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JOE TOURIST - Central Florida's Best Roller Coaster

It's a roller coaster celebration! Joe Lane offers a countdown of the top ten roller coasters in the Central Florida area. Where does your favorite ride place--and what do you think of the list?

Written by Joe Lane
Published: May 31, 2004 at 11:26 PM

JOE TOURIST – Central Florida's Best Roller Coaster
It's A Roller Coaster Celebration! Enjoy Yourself!

When it comes to being a theme park fan, I'm very fortunate to be a native Floridian. Forget the punch card problems, governor issues, and countless elderly people on the roads. This state is home to some of the greatest theme parks ever imagined. When it comes to state-of-the-art entertainment and thrills, I've got a pretty good buffet to choose from--especially when it comes to roller coasters.

Course, that doesn't mean the Orlando/Tampa area is the best place to go for a die-hard roller coaster enthusiast. You'll definitely find more coaster thrills at Cedar Point in Ohio, Knott's Berry Farm in California or one of the many Six Flags parks around the country. If there's one thing Floridians have missed out on, it's the classic woodies of the early 1900s, built during the era of Coney Island, and the coaster boom of the sixties. That's not to say there weren't opportunities for folks to ride--a few wooden coasters were in operation throughout Florida during those early years, but the vast majority have since gone the way of the dodo.

In 1978, at the now defunct Boardwalk and Baseball park, you could ride the Roaring Tiger (later renamed Florida Hurricane until its closure in 1990). It was one of the first, and last, wooden coasters in Florida, but it lives on, relocated to the Magic Springs and Crystal Falls in Arkansas, now called the Arkansas Twister.

Florida-based folks were pretty much spoiled with the introduction of Python in 1977 at Busch Gardens Tampa and the Scorpion in 1981. Both coasters were of a steel design and featured some of the most remarkable roller coaster elements of their time: Python was simply a double corkscrew and Scorpion a single loop. Nearly three decades later, both attractions are still open and operating at the Tampa theme park, though I daresay their popularity isn't what it once was. Back in '75, before the BGT coasters premiered, Florida's first true steel coaster could be found at the Magic Kingdom, in the form of Space Mountain.

I thought it might be a good idea to try and rank the coasters here in the central Florida area, a daunting task, to say the least. I'll be evaluating the coasters on different aspects, including speed, design, thrills and theme. Also, there are a small handful of attractions that, while they have coaster aspects or are roller coasters in nature, I don't think they qualify for this study. The following rides are including: Python, Scorpion, Cheetah Chase, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Goofy's Barnstormer, Primeval Whirl, Journey To Atlantis, The Flying Unicorn, Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster and Revenge of the Mummy.

Python and Scorpion are simply too short to compete, and Cheetah Chase, Barnstormer, Primeval Whirl, Flying Unicorn and Nuthouse Coaster are too small in size and thrill. The SWO Atlantis coaster portion is more a ride element than a true roller coaster. Folks could pose a suitable argument that BTMRR and The Mummy should be included for their roller coaster elements, however, I feel BTMRR is far too tame to compare to the speed and ferocity of these more modern coasters, and while the coaster portion of The Mummy is quite intense, I find it to be more a part of a whole new ride genre and difficult to rate on its own.

10th & 9th: Gwazi Lion & Tiger
Design: Dueling Wooden
Height: 90'
Speed: 50 mph
G-Force: 3.5
Inversions: 0
Duration: 02:30

Gwazi was a mythical African creature with the head of a tiger and the body of a lion, said to be in constant struggle with its duel nature. The BGT coaster is one of the only wooden coasters currently in operation in Florida. Here, you have a choice between the yellow lion side or the blue tiger side--and both trains take different routes, zooming past each other six different times. In recent years, the coasters have done little dueling at all, as the ride numbers have since dwindled in favor for the modern Kumba and Montu.

Gwazi's dueling Lion and Tiger coasters both tie for the final slot on my list in a decision that will undoubtedly leave many coaster enthusiasts balking. Why rate these two coasters last in the lineup of roller coasters simply because they're wooden in design? Discrimination towards woodies? Perhaps, but keep in mind that my opinion is rather skewed due to the fact that growing up, there was very little opportunity to acquire that appeal that comes with wooden coasters--the rickety sound, the trundle of the car on the tracks, the feeling that any moment, the entire structure could collapse, the art and design of the wooden structure. It's all a fine, acquired taste that one is either born with or grows up loving. The ride is simply too rough, and the seats are uncomfortable compared to the latest in ergonomic design available through steel coaster design. Gwazi does offer good hang time opportunities and nice speed on both sides. The rough ride and seats don't make Gwazi a bad ride, merely an acquired taste, one I don't particularly care for and that's why both the Lion and Tiger find themselves at the end of MY list.

8th: Space Mountain
Design: Enclosed Twin Steel
Height: 90'
Speed: 27 mph
G-Force: NA
Inversions: 0
Duration: 02:35

While Disneyland in California may have been built first, Walt Disney World in Orlando was the first to get a Space Mountain. The queue takes guests under the railroad tracks and into the mountain itself. The interior is dazzling, with hundreds of stars and space anomalies. Guests board their rocket shuttles, travel through an acceleration tunnel, then up the lift past an ornate rocket scene. The ride twists, turns and dips in the darkness of the mountain before decelerating in an explosion tunnel and docking at the exit.

The thrills of this ride come mostly from the tight turns the shuttle rockets make in the darkness. This ride is psychologically fast (similar to another popular attraction recently opened at USF). The dark atmosphere, the fast moving star lights and tight twists makes it appear that your vehicle is moving a lot faster than it actually is. Unlike its cousins, WDW's Mountain has no soundtrack, and it features two twin tracks dubbed Alpha and Omega. There are no inversions, no real high speeds or super special effects, but the ride is still enjoyable even now, nearly thirty years later. It has a certain charm to it that makes it endearing for coaster fans.

7th: Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Design: Enclosed Launch Steel
Height: 80'
Speed: 57 mph
G-Force: 5 g
Inversions: 3
Duration: 01:22

A huge, forty-foot Stratocaster guitar stands in front G-Force Records off the end of Sunset Boulevard, adjacent to the ominous Tower of Terror at the Disney-MGM Studios. Inside you'll see the popular rock group Aerosmith in the recording studio, putting the finishing touches on another track before taking a stretch limo for their big concert, but before they go, they call up a fleet of limos to bring the studio guests along for the ride. Your ride peels out and into the night, all while Aerosmith tunes blast from the speakers by your head.

This monster attraction is a departure from the Disney norm in some standards, but the attention to detail is overwhelming in terms of theming. The interior design of the record studio is high-quality at best, but the real detail comes in the back-alley loading area where your "super stretch" limo pulls up. Very little compares to the thrill of the countdown before the inevitable coaster launch. It's a feat equally impressive for those watching, as the sound of squealing tires overcomes the sound of screaming riders and the limo/coaster disappears into the dark tunnel. In terms of inversions, there aren't but a few, but it's enough to frighten even the tamest riders. The black light cutouts appear rather cheesy, but they've become very characteristic of the ride. After all, the black light is a classic rock 'n' roll staple decoration.

After the initial launch and the few inversions, there's little more to do for the rest of the ride but enjoy whatever airtime you may get and listen to the music. If there's something really negative to be said for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, it's that it's short. One to two minutes shorter than the rest of the competition. That limited length and lackluster second half is what puts this ride further down the list, although the mere anticipation of the launch just about makes up for it.

6th: Dueling Dragons - Fire
Design: Dueling Inverted Steel
Height: 125'
Speed: 60 mph
G-Force: 5 g
Inversions: 5
Duration: 02:25

5th: Dueling Dragons - Ice
Design: Dueling Inverted Steel
Height: 125'
Speed: 55 mph
G-Force: NA
Inversions: 5
Duration: 2:25

In The Lost Continent at Universal's Islands of Adventure, you'll find a desolate castle sitting in the distance. After a rather arduous trek to its front gate, you'll see first hand the damage done by a pair of rampaging dragons. And you're only halfway there; into the remains of the castle you'll go, descending deep into the dungeons full of ghosts and skeletons before reaching the dragon chambers. You'll soon find yourself in the midst of the never-ending battle between fire and ice.

Dueling Dragons is the first of its kind to feature dueling inverted coasters. The unique design allows for three near misses, including a head-on rush, all outside the decrepit medieval castle. Both tracks are completely unique, giving each ride a distinct experience. In my opinion, Ice beats out Fire just barely, but people often ride roller coasters for different reasons, so you might think otherwise. Here's what each side has to offer: Fire has the distinct honor of being just slightly faster than Ice--and the initial drop is nearly twenty feet greater than its companion. Fire also pulls greater g's and reportedly has one turn that produces a 5 g pull. It is for this reason that a back row ride for Fire will give some of the greatest pulls and thrills a coaster can offer. Ice, however, has a slight advantage, despite its shorter initial drop and slightly slower speed. The first near miss occurs with Fire cresting over Ice, but it is at this point that Ice enters into a Zero-G Roll, so that the riders' feet pass a scant few inches past each other. The second highlight comes immediately afterwards as Ice barrels towards the castle wall and pulls up and away at the last second. It's an element that Fire doesn't offer. it is for this reason that Ice is decidedly a better ride in front, and also to some extent better than Fire.

The theme is wonderfully done. The battle damage left by the dragon, the myriad skeletons hidden in the dungeons, the frozen knights and armor burned into the walls. There's a video that plays at the castle entrance. Three magical stained-glass windows tell the story of how the dragons terrorized the countryside, and how Merlin fought to stop their battle. If there's any real downside to this fantastic attraction, it's that the queue, for all its detail and extravagance, is just SO. INCREDIBLY. LONG! To Universal's credit, they have a reentry near the exit that takes you back into the dungeon so you can avoid the long trek back around. Unfortunately, there are usually only one, maybe two dragons running at any given time--and for some reason it takes unusually long for even two dragons to keep the guest capacity at a high level--and later on in the afternoon, the wait starts to get uncomfortably lengthy, even with a Universal Express Pass. Just a few small things that can be improved to make the Dragons a wait that's worthwhile.

4th: Kumba
Design: Steel
Height: 143'
Speed: 60 mph
G-Force: 3.8 g
Inversions: 7
Duration: 2:54

There's a fierce beast that stalks the African Congo and the natives call it Kumba. This monster was one of BGT's first true roller coasters, after Python and Scorpion, of course, and offers some of the most intense thrills even today. Growing up, rumors circulated around school about the new BGT roller coaster that scared people to death and made even the toughest bully cry. Even today, Kumba still brings the pain.

There's nothing extremely special about the ride. This is a pure steel roller coaster, pure and simple, with enough twists, turns and loops to get your adrenaline pumping--not to mention a whopping seven inversions. The train practically roars around the back section of the park, zooming over and under bridges. It is, for lack of any better term, downright fun. What keeps it from being in the top three, aside from its simplistic design is the nearly complete lack of theming. There's no real story, nothing really in the way of African theme short of the surprisingly short loading station queue. Despite that, in terms of speed and G-Force, the ride could easily top any of its competitors, but I seem to find something special in the next three coasters.

3rd: Kraken
Design: Floorless Steel
Height: 149'
Speed: 65 mph
G-Force: NA
Inversions: 7
Duration: 3:39

Many centuries ago, sailors told stories of many incredible creatures like mermaids and giant sea serpents. One of these mythical beasts was known as the Kraken--a giant, multi-tentacled sea creature that would erupt from the depths and swallow ships whole. Guests at Sea World are given the opportunity to face the giant creature itself on Florida's ONLY floorless roller coaster.

The queue takes guests through a slightly Mediterranean structure, where quotes and images depict different versions of the sea creature and accounts of its attacks on unsuspecting victims. Once you climb aboard the coaster at the loading area, the floor separates, and retracts, leaving your feet dangling over the track. It sounds complicated, I know, but it's easier to see it for yourself than attempt to describe it. The drop on this behemoth is staggering, nearly from top to the ground, 144 feet--a five foot difference from the height. But it's the second half of this thrill ride where things get better when the coaster loops twice underground and flies around the small lagoon and into the Kraken's Lair. There's no Kraken beast inside to see--he's perpetually frozen outside for Guests to take photos of, but the cave sure does make you want to keep all hands, arms and legs inside the coaster (although it's tough to say there's an 'inside' to this monster). Things are even more intense for folks up front, who constantly find themselves sticking their legs straight out for fear of getting them caught between the train and the track. Such a thing is impossible, but it's hard to convince your mind otherwise!

The theming is quaint and muted--more could've been done, but watching in terror as your coaster flies down past and below the lagoon and into the dark cavern is pretty exhilarating nonetheless.

2nd: Montu
Design: Inverted Steel
Height: 150'
Speed: 60 mph
G-Force: 3.8 g
Inversions: 7
Duration: 3:00

In the Egyptian religion, Montu was originally a god of the sun. With the body of a man and the head of a falcon, this Egyptian deity later became a god of war. In many ways, the BGT coaster of the same name depicts both descriptions very nicely. Walking through the fine theming of the park's Egypt area, guests are ushered onto the inverted coaster. There's an ominous distant-sounding roar as the floor drops away and the coaster pulls out of the station, then slowly clinks its way to the apex, and with a final "clack-clack", the coaster swings out, twists around and starts to careen into the excavation site below, looping once before disappearing underground again and flying towards an archway and into the sun.

It's smooth, it's fast, it pulls G's in all the right places, and the sensation from the inverted design is indescribable. Montu is more than just an Egyptian god; it is a god of roller coasters. While folks may prefer the extra force of the Dueling Dragons or the ferocity of Kumba, Montu manages to find a suitable balance between it all. Pureblood coaster enthusiasts may find the ride to be too gentle, and again, this is a reasonable judgment.

1st: The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Design: Steel
Height: 110'
Speed: 67 mph
G-Force: 4 g
Inversions: 7
Duration: 2:15

Universal Orlando guests can see this monster before they even enter the park. The roaring sound of the coaster can be heard from a great distance. It's the Big Green Machine unleashed--tearing out of the Gamma Testing Facility and out over the Great Inland Sea. Quite simply, the Hulk smashes the competition.

Really, folks, come now. TPI Regulars should've expected this, as much as I rant and rave about this attraction. Shoot, this coaster rates fifth out of all the attractions on Theme Park Insider. What does it? Aside from the G-Forces, the inversions, and the lightly-themed laboratory, there is one thing and one thing alone that stands out above all else: the launch.

The theming of the queue is far from the magic of Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, but one can tell they're in a high-tech scientific research center--as if the giant Gamma Radiation Tube outside wasn't a tip off. A clever, animated video plays, accompanied by a catchy techno beat, where we learn all about Dr. Bruce Banner and his unfortunate experiment that turned him into the Hulk, and his subsequent failures to repeat the experiment and reverse the effects. Ignoring Banner's pleas to leave the lab, we strap ourselves into the Gamma sled and start up the tube; it begins like any other roller coaster. As lights flash within the tunnel, Banner talks to us over the speakers: "I think... I think this time it's... going to work!" But it NEVER works. The computer interrupts: "Warning: Coolant Leak" and as Banner starts to cry out in frustration, the 220 motors on the track below the coaster kick in. The power used to launch the coaster is so great, Universal had to build a dedicated power station to store electricity so as not to cause the lights to dim all across Orlando. The coaster is launched from the tube with the force of an F-16 fighter jet (that's 0-40 in two seconds) and right into a Zero-G Roll before careening towards the water below.

It's not the tallest, not the longest and just barely the fastest. And still Hulk wins hands down as my number one roller coaster in the Central Florida area. There are some way in which the coaster could be considered poor--the ride may be too smooth for enthusiasts--or may be rickety in some places due to old age. But the thrills and fun are there, and they can't be denied.

So what do you think, folks? I'm sure there are folks out there apt to agree, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there are folks who have different feelings--and we wanna hear about that! Speak your mind! Tell us what you think. And don't hesitate to drop a line if you have any questions. Until next time, keep on ridin'!

Readers' Opinions

From Kevin Baxter on June 1, 2004 at 12:33 AM
Well, I certainly wouldn't have gone to a Top Ten list, since I don't want to create a list that has RnRC and MK's Space Mountain. As for Gwazi, it is obvious you didn't grow up with the "thrills" old woodies has to offer, cuz then you'd never mention how "rough" it was. Climb on SFMM's Psyclone or PGA's Grizzly and you'd think Gwazi was smooth as silk. But I have to agree with the seats. If you don't have someone of a decent size next to you, you get thrown around way too much.

The rest of your list is mostly dead-on. Especially putting Fire behind Ice. Many people disagree since Ice peters out too early, so I usually post a caveat: Ice is far better the closer you are to the front and Fire is far better the closer you are to the back. And I would've put both before Kumba, just for the dueling feature. If the coasters are off, then Kumba is definitely a better ride.

I have one more caveat: If they dumped the trim brakes prior to Montu's finale, it would easily be Number One. I'm a total sucker for inverted coasters.

From Robert OGrosky on June 1, 2004 at 11:00 AM
Im going to BGW this Dec. so i cant rate there coasters, but im looking forward to Kumba/Montu and the duel wooden coaster.
I have heard good things about the wooden coasters at BGT(sadly i hear little good aboput any of the ride ops at the park) and im suprised you put them that low, even worse than SM.
Now i love wooden coaster's and the rougher ride they give you than what a B & M will give you. If they offer a rough ride but not jarring with some good air time and lateral movement that makes for a excellant wooden coaster and i hope these dueling coasters offer that though im not expecting a ride as good as Ghostrider or Holdiay Worlds great wooden coasters.
From Adrian Walker on June 1, 2004 at 1:40 PM
What I can't understand about Kraken is its supposed to be a giant octopus or squid. Yet in orlando, they've shown in the scenary that it's a sea serpent. I don't get it...
From Ben Mills on June 1, 2004 at 3:02 PM
What makes you think that Kraken is supposed to be an octopus? It was, at SeaWorld correctly portrays, a sea monster. Further fueling the Orlando theme parks' obsession with Greek mythology, it spent a lot of it's time occupying Poseidon by causing havoc and mayhem to any human who dared to come near. It makes you wonder why Kraken never appeared in the original Poseidon's Fury at IoA.
From Joe Lane on June 1, 2004 at 4:54 PM
And in any case, the current Poseidon's Fury is royally FUBAR at this point--how I miss the original version.
From Tim Hillman on June 2, 2004 at 5:29 AM
Great column, Joe! I couldn't agree more with your comments about the Gwazi coasters. They are far too rough! Wooden coaster designers have dropped the ball recently in my opinion. Track roughness can be forgiven and tolerated in the old "out and back" coaster designs, but when track roughness is combined with the twists and abrupt turns of the "cyclone" style coasters, the ride becomes almost unbearable.
From Bryan Cardonick on June 2, 2004 at 7:46 PM
The one thing I'm curious about is why exactly there is a top 10. There's only 12 (technically 14 if you count dueling coaster tracks as seperate ones) I mean where's the competition?

Up north you'd have 30+ to compare.

From Joe Lane on June 2, 2004 at 10:01 PM
Well, with the exception of the few minor coaster attractions, we really only have EIGHT coaster ATTRACTIONS, two of which are dueling, making the total TEN.

And yes, up north, you'd have 30+ coasters to rate. But I'm not up north, am I? In fact, seems to me I do most of my reviews and articles on Tampa/Orlando stuff because I live here--it'd do me no good to try and review coasters I've never been on...

From Kevin Baxter on June 3, 2004 at 2:54 AM
And we have that many in California, almost every one I have ridden, but I'm not all that certain it would be a good column since people don't tend to travel to different cities in our state. Just as they don't in Ohio, either. People DO do that in Orlando, which means this column will probably be helpful to many people. But, yeah, it was probably not fair to list a couple of these amongst the others. MK's Space Mountain is one of the most boring coasters on the planet!
From Bryan Cardonick on June 3, 2004 at 4:11 AM
Point taken. Yes it probably will be helpful to people who are in the Orlando/Tampa area or visiting. So in that light it's useful to a degree.

Kevin, I have to agree. Although I'll get on Space Mountain each time I'm at MK for some odd reason it's still a kiddie coaster in disguise.

Sure the parks here in Central Florida are family related, but the families coming from places such as California, Ohio and the Northeast like to ride and I think that's something a couple parks are missing entirely (Sea World excluded, that's another ballgame entirely). However, that's probably something best left for another topic entirely.

From Robert OGrosky on June 3, 2004 at 10:51 AM
While i dont think anyone would claim that Space Mountain is a great coaster, it gives you a decent ride for what it is.
It is a older family coaster and isnt meant to be a scream machine.
From Robert OGrosky on June 3, 2004 at 11:03 AM
While re-redeading the list, where is Big Thunder mountain RR??? If people find Space Mountian boring wouldnt you find Big Thunder to be better???
From Joe Lane on June 3, 2004 at 5:53 PM
I'm really wondering how people would rate the coasters in the Tampa/Orlando area.

Really--I mean, add some of the ones I left off, take off some of the coasters I put on--rate five, rate ten, rate fifteen, it doesn't matter...

From Jeffery Beal on June 3, 2004 at 7:17 PM
Although the Orlando/ Tampa area does not have an abundance of roller coasters as compared to other parts of the country, or for that matter some parks, they certainly make up for it in quality. The Hulk coaster you will find in most top ten lists. The Dueling Dragon coasters along with Montu are consistently rated among the top 3 or 4 inverted coasters. The only inverted coasters that consistently rate with Montu and Dueling Dragons is Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Alpengeist and Cedar Point's Raptor. Kraken is arguably the best Floorless coaster in America. The Orlando area certainly could use a hypercoaster and couple more wooden coasters would be welcomed. Just looking at the list, you could make an argument for Kraken, Kumba, Fire Dragon, Ice Dragon, Montu or the Incredible Hulk as being the best coaster in the Orlando/Tampa area. Personally I would have rated them in the following order: 1)Fire Dragon 2)Incredible Hulk 3) Montu 4)Ice Dragon 5)Kraken 6) Montu. I would have also moved the Kwazi coasters ahead of the Aerosmith Rock "n" Roller coaster and Space Mountain. Although these woodies are not in the same class as GCI's other creations such as Wildcat and Lightning Racer at Hershey Park or Roar at Six Flags America, they are still fine wood roller coasters. But that is just one person's opinion.
From Jeffery Beal on June 3, 2004 at 7:54 PM
WOW Montu is so good it took up the Third and Sixth spot on my list. Kumba would actually be in the sixth spot. I should take a little more time to edit and correct my mistakes before hitting the submit response button.
From Robert Niles on June 3, 2004 at 9:52 PM
1. Kraken
2. Ice
3. Fire
4. Hulk

Haven't been on the rest, or don't think them worthy of being on any "best" lists. I give the nod to Kraken, by the way, because I feel it sustains its excitement throughout the ride better than Hulk.

From Robert OGrosky on June 4, 2004 at 10:57 AM
Fla. does need some quality wooden coasters that it is sorely lacking now. As well as some type of hypercoasters which they lack at this point, not even having a ride as tall as Magnum XL which now is a older coaster, though still offers a great ride.
From Homestar Bad on June 4, 2004 at 6:02 PM
1. Hulk
2. Mummy
3. Montu
4. Kumba
5. Kraken
6. Fire
7. RNRC
8. Ice
9. Gwazi (their twins so one cant be better than the other if u ask me)
10. Space Mountain
From Ernest Suter on June 4, 2004 at 8:57 PM
The Hulk defineately is the best. I've been to all the parks in Florida and most in the northeast. While there are not too many roller coasters in Florida, I think The Hulk is the best I've ever been on. As for those who don't count dueling roller coasters that differ, try comparing Flashback at Six Flags New England with Robin from the Batman and Robin Chiller in Six Flags Great Adventure. They are EXACTLY the same with different names.
From Kevin Baxter on June 5, 2004 at 12:47 AM
Jeffery, I think you got it exactly right. Ignore the Disney coasters (and I have to disagree with Space Mountain in MK giving you a good ride... I'd say that about DL's but MK's is simply awful) and the two older BGTB coasters and the rest are all quality rides. The two coaster "champs," CP and SFMM, don't even have that ratio of good to bad.

Even better, there are five here that would make my overall Top Ten. I haven't been on many outside Florida or California, but many Top Ten lists have about five of these coasters on them.

From Jeffery Beal on June 6, 2004 at 5:40 PM
Kevin, you got me thinking about where would the Orlando/ Tampa area roller coasters fit in my top ten. Without a doubt, I know Montu, the Dueling Dragons and the Incredible Hulk coaster would be in my top ten.

Just thinking about the parks I have been to in the last couple of years, Hersheypark's Wildcat would make it (Have not been there this year, but I am hearing good things about Hershey's newest coaster StormRunner).

Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Apollo's Chariot would make the cut and most likely so would Alpengeist. On a side note, both Loch Ness Monster and Big Bad Wolf coasters have aged very well and still provide a good ride.

Six Flags America's hypercoaster Superman Ride of Steel would get in. Roar, possibly could sneak in there.

Nothing from Kings Dominion or Carowinds would make it, although there are some good coasters there.

Six Flags Great Adventures remarkable B&M Nitro definately makes the cut. I believe the floorless Medusa would be on the outside looking in as would Batman and Robin: The Chiller (Easily the best shuttle or boomerang coaster I have been on).

I have not been to any parks in southern California nor have I been to what is considered by many to be the roller coaster capital of the World, Cedar Point. I'm sure there would be some roller coasters there that would make me rethink my top ten.

Anyway, this goes back to my original point that the Orlando/ Tampa area may not have many coasters, but it does have as high a ratio of good coasters as any park in the United States.

From Carrie Hood on June 7, 2004 at 2:58 PM
This is truely a tough call, Central Florida just doesen't have the sheer numbers of coasters that other areas do, so it really doesen't seem proper to me. It would probably be better just to rate each coaster in Central Florida then to just make a list of 10 (isen't there only 11 anyway?), that way perhaps others would know more about each one?
My own personal list runs more off my own personal feelings towards parks then honest opinions, so I'll leave it with BGT has the best with UO at second place.

And speaking of the dead Boardwalk and Baseball, they're finally tearing the last peices down and building on the land. I did manage to snag pictures of the buildings and remaining ride footers though! ;)

From Joe Lane on June 7, 2004 at 7:02 PM
If I were wise, I'd make no response, but for some reason, I feel the need to defend my position and decisions for this article. I'm based in the Tampa/Orlando area. I've lived here all my life and have never visited other themeparks outside the state. I made this clear at the beginning of the article, also acknowledging that there are better places abroad that offer more and better roller coasters.

It was because of this that I limited my list to the coasters in the Central Florida area--I can't very well rate coasters I've never been on. I never intended the list to be a TOP TEN. That was my fault for writing that in the article description. It just happened to round out the list at ten so the cliche caught me.

This is, has been, and always will be my opinion of the coasters at these theme parks. I don't profess to be a roller coaster professional, have a masters in physics, or anything exceptional other than my own experience and expertise. While I may feel negative towards some coasters more than others, I did do my best to balance out my reviews. I acknowledged that my opinions of some coasters (especially Gwazi) could be slanted and that, in some circles, the same coaster I refer to as a rough ride may be, in truth smooth for someone else. I did attempt to highlight different elements of each coaster so fanatics will have an idea of which one to look for.

I left off BTMRR because, with its three lift tracks, it just doesn't seem as exciting as a true roller coaster; a runaway mine train is more the style. Yes, Space Mountain does have a slower top speed compared to BTMRR; yes there are no inversions or grand coaster design--the ride appears more like a wild mouse coaster, so in that respect, maybe SM shouldn't have been on the list at all, but to discount Rock 'n' Rollercoaster simply on account that it's a Disney coaster might be a bit too overzealous--there's enough speed, g's and inversions to make it compete.

From Jeffery Beal on June 8, 2004 at 5:14 PM
Joe, there is no need to defend your position. This list was just your opinion and you did state you had not been to many parks outside of the Tampa/ Orlando area. I certainly disagreed with some of your picks, but that does not mean that my list is better than yours.

As for the Disney coasters, I did not particularly care for Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is O.K., but I think Rock "n" Roller Coaster is a good ride. I know my wife and I bounced back and forth between the Tower of Terror (one of the very best rides to be found anywhere) and the Aerosmith coaster on our last trip to Disney and had a great time. I just think it is not as good as the major coasters at IOA or BGT.

As for other parks having better coasters, I still believe that the Orlando/ Tampa area has some of the best coasters to be found. For a comparison of three parks I can get to in less than three hours drive time, Six Flags America, Kings Dominion, and Six Flags Great Adventure there are close to thirty roller coasters. Only one, Nitro would I rate above Dueling Dragons, Montu, Incredible Hulk or Kraken. Superman Ride of Steel, Roar, Medusa and Batman and Robin: The Chiller would be the only other rides that come close to matching the aforementioned Orlando/ Tampa coasters in quality. But again, that is just one persons opinion.

From Carrie Hood on June 19, 2004 at 10:26 PM
LOL Joe! I'm sorry I didn't mean to make that seem as harsh or offencive as it came out, I was just pointing out the first thought which I had on the matter. I can't really say much as I'm also based (for the moment) out of the Central Florida area and I've spend most of my life here. Most of the rides around here I grew up with (gee, can we tell why I'm so bitter with disney then!? ;))

Some of the rides in Central Florida parks I will ride till the day I die (or go flying out of one), even if they are not as huge/fast/exciting as the other parks in the US. Then again your talking to the same lunatic who's riden Kumba more then 24 times in a row.

My only complaint about RnRC is that it's very short for a ride. Then again I also worked at that exact ride when I paid my dues to Disney as a CM. So I really can't say much other then I've riden it so many times, I won't bother to wait in line for it much more then maybe 20 minutes. :)
Intersting fact I found out- They say you shouldn't do that, something about causing the fluid in your brain to shift. Perhaps that would explain something about some of us around here :)

From Kevin Baxter on June 20, 2004 at 12:38 AM
I definitely notice as I have gotten older that I can't do them as continuously as I used to. Nothing major, I just get a headache. Makes you realize exactly what is happening to your brain in there.
From Carrie Hood on June 20, 2004 at 11:30 PM
Kevin, you know a few advil liqua-gels and a quick bite of theme park food can probably solve that one.

It's rare coasters give me headaches regardless of the number of rides I've had in one said day. It more depends on the ride its-self. I can ride Kumba or Montu 10+ times and still scream for more, but one single ride of SF Great Adventures "Great American Scream Machine" will send my head pounding in a few seconds flat. But now I've gotten completely off topic. I just thought it was an intersting little bit of info.

Joe- Take a ride by Cypress Gardens if you get the chance, what you see will probably surprize the life out of you because I nearly had heart failure out of shock. It seems we're getting at least ONE promise kept to us!

From John Franklin on July 3, 2004 at 11:39 PM
I've heard that when Cypress Gardens reopens, it will have two or three coasters. So, I wonder how they will compare with the rest.
As far as Space Mountain is concern, as I understand it, it is nothing more than Disneyland's Matterhorn with a roof. And many people love the Matterhorn at Disneyland. After all, it is the world's first steel themed rollar coaster.
From Adrian Walker on August 1, 2004 at 1:05 AM
Ben, you asked why I thought Kraken was an octopus and not a serpant so here it is. In many books it describes it as an octopus which capsized ships. Also in kingpins arcade, (IOA) one game is called ocean hunter (I won't go into details) and the first "boss" is Kraken. And guess what? He is an octopus! So I was right (A rare thing but it happans).
From Christian Nicely on August 1, 2004 at 7:26 PM
I would have Hulk Coaster at the top of my list. I haven't been on Montu or Kumba yet. (I want to) Rockin Roller Coaster would be my #2.