For theme park fans, 2016 promises to be something of a banner year. Not only are a range of exciting attractions due to make their debuts, but entire resorts with eye-wateringly expensive budgets (hello, Shanghai Disneyland and Dubai Parks and Resorts) are also set to welcome their first guests.
The range of new experiences on offer is truly staggering, as you can soon discover by browsing through our New Attraction Watch section (which is currently tracking nearly 100 new rides and shows, around 60 of which will open this year). In this article, we've picked out 25 of the most interesting and unique creations, which will send you racing to dizzying heights, plunging down into the ocean depths, and exploring mysterious and exotic lands.
In no particular order, here are 25 extraordinary new theme park attractions that will open in 2016...
25. Valravn (Cedar Point)
Cedar Point is pushing the boat out in 2016 with the addition of the third Bolliger & Mabillard Dive Coaster to be built in the United States. The ride is named after the valravn, a supernatural bird of Danish folklore.
The park is billing Valravn as the tallest, longest and faster Dive Coaster in the world. After leaving the station, the train ascends a 223-foot-tall lift hill, before plummeting down a 214-foot vertical drop at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour. After passing through an Immelmann loop, riders experience a second drop of 131 feet, before racing into a dive loop and a 270-degree corkscrew-style roll.
24. Pulsar (Walibi Belgium)
Walibi Belgium's Pulsar will be the world's first Mack Rides PowerSplash - and it's a monstrous creation, carrying a price tag of nearly $10 million. We're not quite sure if it's a water ride or a roller coaster, but the ride does receive a listing in the Roller Coaster Database, which perhaps settles that argument.
The boats/trains on Pulsar will rush backwards and forwards through a huge splash zone, with two vertical sections of track standing either side of the splashdown lake. The boats will hit a top speed of 62 miles per hour, making this a very intense experience.
23. LEGO Ninjago - The Ride (Legoland California)
LEGOLAND California's new addition for 2016 is a unique dark ride featuring the characters from the LEGO Ninjago series. The novel feature of the ride is the ability for riders to fire energy weapons (such as fire and ice) using simple hand gestures, with the results being displayed on the ride's video screens.
It'll headline an entire new area dedicated to LEGO Ninjago, and will be joined by a number of smaller interactive attractions. A clone is due to arrive at LEGOLAND Florida in 2017.
22. Capitol Bullet Train (Motiongate Dubai)
After years of false starts, Dubai will finally welcome some major theme parks this year at the Dubai Parks and Resorts complex. The flagship park is Motiongate Dubai, which promises to bring Hollywood to the desert - featuring attractions based on the works of three major movie studios: Sony Pictures Studios, DreamWorks Animation and Lionsgate. It's certainly an impressive line-up, with the potential - if the budget matches the vision - to create a park that could rival Universal's best offerings.
It's the headline ride of the Liongate area that has captured the imagination, with the Capitol Bullet Train set to simulate a journey on the high-speed trains that link the Districts in the Hunger Games movies.
Little has been confirmed about the coaster itself, but concept art shows that it will be surrounded by familiar landmarks from the movies. The design looks similar to launched coasters installed by Intamin at other parks across the world. It'll be accompanied by Panem Aerial Tour, a simulator ride that will take guests on a hovercraft flight above Panem.
21. Frozen Ever After (Epcot)
Few new additions to Disney parks have been as controversial as Frozen Ever After, which will replace the former Maelstrom boat ride in the Norway Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase (and will reuse much of Maelstrom's ride system). Fans of the park were up in arms about the perceived change to the nature of World Showcase, given that Frozen has little, if anything, to do with Norway itself. But, let's be honest, the ride will be swamped when it opens in the summer, such is Frozen's enduring popularity.
Frozen Ever After will take guests on a 4-minute trip through the events of the first Frozen film, complete with animatronics, projection effects, and a room where Elsa sings Let it Go while simulated snow falls from the sky.
20. Cobra's Curse (Busch Gardens Tampa)
Busch Gardens Tampa already boasts an impressive line-up of coasters, and it will add to it in 2016 with a family-friendly spinning coaster from Mack Rides. Hosted in the Egypt area of the park, Cobra's Curse will use the former King Tut's Tomb walkthrough attraction to host an air-conditioned queue. While they wait, guests will be able to admire mambas, pythons and vipers, all hosted in a 400-cubic-foot snake exhibit.
The ride's most unique element will be a 70-foot-tall vertical elevator lift, which will send guests spinning towards the jaws of the snake king Venymyss. They will then race through an archeological dig site, where the remains of Venymyss' temple have been uncovered.
A second lift hill will see the cars locked into a backwards position, while for much of the rest of the ride the cars will be in "free-spinning" mode, allowing every individual ride to be slightly different.
19. Iron Man Experience (Hong Kong Disneyland)
Hong Kong Disneyland will welcome Disney's first Marvel-themed attraction in late 2016.The Iron Man Experience will see guests take to the street and skies above Hong Kong to join in a battle with Iron Man himself. Early footage has shown Iron Man battling Hydra's robotic minion, with guests riding along on the Iron Wing flying vehicle.
Given the amazing job that Disney did on the park's last set of new rides, we wouldn't bet against this being at least on a par with the Marvel-themed rides at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
18. Roaring Rapids (Shanghai Disneyland)
Disney has built a couple of raft rides - Kali River Rapids at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure. While both are solid, popular attractions, neither could really be considered to be an Imagineering classic.
Maybe it'll be third time lucky, then, when Shanghai Disneyland opens it gates. Roaring Rapids will headline the Adventure Isle area of the park, weaving in and out of Roaring Mountain. The storyline revolves around the Q’aráq, a crocodile-like beast, that is believed to dwell within. During their journey, guests will encounter a churning whirlpool, volcanic vents and a "lava tube".
17. Fatamorgana (Tivoli Gardens)
Fatamorgana is effectively three rides in one. At the bottom of the ride are a set of mini-bumper cars for kids aged 5 and up. On the next floor is a Huss Condor 2G ride - which sees guests boarding gondolas that rotate around a central tower, being slung around at 2.5G (as you can see in the above artwork, there are actually two types of seating on offer). A smaller, tamer version of the main ride rounds out the range of experiences.
16. The Joker (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom)
In 2016, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom becomes the latest Six Flags park to follow the current trend for converting aging wooden roller coasters into modern hybrids by laying a new steel track on top of the existing wooden support structure. In this case, the former Roar coaster, manufactured by Great Coasters International and opened in 1998, is being given the hybrid treatment by Rocky Mountain Construction. The ride will also receive a new DC Comics theme, based around Batman's arch-nemesis The Joker.
Some elements of Roar's original layout will be changed quite significantly. Most notably, the ride's height has been increased by around five feet to 100 feet, with the first drop having been re-profiled to make it steeper. In addition, a total of three inversions have been added to the circuit, reflecting the ride's new steel nature and transforming the experience completely.
The trains themselves will feature Joker theming, with each featuring six cars that can seat up to four riders each. Expect a smoother ride than Roar used to offer, thanks to the new construction...and expect to see many more of these hybrid conversions in the years to come.