14 Theme Park Rides Opening This Summer — and a Few That Have Closed Forever

Tigris, Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida

Busch Gardens

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Tigris, Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida
Busch Gardens

Additions to America's Theme Parks

Every year, amusement parks unveil new attractions to give their loyal fans new thrills. For people with annual passes who go several times a year, that means they can always count on something new. However, it also means that sometimes your favorite ride has to go to make room for the latest attraction. Here are 13 new rides opening in 2019 — some for the very young and some more suitable for the grownups — and a few classics we're going to miss now that they've closed, or are closing soon.

Related: Abandoned Theme Parks to Explore for Thrills, Chills and Nostalgia

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios, Anaheim, California and Orlando, Florida
Disney's Hollywood Studios

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge | Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios

Anaheim, California and Orlando, Florida
Both coasts are getting their own Star Wars-themed land to visit — each 14 acres, making them Disney's largest single-themed land expansions ever. The Disneyland attraction opened on May 31 in Anaheim and the Disney's Hollywood Studios version will open on August 29 in Orlando. Galaxy's Edge will take guests to the Black Spire Outpost where they can pilot the Millennium Falcon in Smuggler's Run. Later this year, Rise of the Resistance will put Earth folks in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance from the new film trilogy. Reservations to the Anaheim attraction, required through June 23, are completely filled, but a reservation isn't necessary starting June 24. However, it should be noted, per Disney's site, that "access to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge — including participation in its experiences — will be subject to capacity constraints and other restrictions."

Lightning McQueen Racing Academy, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Orlando, Florida
Disney's Hollywood Studios

Lightning McQueen Racing Academy | Disney's Hollywood Studios

Orlando, Florida
In the "Cars" movies, kids had to settle for watching Lightning McQueen be the champ and mentor new drivers. Now they can be Lightning's new racer in this motion ride with a wraparound 200-by-17-foot screen featuring Lightning, Mater, Cruz Ramirez, and more favorite characters from the Pixar franchise.

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando, Florida
Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure | Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Orlando, Florida
Universal Studios keeps discovering new corners of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Sit on a bike or in the sidecar for this roller coaster through the Forbidden Forest, made up of 1,200 live trees, and see if you can spot the centaur, Cornish pixies, or Fluffy. Going 50 mph backward and forward, you'll have to look quick. Hagrid even promises to show you a creature that's never been in any of the eight "Harry Potter" films. Opens June 13.

Jurassic World, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, California
Universal Studios Hollywood

Jurassic World | Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal City, California
Dino-fans were sad when Universal Studios boarded up the classic Jurassic Park ride for maintenance, but it will reopen sometime this summer as Jurassic World — The Ride, and be based on the new movies. It's still a raft ride that ends in a waterfall, but now you'll ride through 2015's Jurassic World on the day Indominus Rex escapes, and you'll meet the Mosasaurus and Blue whether you want to or not!

West Coast Racers, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California
Six Flags Magic Mountain

West Coast Racers | Six Flags Magic Mountain

Valencia, California
There have been side-by-side racing coasters before (like Kings Dominion's Rebel Yell), but West Coast Racers is the first to start the race with a launch instead of a drop. Make two laps around the track's hills, turns, and drops. The ride even includes an immersive pit stop to make you feel like you're in NASCAR or Formula One. Who will win, blue or green? You'll have to ride to find out.

Maxx Force, Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Illinois
Six Flags Great America

Maxx Force | Six Flags Great America

Gurnee, Illinois
The 17th roller coaster at Six Flags Great America breaks three records. First is fastest launch coaster in North America. The coaster launches 0 to 78 mph in under two seconds, which will be the record to beat for future coasters — and consumer automobiles for that matter! For world records, the Maxx Force claims fastest inversion at 60 mph, and highest double inversion at 175 feet.

El Diablo, Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, Texas
Six Flags Over Texas

El Diablo | Six Flags Over Texas

Arlington, Texas
Everything's bigger in Texas, including the loops on this recently opened roller coaster. El Diablo boasts the world's largest loop at 100 feet, where you'll hang suspended. Riders sit face-to-face, which is another new innovation for coasters, and will go both forward and backward.

Pandemonium, Six Flags Over Georgia, Austell, Georgia
Six Flags Over Georgia

Pandemonium | Six Flags Over Georgia

Austell, Georgia
Not all records are set by roller coasters. Six Flags Over Georgia's newest ride is a giant, spinning pendulum that swings at speeds up to 70 mph and reaches 15 stories high. At that height, you can see the city of Atlanta sprawling before you — if you're able to keep your eyes open — but it won't be long before you're hurtling back down toward the ground. Surrounding Pandemonium is Six Flags' new ScreamPunk themed section that also includes Go-Karts, Thunder River, Sky Buckets, barbecue restaurants, and, of course, a Pandemonium gift shop.

Unikitty's Disco Drop, The Lego Movie World, Legoland Florida, Winter Park, Florida
Legoland Florida

The Lego Movie World | Legoland Florida

Winter Park, Florida
It only took five years from 2014's "The Lego Movie" for Legoland Florida to add an entire section based on the films, including three new rides. Masters of Flight is a suspended motion ride where riders get to sit on Emmet's Triple Decker Couch. Unikitty's Disco Drop is a free-fall ride with some added spins and bounces. The Battle of Bricksburg is the park's only water ride where people both on and off the ride can spray water at interactive targets — which, by the way, spray back.

Legoland Express Train, Legoland California, Carlsbad, California
Legoland California

Legoland Express Train | Legoland California

Carlsbad, California
In a park aimed at young Lego builders, the Legoland Express Train is especially intended for kids 5 and under with their families. They'll ride the train through DUPLO Playtown as they get inspired by what they can build with their large, kid-friendly blocks. Legoland shipped the train over from the Denmark Legoland where it was built. Also check out the new "Officer in Pursuit" interactive movie experience in Lego City 4D. Kids can join the chase and get sprayed with water, wind, and bubbles.

Calico River Rapids, Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, California
Knott's Berry Farm

Calico River Rapids | Knott's Berry Farm

Buena Park, California
Knott's Berry Farm revamped its old Bigfoot Rapids ride to create the Calico River Rapids. Don't worry, it's still got all the same splashy thrills, but now riders can experience a new story through the Calico ghost town, with animatronic characters and plenty of liquid effects. It'll be the perfect way to get your Bigfoot nostalgia with all new surprises.

Tigris, Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida
Busch Gardens

Tigris | Busch Gardens

Tampa, Florida
Being the tallest launch roller coaster in Florida is no small claim when the state also includes Disney World and Universal's Islands of Adventure. Most coasters brag about their steep drop, but Busch Gardens' latest will shoot you 150 feet up. Rock back and forth over 1,800 feet of track at up to 64 miles per hour through loops and corkscrews, too.

Finnegan's Flyer, Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, Virginia
Busch Gardens

Finnegan's Flyer | Busch Gardens

Williamsburg, Virginia
This new "extreme swing" opened May 3, hurling riders more than 80 feet in the air at 45 mph. At its peak, you'll fling more than 90 degrees to the ground. As hot and humid as east coast summers get, the wind at that speed will be a welcome relief. Sharing the park's Ireland Village with the Loch Ness Monster ride, you'll also get a great bird's eye view of the Celtic coast(er).

Cutback Water Coaster, Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Virginia
Busch Gardens

Cutback Water Coaster | Water Country USA

Williamsburg, Virginia
Sometimes when you need to cool off, the wind in your face isn't enough. That's where this new water roller coaster comes in. Float on jet streams in a four-person raft rocking back and forth along the curve of the slide, splishing and splashing for 850 feet.

Aerosmith Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Disney Paris
Disney Paris

Leaving: Aerosmith Rock 'n' Roller Coaster | Disney Paris

September 1 will be your last chance to rock out with Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and the gang on their indoor speed coaster in France. They may be rock-'n'-roll legends, but they're no match for the Avengers, who will claim a new ride in the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster's place. Aerosmith will still have a Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Orlando's Disney Hollywood Studios, however.

Shamu Express, SeaWorld, Orlando and San Antonio, Texas

Gone: Shamu Express | SeaWorld

Orlando and San Antonio, Texas
The Shamu Express gave its last rides on January 6, making way for the new Sesame Street-themed area in Orlando, and expansion of the Sesame Street land in San Antonio, where Super Grover's Box Car Derby took its place. Perfectly cute, but not necessarily aquatic.

Green Lantern: First Flight, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California
Six Flags Magic Mountain

Gone: Green Lantern: First Flight | Six Flags Magic Mountain

Valencia, California
Even though it hasn't given rides since 2017, Six Flags confirms it is finally removing Green Lantern: First Flight later this year to make room for future development. However, some Magic Mountain fans say good riddance, and that's from people who rode it. Others complained it was always closed for repairs, but that won't be an issue any longer.

Aquaman Splashdown, Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, Texas
Six Flags Over Texas

Maybe Gone: Aquaman Splashdown | Six Flags Over Texas

Arlington, Texas
A new hit movie wasn't enough to save Aquaman's Six Flags ride, Aquaman Splashdown. Rumor has it the 32-year-old ride will be closed this year. Six Flags Over Texas has not commented on the rumors, but has been spotted removing pumps and signage and the park no longer lists it as an active ride.