A theme park gift under $10? Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
Walt Disney World in 2017 will open its most ambitious theme park land to date. Pandora - The World of Avatar will bring James Cameron's 3D aliens-vs.-developers film to life in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Visitors will walk under floating mountains, fly with Mountain Banshees and float through a bioluminescent rainforest in the new land, which is scheduled to open sometime in the middle of 2017. In addition to the new Avatar land, Disney's Animal Kingdom in 2017 will open Rivers of Light, a new night-time show on the park's Discovery River.
Other notable attractions scheduled to debut in 2017 include:
Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout at Disney's California Adventure: Disney is replacing The Twilight Zone theme for the park's Tower of Terror drop ride with the narrative from the Tokyo DisneySea version, swapping Taneleer Tivan for Harrison Hightower and bringing the popular Marvel franchise to a Disney theme park attraction for the first time.
Iron Man Experience at Hong Kong Disneyland: Utilizing a Star Tours-type motion simulator, Iron Man Experience will take riders on a flight around Hong Kong, as their trip to the Stark Expo is interrupted by Hydra attempting to steal the world's largest arc reactor.
Symbolica: Palace of Fantasy at Efteling: Visitors collectively will choose one of three different routes within the palace, each offering unique adventures and interactive elements, in this US$38 million attraction — the Dutch theme park's fourth major dark ride.
Project V at Europa Park: Billed as Europe's largest flying theater, Project V (yes, that's a working title) will take visitors on a Soarin'-style journey to some of Europe's most popular tourist destinations. The most expensive individual attraction in the history of Europa Park, the attraction will accommodate 1,400 visitors per hour in two theaters, each with 21 meter screens.
Nemo and Friends SeaRider at Tokyo DisneySea: Replacing the StormRider show and planned for May 12, 2017 debut, this show will follow the characters of "Finding Nemo" and "Finding Dory" on an undersea adventure.
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon at Universal Studios Florida: The heart of the new Tonight Show-themed attraction will be a flying theater ride that allows visitors to "race" the Tonight Show host through the streets of New York. The film will include sights of popular New York icons such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, as well as cameos from Tonight Show announcer Steve Higgins and band The Roots.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Japan: Minion Park will open in the first half of 2017, as a plussed version of the Minion-themed mini-land at Universal Studios Hollywood. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem will anchor the new land, which Universal is promising will be "the world's largest Minion-themed area."
Submarine Quest at SeaWorld San Diego: This sub-styled track ride will run through outdoor and indoor scenes, including past aquariums holding crabs, eels, octopuses and other marine animals. On board, the subs will feature game-like elements that allow riders to solve tasks they learn about animals depicted in the exhibits.
InvadR at Busch Gardens Williamsburg: InvadR will be a Great Coasters International wooden roller coaster featuring a 74-foot drop, nine airtime hills and a top speed of 48 miles per hour.
Mystic Timbers at Kings Island: Also by Great Coasters International, Mystic Timbers will be 3,265 feet in length, reach 109 feet in height and weave through the park's forested terrain at speeds up to 53 mph.
Ninjago The Ride at Legoland Florida: First installed in California in 2016, this interactive dark ride challenges visitors to train to become ninjas by learning "Spinjitzu." Instead of using a controller to shoot at targets, on Ninjago, you use your hands like a ninja — to launch a variety of blasts at your enemies.
Ferrari Land at PortAventura: Phase one of this new Ferrari-themed land at the Spanish resort will feature an Intamin Vertical Accelerator coaster, with a maximum launch speed of 112 mph.
Justice League Battle for Metropolis at Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags Magic Mountain: Winner of the 2015 Theme Park Insider Award for Best New Attraction when in debuted at Six Flags Over Texas, Justice League Battle for Metropolis challenges riders to join Batman, Superman, and other Justice League heroes to fight The Joker, Lex Luthor, and their armies in a battle for control of the city, all while trying to escape The Joker's toxic laughing gas. The ride and its queue feature two animatronic characters in addition to multiple 3D screens and practical effects. The game takes place on 3D and fog screens, with a 360-degree virtual loop thrown in just for kicks.
Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort: Located on 28 acres next to the Cabana Bay Beach Resort hotel, Volcano Bay will offer 19 water-based attractions across four themed zones: Rainforest Village, River Village, Wave Village, and Krakatau.
Not included on this list: Disney's highly anticipated Star Wars Land, which is now under construction at Disneyland in California and Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida. On each coast, Star Wars Land will feature two major attractions: one where riders will fly the Millennium Falcon and another where they will be caught in a battle with the villainous First Order. The land also will include Cantina dining, character meet and greets, abundant retail, and role-playing cast members, creating the experience of visiting a new planet in the Star Wars universe.
Disney also is working on a Toy Story Land for Disney's Hollywood Studios, occupying the space where Catastrophe Canyon, the boneyard, and costume shop used to stand.
Universal Orlando also is building Fast & Furious - Supercharged for a 2018 debut. A plussed version of the Studio Tour encounter of the same name at Universal Studios Hollywood, the attraction will walk visitors through a garage filled with show cars from the popular Fast & Furious series before they board trams for a simulated high-speed chase through the streets of Los Angeles. Fast & Furious - Supercharged replaces the old Disaster! attraction in the park.
Beyond 2018, Universal's next big announced project is Nintendo, for which the company has secured the in-park attraction rights. Universal has not announced any specific rides or attractions for its Nintendo project, which will include lands at Universal Orlando, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disney Resort