All kinds of new rides and attractions opened at Florida theme parks in 2017, and 2018 is on track for a few more. The big news is the arrival of the long-anticipated world of Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, a themed environment based on the movie, "Avatar." There's also a new tropical island water park complete with a volcano, a ride on a ship through the land of Arendelle, and so much more.
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Under development for a number of years, the much anticipated 12-acre magical world of Pandora opened in May 2017 at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Inspired by James Cameron's 2009 movie, "Avatar," Pandora visitors take a four-minute ride on the back of a Banshee utilizing motion-simulating technology and a large screen for a thrilling 3D journey through Pandora's forests, valleys, and into a cave while encountering various beasts along the way.
A calmer ride down the Na'vi River takes you through a bioluminescent rainforest populated by beasts and an animatronic Na'vi Shaman of Songs. In the Pandoran garden of giant other-worldly flowers and plants, the Flaska Reclinata sprays a water mist of spores when touched.
This new Electric Ocean spectacular lit up the night sky at SeaWorld on select dates in August and September 2017. The show offered an exotic world of light, music, and glowing sea creatures, capped by a spectacular fireworks display.
The former Maelstrom ride in the Norway pavilion has undergone a thematic makeover that features the crazy-popular film, "Frozen." Visitors join Anna, Queen Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff, and friends when the Frozen ride takes a journey aboard an ancient Norwegian ship through Arendelle, complete with favorite songs from the movie. This is a dark, slow ride with small drops suitable for all ages.
Legoland Ninjago, a new martial arts-themed area at the Legoland Florida Resort debuted in January 2017. The main attraction is the Ninjago ride, where riders score points by using ninja hand movements to blast animated fireballs and other objects at 3D villains.
The ride is a blend of 3D computer animation, 4D special effects, and innovative interactive technology. Children under 48 inches must ride with a taller adult for safety. The attraction also features large LEGO models of Ninjago heroes and a LEGO building experience called Zane's Temple Build, where kids add bricks to a giant model of the Ninjago monastery.
SeaWorld announced the summer 2017 debut of its first digitally enhanced ride, as it transforms the Kraken roller coaster into a virtual reality coaster experience. It takes riders on a deep sea mission complete with sea creatures, including Kraken, using uniquely designed headsets and electronic technology.
The Dolphin Nursery became more interactive in 2017, with large acrylic windows for better viewing, and multi-purpose digital displays provide educational information about dolphin behavior.
Universal's fifth hotel is a Caribbean paradise-themed property that offers waterfalls, tropical landscaping, a resort-style swimming pool with a water slide, and a stone turret in the lobby. The intent is to create an island escape in the heart of Universal's theme parks. Guests in the hotel's one thousand rooms and suites enjoy theme parks benefits like early admission and complimentary water taxi/shuttle service to the parks.
Universal's water park is built around a tropical island theme. After entering Volcano Bay, visitors get a view of Krakatau, the volcano, and its waterfalls that spill into the lagoon at Waturi Beach. Features like the TeAwa the Fearless River carries riders down white water rapids on inner tubes that surge through the heart of the volcano. The Ko'okiri Body Plunge features a 70-degree fall through a drop door that ends with a tribute from Vol, the volcano god.
Due to open in 2018, Fast & Furious: Supercharged will be located in the San Francisco area of the park and take riders on a high-speed adventure in racing along with the stars from the Fast & Furious movies.
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Race through New York City with Jimmy Fallon and your favorite characters from The Tonight Show. Located in the New York City section of the park, motion simulator technology, a huge screen, and 3D technology take ride participants on an adventure to New York City to race with Jimmy Fallon through and over Manhattan landmarks. Minimum height requirement is 40 inches. Use the Virtual Line Pass to avoid waiting in long lines.
Officially opening in summer 2018, Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios will feature Slinky Dog Dash, a family coaster that Andy creates for Slinky to stretch his coils around various turns and drops. Alien Swirling Saucers is a toy play set that Andy got from Pizza Planet. At this attraction, aliens in flying saucers will try to capture the riders' rocket vehicles.