What's the best new thing that happened to theme parks in 2017?

December 19, 2017, 3:35 PM · What is the best thing that happened to the theme park industry in 2017? In my Orange County Register column this week, I offer my top 10 favorite new attractions and developments from around the world in the past year.

Granted, these are limited to the ones that I had the opportunity to experience in person over the past 12 months, so it's not a complete or definitive list. But what top 10 opinion list ever truly is? They're a way for us to start a conversation, and I hope that my list will do that for you.

I have linked here the most popular Theme Park Insider story of 2017 for each of the things that made my Register Top 10 list. I hope you will enjoy taking a look back at what I think was the best of 2017.

After that, I hope you will join the conversation by sharing some of your favorite new rides, shows, trends, and innovations from theme parks in 2017, in the comments.

Read Robert's column:

Replies (17)

December 19, 2017 at 3:58 PM ·


Flight of Passage is easily my #1.

Biggest disappointment - Jimmy Fallon ride. It's dreadful and as close to being "utterly pointless" as any attraction, anywhere. What were Universal thinking?

December 19, 2017 at 4:43 PM · ProfPlum, I do believe you are wanted in the Conservatory. Bring your lead pipe.

The Jimmy Fallon ride fits better in with the New York area, than Twister which was set in the Midwest. I get it, not everyone likes him. I would much rather have a new ride that draws in more people than an older special effects show that you stand and watch with the misleading tag line of "Ride it Out!"

December 19, 2017 at 7:06 PM · BEST - PANDORA


BIGGEST DISSAPOINTMENT - KONG (doesn't bode well for Fast n Furious)

December 19, 2017 at 8:24 PM · Another vote for Flight of Passage for an easy #1 spot. Its a much better ride than all of those nauseating puke machines UO has built in the last 10 years.
December 19, 2017 at 11:13 PM · Definitely the mobile ordering. There's nothing more frustrating than when the people ahead of you have been looking at a menu while waiting in line for 15 minutes and STILL can't decide what they want by the time they reach the register.

I also like the embrace of projection mapping by Disney and Universal this year. Yeah, that's not new, but the commitment to transforming three-dimensional structures into characters of their own has always fascinated me.

2017 was also the first year I could buy alcohol at parks. :)

December 20, 2017 at 2:12 AM · Symbolica
December 20, 2017 at 2:43 AM · ARGHHHH Volcano Bay is a Water Park not a Theme Park! You cant wear a swim suit and go topless in a theme park, thus its a water park, its has water slides thus its a water park!
December 20, 2017 at 9:03 AM · Pandora as a whole is easily the best new thing in theme parks this year. We loved everything about the new land, not just FOP. Wandering around the Valley of Mo'ara, especially at night, was an attraction in and of itself.
December 20, 2017 at 10:49 AM · I would say Pandora overall. With that you get FOP, Mobile Ordering, a huge step forward in Animatronics, and proof that a theme park can take a pretty cooling franchise and make something big out of it.
December 20, 2017 at 1:52 PM · I really like Universals approach to rides. Yes, they use that "gimmick" a lot, but damn, when you do the trick that damn good there's no problem with doing it over and over again - especially when every new performance offers a nice new take on it.
December 20, 2017 at 7:26 PM · What about the Universal getting the rights to Nintendo?
December 20, 2017 at 9:27 PM · President Donald Trump being FINALLY added to Hall of Presidents!!
December 21, 2017 at 12:06 PM · I have to admit, I was a vocal naysayer of Mission: Breakout, but darn it all if I didn't absolutely love it! Then the Monsters After Dark overlay?! Holy cow! Oh Imagineers, I will never doubt you again.
December 21, 2017 at 3:26 PM · Guardians Mission Breakout was the only new thing I seen for 2017. I love it although I only went once. I love it more for bringing down the wait for Radiator Springs Racers. I also love the new Groot bread and the Superheroes event. Took Photos with Black Widow and Groot and Spiderman.
December 23, 2017 at 4:37 AM · Flight of Passage was an incredible experience and getting the chance to experience it twice was my highlight. Rivers of Light really needs to be a bit longer (my long wait in the queue also made me think it’s lacking in capacity compared to other indoor boat rides). I got the chance to use Maxpass on a two day visit to Anaheim and it was a brilliant way of getting a lot of rides into a short visit. They really need to improve the WiFi though, as an overseas visitor I’m really reliant on decent WiFi coverage so wandering about the park looking for a signal isn’t ideal.
December 24, 2017 at 7:02 PM · Symbolica the palace of fantasy at Efteling is the best new thing! This trackless darkride overruled Disney’s Mystic Manor. Symbolica is 360 degrees themed, and there are so many details. The botanic garden scene that transforms into a big aquarium where a big fish smashes the glass and the water came out is absolutely fantastic!
December 25, 2017 at 4:00 AM · Oops, I did of course mean Na'vi River Journey and not Rivers of Light on the 23rd December comment. I must be giddy with Christmas excitement!

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive