Robert shares his top 10 new theme park moments from 2017

December 31, 2017, 6:52 PM · As we wrap 2017, I'm going to look back to share my top 10 moments from the year. These are not necessarily the best new attractions of the year, but the best individual moments I experienced this year from new or refurbished attractions that debuted or returned in 2017.

10: Canoeing around Disneyland's new Rivers of America

The river around Tom Sawyer Island returned this summer, after more than a year of being rerouted (and shortened) on its northern edge to accommodate the construction of the upcoming Star Wars Galaxy's Edge land. But the new river is a stunning delight.

9: Watching Happily Ever After at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

The MK's new fireworks show incorporated projection mapping and a whole lot of emotion, as one expects from Disney.

8: The debut of the new "Beauty and the Beast" stage musical on the Disney Dream

I can't share a video of this delightful production, inspired by this year's live-action film reboot, but the conversation with the production's creators afterward was insightful.

7: The surprise at the end of the latest version of Star Tours

No video to share here, but the final moment of the press preview of Disney's latest Star Tours edit genuinely shocked the usually-jaded reporters on board as we realized what the final destination of our tour was.

6: Celebrating Christmas at Hogwarts Castle

As much as I loved Universal Studios Hollywood's Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle projection mapping show last summer, the Christmas version (which played in Hollywood and Orlando) was even more enchanting.

5: My first trip to Rivers of Light

I didn't know what to expect from a Disney's night-time spectacular that featured no Disney IP (unless you stretch to count the branded DisneyNature docs), but I need not have worried, because Rivers of Light delivers a wonderful experience.

4: Sliding through a volcano on the Krakatau Aqua Coaster

The purest fun of the year? Universal's smart take on a combination roller coaster/water slide, using magnetics to propel four-person rafts up the abundant hills on this thrilling adventure.

3: My first ride on Efteling's Symbolica

Dutch park Efteling won our Best Theme Park Award this summer then debuted what might have been the best new attraction of 2017 - a wonderful trackless adventure through an enchanted castle.

2: Dropping in our the Guardians of the Galaxy

Disney caught hell from Disney Twitter and many bloggers for its decision to revamp its Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but the resulting "Mission Breakout" is a heavenly attraction, with multiple drop profiles, rocking songs, and great fun throughout.

1: Soaring on a Flight of Passage

But for me, the most transcendent moment of the year was the finale of Flight of Passage, the keystone attraction in Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida. As I entered the vestibule to get on the ride vehicle, I almost ran into one of the stars of James Cameron's "Avatar," who was so overcome with emotion after having just ridden that they could not immediately walk away to clear space for me and the rest of the next set of riders. A few moments later, I discovered why, as I experienced the amazing finale to this attraction. This might be one the most beautiful moments in theme parks and well worth remembering as my favorite moment of the year.

Here's to an even better 2018, Theme Park Insiders!

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