Updated June 28, 2005
Theme parks and amusement parks have plenty of exciting news for us in 2005. With all kinds of wild new rides and attractions debuting, the hypemeisters have been working overtime to put the spin on their parks' latest and greatest offerings.
Perhaps the biggest news is Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth, an unprecedented 18-month celebration that will kick off May 5 at all Disney parks to mark Disneyland's 50th anniversary. There are plenty of new coasters rolling out as well, including the world's tallest and fastest, that you can explore at my Coaster Class of 2005 overview. The Six Flags parks have plenty on tap this season (including the record-breaking coaster Kingda Ka at New Jersey's Six Flags Great Adventure) that I review in my Six Flags 2005 preview.
Beyond the Disney celebration, the 2005 coasters, and Six Flags' new rides, other theme parks and amusement parks have lots to hype this year. Start making your travel plans; it's going to be a busy season at the parks.
For more info about the parks listed below, you can search for U.S. theme parks by state, or search for U.S. theme parks by the name of the park.
- Stratosphere Tower, Las Vegas, NV
- Inverted centrifuge
Those wacky folks at the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas are at it again. They've already shot us up beyond the top, coasted us around the edge, and teeter-tottered us over the edge of the nearly 1000-foot tower on the Las Vegas Strip. So why not dangle us next to the tower, spin us around, and move our seats as if they want to dump us out? That would be insane, right? Actually, that would be Insanity--The Ride. You have to see this Insanity preview video
to get a sense of just how nuts this contraption truly is. Like the other Stratosphere Tower rides, Insanity wouldn't be particularly insane if it was placed on terra firma. The fact that the ride will swing out into the airspace at the nosebleed level of the Stratosphere will make this among the most thrilling, if not downright terrifying, rides on the planet
Insanity Ride Photo Gallery
Insanity Preview Photo Gallery
Stratosphere Tower Thrill Rides
- Busch Gardens Williamsburg, VA
- Roving motion base dark ride
Known more for its roller coasters, ambitious stage shows, and lovely grounds, Busch Gardens Williamsburg's new attraction will be an ambitious dark ride attraction in the spirit of Universal's high-tech tour de force, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
. Curse of DarKastle will hew to the park's Old Country theme by basing it in a foreboding Bavarian castle. Like Spider-Man, the dark ride will feature roving motion-based vehicles, projected 3-D imagery, and sensory enhancements to create an immersive alternate reality. Anticipation is high for Busch Garden's grand-scale new ride.
Curse of DarKastle Photo Gallery
Curse of DarKastle Preview Video
- Legoland California, Carlsbad
- Robocoaster robotic arm coaster
Designed for the pre-teen set and associated with low-tech plastic building blocks, you might not think that Legoland would be on the cutting edge of high-tech thrill ride technology. Yet it will be the first park to introduce the amazing Robocoaster to U.S. audiences. The unique attraction will use roller-coaster-style seats attached to robotic arms that will move riders with remarkable fluidity through a series of programmed maneuvers. Themed as a medieval tournament, guests will be cast as dragon slayer knights. With six robotic arms, each capable of accommodating two passengers, the attraction will have a capacity of twelve riders; my guess is that the lines for this innovative ride are going to enormous.
- Magic Springs, Hot Springs, AR
In the heyday of trolley parks and seaside pier amusements, shoot-the-chute rides were quite popular. The boats would carry passengers up a conveyor lift and send them careening down a chute, typically into a lake or the ocean. Coney Island's Luna Park and virtually all of the major amusement parks in the early 20th-century had one. Over the last few years, the boat rides have enjoyed renewed popularity. Today's shoot-the-chutes use a splash pool for the finale and end with a huge cascade of water that soaks both passengers and spectators. Some splashdown rides include elaborate themeing, such as Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Escape from Pompeii and the Jurassic Park Adventure rides at both Universal Studios parks in Hollywood and Florida. Magic Springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas will be debuting Plummet Summit, a shoot-the-chute ride, this spring. Its 20-person boats will reach speeds of 34 miles an hour before they splash down.
Next page: Fear Factor: Live at Universal Studios parks, Tomb Raider: Firefall at Paramount's Kings Dominion, and more new rides for the 2005 season