What will be the Best New Attraction of the year?

June 24, 2014, 8:48 PM · We're less than two weeks away from the Fourth of July, which means we're less than two weeks away from announcing the winners of the 13th annual Theme Park Insider Awards. Your ratings for the attractions, restaurants and hotels listed on the site will determine this year's winners, so we encourage you to visit our theme park and hotel listing pages and rate all the locations you've visited in the park year.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
One contender for Best New Attraction: Disney's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

We'd especially like to draw your attention to the major attractions that have opened since last July 1, as they are the candidates for this year's "Best New Attraction" award. Several of the leading contenders we expected to be in the mix for this year's award will not make the June 30 deadline to be eligible (we're looking at you, Gringotts, Hogwarts Express, Ratatouille, and Falcon's Fury), so the competition's wide open among those that did.

Another: Kings Island's Banshee

Here are 10 new attractions that have debuted since July 1, 2013. Remember, clones of previously opened attractions — rides that share the same name, theme and substantially same design as a previously eligible attraction — are not eligible. That's why Universal Studios Hollywood's Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem is not listed here. Also, basic carnival rides are not eligible, including spinners, swinging ships, etc.

One more: Six Flags' newest Goliath

Please follow the links to rate any of these attractions that you've actually experienced. Please do not rate attractions, restaurants, or hotels you've not experienced in person. This helps ensure the our ratings accurately reflect the personal experience of our readers.

(If we've missed any openings from the past 12 months at the parks we cover, please let us know in the comments.)

We'd love to read your thoughtful analysis of these new attractions, in the comments. Please help get the conversation going about this year's new rides and shows, to help encourage people to rate and review not just these attractions, but all of the attractions and hotels we've listed on Theme Park Insider. Thank you, and we're looking forward to finding out this year's winners on July 4.

Replies (24)

June 24, 2014 at 9:18 PM

The only correct answer is Gringotts, of course. ;)

June 24, 2014 at 9:40 PM

Sigh. The timing of the debuts this year really messed with us, I'm afraid. In years past, a June 30 deadline has provided plenty of time for the summer's new rides to open. But this year, we've got three potential winners opening within two weeks after the deadline. Oh well, makes for a stronger field in 2015, eh?

June 24, 2014 at 9:41 PM

That said, I still like the idea of having the awards on July 4, the middle of the season when major media are paying attention to theme parks, instead of moving the awards to September or January, when no one outside of our community cares.

June 25, 2014 at 1:32 AM

It's better that the newest ones aren't eligible because all the harry potter fans would vote that to the top without ever having ridden it, which isn't fair.

The 7 dwarfs ride was pretty good, but I'm surprised they made the seats so small. That and the swaying wasn't as big a deal as they made it out to be other than it made for a really smooth ride overall.

June 25, 2014 at 3:43 AM

Having not yet ridden any of the attractions listed, and just judging by what I have seen online, I think Goliath is probably the best of the bunch. However, I'll pick Banshee, which I will be riding in August - to win. Apparently, it is among the best B&M inverts on the planet and certainly deserves its day in the sun.

June 25, 2014 at 5:37 AM

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the only one I've ridden. While it isn't exactly a full fledged thrill-ride. It is a superb family coaster with some strong innovation in the swinging seats. The superb animatronics and projections are what makes me want to go back. It's a ride I couldn't get enough of.

June 25, 2014 at 5:41 AM

Since how there's no epic dark rides that made it this year, then my vote goes to Banshee. It is one heck of a ride. Another B&M classic. Mystic Manor won this column last year right?

June 25, 2014 at 6:36 AM

Would Hogsmeade Express be eligible if it was on 'soft opens' prior to June 30th?

June 25, 2014 at 6:49 AM

Looks like a pretty weak field, mostly just a coaster poll. 7 Dwarfs isn't really worthy of a best of the year but if there was a vote I'd vote for that since there's nothing really outstanding.

June 25, 2014 at 7:36 AM

I also haven't ridden any of these. But when there are POVs available, I watch them. And I've seen the major attractions on this list and am going with Banshee. I love a good roller coaster, and being that I'm only about 2 hours from King's Island, I imagine there's a good chance I'll ride it this year.

I have a courtesy Fast Pass from a previous trip to WDW that can be used anywhere with no expiration. Whenever I get to Disney World again, I'll definitely use it for the Seven Dwarfs, but my guess is I'll be doing 7 inversions before hanging out with 7 little dudes.

June 25, 2014 at 8:21 AM

@Rob Seriously? Have you looked at some of the video on Goliath and Banshee? They are both outstanding. Just cause an attraction doesn't have animatronics or 3D video screens doesn't mean it isn't outstanding. Sure, at the end of the day a coaster is still just a coaster, but these two are definitely OUTSTANDING in their own right.

June 25, 2014 at 9:09 AM

James: Yes, they appear to be outstanding coasters. But, to me, a best theme park attraction needs great theming also, and only the 7 Dwarfs comes close, but the extreme shortness of the ride and only one major themed section causes it to fall short of a great attraction. Surely, there's no Mystic Manor, Transformers or Forbidden Journey experiences in this ho hum list.

June 25, 2014 at 11:16 AM

I understand where you are coming from, Rob, but the title up for grabs is simply "BEST NEW ATTRACTION OF THE YEAR" - therefore, having a fully fleshed out narrative theme is not requisite.

Among the listed "ho hum" attractions (do you even like coasters, bro?!?!), Goliath is the one that brings the most innovation to the table. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, what Rocky Mountain Construction is doing for the coaster industry is just as revolutionary as anything happening in Orlando or SoCal. One day years from now folks will look back and attribute the removal of the lines between wood and steel to RMC. Goliath should win (one could argue it should win even if the new Potter rides were involved), but since it has only been open a short while, and is showcased at a less attended park, Banshee has a much better shot at the title.

June 25, 2014 at 11:47 AM

James: I go way back on coasters, but as I get older some of them become a little too intense, and while I don't get motion sickness like on a fast spinner, I do sometimes get a bit queasy now when riding.Also, I used to go to King's Island, BGW & Cedar Point quite often and ride all the coasters, but after a while it got a bit old. The coaster rides started seeming about the same. Now, since I've become so enamored of visiting Universal & Disney, I need good theming to really enjoy an attraction. They've really spoiled me and upped my tastes. Plus the name of this site is Theme Park Insider and not Coaster World, so while I agree the list has some nice coasters on it, I don't think they're in a class where they should be named best ride of the year. Having July 1st as a cut off date is a bit problematic since it splits the calendar year. And this year it's eliminating four attractions that are probably going to be better than most everything on this list. If complete refurbs were eligible, I would consider Calico Mine as far above any of these offerings on this list. Just my opinion though.

June 25, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Unless a coaster is groundbreaking (Goliath set some records) and brings something completely new to the table, it is definitely hard to pick them over something that is well themed, although it is an extremely short, ground hugging kids coaster.

This is like trying to choose my favorite disease... I am pulling a Brewsters Millions and going with "None of the above"

The only ride I will have a chance to experience is Goliath as I live about 45 minutes away, but by the time I do, the poll will be over.

I love coasters, by the way. I still say the "flying" variations (Superman" First Flight etc...) are the most unique. They are slow by comparison, but that feeling is like nothing else.

June 25, 2014 at 12:19 PM

I concur that a narrative experience is better than a plain, old coaster. But you have to look closely at the coasters in question. Neither of the two I am discussing are "plain old coasters". Banshee is arguably the best inverted coaster in the world (it holds the record as the longest, at least), and Goliath is a one of a kind, wholly unique, and ground breaking experience. More than anything else, though, both of these rides in and of themselves turn their respective parks into destination parks for many fans (speaking of which, I will be traveling to Kings Island to ride Banshee later this summer), and both are receiving glowing reviews across the board.

On a more personal note, after riding the New Texas Giant and Outlaw Run, I can wholeheartedly attest to the fact that Rocky Mountain Construction has upped the coaster ante by a significant amount. Rob, your love of coasters may be reignited by their work if you get a chance to ride one of their instant classics.

And beyond everything else I have written, even us Orlando-centric fan boys have to acknowledge when the smaller parks are doing great work. And the time has come to take off our 3D glasses and give credit where credit is due!

June 25, 2014 at 12:26 PM

I know this is probably gonna be out of synch with the majority here, but whenever I hear people complain that regional parks get shafted due to California/Florida bias, I feel like it's unnecessary. Yes, they do get more attention and dedication, but it comes from built-up goodwill, not blind fanboyism. In the end, it all just comes down to personal taste, whether that's theme or thrill.

Having said that, there seems to be some sort of conundrum here. For the past couple of years, fans have been knocking Disney for building what they believe would end up being a rather mediocre kiddie coaster. Now that it's open, the general consensus seems to be that it's rather Ho-Hum. And now we're going to vote for it as Best New Ride of 2014 over other very innovative coasters?

I get what you're saying Rob. I too am not overly big on death-defying coasters over a well-themed ride. The Batman coasters over here are pretty much it in terms of theming (and even then, only one of them is worth writing home about). If Six Flags Great America was themed more like a Disney or Universal park, I'd stay here in IL a lot more.

Because I know better than to expect theming from a Six Flags coaster, I have to consider how much of a Wow factor it gives off. And from all accounts, Goliath, like James said, looks to be like a real winner in terms of innovation and experience. In my last couple weeks of school this year, everyone was talking about how much they were excited to ride it, and they're a bunch of theme park muggles who only get their park info from commercials. I haven't seen so much buzz for Six Flags here since 2008 when the Dark Knight was to open (and if you follow Great America park ratings, you'll know how much people were ready for a new coaster after that).

So, on a final note, I say we should at least give credit to Six Flags for making a worthy coaster in a short amount of time over what some might call a disappointing kiddie ride. If we give RMC enough praise, maybe they can expand to Florida where the parks down there can give it a Disney or Universal touch.

So much for making a short post.

June 25, 2014 at 12:29 PM

"And the time has come to take off our 3D glasses and give credit where it's due", great line James. You have presented a really good argument, but I agree with NB that this is a lackluster list. A lot of good there but nothing that is great.

June 25, 2014 at 12:42 PM

The old adage comes to the forefront... we have to agree to disagree.

June 25, 2014 at 3:02 PM

You should extend this contest by a month or two with results by Labor Day. Otherwise, it doesn't seem right to include the Dwarf's coaster and exclude the two new attractions at Diagon Alley.

This is the year where you make the exception to the rule.

June 25, 2014 at 3:16 PM

One more thing to add, it actually won't matter that Potter or Ratatouille are missing the cut off this year. 2015 won't be as great of a year compared to 2014, so honoring the top rides next year is fine by me.

June 25, 2014 at 3:37 PM

I don't see how someone can judge rides when they haven't ridden them all to compare. Which I understand is nearly impossible. Yes, the voting is only for rides you have ridden but if you haven't ridden the others how do you know how it compares?

June 25, 2014 at 4:56 PM

David, that's where the crowdsourcing comes in. Whichever ride gets the most support from the people who have ridden it wins. That way we also avoid the ballot-stuffing that inevitably results in online polls. (Which is fine, if you recognize that's what you're soliciting. We have the tournament each spring for that, though.)

June 28, 2014 at 1:29 PM

The best new attraction would be lower ticket prices. Failing in that (a given), Six Flags' Goliath.

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