What are the most exciting new theme park rides for 2018?

November 1, 2017, 8:13 PM · November 1 seems to mean the start of the Christmas season, if the holiday cup I got my morning beverage in today provides any clue. But why just skip Thanksgiving in looking ahead when we can skip Christmas and New Year's, too? Theme Park Insiders are all about advance planning, so let's talk about what is getting us excited for 2018 at the world's top parks.

Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point

Let's face it: 2017 wasn't a great year for new roller coasters. But 2018 seems ready to make us forget about this year's lackluster class. And leading the new year's new coasters is something fresh from America's Roller Coast. We've seen plenty of Rocky Mountain Construction conversions of declining wooden coasters over the years, but this one promises something unique: a hyper hybrid. With a 200-foot, 90-degree drop, a top speed of 74 mph and four inversions, Steel Vengeance has me excited for another trip back to northern Ohio this summer.

Lego City Deep Sea Adventure, Legoland California

Lego City Deep Sea Adventure

Yes, I know that Legoland has installed these submarine rides at its parks in the United Kingdom and Dubai. But I can't wait to see the installation coming to California next year, mostly because this is the ride that nearby SeaWorld San Diego's Submarine Quest this year should have been: A real underwater adventure with real sea creatures. Will this help Legoland become the undisputed top theme park in San Diego County?

Universal Spectacle Night Parade, Universal Studios Japan

Universal Spectacle Night Parade

We seen plenty of combo projection mapping and fireworks shows in recent years. But combining environmental projection mapping with a parade? And including the Harry Potter franchise in the mix for the first time? I am in. Take my space on the Hogwarts Express because I'm switching my ticket over to the Hype Train.

Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

C'mon, how can anyone not get excited for an entire new theme park? Set to open next year on Yas Island not far from Ferrari World, this new indoor park will feature 29 attractions in lands themed to Bedrock, Looney Tunes, Metropolis, and Gotham City. I know that fans like to bash UAE parks for small crowds and less-than-Disney-quality finishes and experiences, but a new theme park is still something to get excited about. And, who knows? Maybe Warner Bros. has learned from IMG Worlds and Dubai Parks & Resorts' experiences and decided to deliver something that will win international visitors' devoted attention.

Now let's talk about a few new attractions that maybe aren't getting me quite as excited... but definitely are making me curious.

Battle For Eire, Busch Gardens Williamsburg

I loved my first experience on a virtual reality roller coaster, but like many fans, I grew to hate the slow loading process that VR has imposed on nearly every coaster where it's been installed. But I don't know what to think about a VR motion theater ride. I'm curious to see if Busch Gardens can deliver something that gets fans and other parks excited about this combination of technology. Or will this be the project that kills VR in theme parks for the time being?

Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster, Six Flags Fiesta Texas
RailBlazer, California's Great America

I also am curious to see what kind of experience RMC's new single-rail Raptor track provides roller coaster fans. The single file trains will offer a unique perspective and the 1,800 foot, 52-mph layouts could give us a frisky ride, with their dive loop, corkscrew, and over-banked curve. But will these "budget" RMCs be worth getting excited for?

Marvel Ride, Hong Kong Disneyland

Marvel Ride

Hong Kong is retheming its Buzz Lightyear ride to Marvel in 2018. Yeah, it's still going to be another shooter, but this gives us a head-to-head comparison with Six Flags' wildly fun, DC-themed Justice League rides, so I am very curious to see how Disney's effort matches up.

Toy Story Land, Disney's Hollywood Studios

Okay, maybe I am more skeptical than curious at this stage. Disney's two previous Toy Story Lands haven't impressed a lot of fans, and a new spinner ride here doesn't do much for me. But Mack Rides makes some nice coasters, and Slinky Dog Dash looks like it has some potential to deliver more thrills than one expects from a family coaster at Disney.

Fast and Furious: Supercharged, Universal Studios Florida

Fast and Furious: Supercharged

I love this attraction as the finale of the Studio Tour in Hollywood. It's great to see Universal put away all the behind-the-scenes deconstruction and just give us the opportunity to enjoy the illusion of a motion picture spectacle at the end of the tour. But how will this stand up as a stand-alone attraction in Orlando? Universal isn't plussing this as much as it did King Kong when it adapted that Hollywood experience for Orlando. But fans don't seem to be expecting as much from Fast and Furious as they were from the return of Kong. So... I am curious to see how this plays out.

What's got you excited for 2018?

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Replies (15)

November 2, 2017 at 7:40 AM

I'm pretty intrigued by the RMC Raptors and if they can actually be loaded and operated efficiently. However, I probably won't make it to SFFT or Great America anytime soon.

Living in the Mid-Atlantic, I'm most interested in Twisted Timbers (Kings Dominion) and Battle for Eire (BGW). Unfortunately, Kraken: Unleashed was down for routine track inspection when we were at Sea World a couple of weeks ago, so I still don't have a point of reference for what Busch Gardens might have in store for incorporating VR on a motion simulator. The park has been doing a pretty robust social media campaign for the attraction even though it's really early, but I still don't understand the need to don VR goggles on a motion simulator. Twisted Timbers could be sneaky good (has an dive roll on the first drop), but Steel Vengeance is clearly the biggest draw within 8 hours of where I live. We have a built in trip every year to CP at the beginning of August, so I'll have to wait.

I think Disney would be best served to downplay the Toy Story Land as Slinky Dog could see some unbearably long lines with a park already seriously short on attractions and a roller coaster that doesn't look like it will have much more capacity than 7DMT. The new land is obviously needed, but trumpeting the addition to the masses as a reason to plan a WDW vacation in 2018 could do serious damage with guests likely to be frustrated by such a meager addition and with a much bigger park expansion coming in 2019 (Galaxy's Edge).

Universal appears to be similarly downplaying Fast and Furious, which is disappointing since I felt they really struck out with Jimmy Fallon in 2017 (more because of the virtual queuing than the ride itself). With only limited information available for the Forbidden Forest attraction coming to IOA in 2019 and huge question marks surrounding the future of KidZone, T2, and the Fear Factor stage, Universal Orlando's rapid attendance growth could go flat in 2018 (if it's not already flattening in 2017 - I thought the parks were rather uncrowded when we were there early last week).

Unfortunately, none of the parks outside our region that we are planning to visit in 2018 (aside from Cedar Point) are getting anything notable for 2018 (Dollywood, Carowinds, Six Flags Over Georgia - getting an RMC refurb that is being heavily downplayed by SF, and Valleyfair). We have another trip to Universal Orlando coming in 2018 (trying to schedule for mid-April), so it's possible we may get to see Fast and Furious and will definitely try out Volcano Bay, which we skipped on our most recent trip.

November 2, 2017 at 10:10 AM

I disagree that 2017 wasn't a great year for new roller coasters. Mystic Timbers at Kings Island is fantastic, and had the longest line of any coaster at the park the day I was there. It's a great ride. I haven't ridden Mine Blower yet, but all reports are that it's also very good. And InvadR, at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, is not only a very decent ride, it's an important step as it is that park's first wooden coaster. I'm much more excited about it than I am about Steel Vengeance (it's not enough to even get me to Cedar Point) or Twisted Timbers.

November 2, 2017 at 10:58 AM

"I disagree that 2017 wasn't a great year for new roller coasters."

Well, if you follow this site, the fact that a water slide won TPI's Award for Best New Roller Coaster in 2017 is all you need to know about how bad 2017 was for coasters. InvadR and Mystic Timbers were both solid additions, but after 2016, when Mako, Cobra's Curse, Lightning Rod, Valravn, and Joker (both SFDK and SFGAdv) all came onto the scene, 2017 was definitely a down year for roller coasters. As good as 2018 looks, 2019 might be an even bigger year with a rumored gigacoaster coming to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and the Forbidden Forest coaster coming to IOA (along with whatever Six Flags and Cedar Fair add to their parks).

November 2, 2017 at 11:01 AM

Steel Vengeance will almost unquestionably be the most exciting new attraction for 2018 and sufficient incentive for me also to get back to Cedar Point, which I haven't visited in several years due to the long wait to get on anything. Twisted Timbers looks pretty good and as a fan of Gerstlauer I like the look of Hang Time. Because of their novelty the raptor coasters will be very interesting and will undoubtedly feel very strange. I'll get to ride the one in Texas b/c I go to both Texas Six Flags parks fairly regularly. I must say, however, that I'm disappointed in RMC for building the same coaster in two locations. One thing I've always admired about RMC is the originality of their creations, whether makeovers or new builds. As far as I am aware, everything they've produced up to now has been unique.

November 2, 2017 at 11:53 AM


November 2, 2017 at 2:21 PM

I actually think VR is a better fit for motion simulators rather than coasters. People often complain on rides like Soarin' or The Simpsons that you can see the other vehicles. Rather than just look at a giant IMAX, you can now be immersed in a world where the video would actually correspond to the movements.

November 2, 2017 at 5:05 PM

Russell, don’t feel too bad about Kraken not working ... it’s always down for some reason or another. It was working ‘part time’ last week and I went in Tues & Weds this week and it was still not working. The VR is garbage and us roller coaster riders are being denied access to a pretty good coaster more times than not since the conversion in the summer ..... OK, with that of my proverbial chest ... !! How about a quiet shout out for Infinity Falls ... indeed not a coaster, but potentially a good addition to Seaworld, Orlando ... as long as they don’t fit VR .... LOL ... :)

November 2, 2017 at 10:00 PM

Steel Vengeance, Twisted Timbers, and Hangtime top my list for 2018, partly because I'm pretty confident I'll be riding them all and partly because they all look like great rides (Railblazer looks good as well, but not up to par with RMC's other creations). I'm also hoping that the Battle for Eire is open when I visit, though given that it will be early in the season (probably mid-April) I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't.

I started planning for next year's trips as soon as I got back from Florida, and it's looking like the big one for next year will likely be a New Jersey/Pennsylvania trip with a side of Cedar Point, so other than Steel Vengeance most of what I'll be getting to will be new for 2017 attractions.

November 2, 2017 at 10:02 PM

DC Rivals Hypercoaster @ Warner Bros. Movie World, Gold Coast, Australia.

November 3, 2017 at 6:25 AM

Well, the day we were there, Tuesday, October 17th, they were legitimately performing a routine track inspection. I saw a number of aerial lifts deployed on the cobra roll and heartline roll section of the track while riding Mako. Perhaps they spotted some irregularities during the inspection, which is causing it to experience an extended downtime. Nonetheless, as someone who typically travels outside of the summer peak periods, I expect one or two attractions in each park to be down, and while disappointing, Kraken being down was not a deal breaker for me (would have been more upset if Mako was down, because I had never ridden it).

With that said, I really don't see Infinity Falls as a major addition. It looks to be a pretty generic raft ride that will not come close to Kali or Bluto's Bilge Barges. It's good to see Sea World adding something to their lineup, especially on the southwest side of the park, but it will be yet another attraction with a height restriction that will fracture families, an all too familiar problem with Sea World over the past decade. Also, a soaking water ride is almost certainly going to split groups because there are always those that don't want to get wet and either don't want to pay for a locker for their bags or don't want their stuff getting wet too. Considering the way they've neutered Journey to Atlantis, I have ZERO expectation that Infinity Falls will have any story or theming beyond some lush vegetation.

The park needs to think long and hard about what they're doing, because they're killing their core customer and handing those guests to Disney (I wouldn't be surprised if DAK is gobbling up guests that would normally spend a half day there and perhaps a full or half day at SW). They axed one of their best shows (Blue Horizons), failed to keep Wild Arctic updated (the habitat is borderline pathetic now without the polar bears and the ride is decades old), and are on a path to eventually eliminate their icon with no replacement in sight. The park is lacking a comprehensive aquarium like its San Antonio and San Diego siblings.
Shark Encounter and the Manta aquarium are nice, but what about a full size aquarium that's an attraction all by itself? Not everything in an Orlando theme park needs to be a ride (as demonstrated by by Disney and Universal). Their core audience has shifted to seniors and coaster fans that spend little money in the parks, and the answer to the park's attendance woes is a raft ride? I've always been a huge fan and supporter of Sea World, and think the chain has gotten a raw deal from the Blackfish and PETA nonsense, but the Orlando park in particular has not done a very good job reacting and adjusting to the new marketplace, and it's clear that they are suffering mightily. They've been reeling since they oversold Antarctica, which I still think is an excellent attraction just not the game changer the park marketed as, and instead of building thoughtful additions geared towards their typical guest, they're trying to change their target demographic in a market where there's practically no demographic that's untapped.

@AJ - You might be OK with Battle for Eire. BGW has done a good job the last couple of seasons getting new attractions opened within the first couple of weeks of spring operations. InvadR opened the first week of April, and the park has had an entire season to work on the motion simulator conversion. While there's always a chance the opening will slip, I would be pretty confident to see the new attraction working by mid-April.

November 3, 2017 at 7:12 AM

I think next year is a good year to give theme parks a little break and go enjoy some of the U.S. national parks. My wife and I are doing what we call the I-90 trip. We live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I-90 runs right through the heart of where we live now. We have always wanted to take the interstate all the way west to Seattle, and stop at all the cool places along the way. This includes places like, the Black Hills, Yellowstone, Devil's Tower (Close Encounters' mountain), and Mount Rushmore. I feel that taking a break once every five years or so can make me enjoy theme parks a lot more. 2018 is a great year for that break because I'm sure as heck not going to miss 2019's fun at the parks. I purposely didn't go to Pandora this year as well, so I can just have that much more new stuff to see in Florida in 2019.

November 3, 2017 at 9:23 AM

Couldn't agree with you more Russell .... everything you said about what wrong with Seaworld is correct. It's a big fat mess, and if Mako & Manta weren't there I'd seriously consider canceling my pass. But like you I am a loyal Seaworld-Cares passholder and it is nice I can wander in after work and do my hike around the park and then ride the coasters.
Infinity Falls won't pull in the guests like the Mako did last year, so when we get the passholder opening it will be interesting to see how many turn up. They are going to lose a huge amount of passholders if they discontinue the dining plan ... it's quiet now after 4:30, so who knows what it will be like in January !!
But going back to the Kraken .... there's rarely a week goes by when the maintenance board isn't outside the park.
Also with new coasters ...... let's not forget SW8 at Alton Towers. I'll see what reviews it gets. If it's that good I may go over and ride it. I missed out on Blackpool in June, so an Alton Towers, BPB trip may be in the offering .. !! Not before CP and Steel Vengance though :)

November 3, 2017 at 11:37 AM

Got my 2018 season pass for Silver Dollar City today, so I am going with Time Traveler, their exciting new coaster!

November 5, 2017 at 4:15 PM

Submarine rides have been the shy (and rare) side of the complete theme park world.
Disney had 2, kept 1. I mean, the real thing, in water. The Tokyo 'water simulator' one, doesn't count.
The fact that Legoland is going to have 3, is ironic (towards Disney)
They are all Pseudo-submarines. Underwater view, no diving.
A German company has an offer for real automatic guided submarines. AGV tech, in real mini submarine version. FREE from tracks, and diving in reality.
Alas, not yet an execution. I had contacts with the company several years ago, for a possible installation in a centre city attraction in Antwerpen (Belgium), alas, the site was bought by a combined mall/luxury hotel consortiu, with zero interest in tourist attractions.
I still believe in the AGV-real-SUB concept. Looking out to the future ....

November 7, 2017 at 8:33 PM

What about the awesome larson super-loop coming to Six Flags Great America--that sure has me excited!

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