5. Montu – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Tampa, FL)
I know you’re probably thinking “Coaster Kings, how can you place Montu so low? How is it only #5 in Florida for you!?” Frankly there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Montu – we just think there’s some slightly-more-special B&Ms (and a non-B&M) in the state – but honestly the list from here on out couldn’t have been tighter. We don’t have to tell you how sensational this early-era B&M invert is, but it does make us yearn ever so slightly for the lush foliage of Manta or Kumba. Some enthusiasts would place Montu at #1 in the state for the batwing alone, and we 100% support that.
4. Manta – SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, FL)
We’ll be the first to admit that B&M Flyers (and flying coasters in general) are somewhat niche rides – their strengths on a conceptual level will woo some people more than others. The first round of flyers were mixed in their overall success (regardless of manufacturer), but with Magic Mountain’s Tastu came the first indisputable slam-dunk for the flying pedigree. The next came in short order, with SeaWorld poised to launch what remains one of the most clever design-meets-inspiration moves ever: not “flying” as in dragons, birds, or superheroes, but *flying* as in the hypnotic acrobats of the sea – manta rays. Everything about this ride came together in such a divine way – from its forceful maneuvers to its “wing dip” lagoon to its exquisite, aquarium-laden queue and exhibit – it’s no wonder that it remains SeaWorld Orlando’s signature experience over a decade after its debut.
3. Kumba – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Tampa, FL)
Ok, so maybe we’re a bit biased: we’re just such suckers for classic loopers and historic rides – when a single ride embodies these traits both equally and unrelentingly, what comes of it is nothing short of an obsession. We think it’s important to distinguish “best” coaster and “favorite” coaster in this case; despite p e r h a p s no longer being the best, Kumba is still handily our favorite coaster in Florida – and significance of its design cannot be overstated. While virtually every sit-down B&M looper is comprised of moves that can be traced back almost exclusively to this 28-year-old looper, none can claim to be as beautifully landscaped or topographically varied as Kumba.
2. Mako – SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, FL)
After giving the top spot to Kumba in our 2018 countdown, we decided to throw Mako a bone and make it our election for Florida’s best B&M this time around (alas, a newcomer still barred it from our peak). Mako is perhaps Florida’s most overtly-likable coaster, with a layout so intrinsically airtime-heavy that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t designed by a diehard Central Florida coaster junkie whose love language consists exclusively of cautiously optimistic NoLimits 2 designs. A point we’d like to drive home, however, is the fact that Mako‘s midcourse brake run is such an utter buzzkill that it’s enough to make us want to stop the ride and disembark right then and there; if only this high-praise hyper didn’t end on such a low-speed low-note.
1. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – Universal’s Islands of Adventure (Orlando, FL)
Yes, yes – despite the lofty expectations and fierce competition, the new kid on the block has unequivocally won us over. It’s not the most forceful Florida coaster, and nostalgia’s obviously not a factor (though I think we speak for everyone when we say we miss the normalcy of 2019), so how did Hagrid‘s best the likes of Mako and Kumba? Sheer audacity. We’re not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t ridden, but we’re going to go full-cheese right now and say that some of Hagrid‘s tricks are nothing short of (movie) magic in the flesh. Plus, as enthusiasts of dark rides, practical effects, audio-animatronics, and so on, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure’s successful marriage of these elements and more with a satisfying and lengthy multi-launch coaster is nothing short of a logistics miracle. All that’s missing is some merchandising opportunities; we humbly suggest cuddly toy shaped like a blast-ended skrewt.
This concludes Coaster Kings’ Florida TOP 10 Coasters 2020! We’re excited to see how the five (!) major coasters scheduled to open in Central Florida in the next 18 months will change the landscape of this already amazing coaster state – at which point we’ll be back with a radically different Top 10! Be sure to weigh in on our social media channels and tell us your 2021/22 Florida coaster predictions!