteed to amass quite a line at Magic Kingdom, it's an excellent roller coaster that combines humor, speed, and its Western theming to deliver an unforgettable and enjoyable ride.

On paper, a roller coaster through a Western landscape sounds like it would excite only a handful of respective riders. But with Disney's gift for presenting more humorous translations of stereotypical Western motifs, the ride thrives on its ability to present a ton of memorable images in the blink of an eye. Whether it's passing under an excavated dinosaur rib cage or having the tunnel you're traveling through blown up by prospectors, there's never a dull moment aboard Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, one of the most popular roller coasters in Walt Disney World.

Possessing far more strengths than it does weaknesses, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad may admittedly be a tad disappointing for anyone looking for intense attractions like The Incredible Hulk Coaster. Nevertheless, it's an early staple of Disney's flagship Magic Kingdom, having undergone relatively little change or altercations as the years have gone by – a testament to the ride's continued popularity from generation to generation.

11. Expedition Everest (Disney's Animal Kingdom)

Disney's Animal Kingdom has only one roller coaster, although, with how quality a coaster it is, it almost doesn't even need any other. The feature attraction of the Asia area of Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest once again makes use of some atmospheric theming, combined with a genuinely thrilling roller coaster experience. Set against Nepal's famous Himalayan Mountains, Expedition Everest takes riders through its titular mountain range, coming face to face with Everest's cave-dwelling resident, the legendary Yeti.

There are several characteristics that make Expedition Everest stand apart from its competition at other Florida theme parks. First and foremost, it's far and away one of the more intense attractions at any Disney park. The speed reaches a maximum of 50 mph, but it feels much faster once you're barreling through complete darkness. Plus, once you're moving backward at those speeds, it serves as a surprisingly exhilarating thrill ride just slightly less intense than any one of Universal's roller coasters.

Unfortunately, Everest's most glaringly obvious problem is the Yeti you encounter near the end of the attraction. As you pass through the last tunnel, you'll find the 25-foot tall animatronic creature looming over you, giving riders one last fright before their disembarkation. Sadly, the animatronic has infamously suffered from mechanical issues that prevent it from actually moving, Disney instead added flashing strobe light effects to give the illusion of movement. In actuality, it's little more than a highly-detailed statue, hence the attraction's lower placement on this list.

10. Revenge of the Mummy (Universal Studios Florida)

Thanks to the recent career resurgence of Brendan Fraser, Revenge of the Mummy has been getting a lot more attention lately among Universal Studios Orlando visitors. Much like Fraser himself, we can't think of an attraction more deserving of praise than this enclosed dark roller coaster. Based on the eponymous 1999 film series, Revenge of the Mummy can be accurately described as an improved version of Expedition Everest and Escape from Gringotts. In it, you venture into the mysterious ruins of an excavated Egyptian tomb, triggering an ancient curse that frees series antagonist Imhotep, sending the demonic mummy and his army of the undead after you.

As with Expedition Everest, Revenge of the Mummy has a track layout that sends you forwards and backward, tunneling through a sparsely-lit cavern with Imhotep in hot pursuit. Unlike Expedition Everest, Revenge of the Mummy has a variety of special effects it employs throughout the attraction, including animatronic mummies, screen projections, and an excellent fake-out ending where Imhotep "seizes control" of the ride just as it seems like it's wrapping up. In contrast to the over-saturation of digital effects like those in Escape from Gringotts, Revenge of the Mummy uses just enough effects without overdoing it, complimenting the ride nicely.

Given the nature of "The Mummy" films themselves, the ride may be a bit taxing for inexperienced riders, what with its basis in horror and general intensity. For that reason, it's advisable for more veteran riders to venture into this attraction.

9. Manta (SeaWorld Orlando)

SeaWorld Orlando is seldom mentioned in the same breath as Universal Studios Orlando or Walt Disney World when people talk about Orlando's best amusement parks. But that doesn't mean SeaWorld Orlando doesn't have its fair share of remarkable attractions, one of the more celebrated being the flying roller coaster, Manta.

Truly living up to the ride's highly accurate slogan ("Dive deep, fly high..."), Manta takes riders upwards of 140 feet in the air, sending them flying downward at speeds of 56 mph. The ride's vehicles suspend guests horizontally, taking them on an unforgettable flight through multiple dips, loops, and drops. For all its twists and turns, though, Manta operates on an unbelievably smooth track, benefiting greatly from a minimal number of brake points, allowing you to experience the ride's top speeds without slowing down.

The highlight of the attraction has to be the area of track that allows riders to skim over large bodies of water below, including ponds with atmospheric cascading waterfalls nearby. Guests who are used to similarly-styled flying coasters like Superman: Ride of Steel at Six Flags will even find Manta to be slightly more intense – not to mention decidedly more gorgeous in terms of its landscape and environmental layout.

8. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (Universal Studios Florida)

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit might not be the first attraction you think of at Universal Studios Orlando, but it most assuredly deserves to be. One of the best attractions found at either of Universal's two parks, it's one of the most original roller coasters you'll find anywhere in Florida, if only for its infinitely clever central premise.

Ahead of your trip onboard Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, you'll be able to choose from a far-ranging menu of songs you can personally select and listen to on your ride. These songs range from hard rock classics like Hinder's "Born to Be Wild" to country music songs like Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." If you're fast enough, you can even unlock a secret menu with numerous other songs to choose from, including Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" and Eminem's "Lose Yourself."

The ride itself is remarkable, but it's the added customizable soundtrack that makes Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit what it is. The area surrounding the park isn't much to look at, but it does wonders at making it feel like you've truly stepped onto a Hollywood studio's backlot. Not only that, but Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit's sizable hills, rapid speeds (up to 65 mph), and sudden take-offs make it a roller coaster just slightly less intense than its sister attraction at Islands of Adventure, The Incredible Hulk Coaster.

7. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (Disney's Hollywood Studios)

Perhaps the most intense roller coaster of Walt Disney World's four theme parks, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is a ride very much akin to Space Mountain, the predominant difference between the two being the addition of some well-curated songs from the classic rock band Aerosmith.

Known for its rapid exhilaration right out of the gate, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster takes you from zero to 57 mph in a mere 2.8 seconds. Interestingly, that's actually one of the fastest accelerated launches out of any park in Florida, narrowly beating out rivals like The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Jurassic World VelociCoaster. Following that, you glide through a dark-lit room with neon-lit signs for Los Angeles iconography as famed Aerosmith songs play at high volumes all around you. It may sound simple or even disappointing compared to how similar it is to Space Mountain, but the addition of such pesky ear-worms as "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk This Way" goes a long way in ensuring you have a head-bobbing good time on the ride.

Compared to Disney's assortment of lighter roller coasters, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is a major step up, matching the thrills of more mature coasters like those in Universal. For that reason alone, it should be experienced by most roller coaster enthusiasts, even if it's perhaps not altogether very suitable for younger riders.

6. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (Universal's Islands of Adventure)

The Wizarding World has its fair share of strengths, but like any theme park area, it's not without its assortment of issues as well. Perhaps the harshest criticism you can attribute to Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade is that they're too reliant on special effects-laden attractions (a recurring problem with most modern Universal rides). Thankfully, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure exists apart from its simulation-based sister attractions, relying on an old-school roller coaster format that everyone can readily enjoy.

In true "Harry Potter" fashion, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure thrives off the unpredictable, alternating swiftly between looping curves and fast-moving areas of flat track, slowing down periodically before rapidly speeding up. Its speed takes you up to a respectable 50 mph, braking just long enough for you to take in humorous scenes featuring an animatronic Hagrid corralling a cadre of fantastical creatures. These creatures include numerous fan-favorite magical animals from the "Harry Potter" series, such as Centaurs, Cornish Pixies, and Hagrid's three-headed pet dog, Fluffy.

A serious argument can be made that Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the greatest roller coaster in either of Universal's two Orlando-based parks. It utilizes a meticulously-designed environment that flawlessly invokes its magical setting but doesn't stray very far from standard roller coaster mechanics. The momentary backward track and minimal use of special effects also help differentiate it from most other attractions in The Wizarding World, providing plenty of unexpected surprises for dedicated roller coaster fans.

5. Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)

As singularly great as Manta is, Mako is without a doubt SeaWorld Orlando's crown jewel. Faster, taller, and providing even more gorgeous views of SeaWorld Orlando's surrounding area from 200 feet in the air, it's easily one of the most impressive roller coasters in all of Florida, on par with the best Disney or Universal has to offer.

Climbing to its maximum height moments after the ride officially begins, passenger vehicles perform an almost vertical drop down, exhilarating to speeds of 72 mph through winding curves, alternating bunny hills, and more sizable hills. Manta may benefit from a better overall environment that the tracks pass through, but Mako's meteoric exhilaration makes it the superior attraction, appealing more directly to riders looking for a challenging coaster.

Probably the weakest thing about the attraction is its entire second half. Once you've passed through the larger hills, you're pretty much in for a standard roller coaster, twisting and turning around several tight curves but offering few other surprises along the way. However, Mako's incredibly strong start more than makes up for its mediocre finish, consequently giving visitors one of the best and largest roller coasters in Florida.

4. The Incredible Hulk Coaster (Universal's Islands of Adventure)

The Incredible Hulk Coaster is a rarity in the theme park landscape, in that, from its opening moments onward, it never pauses, slows down, or allows you a moment's rest. You're simply thrust forward at faster and faster speeds, pinning you to the back of your seat and – in some cases – lifting you up out of your chair as you experience a full 4 G-forces of pressure. It's a ride as fittingly tough, brutal, and no-nonsense as the fictional character it's based upon.

As with Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, you begin the ride by being shot out of a tunnel, accelerating from zero to 40 mph within the span of two seconds. For the next two minutes, you're subjected to a total of seven inversions, including two vertical loops and two corkscrews (one of which comes moments after you initially exit the tunnel at the beginning of the ride).

Except for its opening tunnel and overarching green track, there's very little theming that ties the ride to the Hulk or Marvel comics in general. But when you have a ride as intense and filled with as many distinct moving parts as The Incredible Hulk Coaster, you're willing to look past such a minor critique. In point of fact, few other roller coasters give you as distinctly an intense ride as The Incredible Hulk Coaster, an attraction destined to leave even the most veteran roller coasters riders speechless and awestruck.

3. Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)

It wouldn't at all be an exaggeration to call Space Mountain the star attraction of Magic Kingdom. Debuting four short years after the park first opened in 1971, Space Mountain has the rare distinction of being one of the oldest attractions in Walt Disney World, as well as one of the best. From the moment you set eyes on the distinct, futuristic building that houses the ride, you know you're in for a roller coaster beyond your wildest imagination.

Traversing through a lovingly kitschy queue made to look like a '60s Space Age vision of the future, you board a rocket-shaped riding vehicle that organizes passengers in single-rider rows. Once you're ready to take off, you head into a "Star Wars"-esque tunnel complete with flashing lights, sending you on an otherworldly voyage into space (in actuality a star-lit chamber with the occasional NASA building whirling past). It's simple, it's fun, and it's as straightforward as its contemporary, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and like that aforementioned attraction, it proves that some atmospheric theming goes a long way in taking a simple idea and exploring it to its fullest.

By today's standards, Space Mountain holds up remarkably well, although more modern riders might not be taken in by the ride's inherent charm and notably cartoonish presentation of the future. Taking these criticisms into consideration, Space Mountain admittedly might not be the most intense of Walt Disney World's roller coasters, but that doesn't stop it from being addictively fun.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (EPCOT)

One of the newest attractions to arrive in Walt Disney World, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is also among the finest rides you'll find in any Disney park at this present time. An ingenious attraction that combines a thematic sci-fi atmosphere with a killer soundtrack, consistent humor, and pure innovation in ride mechanics, it's one of the greatest roller coasters in the U.S. right now. 

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind can be described as a cross between Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, Hollywood Ride Rockit, and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. Striking a fine balance between projections and a practical enclosed track, you begin the ride moving backward through a sparsely-lit tunnel, neon lights and glowing stars bursting around you. As you alternate the direction you're moving in – sometimes moving forward, other times spinning around and facing backward – your ride vehicle breaks out with one of six hit rock songs, a general story accompanying each randomly-generated song the vehicle selects.

It's fast, it's fun, it's creative, and like all the best Disney rides, it makes you truly feel like you're in the universe of the "Guardians of the Galaxy," flying side by side with them through space while jamming out to Peter Quill's personal mixtape. With its fluid motions, potentially disorienting screens, and alternating backward-and-forward movement, it may be a little much to handle for those with sensitive stomachs. But roller coaster fans and anyone who loves "Guardians of the Galaxy" won't be disappointed.

1. Jurassic World VelociCoaster (Universal's Islands of Adventure)

To call Jurassic World VelociCoaster a major improvement from its predecessor, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, doesn't do nearly enough justice to the aforementioned Marvel-rooted attraction. Gross oversimplification that it is, though, that's essentially the truth, the VelociCoaster improving upon the minuscule problems of The Incredible Hulk Coaster, but still hitting many of the same high marks as its sister attraction in Universal's Islands of Adventure.

One of the newest additions to Universal Studios Orlando, the VelociCoaster has the same promising start as The Incredible Hulk Coaster, jumping you from zero to 50 mph within its initial two seconds. Upping the ante, the VelociCoaster goes above and beyond with its take on the traditional launch sequence, containing not one, but two separate launch points. Following its opening take-off, vehicles then accelerate from 50 to 70 mph in 2.4 seconds. Added to that is an invigoratingly audacious track layout that employs four inversions, a 155-foot tall hill, and numerous areas of flat tracks and winding curves for you to marvel at throughout your journey.

Unlike The Incredible Hulk Coaster, the ride also utilizes distinct iconography to tie into its Jurassic World setting, sending you past several ravenous Velociraptors. If that weren't enough, the environment you move through is lush, gorgeous to look at, and surprisingly varied, taking you through jagged rocks, dense forests, and peaceful bodies of water. Not only is this Universal's best attraction, but it's also far and away the greatest roller coaster in all of Florida right now.