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Beyond Disney: 17 new theme parks and attractions we're looking forward to this year

March 02, 2022
11 min read
Wonder Woman-themed roller coaster
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It's no secret that we geek out when Disney announces a new roller coaster, restaurant or hotel. But while Disney is an undeniable juggernaut in the space, there's more to the world of theme parks than just Mickey's backyard.

Not even counting what Disney is cooking up, there are almost 20 new attractions (and, in a few cases, entirely new theme parks) across the U.S. that are scheduled to open this year.

No matter your preferred level of thrill, there's something on this list for everyone. And because these new offerings are spread all over the country, you might be closer to some all-new fun than you realize.

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Legoland New York — Water Playground

(Photo courtesy of Legoland New York Resort )

Legoland New York Resort officially opens for the season on April 8, 2022. Just a few months later when swimsuit season hits, the park will open a Lego-themed water playground where families can beat the summer heat.

The play area includes four waterslides, a massive interactive water play structure and a station where you can build and race your own Lego boat. There is also a nearby changing area so you can slip out of your wet swimsuit when you are ready to head for dry land.

Legoland New York Resort's Water Playground is scheduled to open in summer 2022.

SeaWorld San Antonio — Tidal Surge

(Photo courtesy of SeaWorld San Antonio)

SeaWorld San Antonio's newest ride may prove that everything really is bigger in Texas.

Tidal Surge, a "screaming swing" with two pendulum-like arms that propel riders back and forth at speeds of up to 68 miles per hour, will be the world's tallest and fastest ride of its kind. If your favorite thing about roller coasters is that flutter-in-your-tummy feeling you get every time you lift out of the seat, you'll get that airtime over and over again on Tidal Surge.

Tidal Surge is scheduled to open on March 5, 2022.

Six Flags Over Texas — Aquaman: Power Wave

(Photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Texas )

Aquaman: Power Wave combines the best (in our opinion) parts of a super-intense launch coaster and a log flume ride -- high speeds and even higher splashes. The track for Aquaman: Power Wave is only 700 feet long, but you'll be launched backward and forward along that track multiple times before hurtling toward a "splashing" finale. In other words, you will get wet.

Aquaman: Power Wave is scheduled to open in summer 2022.

Six Flags Over Texas — Pirates of Speelunker Cave

Aquaman: Power Wave isn't the only new attraction coming to Arlington's Six Flags Over Texas this year. Pirates of Speelunker Cave is a reimagining of one of the park's earliest attractions called The Cave. Six-person boats will take guests into the depths of a cave and right in the middle of a battle between treasure-hunting pirates and the residents of the cave, the Speelunkers. This boat ride combines physical sets, animatronics and projections for a fully immersive adventure.

Pirates of Speelunker Cave is scheduled to open in early 2022.

Related: The best family-friendly activities in Dallas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas — Dr. Diabolical's Cliffhanger

(Photo courtesy of Six Flags Fiesta Texas)

Dr. Diabolical is a menacing villain who built a machine designed to "harvest the essence of human adrenaline and fear." What better way to harvest such things than the world's steepest dive coaster?

After a 150-foot lift hill, riders on Dr. Diabolical's Cliffhanger will momentarily dangle face-first above a 95-degree, beyond-vertical drop, before flying down and around multiple twists, turns and loops at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.

Dr. Diabolical's Cliffhanger is scheduled to open in 2022.

Related: 4 of the country's best second-cities for family vacations

SeaWorld Orlando — Ice Breaker

SeaWorld was once a destination for visiting with and learning about marine life.

Today, it's competing for a toy spot for record-breaking thrill rides. Ice Breaker, the newest coaster to join its ranks, is the park's first launch coaster. It also boasts the steepest vertical drop in the state of Florida. Ice Breaker's unique design allows for multiple forward and backward launches (four in total) and a series of airtime-heavy twists, hills and inversions.

Ice Breaker opened Feb. 18, 2022.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay — Iron Gwazi

(Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay)

Gwazi was a wooden roller coaster that operated at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay between 1999 and 2015. Like a phoenix reborn, Iron Gwazi is a hybrid steel and wooden roller coaster that was inspired by and built using elements from its predecessor.

This relentless coaster includes a 206-foot-tall drop and reaches a top speed of 76 miles per hour, making it the country's tallest hybrid coaster and the fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in the world. We're pretty sure that's code for "not for the faint of heart."

Iron Gwazi opens on March 11, 2022.

Peppa Pig Theme Park

(Photo courtesy of Peppa Pig Theme Park )

Peppa Pig Theme Park is Central Florida's newest and potentially most oink-tastic theme park.

Like its next-door neighbor, Legoland Florida, everything at Peppa Pig Theme Park was designed with preschoolers in mind. The park has a mix of rides and play areas, including a "muddy puddles" splash pad that is, luckily, not as muddy as the puddles from the animated children's series. The park holds a Certified Autism Center designation and many of the attractions and play areas are wheelchair accessible.

Peppa Pig Theme Park opened on Feb. 24, 2022.

Related: Best trips to take with kids of every age

Busch Gardens Williamsburg — Pantheon

Busch Gardens claims that its newest coaster "harnesses all the speed and strength of five of the greatest Roman gods," and they've got the stats to back it up ... in so far that those stats exist. This steel coaster reaches speeds of 73 miles per hour and takes riders through four intense launches, making it the world's fastest multi-launch coaster.

Pantheon is scheduled to open on March 25, 2022.

Lost Island Theme Park

Lost Island Theme Park, a sister park to the nearby Lost Island water park in Waterloo, Iowa, is still under construction and official details are sparse.

According to a Des Moines Register interview with general manager Eric Bertch, the park is scheduled to open in summer 2022 and will be divided into "five different realms" with "a variety of rides that range from kids' rides up to some pretty impressive thrill rides." The park's own website is a collection of ride progress photos and videos, but consider us intrigued.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park — Defiance

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. However, the town went by the name Defiance when it was founded in the late 1800s. Defiance is a fitting name for the park's newest coaster, as it seems to defy the laws of gravity and physics as you fly high above the Rocky Mountains.

Defiance is scheduled to open July 9, 2022.

Kings Dominion — Tumbili

(Photo courtesy of Kings Dominion)

It's hard to describe Tumbili without actually seeing it (which is why we included this handy rendering). But if the words "4-D Spin Coaster" don't scare you off, you're in for a real treat with this one.

Riders will fall head over heels (literally) many times over on this suspended steel coaster as the cars flip continuously throughout the ride. The whole experience lasts just under a minute, so even if it does sound scary, we'd probably try it at least once.

Tumbili is scheduled to open in 2022.

SeaWorld San Diego — Emperor

(Photo courtesy of SeaWorld San Diego)

Named for the Emperor penguin (who you can get up close and personal with at SeaWorld San Diego), Emperor is set to be California's tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster.

What is a dive coaster exactly? When you reach the top of Emperor's 153-foot-tall lift hill, you'll be momentarily suspended above a 14-story drop before diving down at a face-first 90-degree angle. Oh, and it's floorless, which only adds to the intensity.

Emperor is scheduled to open on March 12, 2022.

Related: 15 of the best things to do in San Diego

Sesame Place San Diego

(Photo courtesy of Sesame Place San Diego)

As a matter of fact, we can tell you how to get to Sesame Street.

Sesame Place already has an East Coast park in Philadelphia, but Sesame Place San Diego will be the first West Coast location. As you might have guessed, when kids visit Sesame Place San Diego, they can meet their favorite characters, ride kid-friendly attractions and explore a real-life Sesame Street. Be on the lookout for interactive experiences throughout the "neighborhood" and lots of fun souvenir photo opportunities.

Sesame Place San Diego is scheduled to open on March 26, 2022.

Six Flags Magic Mountain — Wonder Woman Flight of Courage

(Photo courtesy of Six Flags Magic Mountain)

With the addition of Wonder Woman Flight of Courage, California's Six Flags Magic Mountain will be home to 20 roller coasters, more than any other theme park in the world.

Riders will take flight on this single-rail coaster (the tallest and longest of its kind) through more than 3,300 feet of winding and looping track. Wonder Woman aficionados will also appreciate the immersive theming of the queue area, designed to look like her island paradise home, Themyscira.

Wonder Woman Flight of Courage is scheduled to open in summer 2022.

Hersheypark — Jolly Rancher Remix and Mix'd Flavored By Jolly Rancher

(Photo courtesy of Hersheypark)

Pennsylvania's Hersheypark is adding not one, but two, candy-themed attractions to its lineup.

Jolly Rancher Remix is a reimagining of the park's Sidewinder roller coaster and will feature randomized light and music effects for five completely different ride experiences. Mix'd Flavored by Jolly Rancher is a quadruple-arm swinging ride that takes riders forward and backward (but not upside down) while other riders swing surprisingly close.

Jolly Rancher Remix and Mix'd Flavored By Jolly Rancher are scheduled to open in summer 2022.

Related: 8 ways to make the most out of a theme park trip

Bottom line

Whether you are looking for a new way to have a fun day with your preschooler or want to try out the latest and greatest thrill ride, you have options with all the new happenings across theme parks in the U.S. this year.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Six Flags Magic Mountain)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases