What Was the Best New Attraction of the Past Year?

June 17, 2015, 1:26 PM · Next month, on the Fourth of July, we will announced the winners of the 14th annual Theme Park Insider Awards. Your ratings of the rides, shows, restaurants and hotels listed on the site will determine the winners of these awards, so we need Theme Park Insider readers to submit ratings for all the places they've been in the past year.

One of the categories will be "Best New Attraction." Since we give out the awards on July 4, the eligibility for this category includes all attractions that had their official debut between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. The winner will be the eligible ride or show that receives the highest average reader rating, with a minimum number of ratings submitted.

Kings Island's Banshee won this award last year. But this year's field is so deep that Banshee might not have cracked the Top 10 had it debuted a few months later.

Since some of these attractions are so new, getting to that minimum number of votes can be a challenge, so if you've been on any of these new attractions, please submit a rating for each one you've experienced. Just follow the links below for each eligible new attraction.

That said, please do not vote on any attraction you've not been on yet! We want these awards to reflect the first-hand experience of Theme Park Insider readers and not some ballot-stuffing campaign. This year is stacked — possibly the deepest line-up of new attractions we've considered in the past 14 years — so your participation will help us to make sure that we select the very best attraction as our winner. All Theme Park Insider readers are eligible to rate attractions on the site. Readers who register with the site may also submit comments and photos, too.

We have a long-standing "no clones" rule in this category, so no attraction that is a substantial copy (in name and design) of one that debuted in a previous year is eligible for this year's award. That's why we are not including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff from Universal Studios Japan's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (If you have been on those rides in Osaka though, we encourage you to follow the links and rate them anyway!)

Clones that debut in the same year are considered for the award, though we will pool the votes for all versions of the same new ride or show in determining the winner. That means we will combine the ratings for the two Hogwarts Express rides, the two Paint the Night parades, and the two installations of Justice League Battle for Metropolis, instead of considering each location separately.

Here are this year's eligible Best New Attraction nominees, in the order they opened (more of less):

Plus, this year brought substantial changes or addition to two existing attractions:

If we're missing anything new in the past 12 months from a park that we cover, please let me know in the comments, and I will edit the post to include it. Tomorrow, we will list links to the leading candidates for the "Best Table Service Restaurant" award. Remember that on-site hotel restaurants will be eligible this year, for the first time!

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Replies (21)

June 17, 2015 at 2:10 PM · I liked Gringotts.
June 17, 2015 at 2:41 PM · Gringotts FTW


June 17, 2015 at 3:37 PM · Ooohhh, it HAS been a great year!!

I can only speak for things at USO, so.... The new Potter attractions are awesome, and the whole Diagon Alley experience is the most immersive I've ever seen. But since it's individual attractions we're talking, not complete "lands", I give my personal edge to the Raptor Encounter. I have not enjoyed watching any single attraction as much as this one in a long time. The amount of expression and humor the operators are able to covey in that animatronic/costume/hi-bred whatever-it-is is just amazing.

June 17, 2015 at 7:26 PM · There have definitely been many absolutely amazing new attractions this year. Universal Studios Orlando's Diagon Alley was by far my best overall experience, but I will have to nod my hat at Carowinds' Fury 325 for the best new attraction. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a very close second.

@Melanie Howe - The Raptor Encounter was amazing. I was not expecting much, just a silly and fun little detour for a few minutes. I was very surprised by how awesome the overall experience was.

June 17, 2015 at 9:12 PM · I've only been on a few of these so far. It's hard to pick between Twisted Colossus and Voyage to the Iron Reef as my favorite because they are both outstanding for completely different reasons. As a roller coaster person, I'd probably lean toward Twisted Colossus, but Iron Reef is probably the best dark ride I've ridden at a regional park.

Also, Robert, if you include El Diablo you should probably also include Joker's Chaos Coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia. It's the same exact ride with an alternate theme, so it would probably fall under the rules for clones (I doubt it would win anyway), but for completeness sake it should probably be listed.

June 18, 2015 at 4:36 AM · Killer year. Efteling's new coaster missing out on eligibility by a single day - but probably for the best, given the huge field!

Although we covered the media day for Ratatouille, it's official opening wasn't til July 10.

June 18, 2015 at 6:27 AM · Gringotts, by far.
June 18, 2015 at 7:50 AM · Fury 325 hands down
June 18, 2015 at 9:48 AM · Not having been on any of them I can't cast a vote or express an opinion.

But what does strike me from looking at that list is the lack of offerings from Disney. It's been all about the Magic Band Experience for them this year with no new attractions at all, (I don't really count parades or shows). That may well prove to be a big winner in the long term but as a hard-core Disney fan I do worry when they haven't got a single entry in a list like this......

June 18, 2015 at 10:45 AM · It's Gringott's or Hogwart's Express for me. I love those two attractions. And they keep getting better the more times you ride them. They both have the added value of fantastic queues & excellent show buildings. They also have that great repeat ride attraction, just like the classic Haunted Mansion, POC, SpiderMan rides,
June 18, 2015 at 1:03 PM · I think it's a shame 7DMT didn't make the list :(
It was only 1 month behind the cut-off date
June 18, 2015 at 1:07 PM · 7DMT was eligible last year. But, with a rating of only a 7 on TPI, it would have little or no chance of winning anyway.
June 18, 2015 at 4:43 PM · I can only speak for Universal studios--would love to tour the country riding all the awesome roller coaster rides.

My vote would be for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

The express trains were cute for 1 ride, but riding more than once, it quickly lost the coolness. It's the *exact* same ride every time--they could have mixed it up a bit, had something like 4 or 5 different videos, etc. I'd actually just prefer a quick way to get from either of the parks without walking all the way around. The theming was great on all the HP sections.

June 18, 2015 at 6:24 PM · Having ridden only four of these, I cannot comment on the entire universe, but of the four I've ridden Fury 325 takes the number 1 spot. I find it interesting that Robert was quoted in the WSJ as saying “If all you have is a lift chain that lifts you up 325 feet, frankly after you do it a few times, it feels kind of old,” Mr. Niles said. “It’s not going to be a game changer.” Well, it may not be a game changer but the length of the drop, insane speed and crazy angles make it noteworthy. I rode this 5 times and each ride was of equal intensity. As to coasters feeling old after a couple of rides, that is purely a matter of perception. I've ridden El Toro about 200 times, on one occasion 10 times in a row, and while there are no surprises - I could ride it blindfolded and tell you exactly what's coming up next - every ride remains exhilarating and it never feels old.
June 18, 2015 at 8:33 PM · I just want to give a special thanks to all the great parks nation-wide and world-wide that thought enough of and appreciated their fans enough to offer them some outstanding rides and worthy attractions. Also special kudos to Six Flags for finally delivering a true world class themed dark ride. But it is no doubt that it is Universal that is becoming the true leader in the theme-park industry. Keep up the great work Universal!! Can't wait for Kong:Skull Island. It's sad and a disgrace that the biggest of them all DISNEY didn't even offer a new ride to their die-hard fans for the DISNEYLAND 60th celebration. Probably cut into their profit-margin too much I guess. You know it's a sad day for DISNEY fans when my local Six Flags park(Six Flags Over Texas)can build a world-class ride that's as good as anything that Disney has offered in recent years. C'mon DISNEY...get with the program please...before everyone else surpasses you!!
June 18, 2015 at 9:34 PM · Gringotts!
June 19, 2015 at 3:26 AM · Only ridden Thunderbird on this list and it was a very nice ride. It gets my vote! ;)
June 19, 2015 at 6:28 AM · I've gotten to quite a few of the American attractions on the list save for Batman, Rougarou (probably get on that later this summer), the 2 RMCs, and Voyage to the Iron Reef. As much as I enjoyed Gringott's, I think Justice League: Battle for Metropolis is the biggest game changer in the industry. I only got one ride on the St. Louis version of the ride, but I can't wait to get a few more when I visit SFoT in October. If Six Flags can build an immersive attraction, and hopefully maintain it, it means that everyone else needs to raise the bar even higher, which bodes well for theme park fans.

I liked Fury 325, but felt Leviathan was better despite the more abrupt ending.

Laff Trak was OK, but nothing remarkable, just like Tempesto.

As far as lesser themed attraction, Falcon's Fury would easily win over Zumanjaro despite the Jersey drop tower being nearly 100 feet taller. If there was a bit more to Falcon's Fury (a story or pre/post show like Dr. Doom), it would be right up there with the Potter and JL attractions.

I really liked Thunderbird, sadly it broke down after about 3 hours of operation the day we were there a few weeks ago so I only got on it a handful of times (probably could have ridden over a dozen had it not broken down), but ultimately the wing coaster design is never as intense as I expect it to be and Thunderbird is no exception, though the slow roll at the end is pretty sick, particularly on the left side of the train.

It has been quite a remarkable year for theme parks and yet I think it's quite telling that Disney didn't add a single notable attraction, and probably won't have one for next year either. How people keep throwing money their way when they take years off from adding new stuff is beyond me. I've deliberately held off planning another Disney trip until Avatar opens in 2017 (probably will go that fall) because they are taking forever to develop and build new attractions. In fact, with Mako, Cobra's Curse, Kong, and a current 5-year old that will be tall enough for virtually everything at Legoland in 2016, we might very well plan our very first Central Florida trip ever that strategically avoids WDW because it's simply not worth spending the oodles of money to get into those parks for virtually nothing new, aside from Frozen assuming it even opens next summer. Disney needs to get off their hands and refresh their parks (particularly EPCOT and DHS) instead of making glossy improvements to the off-park guest experience. Improvements to Downtown Disney (um Disney Springs) and the resorts are nice, but those improvements won't elicit return visits to the parks. Also, the whole Magic Band debacle, which has caused more consternation than happiness, is all well intentioned, but should not have slowed developments to improve the parks and attractions. The WDW parks are essentially licenses to print money, yet over the past 2 years they have taken guests' generosity for granted, and without something significantly new on the horizon until 2017 at the earliest and another major addition (Star Wars) not likely until 2020, why would any fan of the parks (those that visit every year or 2) consider continuing their current visit frequency? There is absolutely no reason WDW cannot add something significantly new to at least one of the 4 WDW parks every single year. Disney showed they could develop fast with the changes made to DCA over a short 3 year period, yet significant changes to WDW take a decade, where permitting and building can be done at lightning speed compared to California. Eventually the masses will start speaking with their feet and their money, and Disney will need to come to the realization that they are no longer the only game in town.

June 20, 2015 at 6:23 AM · Gringotts was underwhelming. I enjoyed the Hogwarts Express much more. Seven Dwarves would have gotten my vote.
June 23, 2015 at 12:56 PM · 7DMT. I really enjoyed Gringotts, but it's yet another screen-based, 3D ride. Seven Dwarves is more of a unique experience, with a gorgeous set and state of the art AAs.
June 23, 2015 at 10:14 PM · (sigh) People...why? Just, why? So many times I've heard the same complaint over and over. And every time I have to use this same arguement over and over. But no matter how many times I've used this arguement, even when I give some pretty solid evidence, no one seems to be listening to me and it frustrates me to no end. So, I will have to state this arguement yet again even though no one is probably gonna listen to me. But first, my vote: Of all the listed attractions, Raptor Encounter. I like Gringotts more, and it is an overall better attraction, but it's nothing new or groundbreaking, basicaly Forbidden Journey in rollercoaster format. Ok, here it comes... DISNEY DOESN'T NEED TO BUILD NEW RIDES EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN' YEAR!!!! So what if they haven't built anything new in the past year?! It doesn't matter! Does the fact that there's nothing new really lower the park's quality? Hell no! When I go to the four Disney parks, the fact that there's nothing new does NOT make me regret spending my money there. Why? Because the stuff that they already have is awesome. It's truly spectacular. They don't need a new ride every year to be entertaining. Also, you shouldn't be complaining about Disney building new rides when they clearly are. 7DMT missed the qualification date by a month or two, and a new ride is coming out next year. And that's what's pissing me off the most right now. The fact that someone said that it's a good idea to avoid Disney next year because ?they won't have a new ride? even though he clearly knows that they do. You know what that tells me? It tells me that you want Disney to fail. That you want them to stop being number one, no matter what they do. A little harsh, I know, but that's the impression you're giving me. And lastly, for all the crap you guys give Disney, the general public really doesn't care. They don't care if Disney has a new ride or not, they'll still visit it because it's really iconic and a lot of fun. EPCOT's attendance is probably going to go up a bit next year because of all the young ones who wanna see the Frozen ride, just like how IOA's is probably going up next year because of Kong.

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