Amusement parks have much to offer this summer


Cars Land at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California, will take visitors to Radiator Springs, the setting for the Pixar “Cars” movies. (Paul Hiffmeyer/AP)
June 10, 2012

The first parts of a new Fantasyland at Florida’s Walt Disney World, a Disneyland attraction in California based on the “Cars” movies, and Universal Studios Hollywood’s new Transformers ride top the list of new attractions at theme parks across the country.

So if your summer vacation plans have you visiting an amusement park, there are lots of fun new rides to explore, including 20 new roller coasters. (Don’t forget about the new Apocalypse coaster at Six Flags America in Prince George’s County.) Here are some of the highlights.

●Disney World’s new Fantasyland: Disney says the new construction at Fantasyland inside the Magic Kingdom in Florida is the largest expansion project in the park’s 40-year history, doubling the size of the current Fantasyland. Part of it — including one of what will eventually be dueling Dumbo rides and the rethemed Barnstormer family roller coaster — opened in April.

● Cars at Disneyland: This month, Disney California Adventure opens Cars Land, re-creating the town of Radiator Springs from the movies, including a race-course ride and two other new little-kid-friendly attractions.

● Transformers at Universal Studios Hollywood in California: This dark ride for older kids includes motion-simulator vehicles inspired by the science fiction action film. It opened last month.

●Universal Orlando: At the Florida theme park, a new 3-D ride based on the movie “Despicable Me” will open this summer. There’s also a new parade.

●SeaWorld Orlando: Sea turtles are at the center of a new attraction that opened this spring. It includes a first-of-its-kind 360-degree domed theater showing a 3-D movie about the endangered creatures.

● Legoland in Orlando: The park opened last fall but has a renovated water park open for summer travelers.

●Busch Gardens in Florida: The park in Tampa has an elaborate new ice show called “Iceploration,” which features everything from costumed skaters to exotic birds flying around the indoor theater. The show tells the story of a kid who, with the help of his wise grandfather, puts down his electronic devices and discovers the natural wonders of the world. And entering the cool indoor theater for the 30-minute show will undoubtedly be a welcome break from Florida’s summer heat.

●Busch Gardens in Virginia: The Williamsburg park has a new half-mile-long coaster called Verbolten. What’s especially neat about this is that half of it is inside and half outside.

●Hersheypark: The Pennsylvania park has a new 200-foot-tall coaster called Skyrush, which will reach speeds of 75 miles per hour and includes gravity-defying hills.

— Associated Press

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