Snow is still falling at Mammoth Mountain and the National Hockey League playoffs are still underway, so you’re forgiven if it doesn’t exactly feel like summer is here. But there is one sure indicator that its arrival is imminent: California’s theme parks have started unveiling their newest rides and attractions. One classic park is also celebrating a milestone: The Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk turns 95 this summer.
The biggest arrival, of course, is the May 31 debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Resort, but this much-anticipated attraction is not the only noteworthy addition to the California theme park scene. Here’s a look at some of the new G-force-pushing coasters that are kicking off this summer along with a variety of new shows and cool experiences.
Tidal Twister, Sea World San Diego
The marine theme park’s newest ride is a “dueling roller coaster” that channels the power of the ocean. It features two trains starting at opposite ends of a figure-8 track then crossing in the center at a dynamic Zero-G roll. While the ride has high-speed turns and upside-down twists, it’s still tame enough that kids 48 inches and smaller can ride.
New Duplo Playtown and LEGOLAND Express Train Ride, LEGOLAND California, Carlsbad
The San Diego County wonderland of LEGO bricks now boasts a new look on one side of the park. The Duplo section for little kids—featuring lots of playground-style structures, jumbo LEGO bricks, and a new LEGOLAND Express Train Ride—has been moved to the scenic little hill that is also home to the Kid Power Tower. (The pedal-powered Sky Cruiser is now gone.)
Calico River Rapids, Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park
The raft ride formerly known as Big Foot Rapids received a big makeover, including new scenery, animatronics of indigenous wildlife, and dynamic water effects. Also, from June 7 to August 11 you can take part in Knott’s Summer Nights, the evening parties that offer live music, special food, and games along the park’s midway.
Batman: The Ride, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo
Flip, twirl, and feel weightless on this “4D free-fly coaster” found at the Six Flags property located between San Francisco and Sacramento. Your car runs along the outside of a yellow-and-black, i-box track frame that stands 120 feet high and includes a 90-degree, elevator-style incline. You’ll experience six head-over-heels inversions and plenty of unexpected free-fall drops.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (Opens May 31), Disneyland Resort, Anaheim
The 14-acre zone, representing a corner of the planet Batuu, is the biggest themed land at any Disney park on the planet—and excitement is so high that reservations are required through June 23. If you’re visiting in June, make sure to head to Disney California Adventure Park and experience Soarin’ Over California, the simulated ride that returns for just the month of June. It lets you glide over Golden State sights within an immersive, 80-foot projection dome—including everything from San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the beaches of Malibu. Also at California Adventure, the Tale of the Lion King musical debuts on June 7, and keep an eye out for the Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind attraction, which is also set to open this summer in the park’s Pixar Pier area.
Jurassic World (Date TBD), Universal Studios Hollywood
As summer ended last year, the classic Jurassic Park ride shuttered to make room for this new ride based on the latest installment in the dinosaur movie series. The raft ride features cutting-edge technology, lush vegetation, an 80-foot waterfall, and characters such as the Indominus rex, the aquatic Mosasaurus, Velociraptors, and (of course) a T-rex. Check out the nearby Raptor Encounter (home of Blue) and the educational Dino Play area, where kids can dig for giant fossils. Plan to stick around after sundown: The Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle evening light show will run most of the summer, from June 22 through August 11.
West Coast Racers (Date TBD), Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia
This dual-racing coaster at the L.A. County park will have two separate cars—designed by custom car shop to the stars West Coast Customs—zooming along two separate but seemingly intertwined tracks. The race moves at up to 55 mph along airtime hills and overbanked turns and even includes a “pit stop” to change cars. The ride will be part of a new streets-of-L.A.-themed area that will have have new shops and eateries, along with existing rides such as the wooden coaster Apocalypse and Cyclone 500 Go Karts.