A state-by-state guide to all the new amusement & water park attractions this summer
Nothing says summer like a trip to an amusement or water park. Many of the country’s more than 400 parks are adding new attractions this summer to further entice you and your family. Major trends seem to be bigger, longer, faster, and crazier roller coasters plus rides that incorporate virtual reality.
Here’s a state-by-state guide to help you find the new thrills and spills nearest to you. Hold on!
Photo courtesy: Knott’s Berry Farm
California’s Great America in Santa Clara opens RailBlazer, a new roller coaster featuring a 90-degree drop, three inversions, and dynamic rotations. Guests straddle the coaster’s single track, giving them an unobstructed view of the ground and sky during the off-road, adventure-inspired ride.
Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim debuts Pixar Pier, a transformed land where guests can enjoy newly-themed attractions, foods, and merchandise representing beloved Disney Pixar stories. The experience includes the Incredicoaster, themed after The Incredibles film, and neighborhoods based on The Incredibles, Toy Story, and Inside Out. Read our recommendations for visiting Disney California Adventure here.
Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park premieres a new steel roller coaster called HangTime. The ride towers 150 feet over the park’s boardwalk area. The experience includes inversions, mid-air suspensions, and twisting dives along the track. HangTime will send riders up a vertical lift hill and down into a 15-story, 96-degree drop that gives the illusion that the track has disappeared! To get the inside scoop on Knott’s Berry Farm, read our recommendations here.
LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad opens LEGOLAND Castle Hotel, a three-story, 250-room hotel. Accommodations range from suites to standard guest rooms themed for knights, princesses, and more. The park also opens Lego City Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride. Up to 12 passengers board one of eight real submarines as they explore an imaginative underwater ocean world. Read our recommendations for LEGOLAND California here.
SeaWorld San Diego opens Electric Eel, the park’s third roller coaster. The 150-foot-tall ride features a triple launch with accelerations of more than 60 mph.
Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia introduces CraZanity, a towering pendulum attraction that seats riders in an outward-facing circle and speeds up to 75 mph as it swings 172 feet in the air.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo debuts Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster. The ride’s two trains seat 32 riders face-to-face as they speed past each other in a dueling adventure. The figure-eight coaster turns riders upside down 12 times!
Photo courtesy: LEGOLAND California
Aquatica, SeaWorld’s waterpark in Orlando, introduces Ray Rush, a new family raft slide which launches riders through enclosed tubes, a translucent sphere, and an open halfpipe slide shaped like a manta ray. SeaWorld Orlando also debuts Infinity Falls, the world’s tallest river rapid ride. Each raft will twist and turn through a lush jungle environment as riders experience up to Class IV river rapids. A unique vertical elevator lifts each raft for a dramatic launch into the river below. Read our recommendation for where to stay at SeaWorld Orlando here.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista opens Toy Story Land featuring characters like Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Slinky Dog. Toy Story Land features two new attractions: the Slinky Dog Dash family roller coaster and Alien Swirling Saucers, a flying saucer ride. Before you go, read our tips for visiting Disney.
LEGOLAND Florida Resort in Winter Haven introduces The Great Lego Race, an attraction that transforms the Project X roller coaster into a virtual reality experience. By using virtual reality headsets and Bluetooth technology, the ride synchronizes virtual visuals with the roller coaster’s twists, turns, drop, and climbs, creating an all-new experience. For our recommendations at LEGOLAND Florida, including the best places to stay, click here.
Universal Orlando Resort opens Aventura Hotel, a modern and stylish property with views of all three Universal Orlando theme parks. The hotel has a vibrant, free-flowing design, spacious open areas, and 600 contemporary rooms. Universal Studios Florida also is opening Fast and Furious – Supercharge, immersing passengers into the popular car-themed movie franchise. For our reviews of other lodging options at Universal Studios as well as tips for getting the most out of the parks, click here.
Photo courtesy: LEGOLAND Florida
Great Wolf Resorts opens its first Georgia property in LaGrange. Great Wolf Lodge Georgia features indoor water slides, a giant tipping bucket, wave pool, lazy river, and a family raft ride. Additional family-focused attractions outside the water park include the MagiQuest interactive adventure game and the indoor Great Wolf Adventure Park.
Six Flags Over Georgia near Atlanta opens Twisted Cyclone, a hybrid roller coaster that goes from a 75-degree initial drop to three inversions at 50 mph. The coaster train, modeled after a classic 1960s sports car, combines a traditional wood coaster structure with a steel track.
Wild Adventures in Valdosta adds Megabugs! Adventure Encounters, a new interactive area including more than 70 exhibits featuring big insects and arachnids.
Photo courtesy: Great Wolf Lodge Georgia
Great Wolf Resorts opens in Chicago’s northern suburb of Gurnee. The company’s 17th resort, Great Wolf Lodge Illinois, features indoor water slides, a giant tipping bucket, wave pool, lazy river, and a family raft ride. Additional family-focused attractions outside the water park include the MagiQuest interactive adventure game and the indoor Great Wolf Adventure Park.
Six Flags Great America, also in Gurnee, adds the world’s largest loop coaster, the park’s 16th roller coaster. The 100-foot-tall ride features 32 face-to-face seats and takes daring riders through several 360-degree revolutions.
Photo courtesy: Six Flags Great America
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus adds two new thrills for kids. The Tembo Falls water slide complex features eight junior slides including twisters, helix, mini-bowl and two racing slides, while Tembo Tides is a junior wave pool, featuring spray features for younger children.
Photo courtesy: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
Adventureland in Altoona opens Bernie’s Barnyard, an area created specifically for the park’s youngest guests with kiddie rides, a playground, arcade games, and more.
Photo courtesy: Adventureland
Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville adds two new rides. Scream Xtreme has riders soaring and spinning high above the park. Closer to terra firma, the new family ride Rock ‘n Roller leaves passengers of all ages dizzy.
Photo courtesy: Kentucky Kingdom
Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro debuts a new centerpiece for its Hurricane Harbor Water Park, Wahoo River. The themed adventure river has seven water action zones, complete with water arches, geysers, surging waves, waterfalls, and tipping buckets.
Photo courtesy: Six Flags America
Six Flags New England in Agawam debuts Harley Quinn Spinsanity, a colossal swing ride that reaches up to 70 mph and spins riders up to 147 feet in the air.
Photo courtesy: Six Flags New England
Valleyfair in Shakopee opens Delirious in its nostalgic Route 76 area. The 70-foot looping thrill ride, which features a train that races around the inside of the track, completes 10 revolutions in less than a minute.
Photo courtesy: Valleyfair
Silver Dollar City in Branson debuts the Time Traveler roller coaster, the world’s fastest, steepest, and tallest spinning roller coaster. The ride features a 10-story, 90-degree vertical drop and three inversions: a dive loop, a vertical loop, and a zero-G roll along more than a half mile of track.
Six Flags St. Louis opens Typhoon Twister in its Hurricane Harbor water park. The hybrid, zero-gravity, water slide and wave wall sends up to four people barreling down an enclosed 54-foot drop on a cloverleaf raft.
Worlds of Fun in Kansas City introduces Nordic Chaser, a new family ride. Guests of all ages will board mini ships that rotate around a circuit, providing the sensation of the rising and falling on ocean waves.
Photo courtesy: Silver Dollar City
Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson opens Cyborg Cyber Spin, an anti-gravity gondola ride that spins on three separate axes. Twenty four riders sit with their feet dangling as they twist and turn and are propelled up to seven stories above the ground.
Photo courtesy: Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari
Darien Lake in Darien Center opens the new Tantrum roller coaster, taking riders up a 98-foot/90-degree vertical lift with a 97-degree drop reaching up to 52 mph. Riders rush through features including an Immelman turn and tilted loop finish.
The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George introduces Pandemonium, which takes 24 riders at a time on a ride that lifts, spins, and tilts at all angles. At sundown, the ride’s colorful lights illuminate the sky, providing a unique after-dark experience.
Photo courtesy: Darien Lake
Carowinds near Charlotte debuts Camp Snoopy, a newly expanded kids’ section featuring a climb-and-play area, Beagle Scout Acres. Camp Snoopy also has five new kiddie rides.
Photo courtesy: Carowinds
Cedar Point in Sandusky opens Steel Vengeance, a 200-foot-tall, hybrid roller coaster featuring a 90-degree, initial drop and a Twisted Snake Dive, a maneuver that puts the train into a half-barrel roll and lets it hang upside-down momentarily before turning back to the direction of travel, just shy of a complete rotation.
Photo courtesy: Cedar Point
Oaks Parkin Portland debuts the new Adrenaline Peak roller coaster that features a 72-foot vertical lift, a heartline roll, 97-degree loop, and top speeds of 45 mph.
Photo courtesy: Oaks Park
Sesame Place in Langhorne debuts the Oscar’s Wacky Taxi ride. The wooden-steel hybrid, family roller coaster has a bright yellow, taxi cab-inspired train featuring Oscar the Grouch.
The Boardwalk at Hersheypark in Hershey opens two water rides. Breakers Edge Water Coaster seats four riders on rafts and rockets them through splash-filled hills, tight turns, and sweet thrills. On the Whitecap Racer, guests ride on a mat through turns and tunnels as they sail down six colorful racing lanes. For our recommendations, including lodging at Hersheypark, click here.
Waldameer Park and WaterWorld in Erie opens two new family-friendly rides. Balloon Race in Kiddieland sends riders spinning around and gliding up and down in colorful hot-air balloons, while the CannonBowl single- or double-tube water slide has drops, twists, and turns before it sends riders spinning around in a giant bowl.
Photo courtesy: Hersheypark
Nashville Shores adds a new Aqua Park on Percy Priest Lake. Designed by Wibbit Sports, the on-the-water play area features monkey bars, action towers, wiggle bridges, a balance slide, and jump.
Photo courtesy: Nashville Shores
Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio opens Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster, a single-rail coaster that features a 90-degree drop, zero-G roll, and a 180-degree stall.
Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington debuts Harley Quinn Spinsanity, a 24-seat, gondola-style ride that delivers a combination of negative and positive gravitational forces as it twists and rotates on three separate axes in a continuous movement.
Photo courtesy: Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Busch Gardens Williamsburg debuts Battle for Eire, a virtual reality attraction featuring a fierce fairy warrior named Addie, who leads riders on an adventure through her homeland of Ireland. Addie’s goal is to rescue the Heart of Eire, which represents the magic of Ireland, with a little help from park guests.
Kings Dominion near Richmond debuts Twisted Timbers, a hybrid roller coaster featuring a 109-foot barrel-roll drop, three loops, and 20 air-time moments. The 3,351 feet of steel track make some maneuvers possible that were previously unimaginable on a traditional wooden coaster.
Ocean Breeze Waterpark in Virginia Beach opens a new family raft water ride with a patriotic theme. Riders board four-person tubes at the top of a 70-foot platform before sliding into a dark, enclosed tunnel with a series of unpredictable twists, turns, and drops that lead to a thrilling and refreshing splashdown.
Photo courtesy: Kings Dominion
Noah’s Ark Waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells opens a new water slide named Raja – The World’s Largest King Cobra. Riders will race side-by-side on tubes from six stories up along more than 335 feet of twists and turns at speeds up to 30 mph, concluding with a 37-foot plunge into the mouth of a massive snake.
Editor Shellie Bailey-Shah has fond memories of riding roller coasters with her dad as a child, while her mom and younger brother perused the gift shops. Who do you think had more fun?