Transformers: The Ride - 3D

A host of new theme park rides were opened in 2013, ranging from enormous roller coasters to gentle dark rides. We took a look at them back at the start of the year, but now that they are all open, which lived up to expectations?

We've analysed your ratings for the various new attractions, and used them to compile this list of the top 5 new theme park rides for 2013. Disagree? Head on over to our park guides section and start adding your own ratings and reviews!

5. Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin (SeaWorld Orlando)

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin

SeaWorld Orlando bills Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin as "the coldest theme park ride in the world". The ride's plot revolves around a gentoo penguin, who leads guests on an adventure through icy waters from a penguin's viewpoint. It employs a "trackless" ride system that enables it to offer two different "thrill levels", with the 8-person vehicles behaving appropriately.

At the end of the ride, guestss disembark their vehicles for a closer look at the penguins, in a similar experience to the existing Wild Arctic simulator attraction. The new exhibit houses gentoo, rockhopper, adelie and king penguins.

4. GateKeeper (Cedar Point)

GateKeeper review

Cedar Point became the latest park to install a Bolliger & Mabillard Wing Rider coaster, with GateKeeper debuting in May 2013. The coaster is the longest ride of its type, and the third to open in the US. It also features the longest drop of any B&M Wing Rider model, and dominates the main entrance area of Cedar Point.

GateKeeper is similar in style to other "winged" coasters such as X-Flight at Six Flags Great America, with riders being seated on wings on either side of its trains. These race around a 4,164-foot circuit, hitting a top speed of 64 miles per hour. At its tallest point, the ride stands at some 170-feet-tall.

3. Mystic Manor (Hong Kong Disneyland)

Mystic Manor
Image: katelulu, Wikipedia

Mystic Manor anchors the Mystic Point area, the third of three new lands to open as part of an ambitious expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland. It is similar in style to the Haunted Mansion rides at other Disney parks, but utilizes the "trackless" ride system employed by Pooh's Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland, rather than the more traditional Omnimover system.

The ride features a backstory based around explorer Lord Henry Mystic and his pet monkey, Albert. The monkey opens a magical music box, which brings Lord Henry's extensive collection of artifacts to life.

2. The Smiler (Alton Towers)

The Smiler

Alton Towers' new roller coaster for 2013 is the most expensive attraction ever installed by the park, with its £18 million budget topping the £15 million spent on installing Thirteen in 2010.

The Smiler is located in the futuristically-themed X-Sector area of Alton Towers, close to the existing Oblivion vertical-drop roller coaster. It replaces the vacant tent-style building that housed the Black Hole coaster prior to its closure in 2005, which had sat empty for a number of years.

Reaching a maximum height of 22.15 metres (73 feet) above ground level, Alton Towers' new coaster also dips below ground level at some points in order to gain extra height. It features a custom layout that boasts a record-breaking 14 inversions, along with two lift sections.

1. Transformers: The Ride - 3D (Universal Studios Florida)

Tranformers: The Ride - 3D

Transformers: The Ride - 3D reuses the same dark ride system employed by The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure, combining real-world sets and effects with 3-D movie footage.

The plot of the ride is a natural follow-up to the first three films in Michael Bay's Transformers series, rather than based on them directly. Riders are placed into the middle of the movies' war between the human-friendly Autobots and their Decepticon enemies. As in the films (and the earlier toys and cartoons), the robots "transform" into cars, planes, tanks and other vehicles.

It has proven to be a huge hit, being named as the "best new theme park attraction for 2013" in the Theme Park Tourist Awards.

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.


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