THE BLOG

Best Theme Parks Attractions To See In 2015

04/14/2015 05:13 pm ET | Updated Jun 14, 2015

2015-04-14-1429044606-5582310-1_voyagetoironreefknotts.jpg
Knott's Berry Farm's Voyage to the Iron Reef (Courtesy IAAPA)

If you thought roller coasters couldn't get more thrilling, this year's new launches prove designers had some extra tricks up their sleeves to create mind-blowing attractions. Combining cutting edge technology, spectacular graphics and the kids' favorite characters, these innovative attractions can be found at theme parks around the US. So get ready for ground-breaking roller coasters, guest-immersive dark rides, and many more family-friendly experiences!

CALIFORNIA

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Universal Studios Hollywood has enhanced its Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour, which now ends with the new 50,000-square-foot "Fast & Furious Supercharged" motion simulator. A tunnel-like movie screen creates a 3-D experience based on the popular and highly-rated movie franchise.

Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park launches a new 3-D interactive dark ride, "Voyage to the Iron Reef." Aboard submarine-inspired vehicles, visitors take part in a four-minute adventure into the Iron Reef.

The newly created "Twisted Colossus" wood hybrid coaster makes its debut at Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles. The four-minute ride takes visitors along nearly 5,000 feet of track where two trains are there at the same time and, at certain points, will appear as if they are interacting with one another!


FLORIDA

2015-04-14-1429045183-3079681-2_greatmovieridehollywoodstudios.jpg
Disney's Hollywood Studios' The Great Movie Ride (Courtesy Disney)

Walt Disney World Resort's Hollywood Studios has partnered with Turner Classic Movies to redesign "The Great Movie Ride" through which families can journey through the history of movie classics.

TEXAS

"Batman: The Ride," a 4D spinning wing coaster sending visitors up a 120-foot elevator-type lift before releasing them on a multi-sensory journey has launched at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. Featuring a full-scale Batmobile, Bat Signal, and other special effects, the ride includes six head-over-heels spins aided by new magnetic technology as well as two beyond-vertical freefalls.

ZDT's Amusement Park in Seguin unveils the first wooden shuttle coaster to be built in more than a century. Locomotive-themed "Switchback" runs two trains simultaneously.

PENNSYLVANIA

Hersheypark has launched the "Laff Trakk Indoor Coaster," a 70-second-long ride experience inspired by old funhouses. The ride features a 1,400-foot steel track, high-banked curves, camelback air time hills and curves, an Immelman turn and of course, a classic hall of mirrors.

NORTH CAROLINA

Carowinds has a new 325-foot-tall "Fury 325" giga coaster that reaches speeds up to 95 mph through a series of hills, curves, and quick transitions along a 6,602-foot track. Another addition is "Slingshot," a two-person attraction in which a pair of cables catapults riders nearly 300 feet into the air at speeds up to 60 mph.

INDIANA

2015-04-14-1429045226-185885-3_thunderbird.JPG
Holiday World's Thunderbird (Courtesy IAAPA)

A brand new launching wing coaster appears at Holiday World and Splashin' Safari. "Thunderbird" features a zero-to-60-mph launch followed by multiple inversions, including a barrel roll, a 14-story-Immelmann loop, and another loop 125 feet in the air.

KENTUCKY

At Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, it's not one but five new rides which are launched this year including "T3-Terror to the Third Power" roller coaster, "Raging River Raft Ride,""Enterprise" Ferris wheel, the 130-foot-tall "SkyCatcher" swinging gondola attraction, and the 360-degree rotating pendulum "Cyclos."

WASHINGTON, D.C.

2015-04-14-1429045262-1628122-4_bourbonstreet.jpg
Six Flags America's Bourbon Street Fireball (Courtesy IAAPA)

The "Bourbon Street Fireball" roller coaster has been introduced at Six Flags America, taking two dozens riders backward and forward through a 70-foot-tall, 360-degree loop.

MASSACHUSETTS

Fans of "Thomas & Friends will head off to Edaville USA that has opened a 11.5-acre Thomas Land, featuring 14 rides including a 20-minute long, scenic train ride on a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine.

Six Flags New England unveils the "Wicked Cyclone" wood hybrid coaster that features a 109-foot hill, a 200-degree stall, and two zero-G rolls along a 3,320 feet track at a top speed of 55 mph.

UTAH

A scary name for an adrenaline-packed ride, the "Cannibal" roller coaster at Lagoon Park takes visitors up 208 feet on a vertical lift before a freefall at an angle of 116 degrees into an underground tunnel.

For more attraction and theme park openings around the US, check the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) website.


Sonia Esther Soltani contributed this to MiniTime. She's traveled to over 30 countries and specializes in food, wellbeing and culture.

  • 1 Ride that rollercoaster
    Disneyland Paris
    Disneyland Paris is a total paradise for grown-up adrenaline junkies, and with two parks to choose from (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park) there's something to appeal to everyone. From the dizzying heights of Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril and the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, to the gravity-defying extreme twister Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, there are non-stop high octane thrills on offer all over the parks. You'll scream yourself silly on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (we won't spoil it for you, but trust us you'll want to go on it again, and again); and on Space Mountain (reopening in July 2015) you'll catapult into space. You can try and beat each other's scores on Buzz Lightyear's Laser Blast, and on the Star Wars-themed Star Tours you'll feel the full power of the Force. Big Thunder Railroad and the Phantom Manor are both lots of fun, and the big kid in you will be completely enchanted by Peter Pan's Flight and well-loved classics Pirates of the Caribbean and It's A Small World. The best thing is that all the rides are included in the price of your entry ticket – our top tip is to Fastpass the most popular ones to make the most of the parks.
  • 2 Entertainment
    Disneyland Paris
    With regular shows and parades there's constant entertainment on offer at Disneyland Paris. You'll also enjoy the stunt spectacular Moteurs... Action Stuntshow Spectacular and the Studio Tram Tour at the Walt Disney Studios Park. Head to Disney Village after dark for superb entertainment, including live bands and a movies. And the dazzling nightly fireworks display in the park is absolutely spellbinding; it doesn't matter how old you are, there's something very special about seeing Sleeping Beauty's castle illuminated with fireworks, just like at the start of every Disney movie you grew up with. Magical.
  • 3 Dine out in style
    Disneyland Paris
    As you might expect, being just over half-an-hour from Paris, you can enjoy some excellent gourmet food in the Disneyland Paris parks. The best restauarants for grown-ups are probably the Moroccan-themed Agrabah Café in Adventureland, and French-themed Bistrot Chez Rémy in Walt Disney Studios Park (based of course on the movie Ratatouille); and on Main Street, Victorian-themed Walt's, which has an elegant ambience plus fantastic views of the evening parade along Main Street from about 7.15pm. If you're staying at a Disneyland Paris hotel, then the Manhattan Restaurant at Disney's Hotel New York is superb, offering Italian cuisine in a cosmpolitan, jazz-infused setting, while the California Grill at the Disneyland Hotel is also memorable (reservations recommended). Or if you want a Fifties Americana-style experience complete with waiting staff on rollerskates and booths, albeit with a French twist, then head for Annette's Diner in the Disney Village. It's worth checking out the Disneyland Paris Meal plan for fantastic value - all your meals are taken care of in advance so you can relax.
  • 4 Take a Disneyland Paris selfie
    Disneyland Paris
    Trust us, you're never too old to get excited at meeting your favourite Disney characters - and we guarantee your social media feed will turn green with envy when they see your selfie with Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse or the main guy himself. Want your photo taken with Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana or Belle? How about Buzz Lightyear and Woody? For the ultimate Disneyland Paris selfie, watch out for the Meet 'n' Greet moments with Disney characters at selected locations and restaurants across the Parks.
  • 5 Stay in a Disney hotel
    Disneyland Paris
    Book in to one of the five themed-Disney hotels and not only can you unwind in the swimming pools and spas before dinner but you can also access the Parks up to two hours before opening hours with Extra Magic Hours. Disney hotels are excellent, and adults will be particularly impressed by Disney's Newport Bay Club and Disney's Hotel New York, both of which are conveniently located for Disney Village and the parks, and offer very comfortable four-star accommodation and a relaxed atmosphere with views across the lake - great on a warm evening; for the ultimate luxurious experience, though, book in to the stunning Victorian-themed Disneyland hotel.
  • 6 Party on!
    Disneyland Paris
    There are some gorgeous boutiques at Disneyland Paris, including themed stores at the various lands, plus more shops along Main Street and at Disney Village, selling everything from Christmas decorations and sweets and toys to clothes. Believe us, no one will bat an eye if you want to walk around in a Mickey or Minnie Mouse ears all weekend. Go for it.
  • 7 Shop 'til you drop
    Disneyland Paris
    There are some gorgeous boutiques at Disneyland Paris, including themed stores at the various lands, plus more shops along Main Street and at Disney Village, selling everything from Christmas decorations and sweets and toys to clothes. Believe us, no one will bat an eye if you want to walk around in a Mickey or Minnie Mouse ears all weekend. Go for it.
  • 8 Get pampered
    Disneyland Paris
    The Disneyland Paris experience is all about having fun and doing things you enjoy, and there are lots of opportunities to chill out. At the serene Celestia Spa at the Disneyland Hotel, open from 2pm-9pm every day, you can get pampered in style. From soothing facials to hot stone massages, there's a wide range of treatments on the spa menu to leave you feeling suitably recharged and refreshed, ready to hit the parks again before dinner. You could even indulge in a Royal Escapade for two, which includes facials, treatments and a glass of Champagne. Ooh la la.
  • 9 Work out
    Dave and Les Jacobs via Getty Images
    As well as the swimming pools at the Disney hotels you'll find state-of-the-art gyms at the Disneyland Hotel, Disney's Hotel New York and Disney's Sequoia Lodge, so you can work up a sweat before cooling off; and if it's warm you enjoy a dip in the pool and relax on the sun loungers in the grounds.
  • 10 Disney magic
    Disneyland Paris
    Disneyland Paris is absolutely great for mates - but it's also perfect for a romantic break and reconnecting with your loved ones, too; enjoy a stroll round the parks, take a trip through the French countryside in one of the futuristic cars on Autopia, have a leisurely ride on the Thunder Mesa riverboat in the afternoon sunshine, see a show or a movie, have a few cocktails and cuddle up under the stars to watch the fireworks. Seriously, what's not to fall in love with?