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, such as Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster at Universal Studios Florida. (Editor’s Note: Mine Blower at Fun Spot Kissimmee has been temporarily omitted from the rankings due to its recent retracking project, which may significantly change the ride experience compared to my earlier trips. It will be added back to rankings once I get a chance to ride the revamped version on my next Orlando visit.)

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

Sea Serpent (Theme Park Tribune)

30. 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)

29. 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)

28. 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.

27. 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)

26. 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)

25. 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)

24. 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)

23. 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)

22. 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)

21. 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)

20. 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)

19. 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)

18. 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)

17. 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.

16. 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 was replaced with the steel Titan Track — a small portion of new track was added in 2020.

Ice Breaker (Theme Park Tribune)

15. 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.

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

14. 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.

Tron Lightcycle Run entrance (Theme Park Tribune)

13. Tron Lightcycle Run (Magic Kingdom) 

Opened: 2023

Made by: Vekoma

You can read our full review of Tron Lightcycle Run here

Disney World’s newest roller coaster is the most thrilling in the Magic Kingdom with a 59-mph launch, with picturesque turns under a lighted outdoor canopy giving the resort its best night ride coaster.

The ride then follows the Space Mountain/Cosmic Rewind playbook of enhancing its thrills by zooming around in a dark show building. While the aesthetic has some appeal, Tron Lightcycle Run pales in comparison to the thrills offered at Universal and SeaWorld, while also falling short of Disney’s theming standards. It’s still a fun ride, but not the can’t-miss headliner that Magic Kingdom deserved.

Expedition Everest (Theme Park Tribune)

12. 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. 

Revenge of the Mummy (Theme Park Tribune)

11. Revenge of the Mummy (Universal Studios Florida)

Opened: 2004

Made by: Premier Rides

One of the first attempts at a true storytelling coaster remains one of the best examples of combining coaster thrills with special effects. Revenge of the Mummy has less of the stop/start feel that weighs down Escape from Gringotts, and unlike Expedition Everest, its effects still work!

The launch through Imhotep’s mouth and the turns past projections and steam effects may seem simpler now than they did in 2004, but they’re still effective, making the ride feel like a scarier Universal take on Space Mountain during its coaster sections.

Rock N’ Roller Coaster (Theme Park Tribune)

10. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

Opened: 1999

Made by: Vekoma 

The only Disney World coaster with inversions combines a 57 miles per hour launch and onboard audio blaring Aerosmith anthems to make for the Mouse’s most extreme coaster. 

Sure, you can find something more thrilling at most Six Flags and Cedar Fair parks, but those rides won’t be blaring “Back in the Saddle” and “Walk This Way” as you zoom past L.A. road signs in the dark. Like other Disney coasters, the thrills it delivers are higher than its stats would have you believe. 

9. Pipeline (SeaWorld Orlando) 

Opened: 2023

Made by: Bolliger & Mabillard

You can read our full review of Pipeline here

Whether you call it a “surf coaster,” or just the first standup coaster that didn’t suck, Pipeline is a solid addition to SeaWorld’s growing collection of thrill rides.

You’ll ride in a standing position in seats that “bounce” like you’re riding a wave. In a welcome change from the torturous old B&M standups, Pipeline focuses more on legs-in-the-air moments of airtime, along with one “wave curl” inversion and a 60-mph launch. One of its few downsides is its short length, which keeps it from climbing past older SeaWorld coasters on these rankings.

Kraken (Theme Park Tribune)

8. Kraken (SeaWorld Orlando)

Opened: 2000

Made by: Bolliger & Mabillard

Seven inversions, a top speed of 65 miles per hour, a 144-foot drop — can you tell you’re not at Disney World anymore?

SeaWorld Orlando’s first foray into a pure thrill coaster is still an intense ride decades later. Its setting elevates it above other B&Ms by including “subterranean” dives through rockwork right by the ride’s entrance. 

Kraken does share some downsides with B&Ms of this era with over-the-shoulder restraints that can cause headbanging to certain riders. Keep your head back and try to enjoy the ride.

Incredible Hulk Coaster (Theme Park Tribune)

7. Incredible Hulk Coaster (Universal’s Islands of Adventure) 

Opened: 1999

Made by: Bolliger & Mabillard

Another seven-inversion B&M, Hulk rises above Kraken with its 40 mph launch (technically tire-propelled, but I like to think of it as powered by Gamma radiation) and the onboard soundtrack provided by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. 

Hulk also benefits from interactions with its surroundings, flying over Islands of Adventure’s lagoon and then diving underneath the bridge to Marvel Hero Super Island. It can’t boast of being the headliner in its park these days, but in any other park, Hulk would be among the star attractions.

6. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (Universal Studios Florida)

Opened: 2009

Made by: Maurer

A controversial pick here, as coaster enthusiasts often gripe about Rip Ride Rockit’s multiple brake runs. On my recent rides, however, they’ve made very little difference. 

Rip Ride Rockit is a quirky coaster and unlike what you’ll find at most regional parks (which may be explained by this being the only Maurer X-Car coaster in the U.S.). You’ll get sustained ejector airtime off the deceptively mild-looking drop and head straight into a rarely-seen non-inverting loop, and then hit more airtime off every brake run. 

Of course, you can’t mention this ride without praising the music selection gimmick. If I’m choosing from the official playlist, I almost always pick “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys. But the hidden list (learn how to access it here) has some gems that go great with the ride’s pacing, such as “Temples of Syrinx” by Rush, “Wicker Man” by Iron Maiden and (don’t laugh) “Ride Like the Wind” by Christopher Cross.

Manta (SeaWorld)

5. Manta (SeaWorld Orlando)

Opened: 2009

Made by: Bolliger & Mabillard

Manta is in the conversation for being the best B&M flying coaster. With a 113-foot-drop, a top speed of 56 mph, and four inversions, it’s more intense than the Superman: Ultimate Flight clones found at Six Flags parks, while losing none of the extra excitement that comes with any coaster that changes your body position. 

Like Kraken, Manta is helped out by its scenery. There may be no better opportunity for coaster photography than this ride’s turn over the water.

The loading station at Cosmic Rewind (Theme Park Tribune)

4. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind 

Opened: 2022

Made by: Vekoma

Read our full review of Cosmic Rewind here. 

Disney World’s latest roller coaster is also the best that Disney has ever designed. Feeling like a next-generation version of Space Mountain, Cosmic Rewind, you’ll be launched backwards at 60 miles per hour on cars that have a controlled 360-degree spin, passing by massive screens that immerse you in outer space. All the while, you’ll be bobbing your head to one of six randomized song selections (my favorite is “I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls). 

Oh, and did I mention it’s the world’s longest indoor roller coaster at 5,577 feet?  

For hardened coaster enthusiasts, you will find genuine pops of airtime on this ride, and there’s something indescribable about the controlled spinning sensation. You won’t find a ride like this at your regional park, but it’s a mistake assuming that Disney skimped on the thrills.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (Universal)

3. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure 

Opened: 2019

Made by: Intamin

Read our full review of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure here

I called this Universal Orlando’s best ride in 2019 and I stand by that today. Yet it’s not the resort’s best coaster. 

This takes a storytelling approach comparable to the previously-mentioned Mummy and Gringotts, but balances the coaster elements far more successfully with its seven launches and whippy turns.  In short, it still feels like a coaster while mixing in the dark ride elements, including multiple animatronics, and enhances them in ways your average coaster wouldn’t — like how the 70-degree spike that sends you backwards is obscured by fog and set pieces, making it as unexpected as the drop track that comes after. 

If you want to experience this coaster at its best, you have to ride at night, when the Forbidden Forest scenery is the most effective.

Mako (SeaWorld)

2. Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)

Opened: 2016

Made by: Bolliger & Mabillard

B&M hyper coasters (which means any coaster with a height or drop over 200 feet) are beloved by coaster enthusiasts for their smooth rides and sustained airtime. Mako is, in my opinion, one of the very best examples of the model. 

Especially in the back row, that 200-foot-drop will deliver some stellar negative g-forces, and you’ll be repeatedly floating out of your seat through almost every hill while reaching a top speed of 73 miles per hour. 

The final turnaround over the water into the station isn’t the strongest finish, but everything that comes before it makes this an easy pick for No. 2 on this list (and for my personal top 10 overall).

Jurassic World VelociCoaster (Theme Park Tribune)

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

Opened: 2021

Made by: Intamin

You can read our full review of VelociCoaster here.

Jurassic World VelociCoaster is not just the best coaster in Orlando or Florida — it’s the best coaster in the U.S., at least in my opinion. 

The ride packs in two intense launches, a 155-foot-tall, 80-degree drop, and near-constant airtime, and then wraps up with one of the best inversions you’ll ever experience with just a simple lap bar restraint. 

That would be enough for top billing in any park, but VelociCoaster is a more complete experience with a highly-themed queue, an appropriate backstory for the franchise and a gorgeous setting that proves that a coaster can enhance a themed environment rather than detract from it. 

I’m sure hardcore coaster fans can dispute whether it’s truly deserving of being No.1 in the U.S. In Orlando, however, I say there’s no question: VelociCoaster is king.

Editor’s Note: These rankings were updated on July 7, 2023, to add two new coasters to the list and temporarily remove Mine Blower.