Every year, roller coaster enthusiasts from all over the country look forward to what amusement parks will be bringing for the upcoming season. In the ever-competitive coaster wars to attract visitors through their gates, theme parks are always conjuring up new rides and attractions that will generate excitement and ticket sales, and the summer of 2014 is no exception.
During the winter, several parks have announced big plans for the upcoming ride season, in the hopes of attracting huge crowds come the summer months. The highly anticipated reopening of Kentucky Kingdom and a new record-breaking coaster at King’s Island are among some of the biggest announcements, and though these two news items are enough to get any enthusiast’s juices flowing, there’s more. Take a look at some of what’s coming to amusement parks this summer:
Kentucky Kingdom set to reopen
Kentucky Kingdom, located in Louisville, has had a tumultuous existence since it first opened in 1987, having survived through three ownerships and two separate closings during that time. The last time the park operated was under the Six Flags brand, and the giant entertainment company decided to close its gates after the 2009 season and the park has sat idle ever since.
Last August Themeparks LLC and the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company announced plans that they’d be working to reopen the park in 2014, and a press conference was held announcing the largest expansion in the park’s history. Included in the expansion is an all new roller coaster, the first new thrill ride to hit the park in 17 years, and a huge development of the water park, Hurricane Bay, that will double its size.
All in all the future looks bright for Kentucky Kingdom and once again, ride enthusiasts from the Louisville area will have a park to call their own . The park’s website has installed a countdown clock towards the grand reopening, so stay tuned for more on what’s to come in Louisville.
New Roller Coasters
Banshee – King’s Island, Mason, OH
Kings Island Amusement Park, located in Mason, Ohio, is finally going to replace the recently demolished Son of Beast with an all new record-breaking roller coaster for the 2014 season. The new ride will be the park’s first since the opening of Diamondback in 2009.
The new ride stands 167 feet tall, with an initial drop of 150 feet. Coming in at a track length of 4,124 feet, with seven inversions and a top speed of about 68 miles per hour, Banshee will become the world’s longest inverted roller coaster and one which will attract plenty of excited new riders come the summer of 2014.
Goliath – Six Flags Great America – Gurnee, IL
Late last summer Six Flags Great America recently announced that it will be adding the record-breaking Goliath to its roster of scream machines in 2014. Rocky Mountain Construction Company, which built one of last season’s most talked about coasters, Silver Dollar City’s Outlaw Run, will be debuting the new wooden roller coaster that rides like a steel one. This ride will be a doozie, with a first drop of 180 feet at an almost straight-down 85 degrees, making it the highest and steepest such ride of its kind in the world. Add a tunnel at the bottom of that hill and record-breaking speeds of up to 72 miles per hour and this one is going to be one heck of a ride!
Fire Chaser Express – Dollywood – Pigeon Forge, TN
Along with a recent announcement that Dollywood will be undergoing a huge expansion comes news of a new roller coaster for 2014. Dolly Parton’s namesake amusement park will be investing somewhere in the vicinity of $300 million to expand and improve the park over the next ten years, including a new 300-room hotel called Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and the new for 2014 coaster, Fire Chaser Express. This one’s got a firefighter’s theme and will be the first dual-launch family coaster in the country.
Thunderbolt – Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY
It was just about four years ago that the world’s most iconic amusement area of yesteryear made a bold step towards a bright future. On February 16, 2010, then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Coney Island was coming back in a big way with Luna Park, an all new amusement park designed with the intention of hearkening back to the glory days of its celebrated namesake from years past.
Though Luna Park is a much welcomed and beautiful update to the long-dilapidated area, and the new for 2011 Scream Zone park added two coasters to the area, the rides and attractions at the new Coney Island have done little to attract lovers of major thrill rides. Other than the Coney’s legendary Cyclone, the new Coney Island has been short on big thrills, until now.
This summer, Luna Park will be adding the $10 million Thunderbolt, a new twist on a classic Coney Island coaster. The new ride will sit on the very site where its eponymous predecessor thrilled riders from 1925 to 1982, and though the contemporary coaster carries the same name, it will not be the same ride by any means. The new ride will be of steel construction and features a 110-foot vertical lift, followed by a 100-foot drop almost straight into a huge loop. Several inversions follow as the coaster flies at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour. The ride is not the tallest or the fastest around, but it finally gives coaster enthusiasts something new to sink their teeth into at Coney Island.
Pipe Scream – Cedar Point – Sandusky, OH
“America’s Roller Coast,” located on the shores of Lake Erie, recently unveiled plans for a renovation of the Gemini Midway area of the park that will include two new rides, a “flying scooters” ride called Lake Erie Eagles and a new type of family coaster dubbed Pipe Scream: a Disk’O Coaster. The park says that the new coaster will combine “the best of a roller coaster and a flat ride in one,” reaching a maximum height of 43 feet and speeds of 43 miles per hour as it spins and coasts along 302 feet of track. Though not nearly as impressive a coaster as this year’s new Gatekeeper, the ride will certainly be yet another unique attraction in the park’s roster.
Zumanjaro Drop of Doom – Six Flags Great Adventure – Jackson, NJ
It’s been a long time since Great Adventure has added a new roller coaster, and fans of the park won’t be getting one in the coming year either. That doesn’t mean that local enthusiasts won’t be getting something new to get excited about next summer. Six Flags will be adding an all new, record-breaking drop tower smack dab within the edifice of the world-famous Kingda Ka. Zumanjaro Drop of Doom will be the world’s tallest drop tower, dropping riders a whopping 450 feet straight down at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour.
So there you have it, a little taste of what’s coming to amusement parks in the summer of 2014. Look for other exciting new thrills at Canada’s Wonderland in Ontario, the return of Jazzland to New Orleans, and an already opened El Loco at Circus Circus Adventuredome in Las Vegas, and stay tuned for more amusement park news right here.