Home » A Thrill Seekers’ Guide to New Rides
Roller coaster enthusiasts are in for a treat this year as three of the largest theme parks close to Northern Virginia feature new rides in 2015. Tracing their origins to the Russian mountains or ice slides of the 1600s, today’s modern roller coasters are amazing feats of engineering with new rides seemingly trying to up the ante with more stunts.
Roller coasters are not just about the ride”s speed, length and height, but about special features such as greater inversions, steeper and longer dives, corkscrew turns or inline twists and more. Of course, some people prefer the basics and even some “kiddie” coasters can provide enough excitement for certain adults.
Whether you prefer steel or wooden coasters, sticking to the classics, or prefer the latest and greatest rides, you have plenty to pick from around here. Northern Virginia is just a one- to three-hour ride from several big theme parks.
HERE’S OUR LIST OF NEARBY NEW RIDES THAT ADVENTURE ENTHUSIASTS CAN TRY OUT FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR:
Laff Trakk at Hersheypark (Hershey, PA)
Debut: Late May 2015
Paying homage to fun houses, Laff Trakk is the first indoor spinning glow-coaster in the United States. This family friendly house of laughs will spin riders through an exciting adventure of sights and sounds complete with glimpses of colorful characters, a dizzying hall of mirrors and more, glowing as you go through this fully indoor, darkened ride. Billed as “the fun house of the 21st century,” the ride features seven 360-degree free-spinning trains with four seats per train, capable of taking approximately 850 riders per hour.
The ride is 70 seconds long and goes 40 miles per hour over 1,400 feet of track. The 50-foot-tall Laff Trakk will feature high-banked curves and several twists. Because the freely spinning trains, which have outward-facing seats, rotate at varying speeds depending on the weight distribution in each car, no two rides will be identical, making for a fun new experience each time. Riders must be at least 42 inches tall to ride with an adult and 48 inches or taller to ride alone.
TRAVEL TIPS: Hershey, Pennsylvania, is just 2.5 hours from Northern Virginia. Other great attractions you can visit in the immediate area include the Hershey Story Museum, Chocolate World, Indian Echo Caverns, Pennsylvania National Fire Museum, Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, National Civil War Museum and wineries and breweries including the popular Tröegs Brewery.
Tempesto at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, VA)
Debut: April 2015
Many have been speculating about what Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been creating. Kept as a secret during its construction—as much as you can hide a roller coaster—Tempesto, in the park’s Festa Italia area, takes its inspiration from daredevils. “In the rich tradition of the classic Italian daredevils, no single man wowed the crowds like Tempesto. Busch Gardens’ daring new roller coaster, Tempesto, lets riders take center stage and recreate his signature stunt,” according to the park’s media information.
Guests daring enough to take on Tempesto race into unbelievably tight turns at 63 miles per hour and defy gravity as they roll through a complete inversion at 154 feet in the air. The new thrill coaster features three launch experiences and “Tempesto’s signature loop-the-loop.” The ride lasts 55 seconds and has one train with 18 seats, so whereas space is very limited, the short duration should keep crowds moving through. The ride, built by Premier Rides of Baltimore, has a height requirement of 54 inches. Busch Gardens Williamsburg is also celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015.
TRAVEL TIPS: Williamsburg is a 2.5-hour drive from Northern Virginia. Near Busch Gardens is Water Country USA (owned by the same company), Virginia’s largest water park. The parks are near “America’s Historic Triangle” of Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center. The area has several wineries, including Williamsburg Winery and is close to Virginia Beach.
Soak City at Kings Dominion (Doswell, VA)
Debut: Late March 2015
Thrill-ride fun isn’t limited to regular roller coasters: Also celebrating its 40th anniversary, Kings Dominion unveils a major expansion to its 20-acre water park (included in basic park admission) this year. Previously known as Water Works—with water slides, rides and a wave pool—the new “Soak City” adds a mega water slide complex, a family-friendly splash zone, expanded cabana accommodations and amenities including new restaurants.
The 65-foot-tall slide complex features three new attractions, each one providing a unique riding experience. Paradise Plunge sends thrill seekers into a high-speed, almost vertical free fall as the floor drops out from underneath their feet. On Aqua Blast, riders are sent twisting and spiraling through an enclosed chute featuring 360-degree turns as they slide down 449 feet. Thunder Falls launches riders in a tube down a series of intense drops and turns.
Visitors with young children or those who prefer to relax will enjoy Splash Island, a play area that doubles the previous size of kids’ options at the water park. Splash Island includes smaller slides and a sprayground.
TRAVEL TIPS: Doswell is just 25 miles north of Richmond, where you can visit the state capitol, Science Museum of Virginia, Children’s Museum of Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Colonial Downs Race Track, Richmond International Raceway and other historic sites.