School is out! Parents are already planning ways to keep the kids busy with summer activities and trips such as summer band camp, an extended stay with the grandparents, or something more exciting, like a Caribbean cruise or European vacay. And without a doubt, kids or no kids, we all flock to theme parks for a fun time with family or with friends. And you must admit… it’s the new, innovative rides that usually grab our attention, too. With that in mind… here are some of the most exciting, highly anticipated theme park rides, rollercoasters and experiences you should add to your summer bucket list.
Battle the Borg on a Star Trek-Theme Ride
Movie Park Germany (Bottrop, Germany)
Hop aboard the Starship Enterprise! Ok, it may not be the actual Enterprise, but Star Trek: Operation Enterprise is the only Star Trek-theme rollercoaster in the world. Trekkie fans will quickly notice – walking through the transporter rooms, holodeck and the bridge – that this is a replica of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D as seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation. As for the rollercoaster… there’s a triple-launch mechanism that brings riders to a complete stop and then quickly launches them (three separate times) while on their journey to save the Starship from the Borg. Get ready to boldly go where no man has gone before!
Fly on the Back of a Banshee in Pandora
Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Orlando, Florida)
Visitors will now get to explore blue-skinned people. Um… no… not the Smurfs, but the Na’vi people from the 2009 Avatar movie. Pandora: The World of Avatar allows adults and children – with the aid of a flight simulator – the opportunity to bond with and fly atop a mountain banshee to explore the mystical world. If soaring at virtual heights makes your stomach rumble, then you might want to try a low-key journey along the Na’vi River deep into the bioluminescent rainforest or walk through the Valley of Mo’ara to see Na’vi totems and cultural items. Watch this blockbuster movie come to life right before your eyes.
Unleash Your Inner Superhero to Save Metropolis
Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, Calif.)
Get ready comic book fans! You’ve just been recruited to join Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Green Lantern in an unforgettable 4-D battle, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis. Hop in a motorized vehicle, armed with laser guns, to take out animatronic villains to save Metropolis from the Justice League’s arch nemeses Lex Luthor and the Joker. Get ready for explosive effects and heart-pumping action. And if you’ve really been dying to have a chance to live out your dream of fighting alongside Wonder Woman… your wait is finally over!
Get Ready for Splish-Splashin’ Fun at a New Waterpark
Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
Once known as Soak City, this waterpark has been transformed to Cedar Point Shores with a few new rides and water slides. On Point Plummet, riders… um, well… plummet down a near-vertical free fall in four, six-story body slides. Oh, and just so you know… the floor drops beneath you before you take the plunge. Yeah, this ride is not for the faint of heart. For a less intense ride, the Portside Plunge is a fun waterslide experience if you’re nervous and need a friend to hold onto while whipping around those watery curves and tunnels. And for children, Lakeside Landing has 12 small slides with lifeguards keeping a watchful eye. Parents can also relax in the shade or in a large sundeck close to the mini-thrill rides.
Scream on Your Scary Plummet Down This Terrifying Tower
Grona Lund (Stockholm, Sweden)
It’ll be hard for you to stifle your screams and hide your fear on the Ikaros Drop Tower. This park ride was made for adrenaline junkies looking for a quick thrill. Riders are lifted 300 feet above ground, and if you can pry your hands from over your eyes, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the park and an extreme vantage point overlooking the city of Stockholm. Let’s be real… the adrenaline rush comes when you reach the top, your chair moves to a 90-degree tilt, and you take the plunge down at 50 miles per hour. And the beautiful panoramic view will probably be the last thing you’ll be thinking about as you quickly approach the ground.
Get Wet n’ Wild at Volcano Bay
Universal Orlando (Orlando, Florida)
This is the cool, hot spot to be this summer! Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando Resort’s new water theme park, is a great place to be, if you want to stay cool when it hot and humid. In addition to exploring the Waturi islander culture, families have 13 attractions on this new island retreat, including a multi-directional wave pool, raft and body slides, and soon to come, Krakatau Aqua Coaster. And say goodbye to those cranky kids waiting in long lines. Guests can pick up a TapuTapu, a digital “watch-like” gizmo that holds your place in line for rides while you and the fam continue to relax and have fun.