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Top theme parks look to win visitors with new attractions for Summer 2013

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Published: May 27, 2013 at 9:38 PM

Theme parks around the world have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on new attractions that have debuted over the past 12 months. But which are the new rides and shows that will appeal most to theme park fans and their families?

Let's take a look at some of the top new dark rides, roller coasters and live shows that have premiered since July 1, 2102 at the top-attended theme parks we cover here on Theme Park Insider. These rides and shows represent popular entertainment franchises such as Sesame Street and DreamWorks' Madagascar, as well as original new characters, including Henry Mystic of Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Manor and Puck the Penguin from SeaWorld Orlando's Antarctica.

For each new attraction, we've included a link to its listing page here on Theme Park Insider, which includes readers' ratings and reviews for that ride or show. In addition, below each new attraction's name, we've embedded a video of that ride or show, so you can experience these new attractions for yourself online, if you've not yet had the chance to experience them in person.

But if you have seen some of these new attractions in person, please click on the names of those attractions to submit a rating (and, if you're a registered site member, a review) for those rides and shows. Our readers' ratings will determine which attraction wins the Theme Park Insider Award for the Best New Attraction of the year, to be announced on July 4, 2013.

Dark Rides

In addition to the rides listed below, we're expecting Transformers: The Ride 3D to soft-open this week at Universal Studios Florida, in advance of its official opening on June 20. The same ride debuted at Universal Studios Singapore in December 2011 and at Universal Studios Hollywood in May 2012, so we're not counting Transformers among this year's new attractions. (In fact, it won the Theme Park Insider Award for Best New Attraction in 2012.)

Transformers: The Ride 3D at Universal Studios Florida

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin at SeaWorld Orlando (Reviewed by Robert Niles)

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Florida (Reviewed by Domenik Jost)

Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland (Previewed by Robert Niles)

Sesame Street: Spaghetti Space Chase at Universal Studios Singapore

Roller Coasters

Six Flags Magic Mountain has not yet announced an opening date for its new coaster, Full Throttle, so we can't confirm it on the list of new attractions that will debut by June 30 of this year. But here are five other coasters that have or will have had their official opening by the start of summer.

Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars at Hong Kong Disneyland (Previewed by Robert Niles)

Coast Rider at Knott's Berry Farm

Gatekeeper at Cedar Point (Reviewed by Jim Koehl)

Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City (Reviewed by James Rao)

Live Shows

In addition to the shows listed below, most regional amusement parks roll out new stage shows, parades and/or fireworks presentations each season.

Enchanted Tales with Belle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Fantasy Faire Royal Theatre at Disneyland (Note that the Tangled show shown below rotates in performance with a Beauty and the Beast show.)

Madagascar Live! Operation Vacation at Busch Gardens Tampa (Reviewed by TH Creative)

Mickey & the Magical Map at Disneyland (Reviewed by M. Ryan Traylor)

Now that you've had a chance to look at these new attractions, we'd love to hear which ones most appeal to you. Which of these live shows, roller coasters and themed rides will be the ones that endure as popular theme park attractions for years to come? Cast your votes below, and please let us know your thoughts about these new attractions, in the comments.

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Readers' Opinions

From Mark Kausch on May 28, 2013 at 3:37 PM
Pretty sure there'll be a lot more to come by July 1, >>>2102<<<. Yes, I *am* that picky!

The only thing I've had a chance to try has been both the Tangled and Beauty shows at Fantasy Faire and, while I would not book a trip around them, they are cute beyond belief. But get there early as the venue is small. However, I voted for Mickey & the Map, prolly out of nostalgia for previous shows in that theater. I actually should have been there - today, in fact - if not for an unscheduled trip to the ER. (I guess they are *all* unscheduled, aren't they?)

Of the coasters, I've ridden all of them online except Coast Rider. I've been on Wild Mice (Mouses?) before, though, and may even have been on the one at Legoland, though that visit was too long ago to remember. I voted for Outlaw Run but would like to change my vote for Big Grizzly. CanIcanIcanI?

I've also been on all of the dark rides online. Gotta go with Mystic Manor.

Oh, and Matt, I concur. Clearly a wise guy. ;-)

From Matt Babiak on May 28, 2013 at 4:17 AM
Corrects spelling and then says "prolly". Clearly got a wise guy over here. On a serious note, I would say the one that most entices me now to visit is Antarctica, but you said most enduring, and I feel like 10 years down the road the Florida parks will have hundreds of trackless rides. This would make Antarctica less unique and special, and thus less of a draw.
From 69.47.145.107 on May 28, 2013 at 6:40 AM
I'm telling everyone right now that for the coaster category you want to vote for Outlaw Run. I know you are all just going with what Robert says for this one, but let me tell you about Outlaw Run..... It's a beautiful new hybrid coaster that sits in a ravine at Silver Dollar city. It's lots of fun, and is the first to successfully take a wood coaster and make it go up-side-down.... THREE TIMES. It has taken the coaster world to new heights (much more then Grizzly Gulch has). I'm not against theme.. heck I'm voting for Mystic Manor hands down in its category, but I just know in the coaster world of this year, Outlaw Run does take the spot... Here's a quick documentary on it.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln0hTR0l6KU

See ya down the Middle of Main Street USA... DH

From 85.150.173.168 on May 28, 2013 at 9:11 AM
Shocking that the biggest theme park in the world has nothing special to offer that fits their size.
From 97.96.199.227 on May 28, 2013 at 11:11 AM
I don't know why Knott's wasted their time and money on three puny new rides. The rides they are adding are unoriginal, and can be found at most amusement parks and festivals. Coast Rider is an exact (expletive) copy of Legoland Test Track coaster! Just a different paint job. Why? They wasted money that could have been used for something massive, and wicked, such as, oh, I don't know, a (expletive) roller coaster!
From Jay R. on May 28, 2013 at 1:19 PM
Coast Rider at Knotts was cool....Obviously, it's your standard wild mouse coaster, but I did like the new Boardwalk area.
From 184.21.11.158 on May 29, 2013 at 11:54 AM
As a semi-regular coaster rider, I've seen quite a few good ones. None compares, however, to the new Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City. I have never experienced anything like it in my life- exhilaration, terror, awe, it's near impossible to explain but is absolutely a must-ride. I know I will ride it again, and quite possibly tremble in fear while simultaneously grinning from ear to ear in anticipation. It truly is a one-of-a-kind.
From James Rao on May 30, 2013 at 9:39 PM
Kudos to Outlaw Run, a truly fantastic, one of a kind coaster experience. It deserves all the accolades it can get. I for one hope it holds on to pull the upset over its more well known rivals.
From Eric Fisher on June 2, 2013 at 11:25 AM
I read one of the comments about Knott's adding 3 "puny" rides. Actually, since Knott's is a family park, the additions make perfect sense. Parents can reward their children for not using (Expletive) in their comments by taking them to this park. A good reward for manners. And the mouse is a fun ride.

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