This summer's new theme-park attractions are throwing the average roller coaster for a loop by incorporating high-tech 4-D animation, rock and roll, and even America's real first family, the Simpsons. Cowabunga, dude!
At Universal Studios in Orlando and southern California, you enter the Simpsons Ride through the mouth of a 28-foot-tall Krusty the Clown, then join Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie for a trip through Krusty's theme park, Krustyland. Other favorite characters, such as Moe, Apu, and Sideshow Bob, make guest appearances throughout. simpsonsride.com.
The Dark Knight Coaster
On the new Batman-themed coaster at Six Flags in Gurnee, Ill., and Jackson, N.J., you zip through a half dozen 180-degree hairpin turns. The highlight, though, is a plunge into pitch darkness during a pursuit by the Joker. sixflags.com.
Toy Story Mania!
You wear 3-D glasses and aim for targets using spring-action guns on this midway-inspired ride at Disneyland and Walt Disney World (the goal is to finish with a high score). Thanks to 4-D effects, you'll even feel objects whizzing past you. disneyparks.com.
Hersheypark, in Hershey, Pa., has a new ride that isn't for the faint of heart: Fahrenheit is an inverted-loop roller coaster that sends you plummeting down a 97-degree drop. That makes it the steepest dip at an amusement park in the U.S. hersheypark.com.
Led Zeppelin–The Ride
The first rock-and-roll park, Hard Rock Park, in Myrtle Beach, S.C., has more than 50 music-related rides. The Led Zeppelin coaster, timed to "Whole Lotta Love," boasts onboard audio, six inversions, and a 120-foot-tall loop. hardrockpark.com.