Memorial Day weekend is BIG for theme parks, and, for this season, some are going ALL OUT to get your attention. Traditionally, this holiday weekend has been used by parks across the country to open great new attractions and draw in additional foot traffic. With many families using this three-day (or longer) weekend to get away and enjoy something new, amusement parks have been primed to capitalize! At Coaster Addict, we have been keeping track of some of these major project; let’s run down some highlights that may catch your attention.
Universal Orlando Adds Volcano Bay
In Orlando, things are heating up between Disney and Universal in hopes that you will head their way. On May 25, 2017, Universal Orlando will open a third park, Volcano Bay. This promises to be a water park experience unlike any other. The newest in technology has not only been brought in to the slides and water attractions that guests can partake in but also how you will stand in line without waiting 45 minutes standing in the heat. At the heart of the water park stands Krakatau, the mighty Fire and Water Volcano. Towering 200 feet over everything, it is a sight to behold. Krakatau streams waterfalls during the day and fiery lava effects at night. Inside, the volcano, will be encompass a variety of heart-pounding water slides. Volcano Bay is bringing [to Orlando] an Aqua Coaster, thrilling slides and a beach to relax it all beginning May 25, 2017.
Pandora Opens at Animal Kingdom
Not to be outdone, Walt Disney World will be opening an all new area of pixie dust on May 27, 2017, just down the street at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with Pandora. This has been a long time in the making with collaboration from James Cameron to bring the world of Avatar to life. With a new world to explore, new rides, and new dining experiences, Disney is hoping to completely immerse you in a wondrous experience. According to Disney Parks Blog, “This new land will transport guests to the visually stunning world of Pandora. Here, guests will wonder at floating mountains and bioluminescent plants, and can join the Na’vi on two excursions that take adventure to the next level.
First, the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey will send guests through a bioluminescent rainforest. Their journey will end in an unforgettable encounter with a Na’vi Shaman, a figure who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora. Second, Avatar Flight of Passage will offer guests the jaw-dropping experience of exploring the world of Pandora atop a Banshee.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout
As if that wasn’t enough Disney excitement, they decided to celebrate over on the west coast as well with Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout at Disney’s California Adventure. Here, Disney has to really step up their game. This ride will be housed in the now vacant Tower of Terror. The Tower of Terror was loved by many guests and many are still very disgruntled by this decision! Yet, many people want a new experience, especially with the Tower of Terror experience out west was never on the level as the full version at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
This new attraction will take you straight into the “Guardians of the Galaxy” story with characters right from the movie. You will help Rocket break his pals out of the Collector’s Fortress. To keep you coming back for more, you will experience randomized ride experiences complete with all-new visual and audio effects and music inspired by the popular film soundtracks. You never know which adventure you will get! This will all be enhanced with their Summer of Heroes promotion all kicking off on May 27, 2017. Will it be a hit with the park guests? Only time will tell!
Six Flags Counts on Memorial Day Openings
For years, Six Flags has often forgone opening new attractions during their parks’ opening days and instead elected to introduce them for public consumption during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. This gives the park addition time to prepare, test, and market the new attraction.
At Six Flags Over Georgia, the park is celebrating its 50th anniversary by opening its highly-anticipated Justice League: Battle for Metropolis 4D dark ride. The park started making room for this new interactive dark ride attraction near the end of summer last season, removing the classic Dodge City Bumper Cars. As a result, the park was well-ahead of pace for its construction. Out of the three Six Flags parks getting this attraction in 2017, the Six Flags Over Georgia version of the dark ride was completed first. Still, the park took the extra time to focus on the surrounding areas and aimed for a proper unveiling during the Memorial Day weekend. Park goers and families alike are excited for this new park addition.
Why Wait Until Memorial Day?
For the seasonal parks, it typically comes down to opening a new attraction on the park’s opening day weekend or waiting until Memorial Day. For many, Memorial Day makes a lot of sense. First, the park can take extra time to test and ensure that the ride or attraction is ready to go. The added time can come in handy. Second, seasonal parks tend to only be open during the weekends prior to Memorial Day [with the week of Spring Break being the main exception]. This means that more people will get to enjoy the new attraction, and the buzz from the crowds and media should maintain a little longer, and there’s nothing wrong with an extended positive news cycle, right? Third, the weather tends to be a little nicer in late May versus March or April, so that lends itself to larger crowds and nicer park experiences. Lastly, there is the issue of staffing. Many seasonal parks will heavily rely on seasonal employees. Since many of these employees are in college or busy during much of the spring, it is very possible that a park will not be fully staffed and be able to best handle the buzz and guest expectations associated with the opening of a new attraction until sometime in later May. First impressions are key, so many parks are not looking to rush things and risk getting it wrong.
Well, Memorial Day will be here before you know it. These new parks, park sections, and attractions will all be open for public consumption. What are your thoughts about Memorial Day weekend openings? Get ready, Coaster Addicts, for one incredible weekend coming this May.