SUMMER VACATION IDEAS
Best New Theme Park Rides of 2013
Welcome to the summer of the thrill ride! With a new crop of coasters, water rides, and family-friendly adventures debuting at theme parks across America, we promise you’ll find one that’s just right for you.
At 108.2 feet high, Goldstriker at California's Great Adventure whisks riders along 3,197 feet of track at a whopping 53.7 mph, making it the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California. California's Great America; single day adult tickets start at $45.99 when ordered online, with junior and senior tickets starting from $39.99. Look for a special deal this summer that gives you tickets for $39.99 each when two or more are ordered, saving you $23 per person compared to gate prices. Expect to pay $15 for parking.
Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Ill.
Now through August 26th, visitors to Six Flags Great America will have a rare chance to experience the beloved hills, twists, and turns of its best-known wooden roller coaster, Viper—backwards. That's right, the park actually had its popular Batman: The Ride running in reverse until July 7th, but has since moved on to the gut-wrenching, gravity-defying thrills of this 3,500-foot wooden coaster, guaranteed to give visitors a stomach-dropping ride they'll never forget. Six Flags Great America; daily tickets start from $41.99 per person when purchased online at least three days in advance. Regular online ticket prices start at $46.99 per person. Parking is $22.
For Water Ride Lovers
Dollywood's Splash Country, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Debuting in May of this year, River Rush officially became Tennessee's first-ever water roller coaster, bringing visitors four stories into the trees for a series of twists and turns through dark, watery tunnels. You'll climb like a roller coaster and experience four drops, the largest being a 25-foot fall at a 45-degree angle. Dollywood's Splash Country; tickets for visitors ages 12-59 start at $47, with seniors over age 60 and children ages 4-11 paying from $42. Expect to pay $10 for parking.
For Family-Friendly Fun
THE NEW FANTASYLAND
Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
The New Fantasyland in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is now home to new attractions like The Enchanted Forest, an area inspired by Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. New Fantasyland restaurants include Gaston's Tavern (it's hard not to burst into Gaston's theme song in here!), and the Be Our Guest Restaurant, the first in the Magic Kingdom to serve alcohol. Plans for next year include a Princess Fairytale Hall for special princess meet-and-greets, and a new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride. Classic Disney rides like Dumbo The Flying Elephant are now a part of the new section's Storybook Circus. Walt Disney World; one day tickets to the Magic Kingdom start at $95 for adults and $89 for children ages 3-9. Parking is $15 per day.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.
If you're in the San Francisco Bay area, keep an eye out for Undertow, a new thrill ride opening in August at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, one of Budget Travel's favorite American Boardwalks. Riders board four-person cars with two people facing forward and two facing backward. The cars continue to rotate throughout the entire ride, guaranteeing that no two trips will be exactly the same, and making this the only spinning roller coaster in Northern California. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk; several ticketing options are available, including an unlimited all-day rides wristband for from $31.95, and tickets that throw in boardwalk attractions like laser tag and mini-golf for from $38.95. Check the website for more options and discounts. Parking is $12.