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Thrill Rides

Greater Orlando is best known as a family vacation paradise, but there’s plenty of high-octane adventure to be found, too.

Dells Zombie Outbreak

Greater Orlando has a reputation for being the sort of place where dreams come true—an assessment that stands even if your dream is to wage war against zombies, shoot some of the deadliest firearms known to man, or soar Tarzan-esque above throngs of hungry alligators.

Yes, we’re home to some of the most expansive, wholesome playgrounds known to man, but that doesn’t mean that adrenaline junkies can’t get their fix, too. Better still, given that the extreme attractions featured here cater to young and old alike, there’s no need to leave your family behind while you head off in search of action-packed adventure.

Nights (and Days) of the Living Dead

Ever since The Walking Dead became a smash-hit for AMC, zombie fever has swept the nation. Here in Orlando, patriots can do their part to fight the undead infection by taking out hordes of gruesome “walkers” at Dells Zombie Outbreak.

Set in an apocalyptic military base overrun with zombies, this attraction provides guests with state-of-the-art weapon replicas with size, form and function similar to real-life models. As to the zombies, they don’t just look hyper-realistic; they also wear high-tech targets to keep accurate statistics for each player’s kill stats. The goal is to shoot zombies, score points and win achievements—all while avoiding getting chomped, of course.

Pricing starts at $25 and various packages are available. Guests have reported stellar experiences, too. “I was totally terrified, but that’s the point, right?” says Katy Jo McGrath. Similarly, Kim Webster says: “I was running on adrenaline from the word ‘go.’ When we finished, I was out of breath and shaking. This place is awesome.” International Drive, (407) 745-4068, Zombie-Outbreak.co/Florida

Sky-High and Inside

Interested in experiencing what it’s like to skydive, but maybe not so interested in the part where you’d have to jump out of a plane and trust a parachute to get you back down safely? Thanks to iFly, you can now earn your wings without putting yourself or loved ones at any real risk.

“iFly guests can expect a freefall sensation floating on a cushion of air within iFly’s firstrate vertical wind tunnels,” says Amanda Siegel, general manager of iFly Orlando. “Flyers experience a safe and smooth ride guided by our highly trained instructors in a fun and inclusive space.”

The controlled environment makes indoor skydiving enjoyable for even the most risk-averse adventurers, and prices start at $69.95. Multi-flight group packages are available for parties of up to 12 people, too, making it a great place to work on teambuilding or family unity—while saving plane trips for out-of-town vacations. International Drive, (407) 337-4359, iFly-World.com

Shoot to Thrill

Make some “automatic” memories—and fire weaponry that your average Guns & Ammo subscriber only dreams about—at Machine Gun America (MGA). Each participant is provided with a selection of firearms, eye and ear protection, a standard range target, and one-on-one assistance and observation from an armed, NRA-certified range-safety instructor with military experience.

Make no mistake: The weapons are the real attraction here. Machine guns, belt-fed firearms, pistols, revolvers, rifles and even shotguns are all available to shoot. Can’t make up your mind? MGA offers various multi-weapon packages, prices for which range from $99.99 to $799.99. And if all that sounds a little too realistic for you, then make note of the zombiehunting simulator that’s available at their Orlando location.

Don’t think this one is just for adults, though, as kids can also have a blast. “My son was over the moon,” says Helene Carden. “[He] didn’t stop talking about the whole experience. He loved it, and the trainers were excellent with him.” Kissimmee, (407) 278-1800, MachineGunAmerica.com

Fly With the Gators

Alligators are probably one of the first things that come to mind when people think of Florida, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone wants to get close to the powerful beasts. Or does it? Based on the success of one of Gatorland’s newer attractions— the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line—it seems that no thrill is too extreme for adrenaline junkies.

Those who opt in will take a breathtaking journey along 1,200 feet from platforms that reach heights up to 56 feet. From there, you’ll fly at speeds near 30 mph through the park, going over such exhibits as the jumping Cuban Crocodiles and the Alligator Breeding Marsh.

The 45-minute experience features a short orientation session, a nature walk, five zips and a swinging bridge for $69.99, which also includes all-day Gatorland admission. And per Gatorland President & CEO Mark McHugh, they went to great lengths to include the best possible modern safety features. Gatorland, (800) 393-5297, Gatorland.com

Tactical Ecstasy

Ready for all-out war? Then bring your squad down to Battleground Orlando (BO), the area’s largest laser-tag and paintball operation, where the battle rages through two warehouse-sized indoor facilities and six outdoor fields. Per BO’s Spiros Kodounis, “No matter what, you will definitely have a blast.”

Standard laser-tag sessions run for three hours (including one hour of registration) and normally cost $29.95, but specials are frequently available. Besides access to BO’s expansive facilities and grounds, players are also provided with advanced, military-grade, laser-tag equipment, which use infrared and RF signals to drop enemies and keep score. Furthermore, players receive a free slice of pizza and free pictures of their performance, but keep in mind that reservations are required.

Naturally, BO is perfect for group outings of all sorts. “We are famous for birthday/bachelor parties, for team-building events and just plain fun,” says Kodounis, who notes that they offer the best rental equipment in the industry. Rose Avenue, (407) 294-0694, BattlegroundOrlando.com

Down, Up and Away

Want to enjoy a truly breathtaking view of Orlando? The Sling Shot at Magical Midway can provide it—if you’re willing to be rocketed to a height of nearly 400 feet, that is. And when we say “rocketed,” we mean it. After taking your seat and buckling in, you’ll be tilted into a reclined position and lowered into the heart of a faux volcano. Sound tranquil so far? Watch the next step, as it’s a doozy: Once the volcano erupts, riders are shot out at a force of three to five Gs, briefly enjoying the sort of weightlessness one might normally need a spaceship to experience.

Happily, you’ll come back to earth in a far gentler manner. “It was very safe and exciting,” says Savannah Jackson, who rode the Sling Shot with her sister. “We went up once and after the first time, we wanted to go again, and the second time was even better.” Magical Midway, (407) 370-5353, MagicalMidway.com

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s September 2017 issue.

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