Florida's theme parks offer a wide range of experiences, from Disney-style dark rides to towering drop towers such as the under-construction Falcon's Fury at Busch Gardens Tampa. One of the biggest draws to the state for thrill-seekers, though, is the presence of an array of world-class roller coasters.
2013 saw Orlando's coaster line-up expanded with the addition of the outstanding White Lightning wooden coaster at Fun Spot America. 2014 will see the debut of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Disney's Magic Kingdom and the highly-anticipated Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts over at Universal Studios Florida. But what can coaster fans look forward to in the years to come?
Theme parks keep their future plans closely under wraps, but here's a quick round-up of three new coasters that could be on their way to the Sunshine State in 2015 and beyond.
3. Giga Coaster (Busch Gardens Tampa)
Much-maligned dueling wooden coaster Gwazi appears to be on its way out of Busch Gardens Tampa, with only one of the coaster's two circuits having been in use for much of 2013. According to our friend Lance Hart over at Screamscape, the ride is due for demolition within the next couple of years.
And what will replace it? Well, with Busch Gardens Tampa pushing over the 300-foot height barrier the Falcon's Fury drop tower in 2014, could the park be about to do the same with a roller coaster? Rumors suggest that staff from the park have been seen checking out Giga Coasters such as Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland, and that long-time partner Bolliger & Mabillard could be brought in to manufacturer Central Florida's first 300-foot coaster.
2. Jurassic Park amber mine coaster (Islands of Adventure)
As you'll see elsewhere on the site today, a number of new additions to Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure are rumored to be under consideration. One of the areas of the park that is most likely to see changes is Jurassic Park, with a new movie in the series - Jurassic World - set for release in 2015.
A long-standing rumor is that Universal will bring in The Gravity Group to build the first wooden coaster at a major Orlando theme park. In this case, it would be themed around an amber mine - the same kind that was plundered by scientists in Jurassic Park to harvest dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes.
1. Poler Coaster
The world's tallest roller coaster is being planned for a yet-to-be-announced location in Central Florida, and is set to stand at an incredible 520 feet tall. The Poler Coaster, a version of which was previously planned for Las Vegas, features a unique vertical design that means it occupies a much smaller footprint than a traditional coaster. It will be constructed by S&S Power and US Thrill Rides, and will also act as observation tower serviced by two glass elevators. Restaurants and retail outlets may be installed at the top.
Trains will be driven to the top of enormous tower, before circling around to allow riders to take in the view. They will be then be inverted, plummeting down the first drop in an upside-down position. This means that the ride will break the world records for both "tallest coaster" and "highest inversion". The coaster will use S&S Power's existing El Loco trains, which seat two across.
Just about everyone who's heard of the Poler Coaster is a little skeptical about whether its backers will really be able to pull of such an ambitious project. We're still waiting for confirmation on where exactly in Florida it will be located - but manufacturing is claimed to have already begun ahead of a 2016 opening date. Watch this space!
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