New Family Friendly Attractions for Summer 2012

New attractions are popping up everywhere this summer!  From new rides to new theme parks, this summer is welcoming a plethora of opportunities for brand new family–fun!



  Cars Land | Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure

Get ready for the opening of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.  Radiator Springs comes alive with three new rides, two restaurants and much more.  Buena Vista Street will welcome visitors to the park via 1920s Los Angeles. Sneak Peak: Cars Land | Buena Vista Street.  More details to come! Opens June 15, 2012. Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks.


Manta at SeaWorld

Ride a brand new roller coaster through the California Bat Ray exhibit at this new attraction in SeaWorld, San Diego.  With a newly designed exhibit seamlessly merging with a thrilling roller coaster shaped like a manta, kids of all ages can take delight.  Opens May 26, 2012. Photo Courtesy of SeaWorld.


  Night Zip Line Eco Tour in Avalon, CA

Catalina Island’s Zipline Eco Tour is offering a nighttime zip line tour under the moonlight and stars. Children must be ten years old to participate in this special zip line tour.  Now open. Photo Courtesy of Zipline Eco Tours.


Pirate Reef at Legoland 

Step aboard Pirate Reef at Legoland, California for a wet and wild, buccaneering adventure.  Take a 25 foot plunge in a pirate boat, engage in a water cannon battle, or stand on the main bridge for the chance to get soaked!  Opens May 25, 2012. Image Courtesy of Legoland.


 DC Super Heroes: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Magic Mountain

The world’s tallest vertical drop is about to make its appearance at Six Flags Magic Mountain lifting (brave) riders 400 feet in the air to plummet at 85 miles per hour towards the ground.  Opens Summer 2012. Photo by Flickr/Roller Coaster Philosophy.


Transformers: The Ride 3D at Universal Studios Hollywood

Prepare to be immersed in the blockbuster phenomenon of the Transformers as you get the chance to fight along with Optimus Prime to save the world from the Decipticons.  Opens May 25, 2012. Photo by Flickr/doug_wertman.




History Colorado Center in Denver, CO

Explore Colorado history in the brand new History Colorado Center as you walk on a gigantic map of Colorado, “travel” in a time machine, explore a rock mine, and interact with locals at the train station & trading mission. Now open. Photo Courtesy of History Colorado Center.

Mile into the Wild Walkway at The Wild Animal Sanctuary, CO

The largest carnivore sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere, the Wild Animal Sanctuary, is about to unveil a 5,000 foot walkway above and through the wild animal exhibits giving guests amazing views at their 290 lions, tigers & bears. Opening in phases this spring. Photo Courtesy of the Wild Animal Sanctuary.


Toyota Elephant Passage at the Denver Zoo

At 10 acres, the brand new Toyota Elephant Passage will be the largest at the Denver Zoo.  Clever design will put the elephants extremely close to guests and will host Asian elephants, Indian rhinos and Malaysian tapirs. Opens June 1, 2012.  Photo courtesy of Denver Zoo.

Cliffhanger Roller Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, CO

The highest-elevation full-sized coaster in the US will open this June at Glenwood Caverns.  In addition, the Mine Wheel (Ferris wheel) and Wild West Express Coaster (for the younger set) will add to the park’s expanding repertoire. Open early June, 2012. Photo Courtesy of Glenwood Caverns.


Rocky Shores at the Hogle Zoo

Hit North America’s western shores while visiting Utah’s Hogle Zoo where kids can witness bears, sea lions, seals and otters in the zoo’s new state of the art Rocky Shores exhibit.  Opens June 1, 2012.  Photo by Flickr/makelessnoise.


Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, WY

After millions of dollars in renovations, the Buffalo Bill Museum will reopen including a life-size projection of Buffalo Bill.  The center also is offering a new daily program, the Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience, showcasing varieties birds of prey.  Opens May 19, 2012. Photograph, ca. 1895. Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming. P.6.168




Dinosaurs Alive | Luminosity at Cedar Point Amusement Park, OH

At Cedar Point, Dinosaurs Alive! on Adventure Island includes 50 life-size dinos,  and an excavation & fossil site.  At night, enjoy “Luminosity: Ignite the Night”, a mix of singers, dancers, drummers, acrobats, lights, lasers, and fireworks. Opens June, 2012. Photo Courtesy of Cedar Point.


A. Lincoln: A Pioneer Tale at the Lincoln Amphitheater, IN

Experience history in a fun and exciting way.  A brand new, family friendly musical will tell the tale of Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood life in the famous Lincoln AmphitheaterJune 8-July 1, 2012. Photo courtesy of the Lincoln Amphitheater.



X Flight Rollercoaster at Six Flags Great America, IL

The brand new, large scale ride, X Flight, will give riders the experience of riding on the wings of an aircraft at Six Flags Great America.  It touts itself as an experience that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.  Opens May 16, 2012.  Photo Courtesy of Six Flags Great America.


River Tour Zipline Adventures at Ozone Zipline Adventures, OH

Two new 1,500-foot ziplines & the addition of the Full Moon Night Zipping tours are now being offered at Ozone Zipline Adventures. Now open. Photo Courtesy of Ozone Zipline Adventures.


Jazzin’ at the Shedd at the Shedd Aquarium, IL

Enjoy an outdoor summer concert series on the lake to the fun sounds of a live jazz band.  Inside the Shedd Aquarium, be sure to drop in for a look at their pregnant beluga whale & pregnant dolphin!  Concert series begins June 27, 2012.  Photo by Flickr/cnewtoncom.

Mammoth Water Coaster at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, IN

The World’s longest water coaster opens at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari offering guests the chance to be thrilled on 6 or 8 passenger boats. Now open.  Photo Courtesy of Holiday World.



Texas & Gulf Coast


Pleasure Pier in Galveston, TX

This brand new amusement park reckons back to the original pleasure pier built on the island in the 1940s. Pleasure Pier will include 16 rides, a full-service restaurant, midway games, shopping and live entertainment. Opens May 26, 2012Photo Courtesy of Pleasure Pier.


Aquatica Waterpark at SeaWorld, TX

SeaWorld’s Aquatica Waterpark will offer exciting water slides, pools and lagoons, 42,000 square feet of beach, a wave machine, lazy rivers, and racing rides, including a one-of-a-kind weightless zero-gravity wall ride.  Opens May 19, 2012. Photo Courtesy of Aquatica Waterpark.


Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach, FL

Come visit dolphins, sea lions, seals, sharks, stingrays and sea turtles at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, an upgraded and remodeled interactive aquarium in Destin, Florida. Opens May 25, 2012. Photo Courtesy of Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.



The South


 WhirlyDome in Orlando, FL

WhirlyDome offers families a wide variety of entertainment from an F1 Racing simulator, laser tag & bowling, to playing an exciting game of WhirlyBall, which combines driving a bumper car with the sports of basketball, hockey & jai-alai.  (Must be over 12 to play)  Opening late May, 2012.  Photo Courtesy of WhirlyDome.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Orlando

A brand new 3D ride experience at Universal Orlando throws riders into the Despicable Me storyline as they explore Gru’s secret lab, get transformed into a minion and perform in an interactive 3D dance party! Opens Summer 2012. Photo Courtesy of Universal Studios Orlando.


Legoland Florida Waterpark in Winter Haven, FL

Legoland Florida will open their latest addition, LEGOLAND Water Park , which will feature a wave pool, Build-A-Raft lazy river, tube slides, body slides and an interactive water-play structure – DUPLO® Safari. Opens May 26th, 2012. Photo Courtesy of LEGOLAND Florida, Merlin Entertainments Group, Chip Litherland.

Nature Science Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

83,000 square feet of hands on science fun have just been added to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  Kids can explore through exhibits, and even talk to the real scientists!  Now open.  Photo by Flickr/USGS Landsat.


 Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park in Chimney Rock, NC

Recent capitol improvements at Chimney Rock State Park, one of North Carolina’s must-see attractions with kids, have been completed including reopening the Outcroppings Trail.  A modernized elevator and renovated Sky Lounge Gift Shop & Deli will add to the park’s activities and perks.  Opening early June, 2012.  Photo Courtesy of Chimney Rock State Park Management LLC.



Mid Atlantic

Field Station Dinosaurs in Secaucus, NJ

Dinosaurs (large ones!) are joining the New Jersey landscape.  Just minutes from Manhattan, visit Field Station Dinosaurs for a breath-taking Jurassic experience.  Opens May 26, 2012.  Image Courtesy of Field Station Dinosaurs.


Allegheny Springs at The Homestead, VA

A children’s pool, sandy beach, restaurant, three giant waterslides and a 400-foot lazy river are set to open this summer at the luxurious Homestead Resort. The water park will offer year-round family friendly activities and fun. Final phase opens July 2012. Image Courtesy of the Homestead.

Butterflies at the Bridge at The Natural Bridge of Virginia

This beautiful indoor butterfly garden is re-opened for the season and gives visitors the chance to get up close and personal with hundreds of butterflies. Overnight packages to the Natural Bridge and included butterfly exhibit start at $89. Now open.  Photo Courtesy of The Natural Bridge of Virginia.


TimberTrek at the New River Gorge, WV.

Visitors seven and up can jump, climb and fly through the aerial adventure park, TimberTrek, located on the rim of the beautiful New River Gorge .  Five courses of difficulty are available.  Now open.  Photo Courtesy of TimberTrek.


SkyScreamer (and more) at Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ

A thrilling 24 story, 40 mph swing ride, as well as three family friendly rides (Deja Vu, Fender Benders & Air Jumbo) are popping up at Six Flags Great Adventure this spring.  Opens May 23, 2012.  Photo Courtesy of Six Flags Great Adventure.


New England


Hasbro’s Big Backyard at Roger Williams Park Zoo, RI

An interactive kid’s zoo encourages kids to get outside and explore. There is also an innovative water park and tree-house for play time. Opens June 4, 2012.  Photo Courtesy of Roger Williams Park Zoo.


Goliath at Six Flags New England

Goliath, a coaster not for the faint of heart, opens soon at Six Flags New England. This ride features a 20 foot free fall and 102 foot vertical loop going both forward and backward. Must be 54 inches to ride. Opens May 25th, 2012. Photo Courtesy of Six Flags New England.




Summer with Shrek & Friends at Gaylord Hotels Nationwide 

A full line-up of special DreamWorks-themed activities, events, and hotel package extras that families and kids of all ages can enjoy. Attractions vary by location.  May 25-Sept. 2, 2012. Photo Courtesy of Gaylord National.


Travel with kids to: CA |CO | DC| FL | HI | IL |MA | NC | NY | OR| PA| TN | TX | UT | VA | WA

About the author

Katie Bodell is Trekaroo’s Blog Editor, a freelance writer, a happy wife to her best friend, and a mom to three sweet California girls. She loves the Bible, learning & research, musical theater, indy music, artsy films, languages, and diverse cultural encounters. Her husband is thankful that google can now answer all of her perpetual random questions.

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