2012 in Theme Parks



I don’t think I’m the only one who can proudly say, that in theme parks, 2012 did not disappiont. We saw big leaps and bounds in the industry over the last 12 months.

-Disney fixed mistakes

Nobody is perfect, and Disney’s made their fair share of mistakes over the years. But 2012 was the year that Disney really sat down, and focussed on what could be fixed, and what could be “plussed.” At Walt Disney World, Epcot saw the reopening of Test Track, sporting a complete redesign and refocussing of the attraction to modern car creation, asides from testing. The queue got a total redo, with an interactive design studio, and the ride got a racelift with Tron-like light elements.

I encourage you to watch a video showcasing the reno, because it truly is a brand new experience.

At the Magic Kingdom, the first and second phases of New Fantasyland opened, including the Storybook Circus mini-land, the Enchanted Tales with Belle meet-and-greet experience, the Be Our Guest and Gaston’s Tavern restaurants, and the Under the Sea: Voyage of the Little Mermaid attraction. Overall, it’s the kind of ultra immersive, highly detailed work Disney is known for, and has kind of been missing lately.

new fantasyland

At Disneyland, Disney fixed it’s biggest mistake; Disney California Adventure, and has made it a top notch, (sort of,) theme park. The completion of it’s billion dollar remake brought Disney quality lands like Buena Vista Street, and the smash hit Cars Land. The level of detail here is amazing, and it finally gives DCA the storytelling Disney parks are known for.

-Universal and Seaworld stepped up to the plate

While Disney’s been busy covering up mistakes and trying to fix some big problems, Universal and SeaWorld have been quick to pounce, adding loads of new offerings on both coasts to widdle away at Disney’s market share. Universal Studios Hollywood opened the smash hit attraction Transformers The Ride 3D, filling the void for a new high profile attraction at the studio park.

Universal Studios Florida opened their Despicable Me simulator attraction, replacing the Jimmy Neutron simulator. Met with long waits and eager guests, this is exactly what the park needed; an attraction that appeals to kids, and makes them drag their parents over to ride it. Also introduced this year was their new nighttime show Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories, as well as a new parade.

SeaWorld San Diego opened their first real roller coaster; a Mack multi-launch coaster called Manta, named after it’s Orlando cousin. Due to height restrictions, a terrain hugging launch coaster was built instead of going with a B&M flying coaster like in Orlando. Despite this change, Manta is still a top notch attraction by SeaWorld, and yes, it does still have the wing dip splash effect.

SeaWorld Orlando opened Turtle Trek, a hyper realistic 3D movie attraction, that takes immersion to a whole new level, by placing guests in a dome theatre where images are projected all around them, and SeaWorld San Antonio opened their newly rethemed and renamed Aquatica waterpark, with new slides, and a tropical theme.

-Epic New Coasterswild eagle ci

We saw a pretty epic collection of roller coasters open this year, around the world, B&M, Intamin, GCI and Premier among others built some of their best rides yet. B&M went all out, building 3 wing coasters, (Wild Eagle, X-Flight, and The Swarm,) it’s first giga coaster Leviathan, as well as a hyper and an invert, (Shambhala and Oziris respectively.) Intamin created the intensity machine that is Skyrush, and opened to rave reviews. Premier came out of it’s rut with the Superman Ultimate Flight skyloop, and Zierer made a name for itself with Verbolten. For a full list of new roller coasters this year, check out New for 2012 Coasters

-The fight for tower swing supremacy continued

Photo by News Plus Notes

Photo by News Plus Notes

Last year, Six Flags and Cedar Fair unveiled their new tower swing rides, and began installing them throughout their chains. Cedar Fair contracted Mondial to build 301 ft tall Windseeker tower swings, and while overall they are consistently taller than most SkyScreamers, there have been some maintenance problems this year, (which we will elaborate on later.) Cedar Fair installed two of these this year, at Kings Dominion and IMG_1210Carowinds. While the Six Flags SkyScreamers are built by Funtime and are shorter, they have proven to be more reliable and low maintenance compared to Windseekers. Currently, there are SkyScreamers at SFDK, SFSL, SFFT, SGFAd, with more on the way at SFOG, and the world’s tallest tower swing ride Texas SkyScreamer at SFOT both coming in 2013.

Sadly, I don’t think 2013 can top this, but,I can’t wait for the next year like this to come, so lets hope one’s on the horizon. Happy New Year!

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