Every year, theme parks in the USA open a host of new attractions with the aim of drawing in guests for repeat visits. 2014 will be no different - and it promises to be a bumper year.
Not only will Universal Orlando open the long-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, but Walt Disney World will add an innovative new roller coaster, several Cedar Fair parks will offer up major additions and every Six Flags park is adding something new.
Here's a round-up of the new rides and shows that you can expect to experience at US theme parks during the coming year.
20. Pipe Scream (Cedar Point)
One of two new additions to the Gemini Midway for the 2014 season, Pipe Scream will be a Zamperla Disk'O Coaster.
It will see riders seated on a rectangular gondola, which will race up and down an undulating, coaster-style track, spinning as it goes. A "camelback" hill creates a floating sensation in the centre of the ride's circuit.
19. Lake Erie Eagles (Cedar Point)
Another new addition to the Gemini Midway for the 2014 season, Lake Erie Eagles will be a flying scooters attraction similar to those of days gone by. It will feature eight glider-style vehicles that rotate around a central tower, with riders able to control the height of their individual eagle.
18. Cocoa Cruiser (Hersheypark)
Cocoa Cruiser, a small family roller coaster, will join Hersheypark's line-up in 2014. The park promises that the steel coaster will "allow our younger guests to experience the thrill of a coaster for the first time."
The park will also add a Tea Cups attraction and the child-friendly Happy Swing for the new season.
17. The Mayflower (Holiday World)
Holiday World has confirmed that its new attraction for the 2014 season will be a swinging ship ride dubbed the Mayflower, to be hosted in the park's Thanksgiving area.
The Mayflower will be situated next to The Voyage, the wooden roller coaster that regularly tops enthusiast polls. It will be named after the ship that transported 102 English Pilgrims to New England in 1620, in one of the most famous journeys in early American colonial history.
16. Ragin' Cajun (Six Flags America)
Six Flags America will introduce a new Mardi Gras-themed area for 2014. This will host Ragin' Cajun, a spinning roller coaster. The attraction is moving to the park from the similarly-themed Mardi Gras area at Six Flags Great Amrica, and is manufactured by Zamperla and Reverchon Industries.
15. French Quarter Flyers (Six Flags America)
Located close to Ragin Cajun' will be French Quarter Flyers, a flying scooters-style flat ride. The ride will feature eight "flying" cars, each with a stationary rear wing and a movable front wing. Riders will pilot their car, travelling at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.
14. Tsunami Soaker (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags St. Louis)
Six Flags St. Louis and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will both open Tsunami Soaker, a Mack Twist 'n' Splash ride, in 2014 - combining a traditional spinning tea cup attraction with a "Splash Battle" ride.
13. Extreme Supernova (The Great Escape)
The Great Escape will open Extreme Supernova, a unique new flat ride. Suspended from an overhead axis, 16 riders will fly head over heels up to 50 feet in the air as land and sky become one through dual swinging and spinning motions. Once the outward facing riders are secured and the floor drops from below, Extreme Supernova will swing back and forth while guests are spun in endless circles delivering maximum G-Forces and high-flying sensations.
12. Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem (Universal Studios Hollywood)
The shuttered Terminator 2: 3-D at Universal Studios Hollywood will be replaced by near-identical clone of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Florida in 2014.
Based on the $540-million grossing Universal Pictures movie, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem is the first ride at any of Universal's theme parks to be based on a Universal-produced animated movie. It replaced Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast at Universal Studios Florida, and reuses the previous attraction's simulator-style ride system.
11. Camp Snoopy expansion (Knott's Berry Farm)
Knott's Berry Farm will add 3 new rides to its Camp Snoopy area for the 2014 season. The first, Charlie Brown's Kite Flyer, will invite campers to "fly a kite" with Charlie Brown and soar above Camp Snoopy's winding paths and babbling streams. The second, Pig Pen's Mud Buggies, lets kids climb aboard their very own all-terrain vehicle for an adventurous ride around the High Sierras. The final new addition, Linus Launcher recreates that classic Peanut’s moment when Snoopy grabs Linus’ blanket and launches him on a wild ride.
10. SteelHawk (Worlds of Fun)
Similar to the WindSeeker rides at several other Cedar Fair parks, SteelHawk will see guests swinging in circles around a central tower in a vertigo-inducing variation on the classic "Chair-O-Plane" attraction. Riders will reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour but will still have time to take in panoramic views of Worlds of Fun and beyond.
The ride previously operated Knott's Berry Farm under the WindSeeker name.
9. New England SkyScreamer (Six Flags New England)
Six Flags New England is planning to install the world's tallest spinning tower ride for the 2014 season, with its version of SkyScreamer set to stand at some 400-feet-tall.
The new addition to the park will be near-identical to the SkyScreamers that have been installed at a number of Six Flags parks over the past two years, but will be significantly taller. It would also stand just two feet taller than the Funtime Star Flyer ride at Austria's Prater Park, which is currently the tallest ride of its type.
Like other versions of the ride, Six Flags New England's SkyScreamer will offer a vertigo-inducing variation on the traditional "Chair-O-Plane" ride experience. Guests will be seated in chairs that dangle from a circular gondola, which will spin as it rises to the top of the tower, offering views across the park and beyond.
8. Falcon's Fury (Busch Gardens Tampa)
Busch Gardens Tampa's skyscraping new addition will stand at some 335-feet-tall, and will plummet towards the ground at 60 miles per hour. The drop tower's chief gimmick, though, will be that it twists guests by 90 degrees so that they are facing directly downwards before they freefall down to the bottom. Falcon's Fury will become the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America when it opens.
Falcon's Fury will be themed around the concept of diving towards the earth like a bird of prey. The ride will replace the former Sandstorm flat ride, which was recently removed from the park.
7. Banshee (Kings Island)
Banshee will be the longest inverted roller coaster in the world at 4,124 feet. It will include seven inversions and, interestingly, will reach its top speed of 68 miles per hour in the middle of the ride’s course, not at the bottom of the 150 foot first drop.
The striking blue supports hold magenta track – fitting for the ride’s supernatural theme, and for its second calling card: being “the first female-inspired thrill ride at a Cedar Fair park.” You can take that to the bank! Which is good, because Banshee will also be the park’s largest ever investment at $24 million, beating out 2009’s B&M hyper coaster Diamondback ($22 million), and previous owner Paramount’s additions, Son of Beast and TOMB RAIDER: The Ride (now both defunct, neither lasting a full decade – and tragically so at $20 million a piece).
6. Goliath (Six Flags Great America)
Six Flags Great America will receive a major new addition in 2014, with the park due to open Goliath, the world's tallest, fastest and steepest wooden roller coaster.
Goliath will be manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction, which was also behind the unique Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City. The ride will stand at some 165 feet tall, and will feature a sharply-angled 45 degree lift hill. On reaching the top of this, riders will plummet down a 180 foot drop at an 85 degree angle into an underground tunnel, hitting a top speed of 72 miles per hour.
The remainder of the circuit includes a 180-degree zero-g roll, that emerges into a traditional vertical loop. Riders will then pass through a new element dubbed the "inverted zero-g stall", which consists of a camelback-style hill and a 180-degree inversion, so that riders crest the hill in an upside-down position.
5. Firechaser Express (Dollywood)
Gerstlauer-manufacted roller coaster FireChaser Express will debut at Dollywood in 2014, boasting two launch sections - one forwards, and backwards.
The ride will feature a 2,427-foot circuit, stand at 79 feet tall and hit a top speed of 34.5 miles per hour. The first launch section on the mine train-style coaster will see riders fired from 0 to 16 miles per hour in 1.1 seconds, while the second will take them up to 20 miles per hour in 2 seconds. There will be six "airtime" hills, two helices and a "trick track" section in a ride that is squarely aimed at families.
The theme for the new coaster will be based around a major fire, with riders playing the role of "heroes" who have answered the call. Dollywood claims that guests as young as 4 years old will be able to experience the ride, billed as "the nation's first dual launch family coaster".
4. Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom (Six Flags Great Adventure)
Six Flags Great Adventure will open a record-breaking new freefall drop tower in 2014, with Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom to be mounted to the Kingda Ka's roller coaster's tower.
The attraction will lift riders to some 415 feet in the air, before sending them plummeting back towards the ground below at 90 miles per hour. Three separate drop rides will be installed, each capable of holding up to 8 riders at a time. To increase capacity, the gondolas will be blasted to the top of the tower in just 30 seconds.
3. Hogwarts Express (Universal Orlando)
Linking the existing Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure with the under-construction Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, the Hogwarts Express will recreate the journey taken by Potter and his friends at the start and finish of every year at Hogwarts. It will actually travel through a backstage area between the two parks, but multimedia technology will be used to convince guests that they are journeying between London and Hogsmeade.
Initially, Universal envisaged the attraction as little more than a basic transportation link. But it quickly became clear that many fans were more excited about the Hogwarts Express than they are about the rest of Diagon Alley. Now, the Hogwarts Express will be a full multi-sensory experience, telling a story as well as getting guests from A to B.
Linking two lands with a shared theme in two entirely separate theme parks, the Hogwarts Express will be a truly unique attraction. In fact, it's the only ride listed in our extensive database of 3,500 attractions that is listed as belonging to two parks!
2. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Disney's Magic Kingdom)
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will take guests on a musical ride deep into a diamond mine. It will feature a first-of-its-kind ride system that will allow the vehicles to swing back and forth as they move along the twisting track, accompanied by tunes from the movie's soundtrack.
The coaster will be manufactured by Vekoma (a favorite of Disney, responsible for nearly all of its modern steel roller coaster work) and will feature both indoor and outdoor sections. Disney has described the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train as sitting somewhere between Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain in terms of thrills. With those rides reaching top speeds of 20mph and 30mph respectively, it's unlikely that the new ride will rocket around its course - with the thrills more likely to come from the swinging action of the cars.
1. Gringotts Bank Coaster (Universal Studios Florida)
The headline attraction of the under-construction Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida will be a major new roller coaster themed around Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Harry’s first encounter with the bank is an innocent descent in its mine-cart-style conveyance in the first film; by the last, the out-of-control race through the vaults was accompanied by loops, waterfalls, and captive dragons - perfect material for a theme park ride.
So what will the Gringotts Bank roller coaster be like? Well, Universal hasn't unveiled the details of what could be one of its most impressive rides yet. But we do know what Universal is working with: an increasingly impressive arsenal of technological innovation. After its outstanding and unparalleled foray into what can only be described as “4D motion-base dark-ride simulator” technology with 1999’s The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and the even-more-progressive Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you can bet that a Gringotts roller coaster will not be a Space Mountain-style ride in the dark.
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.