8 new amusement park rides of 2014
You've sampled the thrills at Adventureland and Splish Splash Water Park, and ridden the new Thunderbolt roller coaster at Coney Island. What's next for theme park thrill seekers?
How about rafting down the world's tallest (Guinness book-certified) water slide, raising your hair on the nation's newest and fastest roller coasters, or relaxing while the kids operate heavy machinery or hang out with those adorable Minions from "Despicable Me"?
Theme parks both near and far are debuting new rides this summer, designed to charm the kiddies, or scare the socks off the most blase teens and adults.
Here's a sampling of intriguing new rides at theme parks in the Northeast and beyond. Ticket prices are same-day, single-admission at the gate. Some parks offer discounts for purchasing tickets online or in advance. Before boarding any ride, consider your health condition and consult the warning sign.
HersheyPark(Credit: Hershey Entertainment and Resort)
Where: Hershey, Pennsylvania
Admission: $59.95 ages 9-54; $37.95 ages 3-8 and 55-69; and $23.95 age 70 plus; children 2 and younger free.
What you'll find: Hersheypark's new Cocoa Cruiser gravity coaster introduces young children to roller coaster riding with a kinder, gentler thrill: a helix curve about midway through the ride. Also new among the park's 65 rides and attractions: a teacup ride with steering wheels so the kids can spin around at their own pace, and a swing ride that accommodates up to six people, including two adults.
Info: 800-437-7439, hersheypark.com
Universal Studio Hollywood(Credit: Dan MacMedan)
Where: Universal City, California
Admission: $92. Younger than 3, free.
What you'll find: Fans of Gru and his squeaky-voiced Minions have their own 3-D motion simulation ride at Universal Studio Hollywood: "Despicable Me" Minion Mayhem. Riders sitting in a transformation pod are whisked through Gru's home, laboratory and Minion "training" to a Minion dance party. Adjacent to the ride is the Super Silly Fun Land play zone, with 80 water play features re-creating the 2010 movie's seaside carnival.
Info: 800-864-8377, universalstudioshollywood.com
Schlitterbahn Kansas City Water Park(Credit: Schlitterbahn Kansas City Water Park)
Where: Kansas City, Kansas
Admission: Ages 12-54, $41.99; 3-11 and 55 plus, $29.99
Ride scheduled to open June 29.
What's included: Why travel to the Schlitterbahn Kansas City water park? To scratch the Verruckt speed slide off your list. Verruckt -- the name means "insane" in German, according to park spokeswoman Winter Prosapio -- is certified by Guinness World Records as the world's tallest water slide. A four-person raft races up to 65mph down a speed slide, which, at 168 feet, is a foot taller than the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The ride is scheduled to open June 29.
Sesame Place(Credit: Sesame Place)
Where: Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Admission: $63 (ages 2 and older)
What you'll find: Flying Cookie Jars rise and spin, and Monster Mix-Up teacups make you dizzy, at Cookie's Monster Land, Sesame Place's new park-within-the-park. The five new rides also include Captain Cookie's High "C's" Adventure, Oscar's Rotten Rusty Rockets (a rocket ship ride) and The Honker Dinger Derby (race cars).
Info: 866-464-3566, sesameplace.com
Diggerland USA(Credit: AP / Matt Rourke)
Where: West Berlin, New Jersey
Admission: $34.95, free admission for guests standing 36 inches or less, and seniors (65 and older).
What you'll find: Diggerland USA, a 14-acre, "construction-themed adventure park," is based on a concept originated in the United Kingdom, lets you play like a hard hat. Twenty-three attractions include the Spin Dizzy and Sky Shuttle heavy-machinery rides. (The latter lifts you up and the former spins you around.) Kids can sit in Mom or Dad's lap in the cab of a Giant Digger and scoop up dirt, or maneuver a skid-steer through an obstacle course. If you get sweaty, cool off on the slides and lazy river at the adjacent Sahara Sam's Oasis water park.
Info: 856-768-1110, diggerlandusa.com
Six Flags Great America(Credit: Six Flags Great America)
Where: Gurnee, Illinois
Admission: $64.99 for general admission (48 inches or taller); children under 48 inches, $44.99; 2 and younger free.
What you'll find: Goliath, the Six Flag Great America's new wooden roller coaster, is 180 feet tall and travels at 72 mph. In addition, park spokeswoman Katy Enrique says, "Goliath will be the first wooden roller coaster to go upside down twice in two separate maneuvers." It's one of 14 roller coasters within the park, situated between Chicago and Milwaukee.
Info: 847-249-4636, sixflags.com/greatamerica
Busch Gardens(Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa / Jesse Adair)
Where: Tampa, Florida
Admission: $95 adults, $90 children (ages 3 and up)
What you'll find: At 335 feet, Falcon's Fury at Busch Gardens in Tampa is one big freestanding drop tower. Riders pivot 90 degrees in midair to a facedown dive position, then plunge at 60 mph. "A variable hold time at the top of the ride ensures you'll never know how long you'll hang before dropping," park spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson-Beasle says. The ride opens later this summer.
Six Flags Great Adventure and Safari(Credit: Six Flags Great Adventure and Safari)
Where: Jackson, New Jersey
Admission: $62.99 for general admission (54 inches or taller); less than 54 inches tall, $37.99; 2 and younger free.
What you'll find: The new Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure and Safari features three 41-story-tall drop towers built on the face of the Kingda Ka roller coaster. Gondolas will lift eight riders each, to 415 feet in 30 seconds. After a pause to glimpse Philadelphia's skyscrapers 52 miles off in the distance: a 90 mph plunge. The ride is scheduled to open June 26. Check the website for updates.
Info: 732-928-2000, sixflags.com/greatadventure