In the United States, let's put Cedar Point's Steel Vengeance atop that list. Rocky Mountain Construction's latest conversion, of the former Mean Streak, promises to be its biggest (and maybe best) yet — the world's first hyper-hybrid, with a 200-foot, 90-degree drop and a more than a mile of track. For coaster fans, a trip to America's Roller Coast always is a solid investment, and this year's addition puts Cedar Point at the top of the must-visit list.
For families with elementary-aged children, let's include Legoland California as trip-worthy in 2018, too. The Carlsbad park is adding a Lego City Deep Sea Adventure this year, a submarine ride with live sea animals and whimsical Lego creations. But the park also is opening its second hotel, the Legoland Castle Hotel, and is debuting a new Ninjago 4D movie, as well.
Around the rest of the country, the most novel debuts among the regional parks look to be Time Traveler at Missouri's Silver Dollar City — the world's fastest, tallest, and steepest spinning coaster, and Battle For Eire at Busch Gardens Williamsburg — the first major theme park virtual reality simulator ride. HangTime at Knott's Berry Farm should be worth a visit for fans who've been waiting for the west coast's first dive coaster, too.
So what about Disney and Universal? Walt Disney World and Disneyland will open their Star Wars lands in 2019, which should entice many fans to delay their trips until next year. That means 2019 is looking to be crazy-busy at the Disney theme parks. If you haven't decorated your home in Star Wars memorabilia and don't have a forceful (sorry) desire to be among the first to see the new land, maybe you'd like to make a counter-intuitive play and sneak in a trip this year, while others (one hopes) stay away?
Walt Disney World is opening a Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland is retheming California Adventure's Paradise Pier to Pixar, so it's not like Disney is avoiding any changes this year. None of these additions is anywhere near as compelling as Star Wars Galaxy's Edge promises to be, but perhaps that's the real attraction this year.
It's a similar deal at Universal Orlando. Any year is a good year to visit Universal's largest resort, as there's always something new there. This year, Universal Orlando is opening a stand-alone Fast & Furious encounter, first seen on the Hollywood Studio Tour, as well as the Aventura Hotel, the resort's sixth. But 2019 is bringing a new family-friendly "coaster experience" to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure, so many fans will be tempted to hold off a year for a visit to this resort, as well. And Super Nintendo World is coming at some point, too — most likely in 2021 or 2022. Every year seems to get more crowded at Universal, so there's no counter-intuitive play here — just pick the year that appeals most to you.
Around the rest of the world, this year's big new attraction will be the opening of Warner Bros. World in Abu Dhabi, a 1.65 million-square-foot indoor theme park offering 29 attractions across five themed lands, all featuring Warner Bros. animated franchises, including DC Comics, Hanna-Barbera, and Looney Tunes. The park will open on Yas Island, which also is home to Ferrari World, and isn't too far away from the recently-opened IMG Worlds of Adventure, and Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, and Legoland Dubai in the Dubai Parks & Resorts complex. While none of these parks have opened any attractions that are by themselves world-class (with the exception of Ferrari World's long-opened Formula Rossa), they are collectively well worth a look by a curious theme park fan who's seeking a more reliably warm and sunny winter destination than Orlando seems to be providing this year.
Elsewhere, 2020 looks to be the next big year on the horizon, with Super Nintendo World opening at Universal Studios Japan and a new Beauty and the Beast dark ride headline expansions at Tokyo Disneyland.
What are your go-to destinations for 2018 and beyond?
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We're probably going to do trips to both Disneyland (August) and WDW (October) in 2019 for Galaxy's Edge, but it's still a long way off to start planning those along with a likely European trip in the next 2-4 years.
2019 will be my first visit to Japan however, so that's the "new" (to me) thing I'm most anticipating...
Russell - hit me up if you want some European tips!
As for me, my non-California travel plans for 2018 are a Virginia trip in April for Twisted Timbers and Battle for Eire (as well as everything else BGW has added since 2010), and an Ohio/Pennsylvania trip in June. I'm hoping to get a small group together for that one, so if the idea interests you let me know.
@James Koel - The reason people tend to ignore Michigan's Adventure is that it has comparatively little to offer compared with other Cedar Fair parks. However, Shivering Timbers intrigued me so much that I made a trip to Muskegon a number of years ago for the sole purpose of riding it. I too love the name and think it's one of the most astonishingly beautiful coasters I've ever seen. Also a great ride; it's no. 4 on my top 10 list of wooden coasters - after El Toro, Lightning Rod and Outlaw Run. When I rode Shivering Timbers it had a trick track but I've heard that that was removed, for what reason I don't know. Trick track or no, I'm confident that with proper maintenance it's still a winner.
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