New Thrills and Chills on Amusement Park Rides

amusement parks rides


As fans know, springtime means a chance to be the first to check out new attractions at amusement parks around the country as they open their doors and show off new features for the season. This year brings plenty for those seeking a wild ride.

With the help International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), AOL Travel News has targeted 10 must-do rides guaranteed to thrill, and in some cases, chill.

Check out these new rides debuting in 2011:

Ride fans are in for a swinging time at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Opened last weekend, "Barnstormer" is a swing ride with two pendulum arms that seat 16 passengers each. Riders are progressively taken higher as the swing gets going, reaching a peak of 81 feet in the air. The 60-second ride travels 45 miles per hour, and has a 230-degree rotation. Surrounding the ride is a tamer barnyard-themed play area and pig pen water play area.

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Also opened this month, "Superman: Escape from Krypton" at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif. is sending riders backwards up a 41-story tower which includes seven seconds where riders are blasted at 100 mph. It's a redo of an old ride and billed as a totally new experience. And on May 28, Memorial Day weekend, the park is opening the highly anticipated and brand new "Green Lantern" the first vertical spinning coaster in the U.S. The ride features an 825-foot twisted vertical track with three 360-degree head-over-heel spins.

Six Flags Over Texas

On April 22, Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas marks its 50th anniversary by bringing back a faster and steeper "Texas Giant." The classic wooden coaster has undergone a $10 million makeover, and officials say it will feel like a whole new ride. There's a new track that allows for a steeper first drop, more severely banked turns and faster speeds, and the ride has also been enhanced with three new tunnels and three new "Giant" trains.

Snow may still be on the ground in Wisconsin, but come May 7, Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay will open its new 2,500-foot-long roller coaster "Zippin Pippin." The 90-second ride takes guests over several hills with drops as high as 70 feet at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.

Cedar Point

May 14 is the expected opening day for the towering "WindSeeker" swing at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Riders will spin nearly 30 stories above the Lake Erie shoreline in two-person swings, while their feet dangle. Adding to the excitement, the swings rotate passengers slowly as they ascend the tower, spinning at speeds between 25-30 mph, flaring out almost 45 degrees from the tower.

Similar "Windseeker" swing attractions are also scheduled to open at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, April 30; and Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif. in mid-June.

Busch Gardens

Beginning on May 27, in time for the Memorial Day weekend, "Cheetah Hunt" at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla. is a launch-style roller coaster that will propel riders three times from 0 to 60 mph in a matter of seconds. Riders dive 130 feet into a subterranean trench, fly above a simulated Serengeti plain and speed through an artificial canyon. The more sedate "Cheetah Run" observation area shows off the park's real-life cheetahs with interactive touchscreens providing information about the animals.

Thrill seekers in Georgia will find a new and intense temptation come Memorial Day. Opening May 28, "Dare Devil Dive" at Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell, Georgia is a roller coaster with a vertical chain lift that pulls riders up 10 stories. From there there's a drop where the coaster angles inward as it comes down at 52 mph. Riders "careen through a combination of diving loops while executing three inversions before catching air on a zero-gravity hill, and swooping across a vertical U-turn stretched high above the ground," according to the park.

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