April 18, 2017

Amusement Parks and Attractions in U.S. to Open in 2017

As amusement parks and attractions open for the 2017 season, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) releases its annual compilation of what is new at parks and attractions in the United States and Canada. The 2017 list includes more than 170 fresh experiences at 75 amusement parks and attractions, including new parks and land areas, rides, roller coasters, slides, games, and more.

Trends highlighted in the 2017 line up include the additions of water parks and water-based attractions, family-friendly attractions, vintage/classic rides, and the continued merging of technology and attractions.

Several parks provide an escape from the heat this summer through new water-based attractions. More than 40 water slides and 45 new water-based attractions make a splash including 15 brand new water parks or expanded water sections open with outdoor or indoor options.

More than 45 family-friendly attractions open including gondola rides, spinning rides, roller coasters, interactive exhibits, family entertainment centers, and more suitable for all ages. These multi-generational attractions allow families to experience the fun together.

Technology continues to enhance attractions providing immersive, interactive, virtual reality (VR), and 3-and 4-D experiences. VR-enhanced roller coasters transform the ride experience as passenger headsets fully immerse guests with 360-degree content synced to the ride’s motion. The advent of water jet propulsion technology creates a rocket blast water coaster, while touch-screens, wearable, and waterproof technology save guests time and money.

Environments and attractions completely immerse guests into various stories with intricate theming, sophisticated animatronics, hand-gesture technology, motion seating, 3-D glasses, high-tech sound, and other 4-D effects.

More than 20 nostalgic guest experiences roll back time and allow guests to experience vintage attractions and classic park rides that entertain all ages.

According to the IAAPA Global Theme and Amusement Park Outlook 2016-2020 report, parks in the United States and Canada are expected to entertain 412 million people and generate $23 billion in 2017.

Below are some of the exciting thrills guests will enjoy this season, organized by state:

A new water park opens in coastal Foley. OWA, meaning “big water,” opens six of its planned 20 rides, including the roller coasters “Rolling Thunder” and “Zero Zoom.”  In addition, an entertainment complex, including a hotel, dining, and retail, will sit on the shores of 14-acre lake reflecting the park’s name. www.visitowa.com 

Sea Life Arizona Aquarium at Arizona Mills mall in Tempe unveils the Colorado River Adventure, a 7,000-square-foot interactive exhibit to teach families about the state’s water and conservation efforts. www.visitsealife.com

California’s Great America in Santa Clara debuts the “Patriot” floorless roller coaster. The coaster, which lets riders freely swing their feet, takes guests to a 91-foot height and through a 360-degree loop at speeds up to 45 mph. www.cagreatamerica.com

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout” at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim and transforms the experience previously known as “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.” The new adventure enhances the free-fall sensation with all-new visual and audio effects to create a variety of ride experiences. The ride rises and falls multiple times at random intervals, all to the beat of music inspired by the film’s popular soundtrack. www.disneyparks.disney.go.com 

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park opens a thrill ride and two experiences at Knott’s Soak City Waterpark. “Sol Spin” swings guests six stories high as they rotate in all directions on the ride’s six spinning arms. Located more than seven stories above the water park, “Shore Break” tower features six water slides, including four Aqua-Launch chambers that send riders into a near-vertical drop through S-curves and flat loops in a translucent flume and dueling tube slides. The water park also debuts the slide tower “The Wedge,” an open-air family raft ride that seats up to six guests as they slide through twists, turns, and unexpected drops. www.knotts.com  

Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad offers many additions and a water park expansion. The “Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens Miniland Model Display” comes to life with lights, sound effects, animation, and features six scenes from the first 30 minutes of the movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Designed for children to compete against one another as they race down one of six water slides, “Legoland Surfers” is in the California beach-themed expansion of Legoland Water Park. The new Surfer’s Bay includes multiple water jets that incorporates Lego models. The Legoland Hotel adds Lego Ninjago-themed rooms, which allow guests to sleep in the company of Cole, Nya, Kai, Lloyd, and other Lego ninjas. www.legoland.com/california

California’s Santa Ana Zoo introduces the Fifty Monkey Ferris Wheel.” The 64-foot wheel features 15 customized thatched-roof gondolas, each containing educational facts about one of the zoo’s monkeys. www.santaanazoo.org

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz opens two rides as part of a $12-million improvement project that includes a new entrance plaza, a birthday room, and Fright Walk, which takes the haunted experience beneath the boardwalk. “Shockwave” has motorcycle-style seats on which riders spin and rock back and forth on a curling, wave-shaped track that is 65 feet tall. “Typhoon” swings riders upside down on two spinning arms, reaching a height of 60 feet above the boardwalk. www.beachboardwalk.com/new2017

SeaWorld San Diego debuts a 3-acre themed area, the “Ocean Explorer,” that engages park guests in an experience centered on exploration and adventure. Ocean Explorer’s signature attraction is “Submarine Quest,” a ride that takes guests on a simulated underwater research mission aboard a miniature submarine. Visitors receive educational information on the sub’s digital dashboard as the indoor-outdoor ride passes numerous aquariums. A jellyfish-themed “wave swinger” carousel, three children’s rides, and an “Orca Encounter” that focuses on marine animal research, education, care, and respect also debut.  www.seaworldsandiego.com

Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth” arrives at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo. The thrill ride features an oversized swinging pendulum that seats 40 people and reaches a speed of nearly 70 mph and a height of 147 feet. newfor2017.sixflags.com/discoverykingdom

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia adds the interactive dark ride Justice League: Battle for Metropolis.” Riders are members of the Justice League Reserve Team in a multi-sensory, four-minute game experience with wind, fire, fog, and other effects as they battle alongside Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Green Lantern to save Metropolis from Lex Luthor, The Joker, and the debuting Harley Quinn. www.sixflags.com/magicmountain

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, debuts “The Haunted Mine Drop,” a ride that goes underground. Ghostly characters narrate the experience as they tell guests a mining tale before they plunge 120 feet inside Iron Mountain. www.glenwoodcaverns.com

Lake Compounce
in Bristol updates its dark ride “Ghost Hunt” with new shooters, targets, and a new gaming system. www.lakecompounce.com

Quassy Amusement & Waterpark in Middlebury opens Bella & Bessie’s Sweet Shoppe & Pizzeria, featuring homemade taffy and other favorite treats. Two rides also debut, “Skipper’s Clippers” is a spinning interactive family-friendly ride with six pirate ships that gently rise as though floating on the high seas, with riders using joysticks at the helm to control lifts and drops. Guests seated in hot-air-style balloon baskets control the rising and spinning action on “Up, Up & Away”. www.quassy.com

Andretti Indoor Karting and Games Orlando
opens a new 155,000-square-foot facility that includes a high-speed karting track with multiple modular track designs, elevation changes, and banked turns. The facility also has more than 120 arcade games, a two-level laser tag arena, an elevated ropes course, virtual reality racing simulators, and a full restaurant and bar. www.andrettikarting.com 

Pandora – The World of Avatar land opens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando. The land is based on the 2009 movie “Avatar” and features the film’s blue-skinned Na’vi inhabitants of Pandora, floating mountains, bioluminescent plants, and flying banshees. The marquee attractions are a 3-D flight simulator called “Avatar Flight of Passage” that takes guests through the skies of Pandora, and the family-friendly “Na’vi River Journey,” an indoor boat ride that sends guests down a sacred river hidden within a bioluminescent rainforest of Pandora. www.disneyparks.disney.go.com

Fun Spot in Kissimmee opens the “Mine Blower” wooden/steel hybrid roller coaster that has an initial drop of 80.5 feet, a 360-degree barrel roll, and reaches a top speed of 48.5 mph. www.fun-spot.com  

Orlando’s Holy Land Experience introduces new musical production, “The Prodigal Son.” The show features original songs and tells the journey of a father and son who bring to life the well-known parable. www.holylandexperience.com

Legoland Florida in Winter Haven opens “Ninjago World,” an Asia-inspired land filled with hands-on outdoor activities for kids, a restaurant, and store. Located within the themed land is “Ninjago: The Ride” in which the ride’s vehicles, equipped with sensors that register the hand gestures of family riders who zap color-coded fireballs at digital screens populated with animated Lego figures, 3-D computer animation, and 4-D effects. www.legoland.com/florida  

SeaWorld Orlando enhances the floorless “Kraken” roller coaster experience with virtual reality, taking guests on a deep-sea mission alongside a variety of sea creatures via digital overlay and headsets. Additionally, the park’s Dolphin Nursery becomes more interactive, with large acrylic windows allowing guests to closely view the dolphin mothers and their babies from multiple levels. www.seaworldorlando.com

Universal Studios Florida in Orlando opens “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Guests make their way through “Tonight Show” Studio 6B to board a flying theater. The 3-D ride takes up to 72 guests on a race through New York City with “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon. Riders experience the smell of pizza, water splashes from the Hudson River, see other familiar landmarks, and enjoy appearances by show favorites including Steve Higgins, The Roots, and Hashtag the Panda. www.universalorlando.com 

The new 30-acre Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park opens with a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, a winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides, and speeding body slides. On the family-friendly “Krakatau Aqua Coaster,” guests board custom-designed canoes propelled through the park’s iconic centerpiece, the 200-foot Krakatau volcano that features waterfalls by day and lava flows at night. Guests enjoy free daily use of a park-exclusive and waterproof TapuTapu wearable device, which provides simple-tap access to virtual line ride reservations, exclusive Tapu play experiences, and other fun or time-saving options. www.universalorlando.com

Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell opens “Justice League: Battle for Metropolis” inside a 22,000-square-foot Hall of Justice. The indoor, 4-D interactive ride features the crime-fighting team of DC Comics superheroes with motion-platform vehicles, animatronic figures, and laser-gun game play. Riders encounter wind, fire, mist, and fog effects as they join Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern as they face off against The Joker and Lex Luthor. newfor2017.sixflags.com/overgeorgia 

Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain welcomes “Dinosaur Explore” to the park’s Crossroads area. Visitors can interact with 14 types of dinosaurs including full-size species, and baby dinosaurs, and dig for dinosaur bones. The park’s Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision features new high-tech effects. www.stonemountainpark.com 

Georgia’s Splash Island at Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta opens Ohana Bay featuring the kid-friendly, five-slide “Alani Falls” and the two-slide “Polu Plunge.” Teens and adults enjoy the twists and turns of two other pairs of slides: “Oma Oma O Racers” and “Uli Uli Twisters.” The water park also adds more than 100 beach seats and a splash area. www.wildadventures.com 

East Dundee’s Santa’s Village Azoosment Park opens the four-story-tall “Super Cyclone” roller coaster.  www.santasvillagedundee.com

Six Flags Great America in Gurnee adds the 120-foot-tall free-fly roller coaster “The Joker,” featuring 4-D seats that spin forward and backward as the train navigates straightaways and free-fall drops. www.sixflags.com/greatamerica

Deep River Waterpark
in Merrillville opens the “Aerial Adventure Park” featuring ziplines, bridges, tunnels, and ladders. The 10 ziplines range in length from 300 to 900 feet and from 40 to 60 feet tall. The park also opens the “Kraken,” a six-lane racing slide. www.deepriverwaterpark.com  

Kentucky Kingdom
in Louisville introduces the high-speed coaster “Eye of the Storm.” The coaster circles a seven-story loop with rotations and inversions and can seat up to 24 passengers. The track of the “Thunder Run” wooden coaster has also been modified. www.kentuckykingdom.com

Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth” comes to Upper Marlboro’s Six Flags America in May 2017. The ride features an oversized swinging pendulum that seats 40 people and reaches a speed of nearly 70 mph and a height of 147 feet. newfor2017.sixflags.com/America

Six Flags New England in Agawam adds a 120-foot-tall free-fly roller coaster “The Joker,” featuring 4-D seats that spin forward and backward as the train navigates straightaways and free-fall drops. www.sixflags.com/newengland 

Great Wolf Resorts opens its 15th North American resort in Bloomington.  Great Wolf Lodge Minnesota 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 and the Great Wolf Adventure Parkwww.GreatWolf.com/Minnesota

Valleyfair in Shakopee debuts with “North Star,” a 230-foot tower swing. www.valleyfair.com

Face Amusements opens two new Branson-area attractions. The Branson Coaster, a double-alpine coaster similar to a toboggan experience, sends riders zooming and racing on a half-mile track downhill in the scenic Ozark Mountains. In downtown Branson, the Mirror Maize takes the seasonal corn-maze concept to a year-round option indoors. www.faceamusement.com

Kansas City’s Paradise Park opens the “Exit Room Express” escape room. This physical adventure game in which players are locked in a room and work to solve a series of puzzles using clues to escape the room and complete the mission has two 40 minute live-action options for guests in their teens and older. www.paradise-park.com

The “Spinsanity” ride comes to Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka. The ride has 40 motorcycle-style seats on which riders spin backward and forward on a curling, 51-foot-tall half-pipe track. newfor2017.sixflags.com/stlouis

Worlds of Fun in Kansas City opens two rides and debuts a redesigned front gate in 2017. “Mustang Runner” has three arms with seven gondolas per arm that turn one way while the base of the ride spins the other way. “Falcon’s Flight” spins and elevates 50 riders to a height of 100 feet. www.worldsoffun.com

New Jersey
Casino Pier in Seaside Heights opens “Hydrus,” a roller coaster with a 72-foot vertical lift, a beyond-vertical drop, and a vertical loop, reaching a top speed of 45 miles per hour. The park also debuts a Ferris wheel standing 131 feet tall with 34 gondolas that seat six passengers each, including one that is wheelchair accessible. www.casinopiernj.com

The Great Nor’Easter” roller coaster at Morey’s Piers in Wildwood underwent a $4 million renovation to retrack the coaster for riders to enjoy a smooth ride experience. www.moreyspiers.com 

Playland’s Castaway Cove in Ocean City, adds the “Wild Waves steel roller coaster. The park also opens the 125-foot-tall “GaleForce” three-launch roller coaster featuring a 90-degree drop and multiple inversions while reaching speeds up to 64 mph. www.oceancityfun.com

Justice League: Battle for Metropolis” comes to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson. The attraction is a 4-D interactive thrill ride with motion-platform vehicles, animatronic figures, and laser-gun game play. Themed around iconic DC Comics characters and plots, riders help Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern face off against The Joker and Lex Luthor. newfor2017.sixflags.com

New York
The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George introduces Bonzai Pipelines. The 30-foot-tall dueling water slides send riders racing through nearly 300 feet of twists and turns. newfor2017.sixflags.com/greatescape

Seabreeze Amusement Park in Rochester introduces “Time Machine.” The ride has a 20-passenger platform that raises three stories in the air then swings 360 degrees in a pendulum motion. www.seabreeze.com

North Carolina
On May 27, Aquatic Development Group opens H2OBX, a $46-million water park in the Outer Banks with more than 20 water slides, pools, and attractions. Rides include the “Dune Runner”double tube slide; a seven-story “Midnight Marauder” slide; “Paradise Plunge,” a nine-story free-fall slide; “The Plank” slide; the two-person raft slides “Wild Horse Run” and “Storm Chaser”; and “Rip Tide,” a zero-G two-person raft ride. Other park attractions include Cat 5 Bay Wave Pool; Deep Six Adventure Lagoon, equipped with climbing walls, obstacle course, inflatables, and balance pads; Teach’s Tide Adventure River; Twin Tides Family Wave Beach; the galleon-shaped Calico Jack’s Cove with ropes courses, games and 1,000-gallon tipping bucket; Queen Anne’s Revenge, a four-person raft ride; and the six-story “Rogue Waves” 460-degree family raft slide. Children’s attractions include “Sand Pail Beach” and six kiddie rides named “Blue Heron Twirl,” “Osprey Landing,” “Swirling Sands,” “Turning Tern,” “Pelican Plunge,” and “Swooping Seagull.” More than 50 private cabanas, a premium cabana village, first-class amenities, and luxury guest service in a private oasis setting are also available. www.obxwaterpark.com

Carowinds near Charlotte, introduces a newly reimagined County Fair section with four vintage rides. The County Fair features “Do-Si-Do,” a spiraling adventure where guests fly through the air as three giant arms rotate riders in different directions at increasing speeds and elevation; floorless spinning ride “Electro-Spin;” “Rock’N’Roller,” a circular spinning ride; and the classic family swing ride named “Zephyr.” www.carowinds.com

Cedar Point in Sandusky opens the renamed and renovated 18-acre Cedar Point Shores Water Park with four attractions. Towering six stories, “Point Plummet” sends four riders down their own 400-foot water slides that begin with a near-vertical aqua-drop followed by several s-curves and vertical loops. “Portside Plunge” features five-story tube slides that send individuals or pairs of riders through tunnels, drops, and turns. “Lakeslide Landing is a family splash ground with 12 kid-sized water slides. “Lemmy’s Lagoon” provides more pint-sized fun with geysers and water features centered around “Lemmy,” Lake Erie’s mythical monster. www.cedarpoint.com/play/cedar-point-shores

Five new attractions come to Kalahari Resort in Sandusky. “Stingray,” the funneled, serpentine raft slide, allows riders to experience 45-degree and five-story drops. The partially-covered “Sahara Sidewinder” slide features steeply angled saucers for high speed and a “drop-and-dive” sensation. “Tornado Alley” has two high-energy funnels, while the “Serengeti Spinner” offers a high-speed enclosed body slide with 360-degree loops. “Extreme Rush” starts with a nearly vertical drop and transitions into a tight 360-degree loop before riders enter a landing pool. www.kalahariresorts.com/ohio

Kings Island in Mason opens the “Mystic Timbers wooden roller coaster. The ride provides a 50-mph race through the woods combined with a mystery theme. The 109-foot-tall coaster traverses 16 hills through wooded terrain along a 3,265-foot track.  The ride ends in a mystical, vine-covered lumber mill that features a surprising finale. www.visitkingsisland.com 

Oklahoma City’s Frontier City introduces a triple water slide. “Gully Washer” takes riders down a 66-foot-tall tower through three enclosed slides featuring back-to-back turns, multiple dips, and 360-degree curves. www.frontiercity.com

The Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks opens Sea Turtle Island. Visitors can watch two 300-pound loggerhead sea turtles, reef sharks, and other fish in a 56,000-gallon tank that features three observation levels, including an underwater viewing area. www.okaquarium.org/sea-turtle-island

Dorney Park in Allentown debuts rides, shows, and event venue. The circular ride Kaleidoscope” sends guests on a counter-clockwise trip that includes weightlessness, acceleration, and side-to-side motion. The park also brings back its classic bumper cars, “Dodgem.” Parkside Pavilion provides new food options and seating for up to 2,000 guests for special events. Dorney Park also debuts “Cirque Imagine,” a 30-minute show featuring trampolines, aerialists, hand balancing, and bikes. www.dorneypark.com

Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster opens the “Merlin’s Mayhem” suspended, family-friendly roller coaster. Named for the park’s iconic magician and his dragon friend, riders enjoy a flying-coaster journey that features a 60-foot rise and two helix turns. www.dutchwonderland.com 

Hersheypark in Hershey debuts “Hershey Triple Tower.” The addition includes three drop towers of different heights and thrill levels: “Hershey’s Tower,” “Reese’s Tower,” and “Hershey’s Kisses Tower.” Each tower provides a panoramic view and different ride experience with varying elevations and speeds, letting families choose their experiences right for their family members. www.hersheypark.com

Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg opens “Over the Top,” a ride reminiscent of the park’s popular “Flying Cages” attraction that guests enjoyed from 1964 to 1986. Riders stand side-by-side as they propel over the top of the ride. www.knoebels.com

Waldameer in Erie introduces a $2-million expansion “The Battle of Lake Erie” to Water World. The addition is a 40-foot-tall, interactive climbing structure with seven slides, a 400-gallon tipping bucket, and dozens of activities with educational references to the region’s role in the War of 1812. www.waldameer.com

Pigeon Forge’s Dollywood debuts “Drop Line” and “Whistle Punk Chaser.” “Dropline” is a 200-foot, free-fall drop tower and “Whistle Punk Chaser” is a junior wooden coaster with twists and turns for younger visitors. Dollywood’s Splash Country introduces a high-speed water slide race named “Tailspin Racer.” The park also enhances its entertainment offerings with the addition of enra, a Tokyo-based dance company featured on “America’s Got Talent,” Dollywood’s Harvest Festival that features the Southern Gospel Jubilee, and the “Great! Pumpkin LumiNights” evening event immersing guests in glowing fall pumpkin illumination. www.dollywood.com 

Reunion Tower in Dallas opens a high-tech interactive “Constellation” attraction on the GeO-Deck overlooking the city skyline. Visitors encounter a series of touchscreen monitors with prompts to add their names and other details assigned to a star, create an avatar, and describe their experiences with illustrations. Each visit begins with a single star that multiplies into a larger constellation with each additional visit. www.reuniontower.com 

Texas’ SeaWorld San Antonio adds “Wave Breaker: The Rescue.” The double-launch coaster is jet ski-inspired and based on marine animal rescue missions. It is 2,600 feet long and reaches heights of up to 61 feet. www.SeaWorldSanAntonio.com

Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio opens “Thunder Rapids.” The three-story, 942-foot water coaster features a custom-designed inline raft harnessing water jet propulsion technology for thrill-filled uphill ascents and elevated drops. newfor2017.sixflags.com/fiestatexas  

Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington debuts the 120-foot-tall free-fly roller coaster “The Joker,” featuring 4-D seats that spin forward and backward as the train navigates straightaways and free-fall drops. www.sixflags.com/overtexas

Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi opens the Caribbean Journey exhibition, transporting visitors from South Texas to the jungles and seas of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Preserve in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and the western Caribbean. The 71,000-square-foot expansion includes a 400,000-gallon Caribbean shark habitat, a 100-seat 4-D theater, interactive exhibits, and a new research/education center that helps further the aquarium’s conservation mission. www.texasstateaquarium.org/caribbean

Busch Gardens Williamsburg
opens its first wooden roller coaster, “InvadR.” The coaster features an 81-foot first drop and nine hills where riders experience moments of weightlessness. www.buschgardens.com/va