About this time each year ride manufacturers and theme park operators gather in Orlando, Fla., for the International Assn. of Amusement Parks and Attractions trade show.
Ride makers use the annual IAAPA show to announce attractions for the coming year and unveil ride concepts they hope will become the next big industry sensation.
Here's a roundup of the biggest attraction announcements to come out from IAAPA this past week:
Gravity Group will add a barrel roll to the Hades wooden roller coaster at Wisconsin's Mt. Olympus in 2013. Dubbed the world's first all-wooden looping coaster, the rechristened Hades 360 will feature an 800-foot tunnel with a 90-degree underground turn in complete darkness.
The Meg-a-blaster speed slide coming to Schlitterbahn Kansas City (Kan.) in 2013 will be the tallest and fastest water ride of its kind. While few details have been released, Meg-a-blaster will top the 135-foot-tall and 65 mph Insano slide at Beach Park in Brazil, the current record holder.
In an announcement timed to coincide with the IAAPA Expo, Europa Park unveiled plans for several Arthur and the Invisibles attractions based on the animated movie by French director Luc Besson that will include a roller coaster and a carousel. The German theme park serves as a proving ground for parent company Mack Rides, which will build the dark ride set to open in 2014.
Turkish-based Polin plans to install the first Surf Safari water slide at the Cowabunga Bay water park in Las Vegas. Set to debut in 2013, Surf Safari will feature a parabolic-shaped bowl with a waterfall cascading from the lip of a curling wave.
Premier Rides teased a new Deep Space ride for 2013 reportedly opening at an amusement park in India that combines a launch coaster with a dark ride.
Missouri's Silver Dollar City unveiled the new stagecoach-inspired trains for the Missouri's theme park's Outlaw Run looping wooden coaster being built by Rocky Mountain Construction Co.
Likewise, SeaWorld Orlando showed off its new trackless vehicles for the Florida marine park's upcoming Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin attraction.
A number of ride manufacturers also used the IAAPA convention to showcase prototype attractions in hopes of attracting buyers. The highlights:
Great Coasters International has drawn up plans for a Back Track wooden shuttle coaster concept similar to the steel Boomerang coasters found at many theme parks. After hoisting a train backward up a lift hill, the shuttle coaster travels forward along the track until it reaches a second lift hill. The train then completes the circuit in reverse.
S&S International has teamed up with U.S. Thrill Rides for a pair of observation towers with a twist. The Polercoaster features coaster trains and the Skyspire incorporates Ferris wheel gondolas that spiral around the tower.
Mack Rides tweaked its Twist 'n' Splash tea cup-style water ride with a scale model on display at the show that replaced the typical four-person ride vehicles with a trio of much larger pirate ships armed with water cannons.
Moser Rides showcased a relatively new concept on the IAAPA floor that combines a halfpipe-style attraction with a ride vehicle that resembles an oversized surfboard. A pair of riders stand on each surfboard as they rock back and forth at the base of a pendulum arm. A version of the ride known as Halfpipe Tokyo is in operation at the Sega Joyopolis in Japan.
Zamperla has joined forces with Triotech on a 7-D theater attraction (that's four more than 3-D, if you're counting) that promises tilting and rotating seats, special effects, laser guns and large-scale curved screens. A version of the 7-D theater experience is in operation at San Francisco's Pier 39.
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