What were the biggest new rides and stories of the summer?

September 1, 2019, 10:06 PM · The calendar says we have three more weeks of summer, but with the arrival of the Labor Day holiday, it's time to wrap another summer vacation season.

This might have seemed like the Summer of Star Wars for theme park fans, with Disney's twin Galaxy's Edge lans opening just after the Memorial Day weekend at Disneyland and just before Labor Day at Walt Disney World, providing bookends for the season. But Universal actually might have had the biggest story — and the best ride — of the summer. Six Flags made some news, too, as did a not-so-little late arrival called Dorian.

Let's start our summer recap with the rides that debuted at the nation's theme parks between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends in 2019.

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Islands of Adventure — Universal Orlando's new Wizarding World of Harry Potter coaster wowed fans with a delightful ride and thrill elements, but a record seven launches led to technical difficulties that cut the ride's capacity all summer.

The Steel Curtain at Kennywood — This NFL-themed roller coaster offered a US record for inversions while pleasing even fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers' biggest rivals, proving that theme parks really can bring people together.

Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios — The first ride in Disney's twin Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lans is pure wish fulfillment for Star Wars fans, plus an engaging adventure for those who are lucky enough to be assigned to the pilots' chairs. [See our complete guide to visiting Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge]

Jurassic World - The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood — This retheme of the old Jurassic Park ride takes the intensity up a level with a spectacular new aquarium scene.

Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth at Six Flags Great Adventure — A fun pendulum ride that amplifies the park's already impressive thrill level.

Maxx Force at Six Flags Great America — This record-setting launch coaster impresses, but it's all over almost as fast as it starts.

Reese's Cupfusion at Hersheypark — Another ride retheme, this one installs a fun new storyline to a classic Sally shooter.

Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind at Disney California Adventure — And yet another retheme, but a solid example of plussing a ride with good decoration and placement.

Tidal Twister at SeaWorld San Diego — A novel concept and an improvement over previous vertical installations of the Skywarp, but downtime plagued the ride throughout the season.

While the new rides were fun, the summer of 2019 had many theme park fans looking ahead, as Universal finally confirmed the news many of us had known for quite some time — that it was building another theme park in Orlando. That kicks off our top stories of the summer.

Universal Orlando announces its fourth gate

Problems with Universal's new Hagrid coaster — Universal also caught our readers' attention with a story that it probably would have rather avoided.

Galaxy's Edge leads to a drop in Disney theme park attendance — Ad Disney definitely wasn't expecting the reaction it got after opening its biggest, most expensive theme park land ever.

Six Flags launches its hype train — Six Flags jumped into the spotlight at the end of the summer with an audacious plan for a theme park that some fans remain deeply skeptical will actually be built.

Hurricane Dorian threatens Florida — And as we wrap the summer vacation season, many theme park fans' eyes are on Florida, wondering what this powerful and potentially devastating storm will do next.

Finally, as we head into the fall (and Halloween season!), a reminder to check our links for discounts on tickets when planning your next theme park trip.

Replies (5)

September 1, 2019 at 10:31 PM

#1. Is definitely Disneyland opening Galaxy’s Edge to record low crowds. We had been planning a trip to California for almost a year and expected insane crowds. Our first day, the Deluxe Passes were unblocked, which I read was going to be “Hell on Earth”, but was extremely pleasant compared to any trip to WDW.

September 2, 2019 at 11:13 AM

Hagrid still looks like the most interesting new attraction but not having ridden it, I really cannot comment. However, with a $400 drop in airfare I was finally able to make it to Kennywood yesterday for the Coasting For Kids event, which raised $43,000 for Give Kids The World. I must say that Steel Curtain is an outstanding ride with possibly the most unusual layout I've ever seen. The view of the Monongahela River from the lift hill is also impressive.

September 2, 2019 at 11:46 AM

I'd say the surprisingly low attendance not just at Disneyland but other parks was a big story. True, Europe has the excuse of a major heat wave but still telling how several U.S. parks had lower than expected attendance for various factors.

September 3, 2019 at 5:14 PM

Disney did a great job of making sure both GEs weren`t completely mobbed. And they still have an ace in the hole, which goes by the initials ROTR...

As for Universal, I`m sure Hagrid`s coaster is a great ride, but I won`t be riding it this year. As for the new park, give us a Jurassic World land, with state of the art AAs. It`s a little disappointing that the reskinned ride at UHS is all screens.

September 4, 2019 at 10:27 PM

Was let down with Disney's Star Wars this past Monday. I expected more
The ships, droids, storm troopers were cool. The archetecture,engineering and ride were very good but overall the place felt like a "mall in a galaxy far, far away". Lots of souvenir shops and restaurants No real resemblance to the sets in any movies, unlike the spot on by Universal with their HP branding. One big problem I see is once you have seen it there isn't much pull to see it again immediately, unlike HP.

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Top Attendance

  1. Disney World Magic Kingdom
  2. Disneyland
  3. Tokyo Disneyland
  4. Tokyo DisneySea
  5. Universal Studios Japan
  6. Disney's Animal Kingdom
  7. Epcot
  8. Shanghai Disneyland
  9. Disney's Hollywood Studios
  10. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom
  11. Universal Studios Florida
  12. Disney California Adventure
  13. Disneyland Paris
  14. Islands of Adventure
  15. Universal Studios Hollywood

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