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25 Incredible New Theme Park Attractions Opening in 2016

5. Storm Chaser (Kentucky Kingdom)

Storm Chaser

Image: Kentucky Kingdom

Following its painful and protracted rescue by former owner Ed Hart - the park remain closed for nearly five years following its closure by Six Flags - Kentucky Kingdom is beginning to get into its stride. Storm Chaser will be the second new coaster to be constructed at the park in a period of only two years, adding a fifth coaster to the park's line-up.

Storm Chaser artwork

Image: Kentucky Kingdom

To replace the former Twisted Twins wooden coasters, which had been standing but not operating since 2007, the park has commissioned flavor-of-the-month manufacturer Rocky Mountain Construction. Parts of Twisted Twins' wooden structure will be reused, but the coaster will receive an all-new iBox steel track - only the fifth coaster in the world to do so. This is designed to create the "feel" of a wooden coaster, but with the benefits of a steel superstructure to support it.

Storm Chaser artwork

Image: Kentucky Kingdom

Standing at 100 feet tall, Storm Chaser will be the first coaster in America to feature a barrel roll drop from a 10-story lift hill, with the drop being a very steep 78 degrees. Other elements includes a stall dive, airtime hills and a corkscrew, making this very different from a traditional wooden coaster.

4. Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)

Mako concept art

Image: SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld hasn't been having the best time of late, given the volume of negative coverage it has received since the release of the highly critical Blackfish movie. This has led to the subsequent decision to stop breeding killer whales in captivity, and to management doubling down on an existing strategy of supplementing aquatic exhibits with high-tech thrill rides.

Mako concept art

Image: SeaWorld Orlando

Enter Mako, the 2016 addition at SeaWorld Orlando. Headlining a new shark-themed area, the ride will become the tallest, fastest and longest in Orlando. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard (who also built the park's most recent coaster, Manta), the hypercoaster will stand at some 200 feet tall, and will hit a top speed of 73 miles per hour as it races around a 4,760 feet circuit. The coaster will boast a number of airtime hills, as well as a unique new feature dubbed the "Hammerhead turn" (a tight U-turn to the right).

Mako concept art

Image: SeaWorld Orlando

The sheer height of Mako means that it won't be integrated into its surrounding environment in the same way that the visually impressive Manta is, but SeaWorld claims it will give guests a sense of the awesome speed of the real-life Mako shark. And concept art suggests that the train will dip close to the water on the park's lake on several occasions.

3. Derren Brown's Ghost Train (Thorpe Park)

Derren Brown's Ghost Train artwork

Thorpe Park's new addition for 2016 is Derren Brown's Ghost Train, a mysterious new dark ride that is believed to be one of the most expensive attractions in the park's history. It promises to be one of the most unique and unusual new attractions to debut at any park in 2016 - though it's yet to be seen whether it will be a triumph or a flop.

Guests will discover a disused warehouse at the centre of Thorpe Park's "island". As they enter a seemingly innocent Victorian train carriage, "it soon becomes clear as sights and sounds fill your senses, that you will come face-to-face with what lies at the end of the line."

Derren Brown's Ghost Train artwork

Thorpe Park describes the ride as a "one-of-a-kind", 13-minute experience, claiming to have worked with the famous mentalist and illusionist to re-invent the ghost train for the 21st century. Atmospheric effects and virtual reality headsets will add to the experience, with guests set to be transported to another world through the power of computer-generated visuals.

2. Taron (Phantasialand)

Taron train

Image: Phantasialand

Taron is being billed as "Europe's fastest multi-launch coaster", and the circuit will indeed feature multiple Linear Synchronous Motor launches, putting it in the same bracket as the likes of Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa.

Taron construction

Image: Phantasialand

Manufacturer Intamin has built many launch coasters over the years, but Taron looks like it will be one of the most unique and ambitious. It will certainly be one of the most beautiful - the amount of rockwork being used to create the new Klugheim area that will house it is truly stunning.

Taron construction

Image: Phantasialand

It won't be the only coaster to occupy the new area, either - Phantasialand is also squeezing in a Vekoma Family Boomerang coaster dubbed Raik. The two circuits will intertwine in places, making this a staggeringly complicated construction project and one of the most impressive new lands at any theme park in the world this year.

1. Skull Island: Reign of Kong (Islands of Adventure)

 Reign of Kong artwork

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Creative has consistently raised the bar in recent years when creating new dark rides, which is why there is such excitement about the debut of Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure in 2016. The ride will feature a mix of screen-based and practical effects, and will be the longest ride in Universal Orlando Resort's history.

 Reign of Kong artwork

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

After making their way to "base camp" through the queue line, guests will board enormous safari trucks before being taking on an adventure deep into Skull Island's jungle. Naturally, things go wrong...fast, and you can expect to have several encounters with the mighty King Kong.

 Reign of Kong artwork

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

Though we’ve seen some impressive ride vehicles in the past, the stats for the expedition vehicles that will be used in Skull Island: Reign of Kong are pretty amazing, even by our standards. Each truck will measure over 40 feet long and 13 feet high, and weigh an impressive 17 tons. Even the wheels are super-sized, measuring an enormous 45 inches tall. Each of these mammoth vehicles will carry up to 72 people on 12 different rows of seats, which will all face the front of the cab. Both the front and back axles can be steered independently, which means that each vehicle can still take sharp twists and turns despite its massive size.

 Reign of Kong artwork

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

Perhaps even more impressive than the size of the vehicle is the revelation that Skull Island: Reign of Kong will be the first ride at Universal Orlando Resort to run on a completely trackless system. Guests who board these vehicles will encounter one of five different “drivers” who will entertain guests with personal stories during the ride. Expect to be amazed.

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