We enjoy visiting amusement parks and theme parks to revisit childhood memories and experience our favorite coasters and other rides. But we also love visiting parks to check out the latest, greatest attractions. In 2016, there will be lots to love at parks throughout North America.
The biggest news is from Universal Studios Hollywood, which will be capping off a massive five-year expansion with the West Coast premiere of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The original Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando has been generating huge crowds, buzz, and critical acclaim. Other California parks won't be able to match Universal's buzz, but many of them have some wonderful new attractions coming as well.
Universal's parks in Florida will be taking a break from new Harry rides in 2016, but Islands of Adventure will be bringing back an old, hairy ride with a King Kong reboot. Epcot will set sail for Arendelle with a Frozen-themed boat ride. Other Florida parks (as well as ones in California) have some wild, new coasters rolling out.
Speaking of coasters, 2016 will be another banner year for the thrill machines and the fans who love riding them. Perhaps the year's most anticipated coaster is on its way to Dollywood, which is building the world's fastest woodie -- and the world's first to use a magnetic launch system. Six Flags has new coasters coming in 2016 (along with other goodies). In early March 2016, the park chain announced a bold plan to roll out virtual reality coasters at nine of its parks. Many other parks will be unveiling their own shiny, new rails.
Do you want to ride? Let's explore what we can look forward to on the midways. California and Florida parks lead off the Ride Guide. After that, U.S. states are arranged alphabetically. Canadian and Mexican parks follow at the end.
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After years of anticipation, Muggles will finally be able to quench their thirst with some frothy butterbeer when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens at Universal Studios Hollywood. There's also a Joker-themed hybrid wooden-steel coaster coming to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, a new Soarin' experience at Disney California Adventure, and plenty more on the way to the Golden State. California parks have their own 2016 Ride Guide page.
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Universal's banished bad boy, King Kong, will make a triumphant return when Skull Island: Reign of Kong opens at Islands of Adventure. There will also be coasters coming to both Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando, a Frozen ride opening in Epcot, a new 4D film debuting at Legoland Florida, and plenty of other goodies. Florida parks have their own 2016 Ride Guide page.
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Alabama Splash Adventure
Drop Zone and Tea Cups
Under new ownership since 2015, the park continues to expand with a new drop tower ride and a spinning tea cups ride.
Find more Alabama theme parks.
ARIZONA: There are no new developments in 2016, but here is where you can find Arizona theme parks.
ARKANSAS: There are no new rides coming in 2016, but here is where you can find Arkansas theme parks.
COLORADO: There is nothing new for 2016, but here is where you can find Colorado theme parks.
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Phobia Phear Coaster
The compact, triple-launch coaster will be the first of its kind in New England.
Quassy Amusement Park
Reverse Time and Slide City
A new spinning thrill ride will open in the dry part of the park, and a new set of slides for younger guests will open in the water park.
DELAWARE: There are no new developments planned for 2016, but here is where you can find Delaware theme parks.Continue to 5 of 22 below.
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Six Flags Over Georgia
Austell (near Atlanta), GA
VR Coaster plus DC Super Friends and Bugs Bunny Boomtown
Dare Devil Dive will be turned into a virtual reality coaster. Also, the park chain's first DC Comics-themed kids area is on the way along with an expanded Looney Tunes area. There will be a new drop tower, a mirror maze, spinning rides, and more.
Find more Georgia theme parks.
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New mat racing water slide
The water park will get a new attraction.
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Six Flags Great America
Justice League: Battle for Metropolis
Expect a Universal-quality interactive dark ride complete with immersive 4D media and roving motion base vehicles. The park chain opened similar rides at two locations in 2015. Read my review of Justice League: Battle for Metropolis.
Find more Illinois theme parks.
INDIANA: There are no new developments on tap for 2016, but here is where you can find Indiana theme parks.
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Bowling Green, KY
A small figure-8 coaster with spinning cars will open at the park.
RMC, the wonderful ride manufacturer that has been giving old wooden coasters a new lease on life will be working its magic on the park's defunct Twisted Twins. Read more about the hybrid wooden-steel coaster, Storm Chaser.
Find more Kentucky theme parks.
LOUISIANA: There are no new rides planned for 2016, but here is where you can find Louisiana theme parks.
MAINE: There is nothing new scheduled for 2016, but here is where you can find Maine theme parks.
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Edaville made big news and attracted huge crowds when it opened Thomas Land in 2015. For 2016, it will add Kersplash, a small water coaster, next to Thomas Land.
Six Flags New England
Re-Themed Superman VR Coaster plus Fireball
The park's glorious Bizarro steel hypercoaster returns to its roots with its original colors and (a slight variation of) its original name, Superman the Ride. It will also be turned into a virtual reality coaster. Plus, the carnival-like ride, Fireball, will send passengers racing forwards, backwards, and upside down in a 70-foot loop. Also,
Find More Massachusetts theme parks
MICHIGAN: There are no new rides on the way in 2016, but here is where you can find Michigan theme parks.
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Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America
Technically, this Soarin'-style attraction will be in the Mall of America, but not within the Nickelodeon Universe. Like the popular Disney parks ride, passengers will virtually fly above famous landmarks.
40th Anniversary and New Flying Eagles
To celebrate its big birthday, the park will open a new version of an old classic spinning ride, Flying Eagles.
Find more Minnesota theme parks.Continue to 13 of 22 below.
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Six Flags St. Louis
VR Coaster plus Fireball
Ninja will be turned into a virtual reality coaster. Also, another mega-looping ride is on the way. (See Six Flags New England, above.)
Worlds of Fun
Kansas City, MO
Planet Snoopy Expansion
Five new rides, including Flying Scooters and a small train, are coming to the park's land for young children.
Find more Missouri theme parks.
NEVADA: There isn't anything new planned for 2016, but here is where you can find Nevada theme parks.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: There aren't any new rides on the way in 2016, but here is where you can find New Hampshire theme parks.
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NEW JERSEY PARKS
Playland's Castaway Cove
Ocean City, NJ
The triple-launched (it will launch forwards, stall out, launch backwards, stall out again, and finally launch forward to rev up to speed) steel coaster will feature a beyond-vertical drop, a 59 mph top speed, and a number of inversions.
Six Flags Great Adventure
Total Mayhem 4D
Another "Free Spin" wing coaster is coming to a Six Flags park. To learn more about the unique ride experience, see my overview of Batman: The Ride at Fiesta Texas, which opened in 2015.
Find more New Jersey theme parks.
NEW MEXICO: Nothing new is coming in 2016, but here is where you can find New Mexico theme parks.
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NORTH CAROLINA PARKS
Carolina Harbor water park and Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare
The water park will get a major expansion and a new name in 2016. New attractions include Pirate's Plank, a slide complex with launch pods, and the six-story tall slide tower, Blackbeard's Revenge.
The dry side of the park will get a new 3D, interactive, video game-like experience designed by the folks from EA and PopCap Games. It will be based on the popular series, Plants vs Zombies.
Find more North Carolina theme parks.Continue to 17 of 22 below.
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Coaster number 17 at "The Roller Coaster Capital of the World" will be an incredibly tall (223 feet) and fast (75 mph) dive coaster. Read my preview of the wild-sounding Valravn. The park is making lots of claims for its latest coaster. I deconstruct them in my article, "Will Cedar Point's Valravn Coaster Really Break 10 Records?"
The water park will get a new six-slide tower in 2016. Three of the slides will feature launch pods with trap doors.
Find more Ohio theme parks.
OKLAHOMA: There isn't anything new in the works for 2016, but here is where you can find Oklahoma theme parks.
OREGON: There aren't any new attractions planned for 2016, but here is where you can find Oregon theme parks.
PENNSYLVANIA: Although there are many parks in the state, nothing new is coming in 2016. But here is where you can find Pennsylvania theme parks.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Nothing new is in the pipeline for 2016, but here is where you can find South Carolina theme parks.
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SeaWorld San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
The marine life park will debut a new area that will be dedicated to (extra-charge) animal encounters including swim-with-dolphins experiences.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
San Antonio, TX
VR Coaster plus Fireball, Hurricane Force 5, and Spinsanity
Superman Krypton Coaster will be turned into a virtual reality coaster. Plus, three new rides are in the wings: The mega-looper, Fireball, the modern-day Tilt-A-Whirl, Spinsanity, and Hurricane Force 5, which will send passengers aboard a spinning platform racing back and forth on a U-shaped section of coaster track.
Six Flags Over Texas
Arlington (near Dallas), TX
VR Coaster plus The Riddler Revenge, Catwoman Whip, and Harley Quinn Spinsanity
Shockwave will be turned into a virtual reality coaster. Plus, another trio of new attractions is coming to this park: Two of them will be spinning rides, and one will be a huge pendulum ride.
Find More Texas theme parks.
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A huge pendulum-style thrill ride is coming to the park.
Find More Virginia theme parks.
WEST VIRGINIA: There isn't anything planned for 2016, but here is where you can find West Virginia theme parks.
WISCONSIN: Nothing major is on the way for 2016, but here is where you can find Wisconsin theme parks.Continue to 21 of 22 below.
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VR Coaster plus Le Vampire Backwards and Phoenix and Graviton
Goliath will be turned into a virtual reality coaster. Also, passengers will be able to brave the coaster, Le Vampire, as it races backwards. Riders will be sent spinning vertically 360 degrees forwards and backwards on Gravitor (which will be relocated from Six Flags St. Louis where it was known as Rush Street Flyer). And riders will be able to control their vehicles on Phoenix, another Flying Scooter-like ride (which sure is popular this year).
Find More theme parks in Canada.
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Six Flags Mexico
Justice League: Battle for Metropolis
See See Six Flags Great America in Illinois above for info about the 3D interactive ride coming to the park.