It already seems as though 2015 is shaping up as a great year for ride enthusiasts around the world: Several new theme parks are planned for Asia, and several major attractions are in the works for Europe.
Consider this a tentative and fluid list of new attractions on tap at international parks (outside the United States). As is often the case, some projects may get delayed while new ones will get announced.
Since it is still early, I'll update my top 15 over the coming months as new projects are announced. Until then, here's my list of the most anticipated rides for 2015:
The 800-pound gorilla on the theme park horizon is Shanghai Disneyland, the $4.4 billion resort expected to open in late 2015 or early 2016 with a Magic Kingdom-style theme park, two hotels and a
2) Fantawild wooden coasters
Ohio-based Gravity Group is working on several projects for the Fantawild chain of amusement parks, with wooden coasters planned in the Chinese cities of Zhuzhou, Jinan and Wuhu. All the rides are expected to be completed in late 2014 or early 2015, with one or more of the new coasters featuring looping inversions.
3) Hansa Park -- Coaster-dark ride combo
Germany's Hansa Park will introduce a first-of-a-kind attraction that features a 200-foot-tall high-speed hypercoaster built by German-based Gerstlauer sandwiched between a pair of themed dark ride experiences. Known as Karnan, the combo ride will employ a unique vertical lift followed by a vertical first drop.
4) Tayto Park -- Wooden coaster
Ireland's Tayto Park will add a 105-foot-tall wooden coaster that reaches 65 mph over a 3,600-foot-long course and includes at least one inversion. The $11.5 million coaster will be built by Ohio-based Gravity Group, which upgraded Hades at Wisconsin's Mt. Olympus to include a corkscrew. Owned by Tayto Crisps, the Irish park includes a factory tour of the potato chip company.
5) Efteling -- Dive coaster
Efteling theme park in the Netherlands plans to add a $24 million dive coaster in 2015. At the top of the lift hill, riders will dangle over the edge for a few seconds before the train descends into a 90-degree first drop.
6) Gardaland -- Dive coaster
Another dive coaster is heading to Italy's Gardaland in 2015, according to documents submitted to a local government agency. The 138-foot-tall ride is expected to be similar to Heide Park's Krake, a Bolliger & Mabillard Dive Machine built at Gardaland's German sister park in 2011.
7) Bosque Magico -- Launch coaster
Mexico's Bosque Magico plans to add a 150-foot-tall Premier Rides coaster with forward and backward launches. Reaching a top speed of 62 mph, the Zombie coaster will feature an inline twist and a noninverting loop.
8) Wanda City -- New park
Plans for a new Wanda City amusement park in China include a 5,100-foot-long wooden coaster and a 240-foot-tall launch coaster. The 160-foot-tall Viper wooden coaster from Pennsylvania-based Great Coasters International will feature an S-curve first drop and a long run through the trees. A 4,900-foot-long steel megacoaster from Swiss-based Intamin will reach a top speed of 85 mph.
9) Lewa Happy World -- New park
Another new Chinese park is expected to open with as many as nine coasters, including a record-setting ride with the world's tallest inversion. With a top speed of 75 mph, the 197-foot-tall looping coaster at Lewa Happy World will be built by German-based Mack Rides.
10) Legoland Windsor -- Ghost: The Haunted House
England's Legoland Windsor will build an indoor family drop ride called Ghost: The Haunted House, according to permits submitted to a local government agency. The Legoland in Germany is adding a similar attraction with a walk-through experience that includes a mirror maze with vampires, ghosts, monsters and a mad scientist.
11) Tokyo Disneyland -- Stitch Encounter
Tokyo Disneyland will swap out the "Captain EO" 3D science fiction film starring the late pop singer
12) Universal Studios Singapore -- Kidzania
The $90 million Kidzania land coming to Universal Studios Singapore lets kids work at various jobs in a themed city environment. Kids earn play money working as doctors, police officers, firefighters, bankers and journalists that can be spent on food and other items within Kidzania.
13) Tokyo DisneySea -- "Little Mermaid" show
Tokyo DisneySea will update the "Little Mermaid" theatrical show in 2015 with new story involving a musical concert for King Triton. The year-long overhaul of the Mermaid Lagoon Theater will include audio, visual and technological upgrades.
14) SeaWorld Australia -- African animal exhibit
Branching out from traditional marine-themed attractions, SeaWorld Australia will add an African jungle animal exhibit with gorillas, hippos and crocodiles. Under construction since 2012, the multimillion dollar safari-style attraction will take over reclaimed portions of the Gold Coast park's central lake.
15) Romon World -- New park
Yet another new Chinese park -- the indoor-outdoor Romon World -- is scheduled to open in late 2014 or early 2015 with two coasters. The double inversion Travel Through Europe indoor coaster built by Intamin is expected to be similar to Kanonen at Sweden's Liseberg. The 62 mph Legendary Dragon launch coaster built by Germany-based Maurer Sohne will feature three inversions, including an inside top hat and a heartline roll.