Ride On Time: New theme-park attractions opening this year
By Richard Jones
Following pandemic delays, a whole host of new rides, coasters and attractions that should’ve launched a year or two ago are finally opening this year.
There’s a lot to keep track of in world’s leading theme parks, so here are the most exciting and most anticipated new projects of 2023.
World of Jumanji, Chessington World of Adventures
Chessington’s new jungle-themed area officially opens on May 15, and guests are invited to follow in the footsteps of Dr Bravestone through a whole world of adventures to locate the Jaguar’s Eye Jewel, lift the curse and save Jumanji. Within the world is the anchor attraction Mandrill Mayhem, a rare and unique new coaster with a custom wing and shuttle-coaster design, and a multi-launch in which thrill seekers get swept up in the long arms of a mandrill. Other attractions at at the Greater London theme park include Ostrich Stampede, Mamba Strike and Jungle Maze.
Serengeti Flyer, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Dubbed ‘the World’s Tallest and Fastest Ride of its Kind’, Serengeti Flyer reaches 68mph and a maximum height of 135 feet. Riders will experience breathtaking views of Busch Gardens’ 65-acre Serengeti plain and the pulse-pounding thrill of multiple negative-G moments before plunging back toward the Earth. The ride itself features twin duelling arms that soar progressively higher, and thrill-seekers, seated back-to-back in rows of 10 across two gondolas, can adjust the ride’s intensity level, opting for a milder or wilder experience. Serengeti Flyer joins SheiKra, Cheetah Hunt, Kumba, Iron Gwazi, Falcon’s Fury and Montu in Busch Gardens’ impressive roster of rides.
The Curse at Alton Manor, Alton Towers
Last September, Alton Towers’ iconic Duel closed its doors ahead of a revamp. It has now become The Curse at Alton Manor, which takes visitors on a journey through a creepy house. The ride charts the terrifying story of Emily Alton, whose Victorian high society parents disappear one evening, leaving her behind to wreak her revenge. 3D projection-mapping helps bring various scenario to life, including The Grand Hall, where an opulent party becomes a scene of death; The Demon Doll Workshop giving visitors an insight into the mind of Emily with an operating table at its centre; and The Attic, where the lonely and forgotten child sits on her own with a doll’s house.
Uncharted, PortAventura World
The live-action movie adaptation of Naughty Dog’s hit video game starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg is now getting a rollercoaster attraction at PortAventura World in Salou, Spain. The ‘multi-dimensional’ dark ride coaster takes riders on an ‘immersive and exciting’ adventure through ‘unexplored territories’ in search of ‘one of the greatest treasures never found’. Located in the park’s Far West zone, it will give riders the chance to step into Nate and Sully’s shoes and go on their own white-knuckle, treasure-hunting race.
Mission Ferrari, Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi
Equipped with the latest advancements in the theme-park industry, this next generation mega-coaster on Yas Island takes passengers on an unforgettable ride into an immersive environment like no other. Set in a top-secret international spy headquarters, guests become part of the stealth mission to safely deliver a high-spec spy car, commissioned especially for agent Cavallino, to a rendezvous deep within the subterranean level of the Ferrari Factory in Maranello Italy. As well as Mission Ferrari, there are 43 other Prancing Horse-inspired attractions, including the world’s fastest roller coaster Formula Rossa and the record-breaking Flying Aces.
Super Nintendo World, Universal Studios Hollywood
Nicely tying in with the new Super Mario Bros Movie hitting cinemas in April, the world’s most theme-park land since Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in 2019 has also arrived. Nintendo fans can now visit Super Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom, with rides including Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge in which you put on the special goggles and battle Team Bowser on iconic courses by collecting digital coins and throwing shells to win the Golden Cup. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, step inside the Toad House and take a seat at Toadstool Cafe. A larger version of Super Nintendo World, with two more rides, is opening in Orlando in 2025 as part of Universal’s Epic Universe.
Pipeline, SeaWorld Orlando
Instead of sitting, lying down, or dangling from an overhead track, those brave enough to ride Pipeline actually stand upright on a vehicle made to look like a surfboard. Although it’s not technically classified as a ‘stand-up coaster’, it does offer a wider range of motion than a traditional stand-up. Pipeline aims to combine a sensation of surfing with the thrills of a coaster, and riders can expect an inversion, a top speed of 60mph, a height of 110 feet, and, of course, plenty of ‘surf’s up’ and ‘hang 10’ references. It joins an impressive white-knuckle line-up which also includes Ice Breaker, Mako, Kraken and Manta.
Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, Epcot at Walt Disney World
This walkthrough exhibit, the first Walt Disney World attraction based on hit animated film Moana, is an interactive trail full of water features that are not only fun to play, but also teach visitors lessons about how crucial water is to life and the planet. It is located within a lush green part of World Nature, the Epcot neighbourhood dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty and balance of the natural world. Watch out for some familiar characters and shapes that are carved into the rocks and waterways.