Theme Park Insider

Monday Top 10: The Top-Rated New Attractions of 2014

December 8, 2014, 12:23 PM · Every year on the Fourth of July, we honor the Best New Attraction of the previous 12 months in our annual Theme Park Insider Awards. Kings Island's Banshee won that honor this year, but 2014 was an unusual year for new theme park attractions in that so many new rides debuted in the back half of the year. (Typically, parks like to debut their new rides at the start of the season.) So for this week's top 10, let's take a look at the new rides that Theme Park Insider readers rated highest in 2014.

10. Arthur
Europa Park

Arthur

We will start with an attraction we missed earlier this year — Arthur, based on Arthur and the Invisibles. This Mack inverted coaster takes riders through the Kingdom of the Invisibles in Europa Park's new Minimoys Kingdom land. We didn't cover this one when it opened, so if you've been on the ride, please give it a rating and review so we can catch up on our coverage.

9. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opened in May and might be the most beautiful attraction in the history of the Magic Kingdom. You ride what look like hand-carved wooden carts, which will respond to your movement by rocking gently from side to side as you roll through lush forest and past detailed rock work. With just over two minutes from dispatch to the final brake before the unload station, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train offers a better-than-average ride time for a roller coaster. But since the visual experience, coupled with the relatively mild ride itself, so strongly suggests “dark ride” than roller coaster that those two-plus minutes instead feel frustratingly brief. Read the full Theme Park Insider review.

8. Zumanjaro Drop of Doom
Six Flags Great Adventure

Hailed as the world’s tallest and fastest drop ride, Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom opened at Six Flags Great Adventure on July 4, the park’s 40th anniversary. Read the full Theme Park Insider review.

7. Ratatouille: L'Aventure Totalement Toquee de Remi
Walt Disney Studios Paris

Some six years in the making, and at a reported investment of €150 million, “Remy's Totally Zany Adventure” opened in July. It's a trackless 3D dark ride that shrinks you to Remy's size for a wild chase through a Paris restaurant kitchen, inspired by the Pixar animated film. Read the full Theme Park Insider review.

6. Firechaser Express
Dollywood

Firechaser Express

This dual-launch family coaster travels forward then backward on a 2,427-foot track, and is themed to firefighters protecting the forest of the Great Smoky Mountains. With plenty of wacky gags, too, of course.

5. Goliath
Six Flags Great America

Great America's Goliath opened in June as the world's fastest wooden roller coaster, with tallest and steepest drop for a coaster with wooden components. Goliath features an 85-degree, 180-foot, 72 mph drop, followed by a zero-G roll and two overbanked turns, taking the fastest and steepest wooden-coaster titles from El Toro at sister park Six Flags Great Adventure. Read the full Theme Park Insider review.

4. Banshee
Kings Island

Banshee

This Bolliger & Mabillard roller coaster opened in April as the the world's longest inverted coaster, at more than 4,124 feet of track length and a two-minute, 40-second ride cycle. The coaster features seven inversions and a top speed of 68 mph. Read the full Theme Park Insider review.

3. Falcon's Fury
Busch Gardens Tampa

Falcon's Fury

Falcon’s Fury opened a few months late, but it is absolutely worth the wait. The revolutionary drop tower measures in at 335 tall, which puts it in the record book as the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America. (Both Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure are taller, but are mounted to existing roller coaster structures.) In addition to its record-breaking height, Falcon’s Fury plunges riders down its mammoth drop face down instead of in a standard seated position, which is a unique feature among drop rides. Read the full Theme Park Insider review.

2. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Universal Studios Florida

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

The centerpiece of Universal Orlando's wildly successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley invites you into Gringotts Bank to meet with Bill Weasley and tour the underground vaults before, perhaps, opening your own Gringotts account. However, you just happen to be visiting on the same day that Harry, Ron, and Hermoine have disguised themselves to break into Bellatrix Lestrange's vault, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Before your tour can begin, Bellatrix finds you and attacks, soon to be joined by Voldemort. Will you ever escape from the "safest place on Earth"? Read the full Theme Park Insider review.

1. Hogwarts Express
Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando connects the two Wizarding Worlds via this faithful visual recreation of the Jacobite locomotive and coaches featured in the Harry Potter films. It's a revolutionary experience that breaks multiple walls in establishing a new standard for theme park attractions, and quickly has become a favorite with many fans. Read the full Theme Park Insider review.

What was your favorite new theme park attraction in 2014? And which new rides and shows are you most looking forward to experiencing for the first time in 2015?

Replies (9)

December 8, 2014 at 12:35 PM · Not sure how the Hogwarts Express beat out Gringott's. I feel Universal went cheap with the outside window view in the trains. The TVs, projectors or whatever they used appear cartoonish and warped, and not even 1080p. They would have been better off installing 1080P TVs, or even 4k and just using real live action film. Now the frost glass window show, along with the other theming is done perfectly, the outside window view is just a letdown, but on the bright side they can probably upgrade that in the future very easily if they choose.
December 8, 2014 at 1:56 PM · I only rode number 1 & 2, though many multiple times. They are both very deserving of their rankings. I'll get to experience 7 Dwarfs when I visit WDW next Fall. Though I'm disappointed in the length, I'm sure my personal ranking of it will be higher than this. The indoor dark ride portion looks excellent and it appears to be a beautiful ride in appearance..... My years as a basic coaster afficiando are behind me, and they seem almost all the same to me after so many coasters over so many years, so I have no desire to travel to coaster parks anymore.
December 8, 2014 at 4:16 PM · I've said this before, but since the question's come up again: Hogwarts Express enjoys more popularity than Gringotts in part due to it being the only ride in the two Wizarding Worlds with no height restriction. It's also very accessible. That's an important factor for a franchise with such immense family appeal.
December 8, 2014 at 6:47 PM · As a Floridian, I have been on 4 of these rides multiple times:
1. Hogwarts Express
2. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
3. Falcon's Fury
9. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
They are all worthy of their ranking. The SDMT has a big problem that will prevent it from being a favorite for riders which is the daytime vs. nighttime problem. The daylight glare is terrible on the windows of the cottage scene and you have to ride it at night to see the wonderful interior action. I think many people who only rode it in the day have missed a great part of the ride.
December 8, 2014 at 8:51 PM · Banshee is the only ride on this list I was able to visit this year, but because it was so amazing, I am not disappointed. Fantastic coaster in what turned out to be a very very good amusement park.

I had planned on taking the family back to Orlando in 2015, but that trip will probably have to wait until 2016. After SoCal in '13 and Ohio in '14 I need a year off to refill the vacation coffers!

December 9, 2014 at 12:30 PM · Interesting that "7. Ratatouille" was ranked below some roller coasters and a drop ride. They had better be good, but I haven't read anything that convinces me that they are different or better than other versions of the same ride.
December 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM · TVs on Hogwarts Express are 1080p. The problem is they're not meant to be viewed from that close. Other than 35 or 70mm film there is no technology today that can be presented in that size and won't appear pixelated when viewed that close. Escape from Gringotts is a major disappointment.
December 10, 2014 at 2:08 PM · 7DMT is highly underrated. People forget that this is a Fantasyland ride; these have always been short but sweet. And this new ride is very sweet. The only problem is the very long wait times for a short ride, similar to the situation with Peter Pan. FP+ is essential.
December 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM · Are you sure that the TV's in the Hogwarts Express are 1080p? I have a 65 inch 1080p television that appears less pixelated than the TVs used in the train from the same viewing distance, if they are truly using 1080p televisions the ppi should be higher than my TV, and look less pixelated at the same distance, but even if they are using 1080p it doesn't explain the warped look, almost as if the TV is curved toward or away from you at the edges. Maybe the warping was on purpose, and meant to create depth or something, but it didn't work in my opinion, and if they used some kind of lens to create the warped look, maybe that's magnifying the pixels causing it to be more pixelated? I don't know, all I know is I've seen even cheap TV's at Best Buy look more like looking out a real window than whatever the technology they used on the Hogwarts Express. I to agree about Gringott's being a major disappointment. Its not nearly thrilling enough to justify using the coaster design, it doesn't really give you the same feeling you expect from watching the Gringott's bank movie scene, everything is on screen with none of the artsy characters and props like in the Forbidden Journey. Other than the fact that Gringott's is somewhat of a new ride technology, Forbidden Journey is more well put together, and all around the better ride. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Diagon Alley and Wizarding World, I just expected a little more from Gringott's and The Hogwarts Express after riding FJ.

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