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2016's Top 10 Most Anticipated Theme Park Happenings

Brian G.

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 21, 2008
20,568
Orlando, FL
After an eventful 2015 in the theme park world, 2016 is shaping up to exceed it with all 3 Orlando resorts getting ready to complete and open more attractions and projects this year.

With massive rides, new coasters, hotels, and steps towards bigger expansions coming this year; fans should really be excited - because this is just the start of another "Theme Park Renaissance" over the course of the next few years.

After much discussion with the fellow OU staff, here our or Top 10 most anticipated theme park happenings for 2016. We arranged the list based on word of mouth, impact to the resort, and overall personal hype.

2016's Top 10 Most Anticipated Theme Park Happenings « Orlando United
 

Brian G.

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 21, 2008
20,568
Orlando, FL
:saywhat:No Hulk?
Holy... crap...

I can't believe we completely overlooked it. :lol:

UPDATE:

Upon further thinking, it would have made #10... maybe. Just because it essentially is the same coaster track, just a new presentation for it. I STAND BY OUR LIST
 

Joe

aka TestTrack321
Staff member
Moderator
Feb 15, 2012
12,333
Pittsburgh, PA
Holy... crap...

I can't believe we completely overlooked it. :lol:

UPDATE:

Upon further thinking, it would have made #10... maybe. Just because it essentially is the same coaster track, just a new presentation for it. I STAND BY OUR LIST
Don't worry you're not the only one who skipped Hulk on a 2016 list....
 
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Nick

Staff member
Moderator
Sep 22, 2011
20,865
Orlando
Hulk and Soarin' are the two easiest 2016 projects to forget, despite the fact that the entire coaster is torn down right now.
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
18,852
Pittsburgh area
Yes, it's going to be a great year. After a pause in 2015 where we just did two day trips to Universal while on a largely WDW on site vacation, we're back to our true love, Universal. We'll be there for 10 nights in mid May, and possibly be lucky enough to catch a soft opening for Kong and/or Hulk. And we'll again stay at both Cabana(3 nights) & Portofino (7 nights). Then, in late Sept./early Oct. we'll do another 10 night stay. By then Kong & Hulk will be open for sure. We're going to give Sapphire Falls a try for 4 nights, taking advantage of their free breakfast for two offer. Then it's on to Portofino for the remaining 6 nights. And we'll hit Horror Nights for a couple of nights also. No plans to go to WDW though. Frozen, with it's low capacity, will be nearly impossible to ride. Plus it looks like it'll just be an average attraction at best. We'll save Animal Kingdom/Rivers of Light until 2018 when Pandora opens ( don't think they'll finish it for early 2017). We get really easily bored with that park at the present time. No desire for Sea World. No knock against it, but it's just not our thing.......But the big attraction for us, and the reason we took our break from Universal last year, will be the opening of Kong. It's probably the most anticipation I've ever felt for an attraction. Long live the King.
 
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*Q*

Member
Nov 26, 2014
683
Here's probably how I would rank them:
12. Frozen Ever After
Beyond just holding no appeal to me personally, this is a terrible fit for Epcot, both operationally and thematically.
11. Disney’s Hollywood Studios begins Transformation
It'll be fun to see construction begin, but not as much as any of the new offerings here in town.
10. More Information on Nintendo and Universal’s Partnership?
I'm eager to hear more about what this could be, but again, not more exciting than the stuff that will actually be opening this year.
9. Universal Orlando’s Sapphire Falls Resort
Should be a nice new area to check out, but not something I'll really visit as much as the new attractions.
8. Kilimanjaro Night Safaris
I love the idea of special night versions of attractions, and this is one of the most ideal candidates. I'm generally excited by the idea of Animal Kingdom open at night more often, as it is absolutely gorgeous, and a lot more pleasant to visit than during the day when all of the foliage traps the heat and humidity.

7. Soarin’ Around the World
I'm kind of ambivalent towards the idea of a new Soarin' film. I think it will be hard to top the original, especially without Jerry Goldsmith's score, but the California film never really made sense here, anyways, and the idea of a finale over Epcot is wonderful. Plus the combination of an enhanced queue and the third theater should make it a much improved experience. Hopefully it won't have quite a ridiculous line all the time anymore.
6. Cobra’s Curse
This is looking to be a great addition to Busch Gardens, more of a family coaster but still thrilling and unique enough for coaster lovers to enjoy.
5. Rivers of Light Debuts at Animal Kingdom
I'm a sucker for big night shows, and this looks to be a doozy. Pairing projection mapping with the Tree of Life to turn it into a canvas of color sounds amazing.

4. Halloween Horror Nights 26
I'm also a sucker for Halloween Horror Nights, and I'm getting the sense that this will be a very unique year by the virtue of how creative they'll have to get with house placement. I'm hoping they'll meet the challenge head-on and take the opportunity to spread the event over to Islands of Adventure. With Hulk and King coming, I could see them wanting to take advantage of that.
3. The Incredible Hulk Coaster
I used to absolutely love this coaster, but it's just become way too rough for me in recent years. So brand new track with new effects and enhancements and a new queue that is likely up to the modern caliber of Universal theming is super, super exciting. Especially if it is true that it will be themed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And if that's the case, then hopefully it will lead to MCU enhancements for the rest of the Marvel Island.
2. Mako
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens do my absolute favorite coasters, so to see a big one like this happening has me psyched. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a resurgence for SeaWorld.

1. Skull Island: Reign of Kong

Can't say I was initially particularly thrilled about this IP, and I still wish this was a Jurassic Park/World jeep ride, but Universal Creative seems to be throwing every trick in the book at this thing, and sounds like they may yet again set a new bar for theme park attractions. It's great that they're not shying away from something a little scarier, and that Islands of Adventure is finally getting some love after the MANY new things next door. I also love that they're paying tribute to a classic Universal property, giving me the hope that if this is successful that they may do the same with other classics like Back to the Future and Jaws in their third park.
 
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AlexanderMBush

Legendary Member
Nov 23, 2013
17,220
Arizona
If we're talking Florida Theme Parks in this Top Tens, heres Mine..
10.) Kidzone probably closing this year..
9.) Sapphire Falls
8.) Cobras Curse
7.) Soarin'
6.) DHS Work beginning to unfold
5.) Hulk
4.) HHN26
3.) Mako
2.) Rivers of Light
1.) Skull Island - Reign of Kong

When you talk Nation-wide, that's where it probably goes to a twenty.
 

Nick

Staff member
Moderator
Sep 22, 2011
20,865
Orlando
If we're talking Florida Theme Parks in this Top Tens, heres Mine..
10.) Kidzone probably closing this year..
9.) Sapphire Falls
8.) Cobras Curse
7.) Soarin'
6.) DHS Work beginning to unfold
5.) Hulk
4.) HHN26
3.) Mako
2.) Rivers of Light
1.) Skull Island - Reign of Kong

When you talk Nation-wide, that's where it probably goes to a twenty.
This is mostly how i'd put my list, with the one exception of (and I know this is a UOR forum), I could never put HHN 26 even on the list. HHN is something that happens every year... it's not something I get excited for on the level of new attractions/rides. I do love HHN, but I feel a list like this should be for strictly new things, not annual events (and I know HHN builds from the ground up every year, but you get my point).
 
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Jul 27, 2014
480
Hulk's Queue
10. Soarin' Around the World- Hopefully the wait time won't be an average 60+ minutes every day.
9. Sapphire Falls- The renderings look cool...
8. Disney Springs- Restaurants and shops will continue to open and a new area to explore.
7. Rivers of Light- It appears to be the AK version of Illuminations and we can stay into the night now!
6. Night Safaris- While not completely mind-blowing, it will definitely offer a very unique experience.
5. DHS Work slated to begin- Anticipating this just so Star Wars and Toy Story will be closer to opening.
4. Cobra's Curse- Awesome spinning family coaster that is decently themed.
3. More Incredible Hulk- Really excited to see the updates and hopefully it will be a smoother ride.
2. Mako- Florida's first mega coaster, tallest and fastest coaster in Orlando. Yass!
1. Skull Island: Reign of Kong- Does this really need an explanation?
Half of these wouldn't be on my National list. Lighting Rod @ Dollywood looks amazing!
 

UNIrd

Premium Member
Jul 18, 2008
6,266
This was a great article. Glad to see Sapphire Falls on the list. I love hotels and really enjoy the four properties currently at the resort. Excited to see what's next too, other than the new Cabana towers.
 

Cole

Veteran Member
Apr 6, 2014
4,224
Rushmore Academy
Here's my top 9 list because I can only think of 9, not including announcements because they're for things not coming in 2016, just save that for the year it comes out

9. Mako and Cobras Curse- I am not a coaster person, not because they make me sick but because the lack of theming just bores me. Could seriously care less about these attractions, especially mako

8. Sapphire falls- I will probably never stay at this hotel since I live an hour and a half away but it looks so friggin cool that I can't help but be excited about it. After seeing cabana this can only go up from there

7. Hulk- The hulk was one of my least favorite rides in the resort for the reasons above and more, I'm just excited for the new queue and what art direction they are gonna go with it

6. Frozen- I'm more excited to see how it'll turn out rather than the ride itself. It can either be a hit with cool tech or a horrible train wreck that you can't take your eyes off of, good times

5. Rivers of Light- this show looked awesome from the second it was announced. not a Disney show person at all but I love animals and trippy visuals so it's right up my alley

4. Construction- I love looking at construction and with so many things being built this year it's just gonna be a hype train. Looking forward to disney the most, close second to volcano bay

3. Soarin- I'm a man who loves some soarin, the fact we are getting a better, higher quality version with more locations just makes me insanely happy. Very excited to see how it turns out and disney, keep the friggin score

2. HHN 26- like who isn't excited for this? The speculation leading up to it, the new houses, brand new layout and the tons upon tons of fun and memories that'll be made. It would easily be my number one if not only for....

1. Kong - a dream come true. It's not often something you love so much becomes a big budgeted ride with awesome everything. The king is back and you bet your butt I'll be there opening day for it. Can't wait

2016 looks incredible, here's to another year of amazing things and speculating it all with you. Cheers!!!
 

IAmFloridaBorn

Veteran Member
Nov 15, 2012
2,753
Orlando, Florida
10. City Walks replacement of NBA City.

9. Employee Parking Garage. Interested in the future logistics of Universals current property.

8. Construction of Fallon and Furious.

7. How Secret Life of Pets does with families.

6. Cobras Curse at Busch Gardens.

5. Valcano Bay Progress.

4. Sapphire Falls.

3. Incredible Hulk Coaster rebirth.

2. Mako coaster at Sea World.

1. Skull Island Reign of Kong.
 
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Nick

Staff member
Moderator
Sep 22, 2011
20,865
Orlando
10. City Walks replacement of NBA City.

9. Employee Parking Garage. Interested in the future logistics of Universals current property.

8. Construction of Fallon and Furious.

7. How Secret Life of Pets does with families.

6. Cobras Curse at Busch Gardens.

5. Valcano Bay Progress.

4. Sapphire Falls.

3. Incredible Hulk Coaster rebirth.

2. Mako coaster at Sea World.

1. Skull Island Reign of Kong.
Interesting and unique list.

Not necessarily all glorious things, but many impact the future. Although I certainly think, whether one approves of the placement or not, Frozen deserves a spot as well as the new Soarin'. Those are both two pretty big things... I can start getting hyped for Fallon/F&F/VB in 2017.

To each their own though.
 

UNIrd

Premium Member
Jul 18, 2008
6,266
10. Dining: YES, dining! Not all theme park visitors are looking for turkey legs on their visit. With a new restaurant opening in Animal Kingdom's Discovery Island, even more additions to Disney Springs, plus new culinary delights at Universal's new Sapphire Falls Resort and possibly CityWalk, some of the year's most memorable moments might be made in the kitchen.

9. Cobra's Curse: Following the success of Cheetah Hunt, I'm looking forward to seeing Busch's next attempt at a more family friendly thrill, which slightly more theming than BGT fans are accustomed.

8. Holidays 2016: With rumblings of new Universal holiday offerings, plus SeaWorld introducing new classic characters to it's already robust festivities, and Disney sure to dream up something to make up for the loss of its 20-year-old Osborne lights, it looks like it could be a great year for the most wonderful time of the year.

7. Soarin' Over the World: The low-capacity, crowd-pleasing fave gets a much needed third theater AND gets updated with new HD sights, but hopefully doesn't lose all the cues of it's beautiful score from the late Jerry Goldsmith.

6. Hulk 2.0: One of the best coasters in Florida gets ride vehicle and storyline enhancements. I think this time it's going to work...again.

5. Frozen: Escape From Arendelle: After quickly scrambling to capitalize on Disney's most successful animated film yet with low-rent shows, parade floats, and meet-and-greets, Frozen finally gets it's due with what's sure to be a nightmare for thousands trying to ride each day. But hopefully it's cold inside (and up to Disney's standards of world-class dark rides).

4. Sapphire Falls Resort: Following the hugely successful debut of Universal's first "Prime Value" property Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal and Loews collaborate again to introduce a new baby sister to my favorite on-site resort Royal Pacific, this time with a Caribbean flavor.

3. Rivers of Light: If it's taking any cues from World of Color (and it will), it'll be at the very least jaw-dropping. But big nighttime spectaculars is where Disney shines and above all it'll transform one of Disney's most beautiful parks into an evening destination, which is currently an extreme rarity during Holiday weeks or an ever-elusive Extra Magic Hours.

2. Mako: SeaWorld enters the Florida coaster ring again with what promises to be Orlando's tallest, fastest, and ONLY long-overdue hypercoaster. Plus, the enhancements of the park's popular but outdated Shark Encounter and Sharks Underwater Grill areas is just a bonus.

1. Skull Island: Reign of Kong: What is there to say except that it's especially exciting to see Universal betting big on one of film's, and their resort's, biggest icons... who hasn't had a big-screen outing in over a decade and has never been one to set plushie manufacturers afire. Though Universal's signature screens and simulation will be in abundance, Universal's creatives have already set the tone for a very real thrill with their foreboding jungle exterior.
 

Nick

Staff member
Moderator
Sep 22, 2011
20,865
Orlando
^^They aren't betting big on a film that isn't being released by Universal. They're betting big on a known entity that's been around for 86 years.