It wasn’t long ago that Orlando, with its theme parks emphasizing high-tech dark rides, theming, and family appeal, was not considered a major destination for roller coaster enthusiasts.

Now, the region is arguably on the same level as Ohio, Pennsylvania and California’s coaster meccas. But which one is the absolute best? 

In my many trips to Orlando, I’ve managed to ride every single roller coaster spread out among the four parks of Walt Disney World, both Universal Orlando parks, SeaWorld and the two Fun Spot America locations. If you do the same, you’ll find plenty of variety, from the jankiest of carnival kiddie coasters to the most expensive, immersive coasters ever made. 

This list only includes roller coasters inside the Orlando metropolitan area, so you won’t see anything from Legoland Florida Resort or Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. It also doesn’t include coasters that are currently being revamped (i.e. Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster at Universal Studios Florida) and have yet to officially open at the time of publication (such as Tron Lightcycle Run at the Magic Kingdom).

Be sure to check my more limited rankings of all the Universal Orlando and Disney World coasters. 

Sea Serpent (Theme Park Tribune)

29. Sea Serpent (Fun Spot America – Orlando) 

Opened: 2013

Made by: E&F Miler

Everyone needs a first coaster. This model is as basic as it gets — small drop, two hills, repeat for a few laps. It’s the sort of coaster that your local carnival could offer. Even a first-time rider may get bored, but it serves its purpose.

Kiddie Coaster (Theme Park Tribune)

28. Kiddie Coaster (Fun Spot America – Kissimmee)

Opened: 2012

Made by: E&F Miler 

Same idea as Sea Serpent, as this is the introductory coaster at Fun Spot’s Kissimmee park. The helix is a bit more interesting than the two hills on Sea Serpent, so this gets the edge.

Super Grover’s Boxcar Derby (Theme Park Tribune)

27. Super Grover’s Boxcar Derby (SeaWorld Orlando)

Opened: 2006 (as Shamu Express)

Made by: Zierer

SeaWorld Orlando’s kiddie coaster is a significant step up from the Fun Spot models with a much larger lift hill and length. It’s at least enough to make one circuit feel like a complete ride and the long turns should be fun for the younger riders.

26. Pteranodon Flyers (Universal’s Islands of Adventure) 

Opened: 1999

Manufacturer: Setpoint

An easily-forgotten coaster at Universal Orlando because its ridership is limited to children between 36 and 56 inches in height, with adults taller than that having to be accompanied by a child. 

Theme Park Tribune doesn’t advise borrowing kids just for coaster credits. All you’ll get for your troubles here is a long wait (thanks to the ride’s abysmal 170 riders per hour capacity) and a bit of scenery over Jurassic Park.

Galaxy Spin (Theme Park Tribune)

25. Galaxy Spin (Fun Spot America – Kissimmee)

Opened: 2011 (as Power Trip Coaster)

Made by: Zamperla

These spinning Wild Mouse models from Italian manufacturer Zamperla are a mainstay of small European parks. Getting two drops along with two sets of the classic, twisting turns is a plus, and the spinning can really enhance the ride depending on guests’ weight distribution in the car. Still, it’s a Wild Mouse; if you’ve ridden one of these, you know there’s a low ceiling on their quality.

Barnstormer (Disney)

24. Barnstormer (Magic Kingdom) 

Opened: 1996

Made by: Vekoma 

Disney World’s entry-level coaster is close to what you may find at your local Six Flags or Cedar Fair park, with the added near-miss element as the track passes through a Goofy sign. It serves its purpose as a child’s first coaster on a Disney trip, but a 794-foot-long, 30-foot-tall ride is nothing special.

Flight of the Hippogriff (Universal)

23. Flight of the Hippogriff (Universal’s Islands of Adventure)

Opened: 2000 (as Flying Unicorn)

Made by: Vekoma

Flight of the Hippogriff is a slightly bigger Vekoma Junior Coaster than Barnstormer, at roughly 1,100 feet of track and 42 feet in height. It also has more theming thanks to the queue and the Hippogriff animatronic greeting you just before the lift hill. The ride itself comes off as little more than filler compared to the rest of the Wizarding World.

Journey to Atlantis (Theme Park Tribune)

22. Journey to Atlantis (SeaWorld Orlando)

Opened: 1998

Made by: Mack Rides

In its first form, Journey to Atlantis had a legitimate dark ride component before and after its first splashdown. 

But in 2017, those dark ride effects were largely turned off, leaving some lighting effects and scenery with no real purpose beyond cosmetic appeal. So instead of being a dark ride/coaster/water ride hybrid, Journey to Atlantis now offers sparse moments of real excitement between two lift hills, including the roughly 10 seconds of an actual coaster experience at the ride’s end.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Theme Park Tribune)

21. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Magic Kingdom)

Opened: 2014

Made by: Vekoma 

Drawing long waits in the world’s most highly-attended theme park is not a sign of quality. 

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train essentially a kiddie version of Big Thunder with a small dark ride segment. Unlike Journey to Atlantis, its dark ride elements are still on and they’re best part of the ride, which isn’t much of a compliment. Otherwise, it sticks to the Disney coaster formula of big turns and shallow drops, only with some gently-swaying cars. Magic Kingdom will be better off once Tron Lightcycle Run is open and takes over the park’s most-coveted attraction slot. 

Freedom Flyer (Theme Park Tribune)

20. Freedom Flyer (Fun Spot America – Orlando)

Opened: 2013

Made by: Vekoma

Vekoma’s Suspended Family Coaster model is one of my favorite breeds of family coaster. The stats won’t jump out at anyone — 1,295 feet of track, 64 feet and 34 miles per hour — but it’s an ultra-smooth ride with graceful, entertaining turns. It’s fun enough for most coaster fans and a graceful stepping stone between kiddie coasters and higher thrills for young riders.

Hurricane (Fun Spot)

19. Hurricane (Fun Spot America – Kissimmee)

Opened: 2019

Made by: E&F Miler

A relocated E&F Miler coaster isn’t what I’d expect to crack the top 20 coasters in a crowded market, but I just love this rickety thing. 

Separated from the rest of Fun Spot’s Kissimmee location by the Old Town shopping and dining district, Hurricane packs unbelievably tight turns and unexpected airtime into an ultra-compact layout. Yes, part of the thrill may be because the ride feels a bit unhinged, but it’s thrilling nonetheless. 

Loading station for Escape from Gringotts (Universal)

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

Opened: 2014

Made by: Intamin

Much like my Universal Orlando coaster rankings, this ride’s placement here is more about its lack of coaster elements than a reflection of its overall quality. 

After an opening scene with a titling track, Escape from Gringotts essentially acts like other Universal screen-based dark rides — and that formula was growing tiresome by 2014. While still a worthwhile attraction, the stop-start sequencing doesn’t stack well to other coasters on this list.

Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom (Theme Park Tribune)

17. Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)

Opened: 1975

Made by: Walt Disney Imagineering

The two nearly-identical tracks of the original Space Mountain provide much greater thrills than their stats would suggest. The ride’s biggest drop is 21 feet and it hits a top speed of only 27 miles per hour, but hitting all those surprise drops and turns in near darkness enhances the thrill.

Fun as that may be, the small drops and constant brake runs on a nearly 50-year-old coaster make this too rough of a ride to rank higher. My opinions of the Magic Kingdom ride are probably colored by my experiences on Disneyland’s Space Mountain, which operates more smoothly thanks to getting a complete track replacement between 2003 and 2005.

Slinky Dog Dash (Theme Park Tribune)

16. Slinky Dog Dash (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

Opened: 2018

Made by: Vekoma

Like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Slinky Dog Dash isn’t as good as its usually high wait times would suggest. It’s a wonderfully-themed family launch coaster that captures the Toy Story Land aesthetic, but the ride experience plays it too safe; there’s no airtime to speak of and the launches are mild even by Disney standards. 

Still, Slinky Dog provides appeal through its theme and being a family coaster that young riders can use as a stepping stone to the more thrilling Big Thunder and Expedition Everest.

15. White Lightning (Fun Spot America – Orlando)

Opened: 2013

Made by: Great Coasters International

White Lightning delivers strong airtime and lateral forces starting with its 67-foot twisting drop, all the way through its double-up, double-down elements and the series of hills on its second half. What holds it back from a higher grade is its roughness. That could be improved if more of the ride’s layout was replaced with the steel Titan Track, as only a small portion of it was added in 2020.

Ice Breaker (Theme Park Tribune)

14. Ice Breaker

Opened: 2022

Made by: Premier Rides

Ice Breaker has some strong elements, including the airtime delivered on its 93-foot-tall, 100-degree angled spike and its 80-foot top hat. But I got off the ride with two negative takeaways that keep it in the midrange of Orlando coasters. 

First, the comfort collar restraints have a very misleading name. Second, I don’t know for whom this ride was intended. Its thrills are too mild to stand out among SeaWorld’s lineup, yet it’s a bit too extreme to be called a family ride. What it ends up being is a mid-tier coaster with some good airtime — and restraints that may leave an impression (literally) on your chest.

Mine Blower (Theme Park Tribune)

13. Mine Blower (Fun Spot America – Kissimmee)

Opened: 2017

Made by: Gravity Group 

Fun Spot’s other Central Florida wood-and-steel hybrid offers an intense, airtime-filled ride. From its twisting layout to 115-degree over-banked turn and the corkscrew winding over the station, this ride is well worth the late night trip to Kissimmee for coaster enthusiasts.

However, this coaster is held back by how rough it has become since its 2017 debut. Just look at the state of the track in some places in these December 2022 pics. 

(I did ask Fun Spot about the ride’s condition but did not get a response). The roughness isn’t quite at the level where it erases any enjoyment from the ride experience, but without some work, it may reach that unfortunate point.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom (Theme Park Tribune)

12. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom)

Opened: 1980

Made by: Walt Disney Imagineering

While Space Mountain elevates a mild coaster with darkness, Big Thunder does the same with theming. 

The ride tops out at just 36 miles per hour, but feels like a wilder experience because it embraces its faux terrain, interacts with the scenery and gets riders guessing about what’s around the next turn.

Expedition Everest (Theme Park Tribune)

11. Expedition Everest (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)

Opened: 2006

Made by: Vekoma 

Animal Kingdom’s only roller coaster dials up the thrills from the usual Disney formula. 

With a top speed of 50 miles per hour and a drop of 80 feet, there’s still a focus on long turns and shallower drops, but that’s enhanced by weaving in and out of a mountain and a mid-course track switch. 

What holds it back from other storytelling coasters on this list is its famously broken Yeti animatronic. A static figure with strobe lights can’t beat out coasters whose big effects still work as intended — including the next coaster on the list. Click below to move ahead to the top 10!