When I rode the new King Kong Skull Island attraction at Universal’s Islands of Adventure I was blown away. Dinosaurs chase you as you hurdle through the jungle in a giant safari truck.If all goes well, you and your fellow passengers are saved from destruction by the the world’s largest ape.Make no mistake.This isn’t your mom and dad’s King Kong from thirty years ago. This high tech multi-sensory 3D adventure is the latest and greatest improvement to the park in years. To stay relevant in the vacation capital of the world, Orlando theme parks are constantly dreaming up new rides and other fun things for families to do. Here’s a list of some of the hottest new developments in 2017:
Pandora- The World of Avatar is the largest park expansion in the history of Animal Kingdom. Disney struck a deal with James Cameron to bring his movie to life in 2011. This new area has been quietly being built in the southeast corner of the park for the last three years and is set to finally open in 2017. Attractions will include floating mountains, bio-luminescent rain forests, a Banshee flying attraction and a Na’ vi River ride. At EPCOT, the former viking-themed ride Maelstrom, got a Frozen face-lift and instantly became one of the most popular rides in the park. Soarin’ also reopened with ride improvements and a new film that takes guests around the world.
If you thought watching Jimmy Fallon on TV was exciting, then you’re in for a treat with the new Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon ride at Universal Orlando Resort. Guests join the Tonight Show host on the ultimate race through the Big Apple on streets, skies and subways on a 3D journey modeled after the popular race segment on the show. The ride replaces the Twister ride (shut down in 2015) and features a mock-up of Studio 6-B where the Tonight Show is taped. Volcano Bay, a brand new waterpark is also opening at Universal Orlando Resort. The park will be highly themed and is designed to look like postcard-perfect tropical islands. Who needs real islands when you have perfect fake ones?
LEGOLAND has been busy creating a new immersive area called NINJAGO world. This land will feature a ride where guests can use fireballs, lightning, shockwaves and ice to defeat the Great Devourer and earn ninja status. The area also gives wannabe engineers an opportunity to build a temple with LEGO bricks as well as helping young guests hone their ninja skills with a rock climbing area and spinjitzu. LEGOLAND Beach Retreat is opening adjacent to the theme park and features 83 single story duplexes, a sandy play area and themed pool.
Kennedy Space Center’s latest attraction, Heroes and Legends introduces visitors to heroes of the American space program through a 360-degree visual presentation, a 4-D multisensory theater experience, and interactive exhibits including holograms and astronaut memorabilia. The new U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame also allows visitors to interact virtually with nearly 100 astronaut heroes inducted to date. You can view famous space craft from the past in the Rocket Garden, enjoy 3D IMAX films and even experience space travel in the Shuttle Launch Experience.