It’s about this time of year I start composing all sorts of lists of the places I’d like to visit. Plans are typically influenced by a variety of factors ranging from checking off things off a bucket list, to visiting old favorites all influenced by travel deals. One of the primary things that I look at is what are the new theme parks and attractions that are opening in the coming year. In this article, I go through that list with you.
Things certainly are not slowing down in 2020 in the theme park world. This year there is so much happening in the US alone, that we’ll split our preview into multiple articles leaving the rest of the world for later. In no particular order, here’s what we have to look forward to next year:
LEGOLAND New York
The US is getting a brand new theme park in 2020!. Planned to open on the 4th of July, LEGOLAND New York will be the third park of its kind in North America. The park will be built on the largest plot of land for a LEGOLAND park ever, leading to nearly endless possibilities for future expansion. At opening, the park will be anchored by the unique LEGO Factory Adventure trackless dark ride as well as familiar LEGOLAND staples including the Dragon coaster, Ninjago: The Ride, Driving and Boating Schools as well as our personal favorite: Miniland.
DreamWorks Water Park
The second theme park in the American Dream mall complex in East Rutherford, NJ was originally scheduled to open late last year, but its opening was delayed. DreamWorks Water Park is almost complete so we are sure it should open this year. The park will feature what seems like the whole catalog of ProSlide attractions. The park is anchored by two absolutely huge drop body slides as well as a hydromagnetic launched water coaster circling around the perimeter of the building.
Pantheon – Busch Gardens Williamsburg
At Busch Gardens Williamsburg, a new Intamin launched coaster featuring a fast track switch is being built. The Festa Italia section of the park will never be the same. The ride features several launches and inversions and it shooting for the crown of being the fastest multi-launched coaster. Having ridden the new Intamin blitz coasters in Europe including Taron and Taiga, we are super excited to see the ride style make a return to the US. Couldn’t have ended up at a more fitting park.
Orion – Kings Island
It’s not often that anyone builds a 300 foot tall roller coaster. The last ones were Red Force and Fury 325. Well, this year Kings Island is building one! After years of rumors and speculation, a new giga coaster will find its home in the back left of the park. The ride will takeover the land formerly occupied by Firehawk and Dinosaur’s Alive. The ride should be a capacity monster and be a huge hit with park goers.
Iron Gwazi – Busch Gardens Tampa
RMC has taken over the coaster world. Known initially for rehabbing old wooden coasters, they prowess has taken off in recent years as they migrated from topper track retracking to full hybrid coaster conversions. To think, we have not yet been shown a full POV of this ride, yet the anticipation and expectations for this ride are at an all time high. RMC has been given the keys to reimagine the Gwazi wooden coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa. What we know so far is that the ride will feature a lift and drop larger than Steel Vengeance and one of the elements we have seen constructed has already been dubbed the “death roll’ by fans due to its insane nature.
Chocolatetown and Candymonium – Hersheypark
Hersheypark is reimagining its entire front gate experience. My moving it up to be besides, Hershey’s Chocolate World, the two attractions will be more unified, and as a bonus, the size of the park itself will expand. This extra land will become the Chocolatetown part of the park. The new area will be anchored by a B&M hyper coaster named Candymonium, dubbed the world’s sweetest coaster. In addition to Candymonium, Chocolatetown will also be home to a new restaurant, gift shop, Starbucks and be the new home for the carousel.
Ice Breaker – Sea World Orlando
Sea World Orlando is continuing its trend of adding major new attractions every year with another rollercoaster in 2020. After seeing SEAS build three Sky Rocket II models in its other parks, Orlando is getting a custom version. Ice Breaker is a launched shuttle coaster that will contain forwards and backwards launches. Highlights of the ride include a trip backwards up a vertical spike and forwards over a top hat. Ice Breaker looks to fill the hole as a rollercoaster less intense than the B&Ms (Mako, Kraken and Manta).
Texas Stingray – Sea World San Antonio
These days, it is becoming more rare to see a new wooden coaster get built. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Sea World San Antonio was building one. Actually, truly caught me off guard. Texas Stingray is a GCI wooden rollercoaster that will be located in the back of the park across from Turtle Reef. It will the tallest and fastest wooden coaster in the state of Texas.
Emperor – Sea World San Diego
A new B&M dive coaster is being built at Sea World San Diego. It won’t be as tall as Sheikra or Griffon as found at its sister parks, but the ride still looks to pack a punch. What excites us most is the theme of the attraction. We only hope that the park will look to upgrade the Penguin Encounter attraction to match the excitement and energy created by this new ride.
Snake River Expedition and 150th Anniversary Celebration – Cedar Point
Seemingly for years now, Cedar Point has been hyping their 150th Anniversary. Now that the celebration is nearly upon us, some details are starting to leak out about what we can expect. The primary new attraction at the park will be Snake River Expedition. This new boat ride will replace in spirit the boat rides of the past at the park. In addition to the new attraction, the Town Hall museum will be refreshed, a new summer parade will take place in the summer months, and many new food options and establishments will be offered.
Cheetah Chase – Holiday World
Holiday World surprised everyone by announcing not one, but two water coasters for 2020. Cheetah Chase will be a pair of dueling, launched water coasters that will provide an all new experience not yet offered any place else. In addition to this attraction, we expect the usual other small continuous capital improvements from the park including continuing maintenance on Voyage and perhaps a few new food options around the park.
Avengers Campus – Disney California Adventure
Disney Parks have announced the opening of three Avengers Campuses across the world. The first of which will open is Disney California Adventure this summer. The new Marvel themed land will feature a Spiderman themed interactive dark ride as well as a new restaurant and character meet and greets. Phase 2 of the land promises a new E ticket Avengers attraction.
Mystic River Falls and 60th Anniversary – Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City is making major changes to its Riverfront area. The Lost River of the Ozarks white water rapids ride was torn out and in its place is coming a brand new white water rapids experience featuring a vertical elevator lift and one of the largest drops for a ride of its type in the world. Mystic River Falls is the my most anticipated water ride this year. Additionally, the park is opening a new Smokehouse restaurant complex that will also be the new home for the park’s sales of cinnamon bread.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The conclusion of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios refurbishment will see the opening on the replacement attraction for the Great Movie Ride. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway promises to be a new trackless ride experience which is the first of its kind. The ride is Disney’s first ride themed to Mickey Mouse.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, two new Circle-Vision films – Epcot and new dining options
The Epcot Transformation is upon us. It seems the attention of Disney Parks is now square on Epcot, and that’s a great thing! The first new attractions of the transformation will open in 2020. These include new films in the Canada and France pavilions as well as a new space themed restaurant besides Mission Space. Perhaps the most anticipated new attraction for this year at the park is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The Disneyland Paris ride is being cloned and brought to Epcot without requiring anything to be removed. As we look towards the future past 2020, there are lots for things coming to Epcot, but I’ll save talking about those until later.
Coconut Shores – Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion is expanding their waterpark in 2020. They have announced a whole new section of the park, dubbed Coconut Shores that will feature new dining experience, pools and a centerpiece water play structure. With the sudden removal of Volcano before the start of last season, I can’t help but also wonder what will become of that plot of land in the future.
Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair and 100th Anniversary Celebration – Knott’s Berry Farm
Knott’s is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. To mark the historic event, the park will be hosting a variety of special events through the year. The spotlight attraction will be a retheme of the Voyage to the Iron Reef Attraction into Knott’s Beary Tales. The dark ride will remain primarily a screen based shooter, but Triotech promised that there would be more physical props than its predecessor.
Jersey Devil Coaster – Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure will be home to the second new RMC coaster in the US for 2020. This one of the Raptor track variety. After seeing two mirrored clones using the new single rail technology get built, Jersey Devil coaster will be the first custom layout Raptor to be built. The original attractions were a lot of fun so we can only home that Jersey Devil will match and hopefully even exceed the unique intense ride that only this style of coaster can provide.
Tsunami Surge – Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America is opening the world’s tallest water coaster in 2020. Looking at the layout for this new ride, it will be different than most hydromagnetic rockets in that park guests will have to climb up to the top of a slide structure and board at the top. The tower based slide approach should lead to new possibilities as far as designing ride layouts. I expect an experience similar to Master Blaster in Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, and that certainly is a great thing!
Aquaman: Power Wave – Six Flags Over Texas
I absolutely loved Pulsar in Walibi Belgium. Granted, I was wearing a poncho. Now the US audience will be able to experience the drencher that is a Mack Rides Power Splash coaster. Aquaman: Power Wave is a great fit for Six Flags over Texas. I can’t wait to see the reaction riders have to this ride. It drenches more than your average Shoot-the-Chutes for sure.
The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash – Universal Studios Hollywood and Bourne Spectacular – Universal Studios Orlando
The last two attractions this year that we are looking forwards to are those coming to the Universal parks. These we have not heard as many details about and thus they remain shrouded in mystery. The Secret Life of Pets ride is expected to be a dark ride experience in the Hollywood park’s upper lot. Bourne Spectacular appears to be some sort so stunt show found in the former home of Terminator 3D.
But wait, there is more!
This article only covers the large headliner attractions opening in North America this year. There are plenty more attractions that I am excited for this year that will be excellent fits for parks adding them. SBF Visa coasters are heading to many FECs as well as Waldameer Park. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is getting a spinning mouse. Kennywood is finishing Steeler’s Country. Dollywood is celebrating their 35th anniversary with a new festival. Michigan’s Adventure is getting its first significant capital expenditures in years with the retheming of its children’s area. And still there is so much more and we’ll try to be there for as much of it as we can handle moving into 2020.