There’s so much coming to the amusement parks this year from mini-coasters for little ones to high-speed straddle coasters for those with a need for speed
Thrill-seekers, mark your calendars! There are a slew of new roller coasters and theme park attractions opening soon, and you’ll want to book those park tickets ASAP! Whether it’s the futuristic in-the-dark coaster at Disney World, the flume ride on steroids at Six Flags Over Texas, or the new land at Universal Studios that brings the Super Mario Universe to life, there is plenty to look forward to at theme parks across the country this year.
TRON: Lightcycle Power Run - Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
Step a few light years into the future for one of the fastest roller coasters at any Disney park! Riders will board their very own "lightcycle" (it's a sleek, futuristic motorcycle) and race a rival team through eight Energy Gates in a dark, computerized world. Based on the 1982 hit film, Tron, which was the first film of its kind to mix live-action with computer-generated visuals.
Opens April 4, 2023
Mattel Adventure Park - Glendale, AZ
Hot Wheels and Barbie Fans, this one's for you! Mattel's all-new theme park will be based on the brand's hottest toys, with rides and attractions based on Barbie, Thomas and Friends, Hot Wheels, and more. Guests will be able to get behind the wheel of a super-speedy race car (that'll launch riders straight ahead into a loop, just like the toy tracks do!); join Thomas & Friends on a treasure hunt; or hang out at the three-story Barbie Beach House.
Slated to open in 2023, according to the website (though, by the looks of the Construction Cam, it may be later than that).
Super Nintendo World - Universal Studios Hollywood
Gamers will finally have a reason to put down their devices (willingly!) when Universal Studios Hollywood opens its long-awaited Super Nintendo World, an immersive land based on the Super Marios Brothers games. Guests will enter through the iconic green pipe into a world that feels authentically Mario, with brightly colored buildings, plenty of toadstools, and the famous faces of the game, including Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach. The land will feature the groundbreaking “Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge" (an augmented reality-assisted ride that is part motion, part simulator), as well as interactive games and activities, themed dining, and plenty of shopping opps.
For an extra cost, you can also purchase themed wristbands that'll let kids "play" the land like a video game, competing to complete challenges and score points. (Hint: If you've got Mario fans, don't expect to get away easily without purchasing one of these bands; the good news is that they can be used again during future visits!).
Opens February 17, 2023
Moana: Journey of Water - EPCOT Orlando
Moana will finally get her own attraction within Disney's kingdom! Set to open late this year, this immersive walk-through exhibit will let visitors enter into a lush, magical world where they can play and interact with water "as it travels from the sky to the oceans and back again." The forested walking trail will be designed to transport guests to the tropical island of Motunui and will feature familiar characters such as Maui and Te Fiti, as well as iconic imagery from the film. In addition, the attraction (which will be located in the Nature World part of the park) is designed to teach about the importance of water and increase awareness about preserving the global water cycle.
Opens late 2023
Racing Single Rail Family Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas - San Antonio, TX
For smaller riders with a need for speed, this family-friendly coaster will thrill them just enough to make it fun—but be gentle enough that kids as young as 2 or 3 (or 36") can ride it! According to Six Flags, the still-to-be-named ride will be the world's first single-rail family racing roller coaster and will feature two trains on parallel racing tracks (which means, expect your racers to want to go again and again until they ride the winning coaster).
Opening date: TBD (listed as sometime in 2023)
Villain-Con Minion Blast- Universal Studios Orlando
Fans of Gru and his gang will be happy to hop into this state-of-the-art interactive experience, which is part game, part movie, and part ride. Armed with cartoonish interactive "blasters," guests will step aboard a moving platform and compete to join the ranks of the infamous "Vicious 6" villains from the Minions films. The attraction combines innovative screen technology, state-of-the-art gaming interactivity, and elaborate physical sets to create a one-of-a-kind adventure.
Opens Summer 2023
MonteZOOMa: The Forbidden Fortress - Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA
Will you launch backward or forward? That's the thrilling question at the start of the new Montezooma's Revenge at Knott's Berry Farm. The historic "flywheel-launched shuttle coaster" was the first of its kind when it opened in 1978 (and it's still the oldest of its kind still to be located in its original location), but was recently closed for renovations. When it re-opens, new updates will allow guests to be completely surprised by the direction the train will take them at the start of each ride.
The ride renovation is part of a total refresh to the Fiesta Village area of the park, a colorful section of the park that celebrates Southern California's rich Hispanic heritage and features a bustling marketplace as well as a restaurant and bar.
Opens Summer 2023
Aquaman: Power Wave - Six Flags Over Texas
Ready for the next generation of water rides? This water ride/roller coaster will launch riders straight up a colossal 148 feet of track and then send them plunging straight down towards a huge splash down. The ride, which is the 15th coaster in the park, will be the first water coaster of its kind in North America and will reach speeds of 63 miles per hour!
Opens Spring 2023
Wildcat’s Revenge at Hersheypark - Hershey, PA
If the lure of chocolate isn't enough to get you to Hersheypark (the only theme park in the world based on chocolate), the bevy of roller coasters might do it. The newest ride, one of 15 at the park, will be a reimagining of the park's first roller coaster, which debuted in 1923. The steel-and-wood hybrid coaster will take riders on a thrilling 2-minute and 36-second experience that roars to a start with a 140-foot climb and an 82-degree drop The train then does four inversions—including the world’s largest "Underflip" (an inversion that begins with an upward climb, followed by a counterclockwise 270° roll and a dive down towards the side).
Pipeline: The Surf Coaster at SeaWorld Orlando
This ride takes surfing to new heights—literally. Billed as the world's first "surf coaster," the innovative ride design will prop riders up as if they're standing on a giant surfboard. To create the feeling of real surfing, the seats of the ride will rise and fall to mimic the sensation of riding on a wave, while the twists and turns along the 2,950 feet of track will give riders the thrill of almost (but not!) wiping out. With five airtime moments, a "wave curl" inversion, and a top speed of 60 miles per hour, this is a ride that'll make intrepid surfers out of anyone who dares ride it. Hang loose—or rather, hang tight!
Opens Spring 2023
Catapult Falls - SeaWorld San Antonio
When Texas summer days get hot, this first-of-its-kind water ride will be the place to go at SeaWorld. The ride combines the thrill of a launched roller coaster, the excitement of a vertical lift elevator (you go straight up!) and a water ride with what park officials call the "steepest drop in a flume attraction," the ride will launch riders straight up, then send them plunging into a watery splash-down. But it's not just a one-and-done: The 5-minute long family thrill ride has some twists and turns—and views of the park—in addition to its climactic plunge.
Opens Spring of 2023
Aeronautica Landing at Carowinds - Charlotte, NC
Aviation is the theme of this brand-new area of North Carolina's biggest amusement park. The huge new land, located at the Crossroads section of the park, will feature five new flight-themed rides as well as carnival games and immersive elements—all meant to honor the Carolina spirit of invention, exploration, and aviation. The new rides include the daunting-looking Gear Spin, which sends riders looping around on an actual propulsion engine; Air Racer, a spinning ride that lets pilots hop into a flight vehicle and control the gears through various obstacles; and a hovercraft-themed version of bumper cars. The area will also feature the Terminal A restaurant, an eatery modeled after high-end sky clubs and serving food and drinks (including craft beer) on an outdoor patio.
Opens Spring 2023
Big Bear Mountain at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN
Zip through the wooded forests of Tennessee's Smoky Mountains on what will be the longest roller coaster in the country! You'll set out in search of the elusive Big Bear on this family-friendly coaster, which features three separate launches, multiple airtime hills, high-speed carousel turns, and tunnels—including a pass behind a waterfall. The family-friendly ride will reach speeds of 48 miles per hour and is designed for adrenaline-seekers as small as 39 inches (or about 4 years old).
Opens Spring 2023
Zambezi Zinger - World of Fun, Kansas City, MO
Like the crickety, creaky noise of an old-fashioned wooden coaster? This all-new steel and wood coaster takes the nostalgia of its predecessor (the original Zambezi Zinger operated from 1973 to 1997 and was one of the park's most popular rides) and gives it some modern, high-tech touches. Designed to feel like a chase through the African Serengeti, the trains weave low to the ground, through the trees, with numerous plunges, hills, and turns. It also has side-by-side seating instead of the bobsled-style seating of the original Zinger.
Opens April 2023
DarKoaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Embark on a connected train of snowmobiles and experience what is being called the first "indoor straddle coaster" in the country. You'll zip through total darkness and stormy skies—with four separate thrilling launches—to discover the mysterious phenomenon at the heart of these strange weather patterns.
Opens Spring 2023
Arctic Rescue - SeaWorld San Diego
Hailed as the longest, fastest straddle coaster on the West Coast, this sleek new ride lets riders climb aboard a train of double snowmobiles and "race to the rescue" to "help animals in danger." Featuring three exhilarating launches that increase in speed at each launch, the coaster will reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and allow riders 48 inches and up (so most 7-year-olds). Besides being an exhilarating ride, the attraction aims to bring awareness to threats facing Arctic sea life from climate change and global warming. It begins inside the Wild Arctic exhibit, home to walruses, ringed seals, and beluga whales—some of the species most impacted by Arctic sea loss.
Opens Spring 2023
Wild Mouse at Cedar Point
Is it a spinning ride? A coaster? This one is both! Described as a "twisting family thrill for coaster lovers young and young-at-heart," this reincarnation of Cedar Point's original Wild Mouse coaster—located in the renovated Boardwalk section of the park—takes riders on a twisting, spinning journey along 1,312 feet of compactly designed track. With six mouse-themed cars and one cheese-themed car, you'll spend the 1:10-minute ride either chasing or being chased. The cars' spinning action changes depending on the number of riders aboard (and how they're sitting), making each ride different from the last.
Opens TBD in 2023
Serengeti Flyer – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Picture a really, really, REALLY big swing; that's basically what you've got with this crazy new ride that takes swinging to new heights, literally. On this pendulum-esque contraption (it'll be the tallest and fastest ride of its kind!), riders will be seated back to back in rows of 10 on two separate gondolas. Then, they'll start swinging back and forth, higher and higher, until they're 135 feet into the air and whooshing by at 68 miles per hour. Beats the playground swing any day!
Opens Spring 2023
Primordial at Lagoon Park - Farmington, UT
It's anyone's guess what this much-anticipated roller coaster—which has been under construction for more than seven years!—may look like in its entirety. Officials couldn't give an exact date on the ride's opening, but ride makers have promised “a ride experience like you have never seen," featuring high-tech effects and interactive elements, according to Coaster 101. Construction videos show a massive roller coaster track disappearing into a mountainous cave... and that's about all we know.
Opening: Sometime in 2023