The best theme park rides in the country have long appealed to our cathartic desire to get our hearts racing, palms sweating and adrenaline pumping. Where some people might find their ultimate vacation happiness by relaxing on the beach or spending the day sightseeing, others crave the rush of a truly engaging, thrilling, and sometimes terrifying, theme park ride.
THE TOP THRILL RIDES
With their fearsome loops, steep inclines and unforgiving curves, the best theme park rides are terrifying contraptions that will have you involuntarily laughing while simultaneously praying for your life.
Outlaw Run | Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO
Equal parts fun and complete terror, this ride is the first wooden coaster that features a double barrel roll—a twisted inversion that looks like a corkscrew—as well as the world’s steepest first drop (162 feet at 81 degrees).
Summit Plummet | Disney’s Blizzard Beach in Lake Buena Vista, FL
Sweaty palms, racing heartbeat, quick breathes and a slight fear of pending doom are all inevitable as you prepare to force yourself down this 120-foot water slide—one of the tallest and fastest in the world.
Ihu’s Breakaway Falls™ | Aquatica, Seaworld’s Waterpark™ in Orlando, FL
This one-of-a-kind ride is truly gut wrenching. You’ll step into one of three “breakaway boxes” with different slide paths, then wait in eager anticipation for the floor beneath you to disappear. Next thing you know, you’re dropping at speeds of up to 24 feet per second.
Insanity | Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas, NV
Extended roughly 64 feet over the edge of the tower and angled down so all you see is the Strip below, this electric-green-colored centrifuge takes fear to a whole new level.
Fahrenheit | Hersheypark® in Hershey, PA
The intense speed alone is enough to elicit an influx of adrenaline surging through your body, but add on the steepest drop in the U.S., inverted loops, high-speed banked turns and the quick dips and hills found along otherwise straight sections of the track, and you’ve got yourself one of the most harrowing rides of your lives.
THE TOP MOTION-BASED RIDES
The best rides don’t necessarily have to be the fastest or the scariest of the bunch. Truly great attractions engage your senses, make you forget about the technology behind the illusions and pull you into a completely alternative universe.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ | Islands of Adventure in Orlando, FL
Potterheads or not, this high-tech ride at Islands of Adventure conspires to wholly immerse guests into the world of Harry Potter—from the queue that winds through the Hogwarts School, to the innovative robotic arm ride system, to the combination of real sets and projected media.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts | Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, FL
We couldn’t leave out this incredible addition to the Harry Potter fandom, featured in Universal Orlando’s Diagon Alley™. With the same innovative system as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you’ll twist and turn through the magical vaults at Gringotts™.
Transformers™: The Ride | Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, FL
Ever wondered what it would be like to fight alongside Optimus Prime to help defeat the Decepticons once and for all? Now, you can join the fight and help save the human race in an epic battle of survival.
THE TOP FAMILY RIDES
Theme parks have made their mark by creating an experience that the whole family can enjoy—this includes having something special for the little ones.
Haunted Mansion | Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL
This is actually one of the last attractions to have had Walt Disney’s input, and it continues to be a classic, must-ride experience today. Prepare to be gently scared and amazed by an assortment of hilarious gags, illusions, and effects throughout the ride.
Men in Black: Alien Attack | Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, FL
Humorous, exciting and the perfect opportunity to eradicating as many aliens as possible with a laser gun…. I mean, what more could you ask for?
Great Exposition | Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO
The Great Exposition isn’t just one kid-friendly ride, it’s an entire section of thrill rides created specifically for the younger members. Hop on a carousel, ride a mini roller coaster, take a tour of Marvel Cave or ride the rails of the Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train. There is so much to explore and enjoy in this section of the park.