Friday, June 23, 2017

Top 5 New Rides in Orlando for 2017

With this morning's grand opening of Mine Blower I have now been on all five new rides that opened in Central Florida in 2017. I'll rank 'em.

1. Flight of Passage - Disney's Animal Kingdom. Game changer. It's Soarin' on steroids. Even if you can't remember a thing about "Avatar" you're going to love the sensation of flying on a banshee. Even though you never leave the ground you feel the sensations including the banshee's lungs breathing in and out between your legs.

2. Mine Blower - Fun Spot Kissimmee. Easily Florida's best wood coaster (R.I.P. Dania Beach Hurricane and Gwazi) with a unique barrel roll inversion over the loading station. Rickety as wood coasters are with a ton of airtime hills.

3. Race Through New York With Jimmy Fallon - Universal Studios Florida. Think Minions with Fallon humor, and one of the best queue areas ever as Hashtag Panda parties with everyone in an open space until it's time for your assigned experience.

4. Na'vi River Journey - Disney's Animal Kingdom. The "other" ride at Pandora. It's a gentle boat ride through a bioluminescent rainforest. The visuals are striking. The singing shaman at the end is one of Disney's most advanced audio-animatronics. It's a neat 4-5 minute boat ride if you are willing sacrifice story for ambience. I called it a "beautiful bore" in an article I wrote after kicking the tires during a preview. I've been on it a few more times and appreciate it a bit more, but this is the ranking it deserves.

5. Kraken Unleashed - SeaWorld Orlando. Putting VR headsets on an old steel coaster with plenty of inversions was a gamble, and the ride wasn't as disorienting as I initially feared. I was lucky to be on the first train of the day a few days ago because these take FOREVER to load. Going row-by-row to set up the VR headsets (optional), and then having them wipe down the headsets at the end of every ride (before unloading passengers) finds a new train leaving every 6-8 minutes. It's a capacity killer. My prediction is that SeaWorld replaces the entire ride come 2019 (it already has a river raft ride going in for 2018).

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