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-95 travelers will enjoy this season:
Edaville USA, a family amusement park and heritage railroad located in South Carver, Massachusetts, opens Thomas Land. The new area covers 11.5 acres and boasts 14 rides based on “Thomas & Friends.” Thomas Land features a 20-minute long, scenic train ride on a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine and theme park favorites, including a roller coaster, drop tower, Ferris wheel, soft-play area, and much more. edaville.com
Great Wolf Lodge New England near Boston, Massachusetts, offers “The Clubhouse Crew” experience. Young guests design their own stuffed companions that help them complete challenges, solve puzzles, and investigate the mystery of the missing acorns. greatwolf.com/newengland/waterpark
Six Flags New England opens the “Wicked Cyclone” wood hybrid coaster at the Agawam, Massachusetts, park. The ride features a 109-foot hill, a 200-degree stall, and two zero-G rolls as thrill-seekers race along 3,320 feet of track, and reaches a top speed of 55 mph. sixflags.com/newengland
“Dino Expedition” debuts at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut. The attraction includes various lifelike dinosaurs along a walking trail, an archaeological dig site where guests can search for a dinosaur skeleton in the sand, and the Dino Traders souvenir shop. lakecompounce.com
Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Connecticut, introduces two new guest experiences in 2015. The thrilling “Frantic” swings riders back and forth, higher and higher, until it reaches full 360-degree flips. The park also adds “Collidoscope” bumper cars for kids between 36 and 48 inches tall. quassy.com
Darien Lake in Darien Center, New York, unveils two new attractions. “Rolling Thunder” seats 32 riders on a coaster car as they go backward and forward through a seven-story vertical steel loop at 10 revolutions per minute. “Brain Drain” is a 70-foot-tall water slide with a launch capsule that drops guests on a 38-foot-per-second free fall. darienlake.com
Lake George, New York’s Six Flags Great Escape introduces the Buccaneer Beach children’s area in its Splashwater Kingdom water park. The pirate-themed kid-friendly water playground is stocked with a vast array of water games, pop-up spray jets, splash pads, and water slides. sixflags.com/greatescape
Breakwater Beach on Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, adds two water slides and a wave pool, which is integrated into a new 36-hole mini-golf course. Casino Pier also offers a new drop tower and a larger go-kart track. casinopiernj.com
Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, adds its 13th roller coaster, “El Diablo,” a pendulum-style looping coaster. The park also adds two new year-round indoor haunt mazes: a 3-D black light experience, “Big Top Terror,” and the prison-inspired “Condemned.” sixflags.com/greatadventure
Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, installs the tree-shaped “Out on a Limb!” children’s swing ride. The ride includes a custom-made squirrel that sits on top of it. storybookland.com
Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannersville, Pennsylvania, opens the 533,000-square-foot Aquatopia Indoor Water Park. The attraction features six pools, the “Bombroa Flowrider” indoor surfing simulator, 13 water slides, and an indoor water coaster, “Storm Chaser.” Aquatopia opens as part of the new 453-room Camelback Lodge. skicamelback.com
DelGrosso’s Amusement Park, in Tipton, Pennsylvania, opens the “Rock Star,” a thrill ride that elevates riders 55 feet above the midway atop a rotating platform shaped like a guitar. Then, the platform whisks toward the ground in a free-fall motion. The ride also features a LED light show at night and seats 22 riders. mydelgrossopark.com
Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania, unveils “Cedar Creek Flyers,” which features eight two-person carriages and sends guests flying 28 feet over the midway. Riders can take their flight from mild to intense as they control the thrill level using a moveable front wing. dorneypark.com
“Bon Voyage Balloon Chase” debuts at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The ride can accommodate up to 32 guests and features eight spinning hot-air balloons with gondolas that can be rotated individually by riders using a center wheel. dutchwonderland.com
Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania unveils “Slideboarding,” a fusion of video game and water slide that challenges guests to hit corresponding buttons on their controller as they travel down the slide. The resort also launches “The Clubhouse Crew,” a new experience where children design their own stuffed companions that accompany them throughout a puzzle-solving mystery. greatwolf.com/poconos/waterpark
The “Laff Trakk Indoor Coaster,” a spinning glow-coaster, opens at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The 70-second-long ride experience pays homage to funhouses of yesteryear. The family-friendly ride entertains guests with thrills from a 1,400-foot steel track, high-banked curves, camelback air time hills and curves, and an Immelman turn, as well as funhouse sights and sounds complete with glimpses of colorful characters and a dizzying hall of mirrors. hersheypark.com
Kalahari Resort in Tobyhanna Township, Pennsylvania, opens an 800-guest-room resort, golf course, convention center, and indoor and outdoor water parks. kalahariresorts.com/pennsylvania
“Impulse,” a brand new steel roller coaster, makes its debut this spring at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. The tower roller coaster features nearly 2,000 feet of track, a 98-foot-high chain lift hill, a 90-degree freefall drop, multiple inversions, speeds over 55 mph, three eight-passenger roller coaster cars, and more. “Impulse” is the first major steel roller coaster to open at Knoebels since 2005. knoebels.com
The Amish Experience in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, debuts Magic Lantern Shows at the Plain and Fancy Theater. The theater provides audiences with a unique 19th-century entertainment experience popular before there were movies. Antique hand-painted images on glass are projected onto a large screen using a rare triple lantern. With music, special effect slides, and sound effects, a live showman interacts with the audience to bring the stories to life. The three shows presented in collaboration with the American Magic Lantern Theater are “Bible Stories,” “Patriotic America,” and “Victorian Christmas.” amishexperience.com
Undergoing the largest expansion in its history, Waldameer Park & Water World introduces its new “Giant Wave” pool. Located in a 3.5-acre addition, this wave pool holds 500,000 gallons of water and accommodates more than 1,000 people. waldameer.com
The 2,700-square-foot “Living Seashore” exhibit, featuring touch pools, a replicated beach, and 150 animals, opens at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. The exhibit is part of a $10.5 million upgrade to the attraction. aqua.org
Six Flags America near Washington, D.C., launches the “Bourbon Street Fireball.” This roller coaster takes up to 24 riders backward and forward through a 70-foot-tall, 360-degree loop. sixflags.com/america
Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg in Virginia debuts three new attractions. The resort unveils “Slideboarding,” a water slide experience integrated with a video game that challenges guests to hit corresponding targets on their controller as they travel down the slide. The “Howler’s Peak Ropes Course,” a 50-foot-tall ropes course with ziplines, ropes, and wobbly bridges, makes its debut. The resort also launches “The Clubhouse Crew,” a new experience where children design their own stuffed companions that accompany them throughout a puzzle-solving mystery. greatwolf.com/williamsburg/waterpark
Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia, expands its WaterWorks water park and renames it Soak City. The park adds “Paradise Plunge,” a 65-foot-tall water slide complex; Splash Island, a family-friendly splash zone with water slides and water jets for young guests; and various amenities to enhance the guest experience. kingsdominion.com
The 325-foot-tall “Fury 325” giga coaster launches at Carowinds, located near Charlotte along the North Carolina-South Carolina border. The coaster reaches speeds up to 95 mph through a series of hills, curves, and quick transitions along a 6,602-foot track during the three-and-one-half-minute ride. The park also adds “Slingshot,” a two-person attraction in which a pair of cables catapults riders nearly 300 feet into the air at speeds up to 60 mph, flipping them until they come to rest at the ride’s launch point. Carowinds also unveils renovations to its front entrance. carowinds.com
Great Wolf Lodge Concord in North Carolina opens the “Howler’s Peak Ropes Course.” The 50-foot-tall ropes course includes ziplines, ropes, and wobbly bridges. The attraction also includes a smaller ropes course for younger children. The resort also debuts “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/concord/waterpark
Miami, Florida’s Jungle Island expands the park, adding new environments for the park’s animals and aerial activities for guests, including ziplines, adventure bridges, and bungee swings. jungleisland.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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