Amusement parks, water parks, family entertainment centers, museums, zoos, aquariums, science centers, and other attractions across the United States and Canada are rolling out an exciting new lineup of fun in 2015. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) releases its annual compilation of new attractions opening this year and highlights 2015 trends, including innovative roller coasters, guest-immersive dark rides, and experiences based on classic brands.
Roller coasters opening at theme parks from coast to coast feature the latest incarnations of the guest-favorite thrill ride. Coaster designers have once again pushed innovation to new levels as never-before-seen ways to spin, flip, and speed along the track are unveiled. This year coasters employ new track and launch technology to provide a variety of options for theme park guests.
Dark rides set to immerse guests in the realm of fiction and take them on unforgettable journeys are also opening at several parks. Dark rides typically combine graphics, animatronics, and a conveyance device (car, train, or boat) in an intricately themed indoor environment to transport guests to a different world. Some rides make the guest a part of an incredible story, as they are asked to aid their favorite superheroes, fend off undersea monsters, and more.
New attractions featuring classic brands enable guests to take their fandom to the next level. Pop culture brands including Lego, Crayola, The Harlem Globetrotters, DC Comics, Star Wars, and more appear as familiar pieces of new experiences.
According to the IAAPA Global Theme and Amusement Park Outlook 2014-2018 report, more than 375 million people visit theme parks in the United States and Canada on an annual basis, contributing US$18.8 billion to park revenue.
Below are some of the exciting thrills I-75 travelers will enjoy this season:
“The Clubhouse Crew” experience debuts at Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City in Michigan. Guests design their own stuffed companions that help them complete challenges, solve puzzles, and investigate the mystery of the missing acorns. greatwolf.com/traverse/waterpark
The new Sea Life Michigan Aquarium opens in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and houses more than 5,000 sea creatures, including sharks, sea horses, stingrays, and more. The 35,000-square-foot aquarium features a 180-degree underwater tunnel and a touch pool experience with starfish and crabs. visitsealife.com/michigan
Coney Island in Cincinnati, Ohio, introduces a new thrill ride and kiddie bumper cars. The yet-to-be-named thrill ride swings in a back-and-forth pendulum motion sending riders in a 360-degree arc more than 35 feet in the air as the ride carriage spins in a clockwise rotation. The new kiddie bumper cars arena puts young guests in the driver’s seat for a bumpy, bouncing adventure. coneyislandpark.com
Sandusky, Ohio’s Cedar Point launches “Rougarou,” a floorless roller coaster based on a werewolf-like creature. The ride reaches speeds up to 60 mph and sends riders down a 137-foot dive and through four inversions. cedarpoint.com
Great Wolf Lodge Mason, near Cincinnati, Ohio, launches “The Clubhouse Crew,” a new experience where children design their own stuffed companions that help complete challenges, solve puzzles, and investigate the mystery of the missing acorns. greatwolf.com/mason/waterpark
Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky in Ohio unveils “The Clubhouse Crew.” Children design their own stuffed animals that accompany and help them solve puzzles, complete challenges, and solve the mystery of the missing acorns. greatwolf.com/sandusky/waterpark
Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, unveils two new rides. “Woodstock Gliders,” a classic flying scooters ride, features eight two-person planes that glide 28 feet above the ground. As the planes begin to rotate, they fan out over a large area. Each plane has a moveable front wing that allows the guest to control the flight and alter their ride experience from mild to wild. “Snoopy’s Space Buggies” is designed for children of all ages and bounces guests in six four-seat vehicles while rotating in a circle. visitkingsisland.com
The Toledo Zoo unveils its revamped aquarium after a $25.5 million renovation. The aquarium has 175,000 gallons of water, more than triple its previous 46,000-gallon capacity. The facility includes 32 main exhibits, including two touch tanks and a 90,000-gallon saltwater “Pacific Reef” display. toledozoo.org
Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville opens five rides: the suspended looping “T3-Terror to the Third Power” roller coaster, the “Raging River Raft Ride,” the “Enterprise” Ferris wheel, the 130-foot-tall “SkyCatcher” swinging gondola attraction, and the 360-degree rotating pendulum “Cyclos.” kentuckykingdom.com
The Newport Aquarium near Cincinnati, Ohio, adds several new attractions. “Shark Bridge” allows guests to cross the “Surrounded by Sharks” exhibit’s tank on a 100-foot-long, V-shaped rope bridge. The exhibit’s tank contains rare scalloped hammerhead sharks. “Canyon Falls” features Asian small-clawed otters, yellow monitors, and panther chameleons. newportaquarium.com
Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, opens its DreamMore Resort. The 60-acre, 307-room, family-friendly resort features a lazy river, a splash park, two pools, a restaurant, and quick food facility, a spa, a fitness room, lounge areas, a Kid’s Club area, and Dolly Parton’s suite. The resort also features scenic views of the Great Smoky Mountains. dollywood.com
Elvis Presley’s Graceland opens the Guest House, a 450-room hotel on the attraction’s grounds in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to two restaurants and an event space, the hotel houses a 500-seat theater for live performances. graceland.com
Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell, Georgia, brings Gotham City to life with “Harley Quinn Spinsanity” and a looping coaster, “The Joker Chaos Coaster.” On “The Joker Chaos Coaster,” 20 guests sit facing each other as they glide forward and backward looping multiple times seven stories in the air. On “Harley Quinn Spinsanity,” seven cars follow a circular track and each guest has the ability to spin their vehicle as much as they want before the end of the ride. Guests can also experience the “Batman: The Ride” roller coaster backwards for a limited time. sixflags.com/overgeorgia
The “Dive Bomber” water slide opens at Six Flags White Water near Marietta, Georgia. Guests stand in a clear capsule with a trap door, then the door opens and riders drop more than 100 feet at nearly 90 degrees in a zero-gravity experience. sixflags.com/whitewater
Legoland Florida in Winter Haven, Florida, unveils its themed hotel and Heartlake City area. The 152-room hotel includes Lego-themed accommodations, a Master Model Builder Workshop exclusively for hotel guests and Legoland’s Model Shop. Heartlake City, an attraction geared for girls, features the “Friends to the Rescue” show and “Mia’s Riding Adventure” horse-themed spinning roller coaster. florida.legoland.com
About IAAPA The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is the premier trade association for the attractions industry worldwide. Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently located amusement facilities and attractions and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the attractions industry. IAAPA represents more than 4,800 attraction, supplier, and individual members from more than 90 countries. The association’s global headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia, United States, and it maintains regional offices in Brussels, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Orlando.
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