At first I thought it was too early to look ahead at the new attractions coming to U.S. theme parks in 2015, but then I realized a number of big rides have already been announced and many more are already in the planning stages.
It already seems like 2015 is shaping up as a good year for ride enthusiasts and theme park fans. Big industry players have announced major projects and several smaller parks are planning to roll out significant additions.
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 most anticipated rides for 2015:
1) Universal Studios Hollywood -- Fast & Furious Supercharged
Following on the success of King Kong 360 3-D, Universal Studios Hollywood will add another massive drive-through movie attraction to the back-lot tram tour. Fast & Furious Supercharged will take tram riders inside a 50,000-square-foot attraction that combines a motion-based simulator platform and a 400-foot-long tunnel-like movie screen for a 3-D experience based on the street racing film franchise.
2) Knoebels -- Impulse looping coaster
Pennsylvania's Knoebels amusement park will add a steel coaster with a chain-driven vertical lift hill and four inversions, including a cobra roll and an inline twist. The new Impulse looping coaster from German-based Zierer will be similar to Wicked at Utah's Lagoon park, which features an electro-magnetic vertical launch.
3) Universal Studios Hollywood -- Simpsons' Springfield land
Universal Studios Hollywood will bring the fictional animated town of Springfield to life with a Krusty Burger, Moe's Tavern and Duff Brewery next to the park's existing Simpsons ride. A similar expansion at Florida's Universal Orlando included a spinning ride themed to the long-running cartoon's Kodos and Kang alien characters.
4) Miracle Strip -- Starliner wooden coaster
The Starliner wooden coaster will return to its roots after several near-death experiences. Florida's first roller coaster was originally designed by renowned ride builder John Allen and built by Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1963. After the Miracle Strip amusement park closed in 2004, the Starliner was relocated to Cypress Gardens (which eventually became Legoland Florida and again shuttered the ride). The new Starliner will be reborn at the new Miracle Strip with an altered lift hill but the rest of the coaster's out and back layout.
5) Kentucky Kingdom -- T3 suspended looping coaster
In 2015, the recently reopened Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville will convert the standing-but-not-operating T2 inverted coaster into T3, or Terror to the Third Power. Back in 1995, T2 was the first suspended looping coaster built in the United States by Vekoma Rides.
6) Universal's Islands of Adventure -- King Kong dark ride
Construction has already begun on a new ride at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Florida known only as Project 340. Speculation has focused on a King Kong dark ride attraction that would take riders to Skull Island. Back in 2010, Universal Studios Hollywood opened the King Kong 360 3-D attraction on the back-lot tram tour that combined 3-D technology with a massive drive-through movie experience.
7) Carowinds -- Giga coaster
Carowinds has already begun clearing space along the North Carolina and South Carolina border for what is widely expected to be a $30 million roller coaster. Coasters and More reports the border-straddling park will receive a Swiss-based Bolliger & Mabillard Giga coaster about 300 feet tall and 5,000 feet long. Parent company Cedar Fair filed a trademark for Centurion, which could turn out to be the name for the new ride.
8) Busch Gardens Williamsburg -- Vertical coaster
Busch Gardens Williamsburg has filed permits with a local government agency to build a 156-foot-tall attraction in the Festa Italia area of the Virginia park. Blueprints posted by BGW Fans indicate the new attraction will be similar to the Superman: Ultimate Flight vertical coaster built by Premier Rides at Northern California's Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Parent company SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment filed a trademark for Tempesto, an Italian word that loosely translates to "storm."
9) Six Flags Magic Mountain -- Iron Colossus
Six Flags Magic Mountain has announced plans to retire Colossus and replace the 1978 wooden racing coaster with a new ride. Speculation in the coaster community has centered on a potential transformation by Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Construction that would turn the twin 4,325-foot tracks into a record-setting 8,000-foot-plus looping wood-steel hybrid coaster dubbed Iron Colossus.
10) Lagoon -- Vertical lift coaster
Lagoon amusement park has already begun installing a one-of-a-kind coaster with a vertical lift hill and multiple inversions. The still unannounced 200-foot-tall steel ride will be designed by an in-house team, just like the Utah park's BomBora coaster.
11) Holiday World -- New attraction
A teaser campaign dubbed 66 Days at Sea literally counts down the days until Holiday World plans to announce its new 2015 attraction. Journal entries documenting a transatlantic journey aboard a sailing ship suggest the ride planned for the Thanksgiving section of the Indiana theme park may feature a water element.
12) Silver Dollar City -- New themed area
Construction has already begun on a new attraction planned for Missouri's Silver Dollar City expected to be called Fireman's Landing. A S&S Doubleshot tower from the former Celebration City amusement park is already on site. A recent visitor survey asked for feedback on three possible ride concepts, including a Fireworks Factory attraction.
13) Disneyland -- Nighttime parade
A clone of the "Paint the Night" parade debuting this year at Hong Kong Disneyland will be part of Disneyland's 60th anniversary celebration in 2015, reports Disney and More. The Main Street USA nighttime parade would include floats from "Cars," "Toy Story," "Monsters Inc.," "Beauty and the Beast," "Little Mermaid" and "Peter Pan."
14) Indiana Beach -- New thrill ride
Indiana Beach amusement park located between Chicago and Indianapolis has promised to replace the 1971 Galaxi coaster with a new thrill ride in 2015.
15) Hersheypark -- Laff Trakk spinning coaster
Pennsylvania's Hersheypark will add a funhouse-themed indoor spinning coaster called Laff Trakk for 2015. Built by German-based Maurer-Sohne, the glow-in-the-dark ride with outward facing seats will travel along a 1,400-foot-long track at speeds reaching 40 mph.