2017 New Theme Park Attraction Guide


Disneyland Star Wars Construction November 2016

2016 saw the Wizarding World of Harry Potter go Hollywood and Disney enter mainland China with Shanghai Disneyland. Perhaps the biggest story about theme parks in 2017 will be centered around projects that will not open until 2018 and beyond.

Industry leader Disney Parks has begun construction on large scale Star Wars projects in California and Florida which are sure to get plenty of coverage as visitors peer over construction walls looking at the future.  Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Resort also plan to begin construction in the near future on multiple projects that will open in the next several years.  We are sure to here plenty more about Disney Parks future attractions at the D23 Expo this July in Anaheim, CA.

Not to be outdone, Universal Parks and Resorts is only increasing its pace of construction with several large scale spending projects on tap in the years to come.  In Florida, people will have their eyes and ears out for word on how Universal decides to use a recent land acquisition next to their existing Orlando property.  One possibility is using Nintendo, which they have pledged to build lands based on the popular Intellectual property in Florida, California, and Japan.  Speaking of California, Universal Studios Hollywood is preparing for another massive 5 year expansion project.  Their last evolution plan saw expansion and reimagining of nearly ¾ of the existing park.  We also expect to hear more on projects in the emerging theme park regions of China and the Middle East.

While 2017 might go down as a calm between two storms of high profile building booms, it has plenty of solid additions on tap to open its doors.  Let’s take a trip around the globe to look at the best of the new additions coming to theme parks in 2017.

North America

We begin with the highest grossing movie of all time coming to life.  Pandora: The World of Avatar opens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2017.  While not the most memorable of films, it is a visual wonder and Disney is pulling out all the stops to create a realistic environment that promises to impress.  Animal Kingdom also plans to open their long delayed nighttime spectacular Rivers of Light, making it the Walt Disney World park to visit in 2017.     

Universal Studios enters the Central Florida water park wars in a big way with Volcano Bay.  The centerpiece is a 200 foot erupting volcano.  Also opening at Universal Studios Florida is a motion simulator called Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon.

The Disneyland Resort continues the nostalgia theme after their incredibly successful 60th Anniversary celebration as they bring back old favorites and retheme another one for 2017.  The popular Main Street Electrical Parade returns to Disneyland for one final run between January and June.  In summer 2017, Disneyland also will see the return of the Rivers Of America, the Disneyland Railroad, and a new upgraded Fantasmic! as they were shut down for over a year due to Star Wars related construction.  Disney California Adventure will debut Guardian’s of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, in a retheme of the former Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  We are also expecting to see a version of Fast Pass Plus, the ride reservation system used at Disneyworld, make it’s debut at Disneyland.

SeaWorld tries to rebound from recent financial and PR troubles with several new additions.  San Diego opens a new themed land centered around an Ocean Explorer attraction, while Texas opens a family coaster called Wave Breaker.  SeaWorld Orlando debuts a new nighttime show  Electric Ocean and enters the VR craze by providing a VR experience to its Kraken roller coaster.

Multiple Six Flags parks will see an enhanced clone of the popular Justice League: Battle of Metropolis 3D dark ride the the remaining parks in the chain will open a Joker 4D coaster or flat rides.  Among other noteworthy attractions opening in the United States include Mystic Timbers at Kings Island, InvadR at Busch Gardens Williamsburg,  and a Ninjago themed land at Legoland Florida.

Disneyland Paris


The 25th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris headlines a relatively strong class of happenings and new attractions in Europe for 2017.  The resort has struggled financially since day one and as a result, has seen investment be a hit and miss proposition over its first quarter century.  A large scale refurbishment of the entire park has been ongoing to prepare for the 25th celebration and 2017 appears to be the year to visit as they will unveil a new daytime parade, new nighttime spectacular called Disney Illuminations along with a badly needed update to Star Tours as seen at other Disney Parks and Star Wars overlay to Space Mountain called Hyper Space Mountain, similar to that seen in California and Hong Kong.  However the biggest addition is a fresh coat of paint to many attractions in preparation of the celebration including staples Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Ferrari Land races to open at Port Aventura in Spain.  Efetling’s most expensive ride ever opens this summer.  Symbolica Palace of Fantasy is an interactive dark ride to be located in the center of the classic park.  Europa Park enters the moving theater game with Project V.

The Former StormRider Attraction will become Nemo and Friends SeaRider and Tokyo Disney Sea


Hong Kong Disneyland has the honor of opening up the first major attraction of 2017 with the Iron Man Experience which also happens to be Disney’s first permanent Marvel ride to open since they acquired the company.  The motion simulator opens January 11th.    

Tokyo Disneyland visitors will see the wonderful Dreamlights Nighttime Parade get a renewal of some of its floats.  Tokyo Disney Sea welcomes one of Pixar’s most popular characters in a re-theme of the Storm Rider attraction in Nemo’s SeaRider.  Universal Studios Japan opens a clone of the popular Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
2017 is shaping up to be a solid year for new theme park additions.  With that being said, the most interesting sound heard at a theme park near you may be that of construction vehicles building the next generation of thrilling attractions.

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