32 best new theme park additions of 2014
As summer approaches, 2014 already looks like a great year for ride enthusiasts around the world as a number of new theme parks are planned for Europe and Asia and several major attractions are in the works for North America.
Consider this a tentative and fluid list of new attractions on tap across the globe. As is often the case, some projects may get delayed while new ones get announced.
Let’s take a look at the 32 most anticipated additions planned for 2014 at theme parks close to home, across the United States and around the world.
1) Universal Studios Orlando (Florida) -- Wizarding World expansion
Work is underway on a second Potter project at Universal Studios Orlando in Florida that will include a replica of Diagon Alley with a Leaky Cauldron restaurant and a Gringotts Wizarding Bank indoor roller coaster. A Hogwarts Express train will transport visitors between the existing Hogsmeade Village at Islands of Adventure and the new Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.
2) Universal Studios Japan (Tokyo) -- Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Construction is underway at Universal Studios Japan on a clone of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with a late 2014 opening expected. The new $500-million theme land will include Hogsmeade Village, Hogwarts Castle and the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride.
3) Disneyland Paris (France) -- Ratatouille dark ride
With an estimated budget of $150 million, the new Ratatouille attraction at the Disneyland Paris resort is expected to feature trackless-ride vehicles with 3-D projections and special effects.
4) Six Flags Great America (Illinois) -- Goliath wooden coaster
The Goliath wood-steel hybrid coaster at Six Flags Great America in Illinois is being billed as the world’s fastest wooden coaster (72 mph) with the tallest (180 feet) and steepest (85 degrees) drop.
Goliath will feature an underground tunnel, a series of over-banked turns and multiple inversions, including a 180-degree zero-G roll twist.
The new coaster will be designed and built by Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Construction, which wowed ride enthusiasts last summer with the triple-inversion Outlaw Run at Missouri’s Silver Dollar City.
5) Magic Kingdom (Florida) -- Seven Dwarfs mine train
The final phase of the ambitious Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom in Florida wraps up in 2014 with a Seven Dwarfs mine train coaster that takes riders through the story of “Snow White” on vehicles that swing back and forth.
6) Chimelong Ocean Kingdom (China) -- New theme park
The first of 10 theme parks planned for a 2,000-acre resort billed as the “Orlando of China” soft-opened in January in advance of an official grand opening.
The signature ride at the $2-billion marine-based Chimelong Ocean Kingdom theme park is a parrot-themed Bolliger & Mabillard winged coaster called Flying Over the Rainforest.
The park also features a pair of water-centric roller coasters by Mack Rides similar to Atlantica and Poseidon at Europa-Park in Germany.
7) Cinecitta World (Italy) -- New theme park
Slated for completion in mid-2014, the $800-million movie theme park outside Rome is expected to feature roller coasters and dark rides based on some of the 3,000 movies and television shows produced by Cinecitta Studios.
8) Six Flags Mexico -- Medusa steel horse treatment
Rocky Mountain Construction will convert Six Flags Mexico’s Medusa wooden coaster this summer to a wood-steel hybrid with three inversions.
Over the last couple of years, Rocky Mountain has converted two old wooden coasters -- the 1990 Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas and the 1992 Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas -- into wood-steel hybrids that combine a steel track with a wooden structure.
9) Canada’s Wonderland -- Wonder Mountain’s Guardian
A $10-million first-of-its-kind attraction coming to Canada’s Wonderland will combine a 4-D interactive dark ride with a roller-coaster track inside the Toronto-area amusement park’s decades-old Wonder Mountain centerpiece.
Debuting on May 4, Wonder Mountain’s Guardian will carry riders up a 60-foot-tall coaster lift on the exterior of the man-made mountain before dipping inside a cavern and slowing down for a dark ride experience complete with wind, motion and other special effects.
10) Heide Park (Germany) -- Flight of the Demon wing coaster
Preview rides on the new Bolliger & Mabillard wing coaster have begun at Heide Park, about an hour south of Hamburg. Custom-painted by a German graffiti artist, the $20-million Flight of the Demon will feature flying demons with gleaming red eyes and dagger-like fangs.
11) Liseberg (Sweden) -- Projekt Helix coaster
Based on Mack Rides’ Blue Fire megacoaster, the $30-million Projekt Helix, set to debut in spring 2014 at Sweden’s Liseberg amusement park, will feature plenty of steep drops, banked turns and airtime hills, as well as six inversions, including a pretzel loop, a heart-line roll and a pair of corkscrews.
12) Kings Island (Ohio) -- Banshee inverted coaster
Ohio’s Kings Island will introduce the world’s longest inverted coaster in April with an under-the-track design that last reigned supreme in the 1990s.
With trains that hang beneath the track, the 4,124-foot-long Banshee will travel along a terrain-hugging course that includes seven inversions.
13) Dollywood (Tennessee) -- FireChaser Express launch coaster
The dual-launch FireChaser Express that debuted at Dollywood in March blasts riders backward out of an exploding fireworks factory on a themed family coaster that combines pyrotechnic special effects with a terrain-hugging ride.
FireChaser riders are called into service as volunteer firefighters in a tribute to the crews that battled wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that borders the Tennessee theme park. The coasters are themed to look like the firefighting trains that used to traverse the rugged landscape of the Smokies in the 1940s.
14) Movie Park Germany -- 4-D dinosaur-themed attraction
A $7-million dinosaur-themed attraction at Movie Park Germany is expected to take riders aboard expedition buses into a 75-foot-long immersive tunnel that offers a 360-degree wraparound movie experience similar to King Kong 360 3-D at Universal Studios Hollywood.
15) Luna Park (New York) -- Thunderbolt coaster
Luna Park will pay tribute to a classic Coney Island ride by naming a new $10-million coaster Thunderbolt.
The new 125-foot-tall looping steel coaster at the New York seaside amusement park will reach speeds of 65 mph. Built in 1925, the original Thunderbolt operated until 1982 and stood unused until 2000, when the dilapidated wooden coaster was torn down.
16) Universal Studios Hollywood (California) -- Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem motion simulator
Using high-definition digital technology, the 3-D Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem motion-simulator attraction now in technical rehearsals at Universal Studios Hollywood borrows elements from the animated movie and several film shorts to create a new story line featuring the supervillain Gru, his three daughters and the little yellow minions.
17) Busch Gardens Tampa (Florida) -- Falcon’s Fury
The 335-foot-tall Falcon’s Fury drop tower at Busch Gardens Tampa in Florida will feature a first-of-its-kind seating configuration. Once the gondola reaches the top of the tower, the seats will rotate 90 degrees to position riders face-down for a five-second drop at 60 mph.
18) Six Flags Great Adventure (New Jersey) -- Zumanjaro drop tower
The unique 415-foot-tall Zumanjaro Drop of Doom coming to Six Flags Great Adventure will be attached to the side of the 456-foot-tall Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest roller coaster and one of the fastest at 128 mph.
The drop tower is remarkably simple: After a 30-second ascent and a brief pause at the top, riders will drop at 90 mph in a free-fall descent lasting 10 seconds before an abrupt deceleration.
19) Kentucky Kingdom -- Park reopening
After enduring several false restarts since closing in 2009, the former Six Flags amusement park in Louisville is expected to reopen in May with a new coaster and $50 million in initial investment.
20) Europa-Park (Germany) -- Arthur and the Invisibles hybrid dark ride-roller coaster
A new hybrid dark ride-roller coaster at Germany’s Europa-Park will take visitors through a microscopic universe populated by ants the size of elephants, bumble bees as big as fighter jets and blades of grass taller than skyscrapers.
Debuting in April, the ride will be themed to the “Arthur and the Invisibles” animated movie trilogy directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson. The stories follow the adventures of a tiny race of creatures known as Minimoys who live in peaceful harmony with nature in a secretive underground world.
21) Sochi Adventure Park (Russia) -- New theme park
The $300-million Sochi Adventure Park will open with 35 rides and attractions themed to Russian folklore and will continue as a year-round theme park after the Winter Olympics.
22) Happy Valley Shanghai (China) -- Family inverted coaster
The world’s first family inverted coaster built by Bolliger & Mabillard is under construction at China’s Happy Valley Shanghai and is expected to open this year with trains that travel beneath the track.
23) Story Land (New Hampshire) -- Roar-O-Saurus wooden coaster
The 40-foot-tall family-friendly wooden coaster built by Gravity Group will feature trains themed to look like dinosaurs. The 1,200-foot-long track will include a dozen airtime hills and a curving tunnel.
24) Adventuredome (Nevada) -- El Loco coaster
Built by S&S Worldwide, the El Loco coaster that opened in February inside the Adventuredome theme park at the Circus Circus casino in Las Vegas features a beyond-vertical first drop and onboard audio.
25) Six Flags New England (Massachusetts) -- New England SkyScreamer
The actual height of the world’s tallest swing ride is being kept under wraps by Six Flags New England for fear a rival will swoop in with a slightly taller ride that will usurp the title.
Plans were approved in 2012 for a 410-foot-tall ride, although at the moment Six Flags is saying only that the New England SkyScreamer swing tower will top 400 feet.
26) Valleyfair (Minnesota) -- Route 76 themed land
A retro Route 76 themed land will bring together three classic rides that first debuted when Valleyfair opened in 1976: Antique Autos, Tilt-a-Whirl and Scrambler. The new land will also see the addition of a 42-foot-tall Northern Lights halfpipe shuttle coaster with a spinning platform.
27) Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (California) and Six Flags St. Louis (Missouri) -- Tsunami Soaker
The Six Flags parks outside San Francisco and St. Louis will each get the same Twist N Splash water battle rides in 2014.
The ingenious Tsunami Soaker attraction combines two familiar amusement park rides -- a spinning teacup with a water battle boat ride. Riders facing outward on the teacups will fire water cannons at each other while spinning through a few inches of water.
28) Adventure City (California) -- Rewind Racers roller coaster
A small amusement park in the shadows of Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm will introduce a first-of-its-kind ride in the United States this summer.
The $2-million Rewind Racers set to debut at Anaheim’s Adventure City will be the first family shuttle coaster built in North America by Germany-based Gerstlauer Amusement Rides.
29) Diggerland USA (New Jersey) -- New theme park
The new Diggerland USA theme park at Sahara Sam’s water park in New Jersey lets kids operate modified construction equipment such as tractors, dump trucks, excavators and backhoes in a safe environment.
30) Thorpe Park (United Kingdom) -- Angry Bird Land
The Angry Birds video game phenomena becomes a themed land this May at Thorpe Park with a 4-D film in a special effects-laden theater, a 100-foot-tall drop tower ride and Bad Piggies bumper car attraction.
31) Six Flags Magic Mountain (California) -- Speedy Gonzales Hot Rod Racers kiddie coaster
Speedy Gonzales Hot Rod Racers, a 14-foot-tall Zamperla kiddie coaster with a top speed of 14 mph, won’t quicken the pulse of any ride enthusiasts -- but it will count as Magic Mountain’s 19th coaster, more than any other park in the world.
The otherwise unremarkable ride puts the Roller Coaster Capital of the World far ahead of the next closest competitor in the coaster count -- Ohio’s Cedar Point with 16.
32) Knoebels (Pennsylvania) -- Flying Turns wooden bobsled coaster
For nearly a decade, the most anticipated roller coaster hasn’t been a towering, looping speed demon but rather a slow, squat and serpentine 1930s-era replica that disappeared from the amusement park landscape nearly four decades ago.
The Flying Turns wooden bobsled coaster finally opened in late 2013 after a series of false starts and postponed debuts.
Related theme park stories and photo galleries:
Universal Studios Hollywood: Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Six Flags Magic Mountain: Full Throttle
SeaWorld San Diego: Aquatica
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