David Abolafia

Just for the Thrill of It: Orlando

David Abolafia

While there is much to enjoy about Orlando that doesn’t exist inside a theme park, these attractions remain a top draw to the area. Fortunately, the parks offer plenty of thrills for adrenaline junkies, with rides galore to get the heart racing and the blood pumping. Here’s our list of O-Town’s top coasters and other thrill rides:

  1. Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (Disney Animal Kingdom) – Careen through the Himalayan mountains on a speeding train while avoiding the clutches of the mythic Abominable Snowman. Listed in the 2011 edition of “Guinness World Records” as the most expensive roller coaster in the world – including sets and extras, the total cost of the ride exceeded $100 million, following six years of planning and construction. Expedition Everest was the winner of the 2006 Theme Park Insider Award for the “World’s Best New Theme Park Attraction.”
  2. The Incredible Hulk (Universal Islands of Adventure) — Enter the laboratories of Dr. Bruce Banner and marvel at the towering scientific machinery. As you approach his gamma-ray accelerator warning lights flash and sirens sound – something’s gone terribly wrong with the experiment. Accelerates to 40 miles per hour in approximately two seconds before speeding through seven inversions. Your surroundings go rushing by you in a blur as you feel yourself transformed into The Incredible Hulk. In 1999, the ride was voted the #1 roller coaster by Discovery Channel viewers. [Ride closed until Summer 2016.]
  3. Rock N Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (Disney Hollywood Studios) – Blast off in a super-stretch limousine through the darkened freeways of Los Angeles to the rockin’ tunes of Aerosmith. The coaster accelerates from zero to 57 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds, and riders experience 4.5 G as they enter the first inversion – more than an astronaut would on a Space Shuttle launch! The soundtrack for the ride depends on which car you ride in, with different Aerosmith hits played in each limo – with some lyrical changes created just for the attraction.
  4. Manta (SeaWorld) – Find out what it’s like to spin, glide, skim and fly like a giant ray when you experience Manta – the only flying roller coaster of its kind in the world. Riders are taunted by a head-first, face-down inverted nosedive… and that’s just the beginning. Experience the full force and power of riding the high seas – through four inversions: a pretzel loop, two inline twists and one corkscrew – all on one of the smoothest tracks in the world. Named “Best New Attraction” by ThemeParkInsider.com in July 2009, Manta placed third in Amusement Today magazine’s poll for the Best New Ride of 2009. Check out a video of a ride on Manta below.
  5. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (Universal Studios) — Adrenaline pumping and music thumping, you start climbing straight up. A moment later, you’re screaming at 65 mph, 17 stories over Universal Studios. Gasping with excitement, you’ll rock out to the song YOU pick before strapping in (there
    music video, and you can buy a copy to take home or send to your friends. Features six near-miss moments and first-ever thrills, including a record-breaking loop as riders soar through such sections as “The Double Take,” “The Treble Clef” and “The Jump Cut.”
  6. Dragon Challenge (Universal Islands of Adventure) – You’ll need the courage of a Triwizard Tournament™ champion as you mount one of two dragons – an aggressive Chinese Fireball or a ferocious Hungarian Horntail – that twist and loop in an intertwining roller coaster chase across the sky. Dragon Challenge – part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – is actually two high-speed roller coasters; each “dragon” is a completely different ride. Dragon Challenge initially opened in 1999 (when it was known as Dueling Dragons), as one of Islands of Adventure’s original attractions. When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in 2010, the coaster was refurbished and renamed as part of this new section of the park.

Honorable mentions go to Revenge of the Mummy (Universal Studios), Kraken (SeaWorld), the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney Hollywood Studios) and the classic Space Mountain (Disney Magic Kingdom).

To plan your own thrilling vacation to Orlando (or any of our other exciting destinations), give us a call at (888) 269-0182, Mon – Fri 9am to 5 pm.

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