ORLANDO (AP) — A host of new roller coasters, a 12-acre town lifted straight out of the animated Cars movies and an elaborate Transformers 3-D simulator ride are among new theme park attractions scheduled to open around the country in 2012.
Disney California Adventure is opening Cars Land, replicating the town of Radiator Springs from the movies, including a racecourse ride and two other new attractions.
Universal Studios Hollywood is debuting the new Transformers ride. Walt Disney World in Orlando will open the first phase of the new
Fantasyland with several new attractions, including a dark ride based on the adventures of the Little Mermaid character. A Little Mermaid attraction previously opened at Disneyland in California.
SeaWorld Orlando announced a new attraction for 2012 centered on sea turtles, including a first-of-its-kind 360-degree domed theater showing a 3-D movie about the endangered creatures.
Legoland, which opened in October in central Florida, is renovating and reopening an existing water park at the site next year.
New roller coasters opening in 2012 include the Manta at SeaWorld San Diego, which will simulate an underwater flight; and Superman-themed launch coasters at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California, and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California.
Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill., is introducing a new coaster called X-Flight.
Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa., is introducing a 200-foot-tall coaster called Skyrush, which will reach speeds of 75 mph.
Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tn., will offer the 210-foot-tall (65-meter-tall) Wild Eagle.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg, in Virginia, offers a half-mile-long (1.5-kilometer-long) new coaster called Verbolten.
The list was introduced by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions as the trade group opened its weeklong expo at the Orange County Convention Center. The event drew around 25,000 people last week to wander 500,000 square feet of exhibits highlighting what’s new in the industry — from rides and ticketing systems to concessions and smartphone apps for park guests.
The global gathering in Orlando, the largest of the year for the $24 billion attractions industry, drew more than 1,100 exhibitors from 32 different nations.
“I think this is the first time in several years we’ve seen that number of blockbuster attractions open in one year,” trade group spokesman David Mandt said.
Trends on the horizon include the development of more sophisticated immersive, interactive rides, and better smartphone apps that can direct guests inside the parks.
Photo: COURTESY OF LEGOLAND
BUT WILL IT FLOAT?: Legoland is renovating and reopening an existing water park in central Florida next year.