Summer is rushing toward us, so fasten your safety straps, stow your hats and glasses, and start planning a trip to your favorite California theme parks. Here’s what’s new and coming soon this season at five fun-filled destinations in the Golden State.
California’s Great America, Santa Clara
A dream ride for adrenaline junkies—and a first-of-its-kind roller coaster on the West Coast—RailBlazer channels the thrills and spills of an off-road adventure, hurtling through a wonderland of ravines and waterways and steeped embankments, with classic roller coaster twists and plunges. But what sets RailBlazer apart is this singular feature: a single-rail design that requires riders to straddle the rail in a single-file car, creating a low center of gravity that intensifies the effect of every twist and turn on 1,800 feet of snaking, swirling track. Dramamine sold separately. Opens early this summer.
Six Flags Magic Mountain, Los Angeles
It’s crazy. It’s insanity. It’s CraZanity. More specifically, it’s the world’s tallest pendulum ride, a 17-story-high, swaying giant that swings riders back and forth at speeds of up to 75-miles an hour. As if that weren’t enough, the pendulum also rotates counterclockwise, an exhilarating twist to a weightless experience that maxes out at a height of 172 feet. Closer to the ground, Six Flags is also rolling out faster, smoother-handling bumper cars, one of a number of enhancements at a park that now operates 365 days a year.
True to its name, Lego City Deep Sea Adventure will treat travelers to a Captain Nemo–style excursion on a submarine ride and treasure hunt that dives down, down, down into a tank populated by real sharks, rays, and tropical fish when it opens in early July. The destination: a Lego shipwreck loaded with sunken riches. Along the way, guests can peer through portholes at the aquatic life (which includes Lego octopi and Lego scuba divers) while using touchscreen displays to identify coins, gems, and other precious objects. Back on land, respite awaits at the just-opened Legoland Castle Hotel, a themed retreat replete with kid-friendly features such as potty training seats in the bathrooms and treasure chests in every guest room.
Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park
The park’s new blockbuster attraction is known as HangTime, and it's no wonder. A giant steel rollercoaster, it towers 150 feet over the boardwalk and features a dizzying array of inversions and suspensions. It begins with a vertical lift to a 96-degree drop, the steepest rollercoaster plunge in California, then hits its peak, literally and figuratively, when the coaster train arrives at its highest elevation, only... to... pause... for several seconds, leaving riders hanging at a 60-degree angle. From their perspective, it looks as if the track has disappeared. It hasn’t, of course. Proof comes as the ride continues through a series of gravity-snubbing inversions, including a rare doozy called a negative g-stall loop, which makes you feel as if you’re floating. Opens May 18.
Disneyland Resort, Anaheim
Remember California Screamin’, the rollicking roller coaster at Disney California Adventure Park? As of June 23, you can refer to it as the Incredicoaster, a remade ride boasting new-look cars and an assortment of characters from The Incredibles. It’s one of the main attractions at Pixar Pier, a newly transformed land made up of four new neighborhoods, all of them inspired by Disney-Pixar stories. Located in the area long known as Paradise Pier, Pixar Pier will also be home to Toy Story Land and its anchor 4-D ride, Toy Story Mania, as well as to a neighborhood based on Inside Out. Fans of Mickey’s Fun Wheel need not despair. It will remain, along with Mickey’s iconic face on one side of the wheel. One notable difference: The 24 gondolas will be Pixar themed.