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
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
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
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
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
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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