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North American Amusement Parks and Attractions Announce Big News, Bigger Fun

Innovative Roller Coasters, Water Park Additions, Multigenerational Attractions, and Immersive Guest Experiences Among Trends Identified for 2014

amusement park

Amusement Park

(Spring, 2014) – The wide array of exciting experiences opening this summer illustrates there is something for everyone to enjoy at amusement parks, water parks, family entertainment centers, museums, zoos, and aquariums all over the United States and Canada. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), the global trade association for the attractions industry, releases the latest news in family fun, citing innovative roller coasters, water park additions, multigenerational attractions, and immersive experiences among the trends families will experience in 2014.

Recent innovations in roller coaster design add unique elements to traditional thrills and take the rider’s experience to new levels. This year, new roller coasters incorporate 3-D visuals, intricate ride theming, new track technology, ride vehicles that move and spin in new ways, and more.

Numerous new water-related additions provide guests with fun ways to get wet, including entirely new water parks, one-of-a-kind water slides, and interactive spray pads.

Whether six, 16, or 60, guests of all ages benefit from a renewed focus on designing attractions to be enjoyed across generations this summer. Examples of these new multigenerational attractions include unforgettable roller coasters, family-friendly spinning rides, water attractions, new play areas, and more.

Designers of parks and attractions continue to push creative boundaries as they develop experiences that immerse guests into worlds only previously described in works of fiction and transport them into alternate realities throughout North America. Guests will find themselves incorporated into the story as they enter the lives of their favorite characters and are submerged into new worlds.

IAAPA Logo

IAAPA Logo

“The diversity of new attractions opening for families to enjoy together this summer is incredible,” said IAAPA President and CEO Paul Noland. “Whether visiting your neighborhood park or your favorite vacation destination, there are amazing new rides and attractions for the entire family opening across North America.”

According to the Oxford Economics Study: The Economic Impacts of the U.S. Attractions Industry released by the IAAPA Foundation, there are approximately 525 amusement parks and water parks in the U.S. supporting nearly 764,000 jobs. U.S. amusement parks and water parks generate a direct economic impact of $55.4 billion.

A list of new attractions, consumer tips for summer fun, and other information is available at www.IAAPA.org/bignewsbiggerfun.

NEW IN 2014

 

USA

California

Adventure City in Anaheim, California, debuts “Rewind Racers,” a $2 million steel shuttle coaster designed for the whole family. The coaster takes riders the track’s hills and curves both forward and backward. www.adventurecity.com

Aquatica San Diego in Chula Vista, California, introduces the 375-foot “Taumata Racer water slide that sends riders in and out of tunnels and along a 180-degree swooping turn. aquaticabyseaworld.com/en/sandiego

Gilroy Gardens opens the $2 million “Water Play Oasis” in Watsonville, California, south of San Jose. The play space includes a flower-themed splash pad and two-foot-deep pool for young children. Keeping with the park’s theme of education, the new attraction also features an overview of watersheds. www.gilroygardens.org  

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Vista, California, celebrates the 30th anniversary of its Camp Snoopy children’s zone with a restoration of the area and the addition of three new attractions. “Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyers,” a 32-passenger swing ride, takes riders up to 18 feet off the ground as they spin around the Kite Eating Tree. “Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies” lets up to 24 guests climb aboard six all-terrain vehicles for an adventurous ride that spins and bounces. On “Linus Launcher,” guests lay side-by-side on one of 12 blankets that takes them soaring up to 10 feet in the air. www.knotts.com

Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad, California, expands its water park by 3 acres and renames the attraction Legends of Chima Water Park. The new area features the “Lion Temple Wave Pool,” an interactive wave pool designed for families with young children. “Mount Cavora,” a 30-foot-tall tower at the center of the wave pool dumps more than 400 gallons of water per minute into the area below. Guests also can find adventure in Craggers Swamp, a hands-on water play area featuring slides and water cannons, as well as “Eglor’s Build-A-Boat,” where children can build boats while learning to adjust for currents and dodge obstacles while racing against fellow guests. “The Lego Movie Experience” also opens at Legoland California Resort. Guests can step onto a Lego soundstage, see movie footage, and explore some of the Lego models that helped inspire the new and completely original 3-D animated movie. california.legoland.com

Sea Life Aquarium at Legoland California Resort welcomes a new exhibit, “Jellyfish Discovery,” to its Carlsbad, California, facility. Guests can explore the ghosts of the ocean and discover creatures that have no brain, heart, nerves, or blood. Through fun, interactive activities, and daily educational talks by Sea Life aquarists, guests learn about the lifecycle of these creatures and how they move in the water. california.legoland.com/SEALIFE

SeaWorld San Diego in California debuts Explorer’s Reef, a new beach-themed park entrance with four kid-friendly touch pools in the 3-acre space. Each touch pool contains 24,000 gallons of water and allows children to pet thousands of fish, including 400 brown-banded and white-spotted bamboo sharks. A themed concierge-style ticketing area replaces ticket booths in the entryway. www.seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-sandiego

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California, introduces the interactive “Tsunami Soaker,” a classic spinning teacup ride with a twist. Each vehicle is partially submerged in a pool of water and outfitted with a water gun that allows guests to soak one another and bystanders.    www.sixflags.com/discoveryKingdom

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, renovates Bugs Bunny World for the park’s youngest thrill seekers. The park debuts a new children’s coaster, “Speedy Gonzales Hot Rod Racers,” bringing the number of children’s coasters in the park to four. More experienced thrill seekers can enjoy riding the “Batman the Ride and “Colossus” roller coasters backward for limited times during the 2014 season. www.sixflags.com/magicMountain

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Valencia, California, near Los Angeles adds the free-fall “Bonzai Pipelines” slide complex and “Dive-In Movies in the “Forgotten Sea Wave Pool,” showcasing family-friendly films.  www.sixflags.com/hurricaneHarborLA

Universal Studios Hollywood in California introduces the fully immersive “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” attraction where guests enter Gru’s house as they wait to experience a 3-D journey into his laboratory. Adjacent to the attraction is Super Silly Fun Land, which is inspired by the pierside park featured in the movie and includes wet and dry zones with fountains, splash pools, slides, and climbable play structures. www.universalstudioshollywood.com

 

Colorado

Elitch Gardens in Denver, Colorado, debuts “Brain Drain,” a seven-story thrill ride that sends riders forward, backward, and head-over-heels as they travel along its 360-degree looping steel track. www.elitchgardens.com

Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, unveils a yet-to-be-named swing ride that takes riders soaring out over the Glenwood Canyon, more than 1,400 feet above the Colorado River. glenwoodcaverns.com/index.php

 

Florida

Aquatica, SeaWorld Orlando’s water park in Florida, introduces “Ihu’s Breakaway Falls,” a new multi-slide freefall water slide topping 105 feet tall. Guests wait in each slides’ launch-capsule start, anticipating the floor breaking away and sending each rider down the slide. www.aquaticabyseaworld.com

Falcon’s Fury,” a 335-foot freestanding drop tower, opens at Busch Gardens Tampa in Florida. Daring riders pivot 90 degrees outward in midair to a face-down dive position then fall toward the ground at 60 mph. www.buschgardens.com

Duplo Valley Toddler Area, a new farm-themed play space, debuts at Legoland Florida in Winter Haven for children between the ages of 2 and 5. The new area features the “Duplo Train,” which toddlers can board either with their parents or by themselves and take a journey through countryside scenery such as farms, fishing holes, and campgrounds. Additionally, the new area features an interactive splash pad with spouts, larger-than-life farm animals, and a soft play surface. The new area also includes a mini-tractor ride, and the Duplo Barn, an indoor play area that offers private nursing stations, rocking chairs, cell phone chargers, high chairs, Wi-Fi, and other accommodations for parents with young children. florida.legoland.com

Miracle Strip at Pier Park in Panama City Beach, Florida, reopens at its new 14-acre site, located just 200 feet away from its original 1.2-acre site where it operated from 1964 to 2004. The park will reopen with 20 rides and attractions, including restored versions of the “Big Eli Ferris Wheel,” the “Sea Dragon” swing ride, and the classic “Scrambler.” New additions include the Butterfly Pavilion, where guests can watch butterflies emerge from their cocoons, and the “Sock Hop Bouncing Pillow,” where children can jump on a soft and bouncy surface. www.ms-pp.com/index.html

Universal Studios Florida reveals The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley. The new expansion immerses guests in Diagon Alley, a bustling wizarding hub within a muggle city. The area features the multidimensional thrill ride “Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts”; shops found in the popular books and movies such as Ollivander’s wand shop, Borgin and Burkes, Weasley’s Wizard Weazes, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Magical Menagerie, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Quality Quidditch Supplies, and Scribbulus; and themed dining options in the Leaky Cauldron and Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. Guests can travel between Diagon Alley and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure aboard the Hogwarts Express train, just as Harry, Hermione, and Ron did. www.universalorlando.com

The “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster opens at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. The new family coaster will feature original music and characters from the popular children’s film “Snow White.” Walt Disney Imagineers designed the individual train cars to independently swing from side to side as they enter the dwarfs’ world on this new ride. The “Festival of Fantasy Parade” also debuts in the Fantasyland section of the park. The parade features Disney characters and floats from both newer and classic films such as “Peter Pan,” “Tangled,” and “Frozen.” www.disneyworld.disney.go.com

 

Georgia

Six Flags Over Georgia near Atlanta introduces Hurricane Harbor, a new free-with-admission water park. The many attractions in the new section of the park include “Hurricane Bay,” an 80,000-gallon wave pool; Paradise Island, an interactive area for children; and multi-slide complexes “Tsunami Slide and “Bonsai Pipeline.” www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia

 

Idaho
Corkscrew Cavern” debuts at Roaring Springs Water Park in Boise, Idaho. Riders step into a launching capsule, and then wait for the trap door to open. Riders drop into a narrow, 32-inch enclosed tunnel and instantly accelerate to a top speed of 38 feet per second as they approach and then pass through a 360-degree loop. www.roaringsprings.com

Silverwood Theme Park, north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, doubles the size of its family entertainment area with a $1.2 million expansion. The area includes a family spinning coaster, a kiddie Ferris wheel, additional seating areas and gardens, as well as other attractions designed for children and young families. www.silverwoodthemepark.com

 

Illinois

Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, adds “Goliath,” a wooden roller coaster that utilizes new track technology. The ride features a vertical drop of 180 feet and reaches top speeds of up to 72 mph. Guests face three over-banked turns and a 180-degree zero-G roll twist while also flipping head over heels through two inversions.  www.sixflags.com/greatamerica

 

Indiana

Santa Claus, Indiana’s Holiday World introduces “Mayflower,” a swinging ship ride in the park’s Thanksgiving-themed section. Up to 60 guests swing 54 feet back-and-forth in the air over a pool of water. www.holidayworld.com

Indiana Beach in Monticello debuts four new attractions designed for children and families. The “Baby Baron” lets children move their own bi-plane up and down as they gently rotate around a center axis. “Dragon Wagon” is a roller coaster designed to give children their first taste of the coaster experience. “Growler” is a classic tea cup ride for the whole family that takes riders up more than seven feet in the air and tilts them at a 20-degree angle as the ride spins. “Rock N Tug” gently spins, dips, and raises guests as they ride an ocean swell on a boat.  www.indianabeach.com

 

Iowa

The Storm Chaser spinning swing ride debuts at Adventureland Park in Altoona, Iowa. Riders rise more than 300 feet in the air and spin in a circle at a top speed of 30 mph while enjoying scenic views of the park. www.adventurelandpark.com

 

Kansas

The Alley of Hutchinson, a new 42,000-square-foot bowling alley and family entertainment center opens in Hutchinson, Kansas. The new facility includes more than 20 bowling lanes, an arcade, bumper cars, and a laser game.

Verruckt opens at Schlitterbahn Kansas City in Kansas. This thrilling four-to-a-raft water slide rises higher than Niagra Falls, takes riders up to speeds of 65 mph, and features a multi-story uphill blast after the initial plunge.  www.schlitterbahn.com/kc

 

Kentucky

For the first time since 2009, Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville reopens with 48 rides and attractions, including a new steel roller coaster, “Lightning Run.” The new park operators doubled the size of the Hurricane Bay water park, expanded the King Louie’s Playground children’s area, and restored and renovated many of the park’s rides. www.kentuckykingdom.com

 

Maryland

Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland, introduces a Mardi Gras section, anchored by two thrilling rides — “Ragin’ Cajun,” a fast-track 1,378-foot-long spinning roller coaster, and “French Quarter Flyers,” a spinning ride that allows guests to pilot their own flight by controlling a movable front wing as they travel up to 40 mph. www.sixflags.com/america

Massachusetts

Great Wolf Lodge New England opens in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The facility includes a 300,000-gallon indoor water park featuring attractions like “Wolf’s Tail,” a 360-degree thrill ride that begins with a steep drop into an enclosed tunnel; “Fort Mackenzie,” a multi-level, interactive tree house water fort with bridges, cargo nets, web crawls, dozens of guest-activated water effects, and a tipping water bucket; and “Howlin’ Tornado,” a six-story funnel slide. The newest addition to the Great Wolf Lodge properties also includes a 406-suite resort, a 10,000-square-foot conference center, and shopping, dining, and entertainment options for the whole family. www.greatwolf.com/newengland

Legoland Discovery Center, a 44,000-square-foot indoor Lego-themed experience, opens in Somerville, Massachusetts. The new facility includes a 4-D theater, Lego rides, a Master Builder workshop, and a replica of Boston, Massachusetts, crafted from 1 million Lego bricks. www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com

Six Flags New England introduces the “New England SkyScreamer” to the Agawam, Massachusetts, theme park. The 400-foot swing ride spins guests in the air at speeds up to 40 mph. While aboard, riders take in views of the New England skyline and the Connecticut River. www.sixflags.com/newengland

 

Minnesota

The “Northern Lights family coaster debuts at Valleyfair in Shakopee, Minnesota. Guests soar along 300 feet of track, reaching speeds up to 43 mph. At night, the ride’s dancing lights illuminate the sky in hues of purple, blue, and green. The park also introduces the Route 76 family area, which provides a new home for three classic rides – “Antique Autos,” “Tilt-a-Whirl,” and “Scrambler” – all of which originally debuted at the park in 1976.   www.valleyfair.com

 

Missouri

The Showboat Branson Belle debuts “Made in the USA,” a show featuring American music from several genres and regions of the country. The show stars Janice Martin, the world’s only violin-playing aerialist, and the male vocal group, ShowMen. A second “Made in the USA” show, available on Sunday and noon cruises, debuts in May featuring pianist Julie McClarey-Davis and fiddler Dean Church.  www.silverdollarcity.com/showboat-branson.aspx

Six Flags St. Louis introduces the “Tsunami Soaker,” which marries a classic teacup ride with interactive water elements. Guests spin in circles as they use giant water sprayers to engage other guests in a water battle. www.sixflags.com/stlouis

White Water in Branson, Missouri, adds “KaPau Plummet,” a 40-foot-tall, $1.7 million attraction that features two 240-foot dueling water slides. Each slide contains a drop-floor from which riders experience a 70-degree freefall followed by a spiraling loop. White Water also offers new experiences as part of its Night Water events. The park hosts more “Dive-In” movie events, inviting guests to float in the “Surf’s Up Wave Pool” and watch a family-friendly film. In addition, the park shows fireworks at park closing on Saturday nights as part of its “Red, White, and Boom” summer event. www.bransonwhitewater.com

Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri, opens “SteelHawk,” a thrilling swing that takes riders 300 feet in the air, providing an illusion of flight as the guests rotate around a center tower. www.worldsoffun.com

 

Nevada

Cowabunga Bay, a $23 million water park, opens in Henderson, Nevada, with 30 attractions, including the 35,000-square-foot “Surf-A-Rama Wave Pool,” the “Zuma Zooma” thrilling water slide, and the “Cowabunga Kids Cove,” a water play area designed especially for kids. www.cowabungabay.com  

 

New Hampshire

Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire, launches “Roar-O-Saurus,” a dinosaur-themed wooden roller coaster designed for the whole family. The 12-passenger coaster has a maximum height of 40 feet and takes riders through its 1,242 feet of track behind ’Rory,’ the little dinosaur with a big roar. www.storylandnh.com

 

New Jersey

Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, introduces several new attractions including “Air Race.” The 16-person ride spins guests upside-down barrel-roll style as they rotate around the ride’s perimeter.  www.casinopiernj.com

Diggerland USA, a construction-themed adventure park where children and their families drive, ride, and operate heavy machinery in a safe, family-friendly environment, opens in West Berlin, New Jersey. The 14-acre park features 23 experiences and attractions, including opportunities to drive skid-steer loaders, backhoes, tractors, mini-dumpers, and small excavators.  diggerlandusa.com

Kite Flyers,” a spinning ride on which guests lay on their stomachs and soar through the air, debuts at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. www.jenkinsons.com

Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, New Jersey, unveils several new attractions this summer. The “Wave Swinger,” a classic swing ride featuring 72 vignettes of unique art, debuts at Morey’s Adventure Pier. The attraction takes riders 50 feet above sea level and provides them with breathtaking views of the beach and boardwalk below. Adventure Pier also introduces a new stage for live music and new art classes for children taught by artBOX 2.0 resident artists. Two radio stations will also broadcast live from a new boardwalk radio studio. New food options The Taco Joint, Jake’s Steaks, and Big Wave Burritos come to Morey’s Mariner’s Landing, Morey’s Surfside Pier, and Morey’s Adventure Pier, respectively.   www.moreyspiers.com

Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, debuts the 415-foot “Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom. Guests ascend 41 stories in 30 seconds before free-falling toward the ground at 90 mph. “Zumanjaro” is built on the face of “Kingda Ka” with its steel coaster cars racing around the track at 128 mph.  www.sixflags.com/greatAdventure

The Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey, opens a 220-foot observation wheel. www.steelpier.com

 

New York

Darien Lake in Darien, New York hosts “Nik Wallenda: Beyond the Falls,” a new show featuring the famed tightrope walker and his family, from June 23 to Sept. 1. www.darienlake.com

The Great Escape in Queensbury, New York, opens “Extreme Supernova,” a high-flying, spinning adventure. The ride lifts guests 50 feet in the air as they spins, twist, and flip in their seat while the ride swings them back-and-forth like a giant pendulum. www.sixflags.com/greatEscape

Thunderbolt debuts at Luna Park in Brooklyn, New York’s historic Coney Island amusement district. The “Thunderbolt” roller coaster is designed in the same vein as a classic ride by the same name that thrilled guests from 1925 to 1982. The 125-foot-tall steel roller coaster reaches speeds up to 65 mph as it traverses 2,000 feet of track. www.lunaparknyc.com

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which honors the victims and heroes from the 2001 terrorist attacks, opens in New York City. The museum features hundreds of artifacts, including a section of “The Survivors’ Stairs from the World Trade Center. www.911memorial.org

Seabreeze in Rochester, New York, adds the “Wave Swinger,” a 36-foot-tall swing carousel, and the “Balloon Race,” a 42-foot-tall tower ride that takes children and parents alike high above the ground. The park also revamps its children’s area, Kiddie City, with a new site configuration, ride renovations and theming, and additional seating and landscaping.

 

North Carolina

Carowinds near Charlotte, North Carolina, introduces two water slides in the Boomerang Bay water park. Riders can catch an ocean-like wave on the 45-foot-tall, 263-foot-long “Surfer’s Swell and speed down the 351-foot “Dorsal Fin Drop.” www.carowinds.com

The 36,000-square-foot Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium opens at the Concord Mills Mall near Charlotte, North Carolina. The aquarium contains more than 5,000 creatures including sharks, seahorses, octopus, and rays and exhibits at the new $10 million facility include an underwater tunnel with a 180-degree view of the sea life. www.visitsealife.com/charlotte-concord

 

Ohio

Sandusky, Ohio’s Cedar Point opens two new family-fun rides and a two-person slingshot attraction. “Pipe Scream sends riders spinning and coasting over 302 feet of track, reaching maximum speeds of 43 mph. “Lake Erie Eagles is a classic Flying Scooter ride that allows riders to control their paths as they spin in suspended carriages. The park also adds “SlingShot,” a two-person ride that launches guests up to 360 feet into the air at speeds of more than 62 mph. www.cedarpoint.com

Ohio’s Columbus Zoo debuts “Heart of Africa,” a new $30.4 million, 43-acre habitat for animals native to the southern and eastern part of the continent. Visitors embark on a safari-style tour of the area led by virtual tour guide Jack Hanna and experience thrills such as feeding a giraffe, hearing a lion’s roar, and seeing a cheetah run.  www.colszoo.org/default.aspx

Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, introduces “Banshee,” a $24 million roller coaster. The coaster sends riders through seven inversions along 4,124 feet of track, reaching speeds up to 68 mph. The ride begins with a lift, taking guests to the maximum height of 167 feet before sending them down 150 feet and setting them on a course that includes a dive loop, two vertical loops, a zero-gravity roll, two batwing inversions, and a 170-foot-long heartline finale. The park also renames and rethemes the roller coaster formerly known as “Flight Deck” as “The Bat,” a tribute to a roller coaster that operated at the park from 1981 to 1983. www.visitkingsisland.com

 

Pennsylvania

Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania, introduces “Snake Pit,” a seven-story, six-slide complex in Wildwater Kingdom water park. On “Snake Pit” guests can experience the 450-foot freefall of “Python Plummet,” the spiraling 360-degree loops of “Constrictor,” and high-speed drops and banked turns of the twin “Boa Blasters.” www.dorneypark.com  

Exploration Island, a new prehistoric-themed area that features “Dino Dig,” an open-air fossil dig area, and “Prehistoric Path,” a forest pathway filled with more than a dozen lifelike animatronic dinosaurs, opens at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Exploration Island also includes “Gondola Cruise,” a scenic canal ride around the perimeter of the island, and “The Turnpike,” a 5-mph ride around the area’s outer rim perfect for snapping photos of the dinosaurs.  www.dutchwonderland.com

Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains in Scotrun, Pennsylvania, debuts the 20-foot-tall outdoor climbing attraction “Howlers’ Peak Ropes Course.” Kids and parents alike wear harnesses as they journey through this unique ropes course high above the ground. Younger children can also enjoy a smaller course designed just for them. www.greatwolf.com/poconos/waterpark

Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania, unveils three new rides. “Cocoa Cruiser” is a new 12-seat roller coaster designed for families to enjoy together and share a child’s first roller coaster ride. The park also installs a classic “Teacups” ride and the “Sweet Swing,” where up to 12 guests sit back-to-back in bench style seats as they swing back and forth. In addition, Hersheypark introduces Chickie’s and Pete’s, a famous Philadelphia eatery known for its crab fries, crab pretzels, and Philly cheesesteaks. www.hersheypa.com/index.php

The Philadelphia Zoo in Pennsylvania, opens an animal trail system, giving its animal inhabitants more interactive experiences. This trail system includes “Big Cat Crossing,” an overhead passageway that enables the animals to travel away from their usual habitats. www.philadelphiazoo.org

Cookie’s Monster Land opens at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, with a new play area and five new rides themed to the cookie-obsessed Muppet character. Attractions include the spinning “Flying Cookie Jars,” which lifts riders 40 feet in the air, and “Captain Cookie’s High ‘C’ Adventures,” which transports riders along a track set to mimic ocean swales. Other attractions include “Oscar’s Rotten Rusty Rockets,” “The Honker Dinger Derby,” and the “Monster Mix-Up.” The updated “1-2-3 Smile with Me!” interactive photo location also gives everyone the chance to share a furry hug and a smile with Cookie Monster and his friends. www.sesameplace.com

Waldameer Water World in Erie, Pennsylvania, illuminates its “X-Scream” drop tower with new LED lights. The park also adds new color to several of its water slides, including “Awesome Twosome,” the “Giant Slides,” the “Bermuda Triangle,” and the newly renamed “Liquid Lightning.” www.waldameer.com

 

Tennessee

FireChaser Express,” a new 2,427-foot dual-launch roller coaster designed for riders of all ages, kicks off a 10-year, $300 million capital investment project at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Perched 12 stories above the park’s Wilderness Pass area, the family coaster leaves the station in one direction before traveling back to return in the opposite direction. www.dollywood.com

 

Texas

The Corsicana Water and Adventure Park, a 23-acre water park, opens in Corsicana, Texas. The park includes several pools, a lazy river, mat racers, tube slides, body slides, ziplines, beach volleyball courts, and a water fountain show.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine near Dallas, Texas, debuts “Howlers’ Peak Ropes Course,” a 20-foot-tall outdoor adventure climbing attraction. Kids and parents alike wear harnesses as they wander through this unique ropes course high above onlookers below. Younger children can also enjoy a smaller course designed just for them. www.greatwolf.com/grapevine/waterpark

Max Bowl North expands in Humble, Texas, adding a 40,000-square-foot laser tag arena and a 30,000-square-foot arcade featuring more than 40 different games. www.maxbowlnorth.com

Putt-Putt FunHouse in Webster, Texas, replaces its existing laser tag arena with a brand new laser tag facility. The new arena features an advanced storyline where humans must protect a newfound beautiful planet from robot droids who intend to use the land as a manufacturing plant. Among other foes, players must fend off a 15-foot interactive robot that fights back and fires at guests. www.puttputtfunhouse.com

Fleafall,” a 128-foot drop ride debuts at Trader’s Village in Grand Prairie, Texas. Riders are slowly lifted up the tower and dropped at speeds up to 45 mph. tradersvillage.com/grand-prairie

Trader’s Village in San Antonio, Texas, expands with six new attractions. The facility introduces “Fleafall,” a 128-foot drop ride, and “Pharaoh’s Fury,” a pendulum ride that swings riders back and forth with increasing intensity until reaching the five-story-high apex. A scrambler, bumper car attraction, playground, and 28-foot tower ride are among other additions. tradersvillage.com/san-antonio

The San Antonio Zoo celebrates its 100-year anniversary with the opening of Zootenial Plaza. The plaza includes a new carousel featuring many of the zoo’s most famous animal inhabitants and a restaurant with chef-prepared delicacies. www.sazoo-aq.org

The newest Schlitterbahn water park and resort opens on Padre Island in Corpus Christi, Texas. Attractions include “Boogie Bahn,” “Torrent River,” and a fast, high-splash ride called “Shoot the Chute.” Guests can also move between the indoor and outdoor sections in a new tunnel ride. www.schlitterbahn.com/cc

Bahama Blaster,” a new water slide complex, anchors the tropically themed expansion at White Water Bay at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. Guests step into one of the complex’s four vertical launching chambers before free-falling six stories at speeds up to 40 mph. www.sixflags.com/fiestatexas

Bugs Bunny Boomtown, an area designed for thrill seekers in training, debuts at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington. The new area encompasses 10 attractions, including “Looney Tunes Adventure Camp,” an interactive play structure that lets children climb, slide, and discover fun surprises; “Marvin Martian’s Space Rockets,” a slower-speed spinning ride that allows guests to decide their own flight paths by adjusting a movable front wing on each vehicle; and “Daffy Duck Bucket Blasters,” a rotating and spinning ride where each vehicle comes equipped with a water blaster. The new area also features additional seating and shaded areas for parents to take a break while their children play. www.sixflags.com/overTexas

 

Virginia

London Rocks is a new 25-minute musical spectacular showcasing the evolution of British rock and roll. The show debuts at the Globe Theater, located in the park’s newly renovated English village, at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia. www.buschgardens.com

Kings Dominion, north of Richmond, Virginia, celebrates its 40th anniversary with nods to the park’s history, including the reintroduction of a popular blue ice cream treat, a complete restoration of the iconic International Street Fountain, and the return of the Safari Village, which includes renovations to “Volcano: The Blast Coaster” and the “Anaconda” roller coaster. www.kingsdominion.com


Washington

Howlers’ Peak Ropes Course,” a 20-foot-tall outdoor adventure climbing attraction, opens at Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound in Washington. Kids and parents wear harnesses as they travel through this unique ropes course high above the ground. Younger children can also enjoy a smaller course designed just for them. www.greatwolf.com/grandmound/waterpark

 

West Virginia
A new high-speed zipline opens at River Riders Inc. in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Riders fly head-first through the 1,200-foot course. The attraction also opens a zipline course designed for children ages 2 to 7. www.riverriders.com

 

Wisconsin

Mount Olympus Water and Theme Park Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, doubles the size of Medusa’s Indoor Waterpark to 130,000 square feet. The attraction features water slides, whirlpools, hot tubs, a lazy river, and more. www.mtolympuspark.com

Catch World Fever at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin, gives guests the opportunity to experience the cycling boom of the 1890s. Guests climb aboard a replica 19th century tricycle and spin to a turn-of-the-century bike club meet. www.oldworldwisconsin.org

 

CANADA

Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, introduces “Wonder Mountain’s Guardian,” an immersive 4-D adventure that combines elements of a roller coaster and dark ride. Guests encounter mythical creatures as they navigate 1,000 feet of coaster track through a desolate forest, underground lake and Draconian city before they zoom down a 60-foot (18-meter) hill into a dragon’s lair for their final battle. www.canadaswonderland.com

LaRonde, located in Montreal, Quebec, introduces “Demon,” a high-flying inverted experience. Guests sit in a giant gondola and are lifted 131 feet (40 meters) in the air before flipping head-over-heels and swinging side-to-side. The ride features 16 water jet sprays that soak riders randomly throughout the experience. www.laronde.com

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About IAAPA
Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities and attractions, and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the attractions industry. The association’s global headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia, United States, and it maintains regional offices in Brussels, Mexico City, and Hong Kong. www.IAAPA.org

11 Summertime Scenarios to Help Develop Your Child’s Curiosity

Questions, Questions Everywhere: 11 Scenarios  You Can Use to Enhance Your Child’s Curiosity This Summer
Victoria Ryan O’Toole shares curiosity-enhancing questions you can ask your children during 11 common summer scenarios.

         

Kids swimming

Kids swiming

Los Angeles, CA (June 2013)—If you’re a parent, you know that children are naturally curious. Youngsters ask question after question about every conceivable topic (plus a few you’ve never thought of before). And even before they can talk, children actively explore the world around them through all five senses.

Unfortunately for many children, as they grow, their curiosity is dulled instead of sharpened. They become dependent on outside influences—TVs, computers, video games, their parents, etc.—to keep them engaged and entertained, and they no longer show a strong desire to independently seek out answers and knowledge.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. As a parent, there’s a lot you can do to enhance your child’s curiosity—and according to Victoria Ryan O’Toole, summer is the perfect time to help kids develop an active interest in the fascinating world around them.

“Not only should you gladly answer your children’s 10 million questions, you should teach them to ask more,” says O’Toole, creator of the Molly Moccasins story, game, and activity book series for children (www.mollymoccasins.com). “The fact that school’s out doesn’t mean that learning has to stop. In fact, over the next few months, asking questions and developing a healthy imagination can be more fun than ever.”

According to O’Toole, helping your children strengthen their “curiosity muscles” is a wonderful gift because it enables them to continually learn, grow, and question the world they live in and sets them up for a successful future.

“The truth is, curiosity and creativity are some of the most valuable skills young people can have as they prepare to enter the global economy,” she comments. “As professionals, they’ll have to innovate on the go, think of better ways to solve old problems, create time- and money-saving solutions, and much more—and right now during childhood is when parents have the power to create that foundation.”

Enter Molly Moccasins. O’Toole created her popular series, which features a bright, imaginative, and curious character named Molly, to inspire young readers to find meaning, knowledge, and adventure in everyday life. As they follow Molly on her almost 70 story adventures through backyards, museums, farms, libraries, forests, and (much!) more, kids will learn how to ask new questions, observe new things, and develop an increased curiosity about the world around them.

This year, O’Toole urges parents not to let their children spend the long, sunny days of summer in front of a television or computer screen. Instead, help them to follow in Molly’s footsteps by letting their curiosity lead them out the door and into adventure. Once you begin to help your kids “see” all of the interesting questions that can be found in everyday life, they’ll soon begin to ask them naturally.

Here, O’Toole shares curiosity-enhancing questions you might ask and explore with your child during 11 common summer scenarios, as well as a few Molly Moccasins titles that complement each activity.

Gardening.

• How long does it take a flower to grow?

• What does a plant need to grow?

• What can you use plants for? (While they’re pretty to look at, many can be used as food or even medicine.)

• Why do plants have roots?

• What do worms, bees, and other insects do in a garden?

• How many different types of plants are in your backyard or favorite park?

Related stories: The Garden, Busy Bees

Fishing/visiting an aquarium.

• What do fish eat?

• Why do they live in the water?

• How do they breathe underwater?

• Can all fish live in the same type of water?

• What kind of gear do you need to go fishing?

• What is the largest fish in the world? The smallest?

Related stories: Water Is Amazing, If I Were A…

Hiking.

• What’s the tallest mountain? How tall is it?

• What kinds of animals live in the woods?

• Why is it harder to breathe the higher you go?

• What is the longest hiking trail in the world and how long does it take to complete?

• What items are good to have with you on a hike?

Related stories: Leaf Me Alone, Species Spotting, Wonders of the World, The Compass

Swimming.

• What are the different swimming strokes?

• How deep is the deep end of the pool? The shallow end?

• How much does one gallon of water weigh?

• What animals or other creatures can swim?

• What creatures live and swim in salt water (like the ocean), and which ones live or swim in rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds?

• What is the safest position to be in if you’re in the water?

• Can you create a new species that can live in water? How would this creature breathe? What would it look like? How would it eat? How would it defend itself?

Related stories: Water Is Amazing, If I Were A…

Collecting bugs.

• What bugs come out at night?

• Why do we need bugs?

• How many bugs can you name?

• What animals or creatures eat bugs?

• Name or invent a bug you would like to meet!

Related stories: Good Morning, Nature, Neighbors, Camouflage, Busy Bees

Baking and making s’mores.

• Why do cakes rise?

• What do “tbsp” and “tsp” stand for?

• Why is it important to use the correct measurements in the recipe?

• What do you need to make s’mores?

• How do you make s’mores?

• What makes the chocolate melt?

• What does sugar do in your body and where does it go?

Related stories: Berry Delicious Day, Body Language

Camping.

• What can you use to build a tent?

• What does a tent protect you from?

• Where do people usually camp?

• What do you need to bring with you when camping?

• Can you imagine or create a space to camp in? (Use white sheets to get the feeling of being in the Arctic, or find the fluffiest pillows in your house to help you imagine that you are floating among the clouds!)

Related stories: Backpacking in the Backyard, Leaf Me Alone, The Compass

Setting up a lemonade stand.

• How do you make lemonade?

• What do we need for the stand? (Poster, chairs, cups, money jar, table, etc.)

• How much does one cup cost?

• If you sell “X” cups, how much money will you make?

• How will you attract the attention of lemonade drinkers? (Ideas include dressing in a costume or making a great sign!)

• How many other flavors of lemonade (like lime-ade, orange-ade, strawberry-ade, or mango-ade) can you think of? If you make these flavors, see which one is most popular and try to figure out why.

Related stories: The Garden, Berry Delicious Day

Looking at clouds and stargazing.

• What are the different types of clouds?

• What kind of shapes do you see?

• What are stars?

• What is the biggest star?

• What is a constellation? Which ones can you find?

• Can you make a book with pictures of everything you see in the clouds and stars?

Related stories: Cloud Animals, Lights Out

Exploring family history.

• What did your great-grandparents/aunts/uncles/etc. do for a living?

• Where did they live?

• What is the origin of your last name?

• Who do you recognize in old photo albums?

• What is a family tree? Can you make one?

• What things do you have in common with others from your family? (Habits, mannerisms, physical features, etc.)

Related stories: Family Tree, Little Old Me

Going to the zoo.

• What’s your favorite animal? What does it eat?

• Why do animals live in different habitats?

• What is the baby version of a ______ called? (e.g., lion: cub)

• If you could have any animal in the world as a pet or friend, which would it be? (Or, invent your own!)

Related stories: Surprise, Best Friends

“No matter where you live, the world around you is bursting with questions to be asked and information to be learned,” O’Toole says. “You just have to keep your eyes open so that you see opportunities to ask them! Remember, curiosity is something your children were born with. Your job is to learn how to foster and encourage your children’s natural impulses to ask questions and learn new things. This summer, you may be surprised by how much fun you have in the process!”

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About Victoria Ryan O’Toole:
Victoria Ryan O’Toole is the author of the popular Molly Moccasins books, apps, games, and activity series. The first dictionary that O’Toole ever received was inscribed with a powerful message from her favorite uncle: “A curious mind is never bored.” As soon as she read that line, she knew life would never be boring—and it never has been.

O’Toole’s first children’s book series, Molly Moccasins, is evidence of Victoria’s optimistic perspective. Molly Moccasins finds meaning, knowledge, and adventure in everyday life—just as Victoria has since she was young. Now Victoria has written and published nearly 70 Molly Moccasins stories for the series, which have sold in almost one hundred countries in less than a year.

She delights in her life in Southern California with her husband, twin daughters, and twin yellow labs, and is thrilled to be writing adventure stories that encourage children to use their imaginations and natural curiosities, just as she continues to use hers.

About Molly Moccasins:
The Molly Moccasins book series and advertising-free website are for all young adventurers who like to read, play, think, imagine, and investigate. The lead character, Molly, with her spirited imagination, slightly sophisticated vocabulary, and positive perspective, delights in some great adventures with her family, friends, and the people (and creatures) she encounters in her everyday life. The website is launching with nearly 70 stories and even more game options.

Using contemporary media, this unique story, game, and activity book series is for children, parents, and educators and can now be enjoyed in print and on almost all digital platforms: web, apps, ebooks, and audio books.

For more information, please visit www.mollymoccasins.com