USA Today: The most anticipated theme park attractions of 2018

What new thrills, chills, and Incredibles’ rides will everyone be talking about this year?

One of the most anticipated theme park developments of any year, the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands coming to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, won’t open until 2019. There isn’t anything generating as much out-of-this-world excitement this year, but there are some alluring things on the way. We’ve already run down the most anticipated roller coasters of 2018 (and there are some doozies rolling out). Now, lets turn our attention to the other tantalizing rides and attractions opening at parks in the USA.

Fast & Furious – Supercharged at Universal Studios Florida
For the past couple of years, passengers aboard the Studio Tour trams at Universal Studios Hollywood have been hijacked for a supercharged finale by the Fast & Furious gang. Now visitors at the Florida park will also be able to take a simulated 120-MPH ride courtesy of tricked out vehicles that will move in sync with high-def, 3D imagery projected onto wraparound screens. The action will move from LA to San Francisco (to correspond to the land where the new attraction will be located). Universal is promising a longer and, well, more furious experience for the new standalone attraction. The Orlando ride will feature a higher frame rate and resolution to make it even more immersive. It will also welcome additional characters and include actual cars used in the popular movie series.

Battle For Eire at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Virtual reality has already been grafted onto roller coasters, drop towers, and spinning rides at parks. This year, the technology will be used in tandem with a motion simulator attraction when Busch Gardens converts its existing ride-film theater into a VR experience. Instead of watching media on the theater’s screen, visitors will be able to don headsets and have a personal 360-degree perspective of the action that will be enhanced by the motion platform’s movements. Located in the park’s Ireland village, the attraction will virtually transport riders to the Otherworld where they will help fairies recover the Heart of Eire.

Infinity Falls at SeaWorld Orlando
Instead of ogling dolphins, penguins, and other marine life, it will be SeaWorld visitors who will take to the water for the park’s newest ride, Infinity Falls. They will navigate a turbulent waterway themed as a South American rainforest. The specially designed vehicles, which will accommodate riders as short as 42 inches, will make the attraction accessible to a wide audience. Billed as the tallest drop on a river raft ride, Infinity Falls will plunge 40 feet for its finale.

Lego City: Deep Sea Adventure at Legoland California
The Legoland attraction debuting this year sounds like it would be equally at home at SeaWorld. Passengers will board submersible vehicles that will dive deep into the “sea” (but will actually travel just beneath the water’s surface; think Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage) and encounter real sharks, stingrays, tangs, and other fish. The life-size vehicles will be cute, scaled-up versions of Lego City subs. As they journey to a sunken wreck, riders will help Lego scuba divers find lost underwater treasure.

DreamWorks Theatre at Universal Studios Hollywood
Sayonara Shrek. Hello Po. To capitalize on parent company Comcast’s acquisition of DreamWorks, the California park is replacing Shrek 4-D with DreamWorks Theatre. The attraction will host a repertoire of shows inspired by DreamWorks animated features, starting with Kung Fu Panda in 2018. Special effects will include in-theater digital projection mapping.

Lego Ninjago – Master of the 4th Dimension at Legoland California
Legoland also pays tribute to its movies at its Show Place Theater. This year it will add Lego Ninjago to the mix. The 4D presentation will incorporate the ninja action along with the sly humor of the film and the TV show.

The Great Lego Race at Legoland Florida
The Florida park will unveil what it is calling the first VR coaster for kids. Passengers aboard Project X, a Wild Mouse-style coaster with tight hairpin turns, will have the option of wearing headsets and experiencing a virtual race against Lego speedsters in a simulated plastic brick world. The action will be choreographed to the coaster’s elements.

Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, part of Walt Disney World in Florida
The new land will shrink visitors down to the size of a toy and unleash them in Andy’s backyard. New attractions will include the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster and Alien Swirling Saucers, a spinning ride with an arcade claw in its center. The land will also incorporate the existing, highly popular Toy Story Mania 4D shooting ride as well as the quick-service eatery, Woody’s Lunch Box (designed to look like an actual, oversized lunch box).

Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure, part of the Disneyland Resort
The Pixar-ification of Disneyland’s second park continues as the animation studio’s characters take over Paradise Pier. The rides will lose their Victorian-era seaside park vibe and instead feature themes inspired by movies such as Inside Out. First up: The California Screamin’ coaster gets a makeover from The Incredibles and will be renamed Incredicoaster. (Synergy alert: The rechristened ride will debut just in time for the opening of the film’s sequel this summer.)

And more thrills to come

There will be a number of spinning thrill rides opening at parks this year. Among the most noteworthy of the bunch is CraZanity at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. At 170 feet, it will be the world’s tallest pendulum ride and will hit a potent 75 MPH as it swings passengers to and fro. A similar ride, Harley Quinn Spinsanity at Six Flags New England in Massachusetts, will “only” soar 147 feet in the air. At 100 feet, the to-be-named new ride at Six Flags Great America in Illinois will be the world’s tallest Larson Loop. It will send passengers racing back and forth in a towering loop. Looking like a giant gyroscope, the 70-foot-tall Cyborg Cyber Spin coming to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey will toss passengers unmercifully as the ride spins along three different axes. An identical attraction will open at Six Flags Over Texas. Inexplicably, that one will be called Harley Quinn Spinsanity.

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