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Italy's Etnaland water park to add theme park in 2013

While theme parks often add water parks to attract more visitors and encourage longer stays,  Italy's Etnaland water park will introduce a twist on the trend by opening a theme park in 2013.

PHOTOS: Etnaland theme park set to open in 2013

Set to debut in March 2013, Etnaland's new theme park will feature 27 attractions including roller coasters, thrill rides, dark rides and water rides. Park World reports that several of the theme park attractions may soft-open in late 2012.

Located at the foot of Volcano Etna on the Italian island of Sicily, the new park will have a Mediterranean mining town theme set in the late 19th century.

Among the new rides planned for the 2013 grand opening of the Etnaland theme park:

> A Mack Rides Mega Lite launched coaster with Blue Fire trains (similar to the Europa Park prototype ride in Germany and SeaWorld San Diego's recently opened Manta). Known as The Storm, the 105-foot-tall Etnaland coaster will feature a 70-degree first drop and a heartline roll inversion.

> An interactive haunted school dark ride set in a mining village built by Gosetto of Italy. Sitting in rotating vehicles themed as school desks, riders will pass through eight classroom scenes where they will accumulate points by answering test questions. Italy's Rainbow Magicland recently added a Gosetto suspended dark ride called Believix.

> A Mack Rides Twist N Splash that arms a traditional spinning teacup ride with water cannons, turning the dizzying attraction into a discombobulating water battle royal. The first Twist N Splash opened in 2011 at England's Blackpool Pleasure Beach as SpongeBob Splash Bash.

> A 2,000-foot-long S&S Power mine train coaster that winds around and through an 80-foot-tall mountain dotted with caves and tunnels.

> A 200-foot-tall S&S Power drop tower called Shot & Drop.

> Seven attractions built by Italian manufacturer Zamperla, including a Samba Tower balloon ride.

> Funworld reports Etnaland will follow the initial launch of the theme park with the addition of a water coaster.

Etnaland's existing 40-acre water park features two-dozen water slides, a mile-long cableway and a Prehistoric Park with 21 life-size dinosaur models.

The idea for a separate admission theme park was born in 2005 when Etnaland added Crocodile Rapids, an African-themed whitewater rapids ride not typically found at a water park. Built by Germany's Hafema, the heavily themed ride complete with waterfalls, sudden drops and a whirlpool proved popular with visitors.

In 2010, Etnaland followed up with 100-foot-tall Jungle Splash shoot-the-chutes ride by Intamin -- another traditional theme park ride. Once again the water park poured on the theming, sending riders through a series of dark caves outfitted with music, light and water effects. The highlight: a water curtain that could only be turned off by riders' screams.

This summer, Etnaland continues the theme-park-in-a-water-park trend by adding the Dragon River log flume ride by German-based Hafema, which will feature a pair of 20-foot drops.

Etnaland hopes to eventually compete with Italy's other major theme parks: Gardaland (near Verona), Mirabilandia (near Ravenna) and Rainbow Magicland (near Rome).

An official announcement on the new theme park is expected in July.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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