But to me sometimes travel is also about leaving the mind behind a little bit and giving the body some exciting new experiences.
I happen to adore the Orlando Theme Parks and in future posts I’ll cover the most amazing attractions. However for this post I will concentrate on the scary and amazingly fun steel and iron beasts that are roller coasters.
If you want your brains to get shaken around by roller coasters
I must admit that for a long time I was afraid of getting on a roller coaster. However when the opportunity to visit Orlando presented itself, my traveling bug kicked in telling me that if I pass on the chance of getting on one of these rides, I’d be missing on one of the most fun events of my life.
Sure, they are frightening, but for a couple of minutes you are forced to let go, to shut your mind and to just live through the experience of getting your brains and every bone in your body shaken and thrown from side to side at unbelievably high speeds, submitting your entire body to gravitational forces up to four times the pull of the Earth.
The feeling of release and freedom is just indescribable, especially if you ride the front cars.
Some people add more excitement to the ride by lifting their arms to the air, I am not there yet but I bet it’s a lot of fun.
Each ride has its own twisted paths and hair-pin turns so in order of thrill and interest, here’s my pick for the best ones, I hope you get to ride them and let me know if you agree!
Named after the Egyptian god of war, Monthu, this roller coaster has the train under the tracks, making it an inverted roller coaster. This means it is floorless and your feet are hanging out, adding to the thrill.
This ride starts with a small downward dip and pretty quickly you’re dropped from 150 feet (46 m) altitude in a vertical fall that reaches about 60 miles per hour (97 km/h).
After that the ride makes a full loop and there’s another smaller drop of 66 feet (20 m).
9. The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
This is an indoors roller coaster that showcases what a recording studio building looks like, while you’re in line. When you reach the end of the line, you are invited into the actual recording studio where the guys from Aerosmith are busy making some arrangements behind the glass.
All of a sudden they realize we’re here and invite us for a ride in their stretch limo!
The 3 minute pre-show of this ride is 50% of the fun and it is nearly impossible not to believe that Steven Tyler is actually speaking to you!
Once on the roller coaster you are bombarded with fluorescent street signs, three inversions and blasting speakers with a particular Aerosmith song in every train.
Though this roller coaster is lower in altitude at 80 feet (24 m), the high speed (65 mph) and the blasting sound, make for an incredible ride!
Theme Park: Sea World Orlando.
Duration: 2:02 min.
The mythical monster gives name to this floorless roller coaster that includes a 119 foot vertical loop and a 101 foot diving loop that will make your heart stop, along with the unexpected twists and turns, you are in for a lot of surprises.
Voted one of the best of Orlando’s roller coasters, Kraken can be explored beneath to reveal live eels that represent the Kraken’s young.
“Kumba” means “roar” in the African Kongo Language and it relates to the roaring sound that the design of the tracks produce.
Kumba starts with a right turn that will take you up 143 feet (44 m) to a vertical drop that will lead into a 114 foot (35 m) vertical loop, going through two consecutive interlocking corkscrews all of which will happen so fast (60 mph), you won’t be able to recover from each of its seven inversions.
At least Kumba has a floor, right?
Scorpion is a short, full of adrenaline ride. When you see it, you’ll immediately recognize why it’s called Scorpion with its coiling loops that resemble the animal.
With its small train cars, this ride looks scary because of its small size.
At a speed of 50 mph, Scorpion takes you on a 360° vertical loop so fast, that you’ll be sad the ride is over.
5. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
Featuring an abominable snowman that interferes with the ride at different stages (though you can’t see it), the ride has some unexpected surprises for the first time rider!
Go to the next ride if you don’t want to be spoiled!
At some point you realize that the tracks are destroyed and the train has to go back on its tracks, making for an unbelievable shock and nervous laughter as you experience the ride backwards!
Guazi receives its name from a fabled creature with the body of a lion and the head of a tiger.
Being a wooden roller coaster, Gwazi brings another element of terror to the ride with its deep dives, rattling movement and scary fly-by that makes it seem as if the two trains were about to collide!
You will get off with a slight headache and your knees trembling against each other. A pretty terrifying ride, Gwazi is not to be missed.
While in line, you will enter the laboratory of Bruce Banner and television sets will tell you the story of the Hulk.
The Incredible Hulk will shoot you off the station like a cannonball at very high speed, making you feel like your face is melting backwards and setting you up for the twists and turns that the train will go through. At 67 mph (108 km/h) and its terrible roar, The Incredible Hulk is one of the fastest rides in Orlando! Definitely not to be missed.
2. Dragon Challenge
So for this attraction, you need to get in line twice. But the line is actually pretty entertaining, you’ll see the famous flying Ford Anglia on the way, banners that show support for the different contestants of the tournament until you finally reach the champions’ tent and the feeling on being inside the tent is pretty real.
Once you’ve ridden the first dragon and you get out of the tent, there’s a hidden stair on the right, so that you can get in line again without fully getting out of the area.
Dragon Challenge is a floorless roller coaster and with two separate trains, the moment at which they appear to almost collide will make that scream die in your throat without being able to get it out!
Note: Sadly, I just found out that the Universal Orlando’s twin dragon coasters will never ‘duel’ again according to the article in The Orlando Sentinel, making the ride a “high speed chase between two roller coasters”.
This floorless coaster starts with a turn and a 47°, 200 feet (61 m) climb at the end of which the riders are suspended for about six seconds staring in sheer terror at the 90° drop that awaits them to then take them into a 360° loop that will then take you into an 81° second drop.
The ride ends with a splash that doesn’t get riders wet, but all the spectators at the end of the ride.
At a speed of 70 mph (110 km/h) SheiKra is a “scream your guts out” experience that leaves you coming back for more!
So there you have it, my pick for Orlando’s (and Tampa’s) most thrilling rides.
But wait… there’s more. I had to leave a special no-contest spot for the ride that left me breathless and speechless…
Theme Park: Sea World Orlando.
Duration: 2:35 min.
Manta is a flying roller coaster that pins your shins to the seat with straps to then turn you head-first and face-down when the ride starts, which gives you the full experience, even if you’re not in the front row.
With intense dives and surprising turns, Manta is to me, the best ride in Orlando.
This was proven to me when my sister who was next to me, told me how I started out screaming and then I stopped altogether, all my screams stuck in my throat, tears running down my cheeks being dried almost instantly by this beast’s speed!
With 113 feet (34 m) drops and 56 mph (90 km/h) speed, Manta’s power is not to be underestimated. All that’s left to do is to surrender.
The line is pretty interesting as well with ten underwater habitats of dozens of rays and fish that complete the experience.
Official SeaWorld Orlando website.
SeaWorld interactive map.
SeaWorld printable PDF map.
Busch Gardens website.
Busch Gardens interactive map
Busch Gardens printable PDF map (2010).
Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure website look on the right side for the interactive map.
Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure printable PDF map.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom website.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios website.
Disney World’s interactive map.
Disney World’s customized PDF maps.
You must rent a car if you’re planning a trip to Orlando, do not fall for the shuttle offers that some hotels have unless you want to be at their mercy.
Also, please beware of the safety precautions, people with heart or back conditions should not ride. You should not bring loose objects on the ride that could hurt you or somebody else. Read more about it in each theme park’s website.
So, do you agree with my list or not?
Have you ridden the new Cheetah Hunt roller coaster in Busch Gardens? How was it?
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