- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2008


It’s a big year for fans of theme parks and roller coasters all over North America. The long list of new attractions includes the rock ‘n’ roll-themed Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; the Nickelodeon-themed park at Minnesota’s Mall of America; Toy Story Mania! at Disney World; the Simpsons at Universal; and enough new thrill rides literally to make your head spin.

The coasters include Behemoth, Canada’s fastest and tallest coaster, opening at Canada’s Wonderland near Toronto; Fahrenheit at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania; and Dark Knight, a ride themed on the forthcoming Batman movie at Six Flags in New Jersey and near Chicago.

New rides based on skateboarder Tony Hawk are opening at several Six Flags; a water ride at Dollywood has riders shoot giant soakers at other riders and talking animals; and new children’s areas have been developed at SeaWorld, Cedar Point and other parks.

“There are new thrills and exciting family adventures from coast to coast at America’s theme parks this summer,” says David Mandt, spokesman for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. “Everything from thrilling roller coasters to action-packed dark rides to whimsical children’s areas and a number of new water-park attractions. There’s something for everyone.”

Mr. Mandt says most Americans are within a “one-tank drive to a local theme park,” making the parks good family destinations even in a slow economy.

Though theme-park admission can be pricey for a family of four, Mr. Mandt mentions several ways to save. Tickets bought online often cost less than at the gate; parks sometimes offer deals or discount coupons on soda cans, milk cartons or other items; and some employers offer theme-park discounts as a benefit. Also, if you’re likely to go several times, “a season pass will typically pay for itself in less than three visits,” Mr. Mandt says.

Here are some of the new parks and attractions in the United States and Canada. Most, but not all, were open by Memorial Day. Check with parks for specific opening dates.


Motocoaster, Darien Lake, Darien Center, N.Y., www. godarienlake.com. New ride design intended to simulate a motorcycle, with 12 motorcycles on a figure-eight layout, 44 feet tall, at speeds up to 40 mph.

Fahrenheit, Hersheypark, Hershey, Pa., www.hersheypark.com. Vertical lift inverted loop coaster, up to 58 mph, 2,700 feet of steel track. Also new at Hersheypark, the Howler ride, with sphere-shaped cars that rotate at a 20-degree angle, creating a “tornadolike” experience.

Voodoo, Dorney Park, Allentown, Pa., www.dorneypark.com. Inverted steel coaster that ascends 185 feet up, launches forward and backward, twists 360 degrees and rockets riders up to 70 mph.

Dominator, Kings Dominion, Doswell, Va., www.kingsdominion.com. Floorless roller coaster with five inversions, said to have the world’s largest vertical loop. The coaster comes to Virginia from Geauga Lake in Aurora, Ohio, which has become a water park, Geauga Lake’s Wildwater Kingdom, www.wildwaterfun.com.


Hard Rock Park, Myrtle Beach, S.C., www.hardrock park.com. New rock ‘n’ roll-themed park with coasters named for Led Zeppelin and the Eagles, plus a groovy dark ride based on the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin.”

River Battle, Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn., www.dollywood.com. Water adventure ride with nine rafts. Each raft holds eight people armed with soaker guns that they can aim at each other and more than 100 targets, including talking beavers, skunks, otters and bears.


The Simpsons Ride, Universal Orlando, Orlando, Fla., www.universalorlando.com, and Universal Studios Hollywood, Los Angeles, www.universalstudioshollywood.com. A simulator ride that is part thrills, part TV show, the Simpsons Ride replaces Back to the Future.

Toy Story Mania! Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., www.wdwmagic.com and Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif., www.disneyland.com. Interactive ride in which riders shoot at targets, themed on the “Toy Story” movies. Opens at Disney World in Florida today and at Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland Resort June 17. Mr. Mandt says the ride is a good example of the interactive trend hitting theme parks: “Your first ride and second ride are different, and you actually have a role to play in the outcome.” Also new at Disneyland: Innoventions Dream Home in Tomorrowland, a 21st-century redesign of the classic House of the Future, and Pixar Play Parade at California Adventure, with characters from movies such as “Toy Story,” Monsters, Inc.” and “Cars” on giant floats.

Jungala, Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Fla., www.jungala. com. Interactive animal park where visitors can view white-cheeked gibbons up close, watch an orangutan paint and experience a tug of war with a Bengal tiger. Geared to families with children ages 6 to 14.

Aquatica, SeaWorld, Orlando, Fla., www.aquaticabyseaworld .com. Water park adjacent to SeaWorld, with water falls, racing slides, a raft ride, wave pools, rivers, lagoons, a beach and 36 slides. The park also is home to dolphins, birds and fish.

Sesame Street Bay of Play, SeaWorld, San Diego, Calif., www.seaworld.com/sandiego. Themed kiddie park with Sesame Street characters, two rides and live show.

Pacific Wheel, Santa Monica Pier, Calif., www.pacpark.com. This new, $1.5-million Ferris wheel with 15,000 lights replaces the old Ferris wheel, which recently sold on eBay to a buyer from Oklahoma.

Land of Adventure, Lego land, Carlsbad, Calif., www. lego land. com/Cali fornia.htm. A new area of the park with attractions including a dark ride, Lost Kingdom Adventure, and Pharaoh’s Revenge. New Sea Life Aquarium expected to open in July.

Firefall, California’s Great America, Santa Clara, Calif., www.cagreatamerica.com. Thrill ride that flips and turns riders through fire and water effects.

Pony Express, Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, Calif., www.knotts.com. A launched coaster that travels through 60-degree turns and maneuvers.


Dark Knight, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., and Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Ill., near Chicago, www.sixflags.com/great adventure and www.sixflags.com /greatAmerica. Indoor roller coaster with hairpin turns, drops into darkness and video from the forthcoming Batman movie, “The Dark Knight.”

Six Flags America, Bowie-Mitchellville, www.sixflags. com/ America. Water slide designed to evoke skating a half-pipe.

Tony Hawk’s Big Spin, Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, Texas, www.sixflags.com/overTexas and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo, Calif., www. sixflags.com/discovery Kingdom. Built to resemble a skate park, with cars that twist, turn and spin.

Goliath, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio, www. sixflags.com/fiestaTexas. Inverted coaster that suspends riders from an overhead track and goes 50 mph.

X2 Coaster, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, Calif., www. sixflags.com/magicMountain. This is a redesign on an existing coaster, with new visual, auditory and sensory effects.

Evel Knievel, Six Flags St. Louis, Eureka, Mo., www.sixflags.com/stLouis. Wooden coaster with a 2,700-foot track, 80-foot drop and double 55-foot drops. Expected opening late June.

Thomas Town, Six Flags Over Georgia, Austell, Ga., near Atlanta, www.sixflags.com/overGeorgia. Play area for younger children themed on Thomas the Tank Engine.


Planet Snoopy, Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio, www.cedarpoint.com. New children’s play area with seven rides, plus a new Snoopy-themed restaurant and ice show.

Skyscraper, Challenge Park (at Cedar Point), Sandusky, Ohio, www.cedarpoint. com/public/park/challenge_park/skyscraper.cfm. A thrill ride that spins like a propeller with open cars 16 stories off the ground. Expected opening in June.

Thunderhawk, Michigan’s Adventure, Muskegon, www.miadventure.com. The 105-foot-tall inverted roller coaster flips riders upside down five times. Relocated from Geauga Lake in Aurora, Ohio, which has become a water park.

Keylime Cove, Gurnee, Ill., www.keylimecove.com. New water park themed on the tropical island lifestyle, with wave pool, body slides, lazy river, activity pool for water sports.

Kima Bay, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind., www.holidayworld.com. New monkey-themed water-park attraction at Splashin’ Safari.

Nickelodeon Universe, Mall of America, Bloomington, Minn., www.nickelodeonuniverse.com. Nickelodeon, the children’s cable network, has had Nick-branded zones in theme parks before, but this park is the company’s first stand-alone theme park. Rides include SpongeBob Square Pants.

Odysea, Lagoon Park, Farmington, Utah, www.lagoonpark.com. Interactive family water ride with flying-fish-shaped gondolas that can be navigated to avoid getting sprayed by water from other cars.

Aftershock, Silverwood Theme Park, Athol, Idaho, www.silverwoodthemepark.com. New 191-foot boomeranglike inverted steel roller coaster with two towers, 90-degree inclines and a 177-foot drop. Expected opening in July.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide