Our Top 10 for 2012 is dominated by new rides coming to DCA's 12-acre Cars Land expansion, the grand finale in the $1 billion extreme makeover the Anaheim theme park has undertaken during the past five years. DCA's transformation is so massive that even Disneyland is taking the year off as far as new attractions go, letting the spotlight shine on its younger neighbor.
> Photos: Best new rides of 2012 at California theme parks
Outside of Anaheim, 2012 will see the debut of enough prototype roller coasters, extreme thrill rides and cutting-edge attractions to make any serious theme park fan salivate.
Let's take a look at what's on tap for California theme parks in 2012:
1) Radiator Springs Racers - Disney California Adventure
The $200 million Radiator Springs Racers attraction at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim combines a leisurely dark ride prelude with a dueling side-by-side racecar finale. The four-minute journey takes riders through stalactite caverns, around hairpin turns and along high-speed straightaways.
2) Transformers - Universal Studios Hollywood
Recruits on the new Transformers ride at Universal Studios Hollywood will join the heroic Autobots in an intergalactic battle against the villainous Decepticons. The five-minute motion simulator dark ride with high-definition 3-D images, special effects and animatronics will feature an original storyline starring the shape-shifting robots capable of changing into cars, trucks and planes.
3) Luigi's Flying Tires - Disney California Adventure
Riders aboard Luigi's Flying Tires at Disney California Adventure will use a pair of joysticks to steer the levitating bumper car as it floats atop a surface similar to a giant air hockey table. Visitors will steer a Fettuccini Alfredo-brand big-rig truck tire through tilting towers of retreads in the storage yard behind Casa Della Tires.
4) Superman: Ultimate Flight - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
The Superman: Ultimate Flight launch coaster at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Valejo will rocket riders at 60 miles per hour through a towering 150-foot-high inversion and a pair of vertical twists.
5) Manta - SeaWorld San Diego
The Manta launch coaster at SeaWorld San Diego marks the U.S. debut of a highly anticipated prototype ride. The 30-foot-tall coaster will feature dual launch zones, a 54-foot drop into a subterranean trench and a dramatic wing dip into a shallow lake over a 2,800-foot-long track.
6) Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom - Six Flags Magic Mountain
The Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom drop tower at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia will be attached to both sides of the park's 415-foot-tall Superman: Escape from Krypton coaster tower. The new thrill ride will rank as the world’s tallest (400 feet) and fastest (85 mph) drop tower.
7) Mater's Junkyard Jamboree - Disney California Adventure
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree at Disney California Adventure take riders a spinning tractor ride through Tow Mater's Towing & Salvage yard. The dizzying attraction blends a traditional teacup ride and classic whip ride with cars transferring from one spinning turntable to the next along a circuitous route.