Amusement parks, water parks, family entertainment centers, museums, zoos, aquariums, science centers, and other attractions across the United States and Canada are rolling out an exciting new lineup of fun in 2015. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) releases its annual compilation of new attractions opening this year and highlights 2015 trends, including innovative roller coasters, guest-immersive dark rides, and experiences based on classic brands.
Roller coasters opening at theme parks from coast to coast feature the latest incarnations of the guest-favorite thrill ride. Coaster designers have once again pushed innovation to new levels as never-before-seen ways to spin, flip, and speed along the track are unveiled. This year coasters employ new track and launch technology to provide a variety of options for theme park guests.
Dark rides set to immerse guests in the realm of fiction and take them on unforgettable journeys are also opening at several parks. Dark rides typically combine graphics, animatronics, and a conveyance device (car, train, or boat) in an intricately themed indoor environment to transport guests to a different world. Some rides make the guest a part of an incredible story, as they are asked to aid their favorite superheroes, fend off undersea monsters, and more.
New attractions featuring classic brands enable guests to take their fandom to the next level. Pop culture brands including Lego, Crayola, The Harlem Globetrotters, DC Comics, Star Wars, and more appear as familiar pieces of new experiences.
According to the IAAPA Global Theme and Amusement Park Outlook 2014-2018 report, more than 375 million people visit theme parks in the United States and Canada on an annual basis, contributing US$18.8 billion to park revenue.
Below are some of the exciting thrills I-4 travelers will enjoy this season:
The Crayola Experience opens in Orlando, Florida, featuring 25 kid-friendly, hands-on experiences based on the popular crayons in a 70,000-square-foot facility. crayolaexperience.com/orlando
Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, transforms Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, doubling the number of shops, restaurants, and other venues at the complex. The new area will open in phases starting in 2015 and include Morimoto Asia, a one-of-a-kind dining experience created by Chef Masaharu Morimoto of “Iron Chef America” fame. The two-story pan-Asian restaurant includes open terraces, a grand hall, private rooms, long bar, cocktail lounge, waterside seating, and more. Disney Springs also features The Boathouse, an upscale waterfront dining experience with live music, available water taxi tours, and a gourmet menu. disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/downtown-disney
Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, debuts a reimagined “The Great Movie Ride” in partnership with Turner Classic Movies. Guests journey through eras of film and see clips, hear audio, and explore the history of movie classics. disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/hollywood-studios
Disney’s Polynesian Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, reopens with refurbished guestrooms, an all-new childcare area called Lilo’s Playhouse, a completely renovated Nanea Volcano pool area, a new children’s water play area, and an enlarged deck to accommodate poolside seating. The renovated Great Ceremonial House lobby features open areas, plus the new Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, a highly themed lounge area, an enhanced Captain Cooke’s quick service restaurant, the all-new Polynesian Pool Bar & Grill, and the Pineapple Lanai kiosk. disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/polynesian-resort
Fun Spot America in Orlando, Florida, adds “Space Invader” and a permanent version of “Air Race.” “Space Invader” swings guests back and forth while they are riding on seats attached to long metal poles. The “Air Race” flips riders in barrel rolls as they rotate around a central point on this carousel-style ride for thrillseekers. fun-spot.com/O_Orlando.aspx
I-Drive 360 in Orlando, Florida, brings together Merlin Entertainments’ attractions Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Aquarium, and the Orlando Eye. Madame Tussauds features wax figures of worldwide celebrities in music, sports, politics, science, and more. Sea Life Aquarium contains more than 5,000 creatures and learning experiences. The Orlando Eye Ferris wheel is 400-feet tall and offers scenic views of the surrounding area. The complex also includes Skeletons: A Museum of Osteology, which showcases 300 animal and human skeletons in a 7,500-square-foot exhibit space. i-drive360.com
Legoland Florida in Winter Haven, Florida, unveils its themed hotel and Heartlake City area. The 152-room hotel includes Lego-themed accommodations, a Master Model Builder Workshop exclusively for hotel guests and Legoland’s Model Shop. Heartlake City, an attraction geared for girls, features the “Friends to the Rescue” show and “Mia’s Riding Adventure” horse-themed spinning roller coaster. florida.legoland.com
The Orlando Science Center expands its KidsTown area. The 11,000-square-foot exhibit features hands-on activities that replicate real-world jobs for children under the age of 7. osc.org
SeaWorld Orlando debuts the all-new show, “Clyde & Seamore’s Sea Lion High,” a hilarious tale filled with amazing animals and splashy audience fun. The comedic sea lion duo is joined by mischievous otters, a 2,300-pound walrus, and a cast of goofy human characters.
About IAAPA The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is the premier trade association for the attractions industry worldwide. Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently located amusement facilities and attractions and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the attractions industry. IAAPA represents more than 4,800 attraction, supplier, and individual members from more than 90 countries. The association’s global headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia, United States, and it maintains regional offices in Brussels, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Orlando.