The Orlando theme parks are often thought of as places where kids rule, but they have plenty of rides that appeal to teenagers, too. Here are the top 12 rides that will blow your teens away:
1) Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
This ride at Islands of Adventure, in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is unlike anything else in Orlando, or really in the entire country. It combines robot arm technology and giant movie screens with traditional dark ride elements to literally bring riders into Harry Potter’s world.
This ride is not for the faint of heart, and it’s been known to make many guests queasy, Your teens will enjoy the thrill ride elements, like an encounter with the Whomping Willow, and they’ll get an extra kick out of it if they’re fans of the Harry Potter books or movies.
Speaking of movies, the Transformers ride next door at Universal Studios Florida is a teen favorite. Who doesn’t love the Transformer movies? The ride is like actually bursting through the big screen and going on an adventure with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. It’s loud, rough, and in your face, just like teenagers like it.
Some of the best rides are actually outside of Orlando. If you drive an hour west to Tampa, you’ll arrive at Busch Gardens, which is basically a teenage paradise for thrill rides. There are plenty of great roller coasters, like Montu and Cheetah Hunt, but at 200 feet tall SheiKra literally towers above them. This coaster has no floor, which adds to the excitement as it plummets down the first hill at a crazy angle. Sit in the front row for the best view or stake out a spot in the back for unmatchable air time.
4) Falcon’s Fury
SheiKra might look intimidating until you notice Falcon’s Fury soaring up into the sky. This ride, which is new at Busch Gardens for 2014, is more than 300 feet tall. It whisks riders up, tilts them forward, and the sends them plummeting face down back to the ground. Better yet, it drops on a random schedule, so you never know exactly when you’re going to fall. You might stay at the top for only a few moment, or you might hang in terror for several long seconds before you’re suddenly released.
SeaWorld Orlando is best known for its killer whale and dolphin shows, but it also has some fun rides, including two roller coasters that appeal to teens. Manta is the best of the two because of its unique style. Instead of sitting, or even standing, riders glide below the track face down. It’s meant to simulate the way in which a manta moves through the water, and it makes for a unique teen-pleasing experience.
6) Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster
Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster is the only roller coaster at Walt Disney World that goes upside down. It’s also a great ride for teens because of the blaring Aerosmith soundtrack that plays in each train and the fact that the wild ride takes place in the dark. You can’t see what’s coming, so every twist, turn, and flip is a new surprise. You’ll find this coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
7) Expedition Everest
Expedition Everest is another Walt Disney World roller coaster, located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It won’t flip your teen head over heels, but it does have some interesting surprises. Perhaps the best one is the spot in which it looks like you’ve run out of track. The dilemma is resolved when you suddenly reverse direction and zip backwards into the darkness inside of the foreboding mountain.
8) Mission: Space
Mission: Space at Epcot simulates a trip to Mars. It offers two options, the Green Team or the Orange Team. The Green Team is a mild version, but gutsy teens who aren’t prone to motion sickness will love the full-throttle Orange Team. It uses a centrifuge to give riders the closest feeling to a space journey that you’ll find this side of NASA.
9) Sum of All Thrills
Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions is a hidden teen favorite in Epcot. It actually uses the same technology on which Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is based. Teens can design their very own simulated roller coaster experience, including steep drops, hairpin turns, and plenty of flips and loops. Then they hop on board and ride their creation via the wide range of motion offered by the Kuka Arm.
10) White Lightning
The major Orlando theme parks aren’t the only places to find great roller coasters, Fun Spot, just off International Drive near Universal Orlando Resort, has a zippy wood roller coaster known as White Lightning. Your teens will love its whip action, and they can ride it again and again while you take their younger siblings on Fun Spot’s tamer rides.
11) Sky Coaster
Fun Spot is also home to the second tallest Sky Coaster in the United States. You might ask, “What’s a Sky Coaster?” It’s a scary, looming contraption that hauls riders 250 feet into the air before they’re released to swing back and forth as they swim in a major adrenaline rush. If your teens think most Orlando rides are for little kids, the Sky Coaster will quickly make them change their minds.
The Slingshot at Old Town, a small park on Highway 192 in Kissimmee, is another of those adrenaline pumpers that’s reserved for the bravest of the brave. Your teens can rocket more than 300 feet in the air on this reverse bungee attraction, then tumble back down again. They’ll get a great view of the 192 tourist strip, albeit for only a very few seconds.
There are plenty of other teen-friendly rides in and around Orlando. These are just a few examples of how much fun your older kids can have on your Central Florida vacation.