UK theme parks are gearing up for the 2011 season, which gets fully underway during March and April. As usual, a range of new rides and shows are set to be added to the parks to try and draw in guests - so what new experiences can visitors expect this year?
Although major parks such as Alton Towers and Thorpe Park appear to be holding off on major investment until 2012, there are a still a host of exciting new attractions due to make their debuts in 2011. These include rollercoasters, water rides, shows and even whole new lands. We keep track of all the planned additions through our New Attraction Watch - read on to find out what's in store.
Alton Towers - The Go!Go!Go! Show
Although Alton Towers will not open any new rides in 2011, the park has announced that a version of family musical the Go!Go!Go! show will debut in the park's Cloud Cuckoo Land Theatre. The show has had a successful run at London's Leicester Square Theatre during 2010, and features a child-friendly plot and a range of upbeat pop songs.
The Go!Go!Go! Show tells the story of Holly, Steve, Kirsten, Gemma and Carl, who find that their socks have been stolen by a mischievous creature known as the Fluffalope. The heroes set off on a quest to catch the Fluffalope, helped on their way by Mr Jones the magical rabbit. It includes all-new pop songs written by Mike Stock (once of Stock, Aitken & Waterman) and Steve Crosby (who was behind many of Steps' biggest hits). More information on the show can be found on its official website.
On its way out of Alton Towers as a result of the new addition will be the Wonderful World of Cloud Cuckoo Land, which was produced by the resort's entertainments team. The show featured the adventures of Lucy and her enchanted companion, Snorlix.
More details: Go!Go!Go! show to open at Alton Towers in 2011
Blackpool Pleasure Beach - Nickelodeon Land
It looks set to be a big year for Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which is investing some £10 million in an all-new land based on kids' TV channel Nickelodeon. The new addition will be the first Nickelodeon-themed area in the UK, with the park targeting an opening date in spring 2011.
Nickelodeon Land will feature a total of 9 all-new attractions as well as updated versions of 6 existing rides. It will replace the Beaver Creek area of the seafront amusement park, occupying more than 6 acres. Each of its attractions will be based on a popular Nickelodeon character or show, making them instantly recognisable.
Among the new rides will be SpongeBob's Splash Bash, a Mack Twist 'n' Splash ride which combines a spinning "teacup" attraction with a Splash Battle ride and allows guests to fire jets of water at each other. There will also be a new show based on the Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series, which will be located in a spectacular "mystical air template Pagoda". Follow the link below for full details of Nickelodeon Land's attractions.
Camelot - Birds of Prey & Animal Centre
Lancashire's Camelot has come perilously close to closure in recent years, but will open once more on April 9, 2011. Although there will be no new additions to the park's ride line-up, it will be adding a new Birds of Prey and Animal Centre. Eagles, owls, vultures and hawks will take part in twice-daily flying displays, which will feature Camelot's usual "medieval" theme.
Drayton Manor - Ben 10: Ultimate Mission
Drayton Manor's 2011 season will see the opening of Ben 10: Ultimate Mission, the first rollercoaster in Europe to be based on the popular Ben 10 cartoon series. Aimed squarely at a family audience, the coaster will feature a "world's first" design and a heavily themed, interactive queue.
The storyline for Ben 10: Ultimate Mission will focus on hero Ben's attempts to thwart arch-enemy Vilgax, who is trying to steal the powerful Omnitrix. It will be told through the queue, which will feature a shaking floor to simulate an "attack" by Vilgax, and through the ride itself. On boarding the coaster, guests will race to activate a laser cannon in order to fend off Vilgax's ship - with the enemy in hot pursuit.
The rollercoaster itself will be a "Junior" variation on Vekoma's classic Boomerang design - the first of its kind in the world. Unlike existing Boomerang coasters, the ride will not feature any inversions but will retain the basic "out-and-back" layout. Riders will be pulled up the 65-feet-tall lift hill backwards, traversing the circuit once in a forwards direction, before completing a return trip facing backwards.
Ben 10: Ultimate Mission will be located on the new Cartoon Network Street, which will also be home to a retail outlet selling merchandise based on Ben 10 and other shows featured on the Cartoon Network. Alongside this, the Cartoon Network Diner will enable guests to watch a variety of cartoons while they eat.
Flamingo Land - Zamperla Air Force rollercoaster
Flamingo Land in Yorkshire, England, will open a Zamperla Air Force rollercoaster in 2011, the first of its kind in the UK. The new ride will be a "wild mouse"-style coaster featuring aeroplane-themed cars that are suspended from the track.
The coaster will be the first Zamperla Air Force coaster in the world to feature a custom layout, and will be considerably larger than existing Air Force coasters such as Turbulenica at Spain's Parque de Atracciones de Madrid (pictured above). The ride vehicles, themed as Douglas Dakota aeroplanes, will swing outwards as they traverse the many tight corners included in its circuit.
Zamperla Air Force coasters feature a single train of five themed cars, which "fly" through a series of 180 degree switchbacks. The standard version of the ride features a compact layout and length of just 100 metres, but Flamingo Land's looks set to extend beyond this.
LEGOLAND Windsor - Atlantis Submarine Voyage
LEGOLAND Winsor is investing some £8 million in its new attraction for 2011, describing it as "the first LEGO-themed underwater ride in the world". Atlantis Submarine Voyage will combine a dark ride with Sea Life exhibits in a unique new concept, and is expected to open with the rest of the park on April 1, 2011.
The attraction will see guests boarding on-rails "submarines", designed to resemble those seen in LEGO Atlantis - The Movie. The submarines will travel around a 1-million-litre ocean tank that will house over 50 species of sharks, rays and tropical fish. It will also hold almost 100 LEGO models, which will be designed to recreate the lost city of Atlantis.
Merlin Entertainments Group operates both the LEGOLAND theme parks and Sea Life centres around the world. It has previously located smaller Sea Life attractions in its theme parks, including the Sharkbait Reef aquarium at Alton Towers. However, Atlantis Submarine Voyage represents the company's first attempt to incorporate the Sea Life brand into an actual ride.
More details: Preview: Atlantis Submarine Voyage at LEGOLAND Windsor
Lightwater Valley - Whirlwind and Skeleton Cove
Though it's perhaps not technically a "new" attraction, Lightwater Valley will install a permanent Mondial Topscan in 2011, with the ride set to retain the Whirlwind name that was used for a temporary version during the 2010 season.
The 2010 season saw a three-month stint at the park for a version of the Mondial ride, which was on loan from showman Alex Crow. Although it will reuse the Whirlwind name, the park is believed to be purchasing its own Topscan attraction to install in a new location between The Ultimate and Raptor Attack. Similar to Samurai at Thorpe Park, the Topscan sees guests sitting on rotating gondolas which rotate freely throughout the ride.
Lightwater Valley will also open a new land, Skeleton Cove, in time for the new season. Featuring a pirate theme, it will be located on the former site of Grand Prix Go Karts. The park has bought up several family-friendly attractions from the closed Loudoun Castle theme park in Scotland to populate the new land.
Paultons Park - Peppa Pig World
Paultons Park has pulled off something of a coup for the 2011 season, securing an exclusive deal to open the first theme park land based on the hugely popular Peppa Pig children's cartoon. Due to open on April 9, Peppa Pig World looks set to establish the previously little-known park as a nationally-recognised destination.
Peppa Pig World will span a three-acre area of Paulton's Park, and will include seven brand-new rides based on Peppa and friends' adventures in the TV series. Indoor and outdoor playgrounds (George's Rocket Play Zone and Peppa's Play Park), a toy shop, a cafe (Daddy Pig's Big Tummy Cafe) and a number of walkthrough attractions will also be located in the new land.
Dotted around Peppa Pig World will be familiar landmarks from the TV series, including Peppa Pig's House, Grandad Dog's Garage and the School. As well as appearing almost identical to their TV counterparts, these locations will be mini-attrations in themselves. For instance, guests will be able see Peppa and her family eating breakfast at her house, visit Grandpa Pig and Grandma Pig at their house and see Grandad Dog hard at work repairing cars at the garage.
The rides in Peppa Pig World are based on specific episodes of the TV series, including Peppa Pig's Balloon Ride, Grandpa's Little Train, Windy Castle, George's Dinosaur Ride, Daddy Pig's Car Ride, Miss Rabbit's Helicopter Flight and Grandpa's Boat Trip. All of the land's rides will be able to hold both children and adults, enabling parents to enjoy the experience alongside their kids.
More details: Preview: Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park
Thorpe Park - Storm Surge
Thorpe Park fans will have to wait until 2012 for a new rollercoaster, but the park will be installing a new spinning rapids water ride dubbed Storm Surge for the 2011 season. The ride has been transplanted from the former Cypress Gardens theme park in Florida, which is now being converted into LEGOLAND Florida by Thorpe Park owners Merlin Entertainments Group.
Both the name and colouring of Storm Surge will be retained from its previous home, with the ride set to occupy the area formely known as the Octopus Garden near the centre of Thorpe Park. Guests will board rubber rafts that can hold up to 6 people, before being carried up a conveyor belt to the top of a 19.4 metre-tall hill. They will then be propelled by water down a spiral chute, with the rafts spinning rapidly on the descent before splashing down into a channel at ground level.
New additions to Storm Surge will include water cannons located around the edge of the ride, which will enable onlookers to soak riders as they float by. Despite appearances, riders will not get wet as they spin down the ride's flume, but the cannons should ensure that they won't exit the ride in a completely dry state.
As usual, you'll be able to read reviews of all the major new theme park rides and shows in the UK and beyond on Theme Park Tourist during 2011. We'd also love to hear your thoughts - visit our Park Guides and Reviews pages to add your own ratings and reviews for existing and new theme park attractions.
You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter.