May marks the beginning of the summer amusement park season and, with that, comes the debut of the latest rides and attractions. Some promise gravity-defying loops and twists, others amazing 3-D graphics, and still others family-friendly fun. These 10 new offerings are the best of the best for 2013.
1. Full Throttle, Six Flags Magic Mountain, California
The tallest, fastest looping coaster in the world, Full Throttle begins with a 70-mile per hour launch into the record-holding 160-foot tall loop. Two more launches follow, including one backwards from a dark tunnel. If you’re looking for a white-knuckle ride that can make you scream like a six-year-old, this is it.
2. Outlaw Run, Silver Dollar City, Missouri
Western-themed Outlaw Run hurls you through both the world’s first double barrel roll inversion on a wooden coaster and the world’s first outside banked turn on a wooden coaster. It also boasts the world’s steepest drop, 81 degrees, and at 68 miles per hour, it’s the second fastest wooden coaster anywhere.
3. Transformers: The Ride 3-D, Universal Studios Orlando, Florida
I know. Transformers: The Ride 3-D isn’t exactly new – it opened last year at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Singapore – but the Orlando version, which opens June 20, 2013, improves the already spectacular battle with new projectors and screens. Fight with a 30-foot Optimus Prime against Megatron and his Decepticons in a battle zone that spans two stories.
4. Gatekeeper, Cedar Point, Ohio
Faster, longer and taller than other “winged” coasters, the aptly named Gatekeeper dominates Cedar Point’s entrance. Riders race at speeds up to 64 miles per hour along a circuit that includes two dive loops, an Immelmann loop, a giant corkscrew, and two zero-g rolls.
5. Iron Rattler, Six Flags Fiesta, Texas
Originally built in 1992, the Rattler received a makeover and new name, Iron Rattler, just in time for this summer season. The rechristened ride stands 18 stories high and features the first zero-g barrel roll on a hybrid coaster plus four over-banked turns, the most of any roller coaster in the world.
6. Dinosaurs Alive!, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Missouri
The Dinosaurs Alive! parks feature life-size animatronic dinosaurs that thrash their tails, gnash their teeth and roar in themed settings. So far, there are seven parks in the United States and one in Canada. This summer the concept opens in Carowinds, NC, Minneapolis, MN, and Kansas City, MO.
7. Hades 360, Mt. Olympus, Wisconsin
Voted the Best New Ride by Amusement Today when it opened as Hades in 2005, Hades 360 adds a loop and a new over-banked turn for 2013. The revamped ride also extends its 800-foot underground tunnel to 1,400 feet but retains the 90-degree underground turn in complete darkness that makes you feel like you’ve truly entered the underworld.
8. Aquatica, Sea World San Diego, California
Let's be clear: Aquatica isn’t a ride, it’s a waterpark. And, no, it isn’t the first of its kind either. Sea World introduced the concept in Orlando in 2008 and in San Antonio in 2012. But the new San Diego experience, which lets you zip down waterslides, lounge on a beach, and watch a flamingo parade, definitely deserves a mention.
9. Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, Sea World Orlando, Florida
Another Sea World offering, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin replaces the park’s 24-year-old Penguin Encounter with an adventure from the penguin’s point of view. Bring a jacket. The interactive ride features 55-foot-tall glaciers and claims to be the world’s coldest theme park attraction.
10. Safari Off Road Adventure, Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari, New Jersey
More than 12,000 animals from six continents populate Safari Off Road Adventure, the 350-acre safari component of the world’s largest theme park. Board an open-air vehicle and let guides drive you to roaming park animals. It’s the closest thing to a safari you can experience without the expensive plane ticket to Africa.
What's your favorite amusement park attraction? Are you planning on seeing any of these this summer?