There is travel for cultural experiences: immersing oneself in historical and artistic perspectives. There are the nature aficionados:exploring the majesty of Mother Nature’s creations, hiking trails and swinging through rain forests. For those sports minded individuals: skiing, tennis or horseback riding.
Travel sometimes enables us to reunite with family or friends. But travel for real fun, real amusement can mean just one thing: the draw towards high-diving, monster screaming experiences. It is summer time, time to join in the throngs of tourists, queue up and prepare to be entertained.
Here are the newest additions at the amusement parks for Spring and Summer 2013:
WALT DISNEY WORLD (Orlando):
The largest expansion to an existing park at WDW has been revealed in the New Fantasyland area. Starting in The Enchanted Forest, a new musical ride, Under The Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid has opened, along with a Meet and Greet in Ariel’s Grotto. New eateries include Gaston’s Tavern and Be My Guest Restaurant. The Be My Guest Restaurant is the first dining venue in the Magic Kingdom that has alcoholic beverages. But more than that, it brings a high level of sophistication to the food preparation and presentation. Three dining rooms capture the magic of the story of Beauty and the Beast with all of the Disney detail filling the ballrooms and hallways. This is an opportunity to meet the characters from the beloved story and get a break from the frenzy of the rides.
The next area which has been added is the Storybook Circus. Incorporating Americana’s love of the circus, the centerpiece of this area is two (hooray!) Dumbo rides with an enclosed, interactive waiting area including beepers that will signal you when it is your time to ride. The Barnstormer, mini-roller coaster, splash stations and Meet and Greets completes this area.
Upcoming soon, Princess Fairytale Hall, decorated as an elegant Royal Court where your little Princess or Prince will meet with Disney’s crowned stars. Also 7 Dwarfs Mine Train ride which will soon shake us all up. Big Thunder Mountain will be debuting a new interactive queue.
But perhaps the most amazing addition will be the way guests will experience and do everything. My Magic+ Magic Bands are RFID chip enhanced rubber bracelets, which will ease your trip (web-enhanced, pre-selection of fast passes, VIP seating for parades, fireworks, meet and greets, room keys) and allow you to have personal interaction with employees.
Around the rest of the World, in DownTown Disney, Splitsville Luxury Lanes has opened for bowling, dancing, playing pool and dining. In EPCOT, the France Pavilion has a new restaurant, Monsieur Paul and don’t forget about the amazing International Flower and Garden Show. It is the 15th Anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so surprises and special events will be commemorating this milestone. Senses, A Disney Spa has opened at the Grand Floridian. The new California Grill will debut at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. And on June 27-30, football fans can participate at ESPN, with the Drew Brees Passing Academy and Tournament. Starbucks is coming to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Also at DownTown Disney, Conewiches are now available. A twist on a dessert item, there are two kinds, a Chili Cone Queso and a Meatball Cone.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS/ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE (Orlando):
Transformers The Ride 3D is opening for the summer. This ultra-immerse sensory experience puts guest on the frontlines of the intergalactic war between Autobots and Decepticons. The 3D film with fight simulation technology is set to redefine thrill rides.
Universal is celebrating its 100th Anniversary. Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular–100 Years of Movie Memories continues to delight evening guests. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem 3D ride and The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman (now in high def 3D) look fresh and new. Universal’s Superstar Parade is still entertaining the park guests and there is a new Blue Man Group show at City Walk. Also at City Walk, Hollywood Drive-In Golf.
The Summer brings the Universal Concert Series and Big Time Rush is the first headliner on June 8th, 2013. More acts will be announced in the next couple weeks.
As for the future, Harry Potter will continue to rule as an entire new land will be added. Hogwarts Express will run between the two parks. Gringotts Bank, will be a coaster ride and Diagon Alley will house new shops (Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes Shop and Borgin & Burkes shop) and some other dining venues. All of this will be coming next summer 2014.
SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK:
The new roller coaster, Undertow Spinning Coaster is a 50 foot tall ride and will reach speeds of 40 mph along a 1400 foot long track. If you are on the west coast, enjoy the sea air while twisting and turning along the tracks.
CALIFORNIA GREAT AMERICA:
Retro is the name of the game at Great America, with the introduction of Gold Striker Wooden Roller Coaster. The 3100 foot long rides includes terrain-hugging S-turn, a high-speed station fly-by and a series of zero-G camelbacks and bunny hops at speeds topping 50 mph aboard Millennium Flyer trains.
A toboggan water ride called River Rush Watercoaster is the new addition to Dollywood. This 237 foot tall conveyor belt sends visitors plunging down a 25 foot drop at a 45 degree angle. Getting wet will be guaranteed.
No where else is the coaster the king than at Cedar Point. Added to the madness will be The Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper is billed as the “tallest, fastest and longest winged coaster with the highest inversion of any coaster in the world.” Any questions?
Perfect for the Florida summertime swelter, here comes Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. Animal habitats, shops and restaurants are presented to the public behind the entrance guarded by 155 foot tall glaciers, glistening under the Florida sun. The ride is interactive, family friendly thrilling ride from a penguin’s point of view.
SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN:
Full Throttle is the world’s tallest vertical loop (160 feet) with riders traversing the loop twice, one inside, once outside going 70 mph. It will feature 3 launches including a backward launch. Not for the timid and definitely, before lunch.
SIX FLAGS FIESTA TEXAS:
The new hybrid coaster, The Iron Rattler, combines steel tracks on wooden supports. It will feature a barrel roll inversion and a series of beyond-vertical banked turns.
SILVER DOLLAR CITY:
Outlaw Run is the new wooden coaster featuring a double barrel roll and a 153 degree overbanked turn with nine airtime hills. You will be running for the hills!!
Planet Snoopy, the world’s largest Peanuts themed area encompasses 14 child friendly acres, 8 new family rides (for a total of 18), 3 new live shows, including a BMX style bike show.
A new 250 room hotel will make staying with the family a real treat. The themed floors are decorated with 3422 Lego models and there are plenty of play areas to delight the youngest to the oldest builder.
A new water family water ride experience will be opening, Legends of China. A FUN FACT: Since its opening in 2012, 2 million Lego bricks have been added to the collections.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VISITOR CENTER:
Angry Birds Space Encounter is a 4500 square foot attraction incorporating Angry Birds, Space Pigs and other elements of the popular video game. The Space Center is also the new home for the space shuttle Atlantis, which is scheduled to open June 29, 2013.
So, gather up your courage, pack your bags, its going to be a GREAT summer!!!
Phyllis Samowitz is a Virtuoso Travel Advisor with Post Haste Travel in Hollywood Florida. Her goal is to turn travel planning details into memories that will last a lifetime. She is passionate about helping clients create extraordinary experiences, whether it be one night or a months long journey; a single traveler, family or large group. Her philosophy is based on the quote “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”