The Most Exciting New Theme Park Rides Opening This Year

Get ready to lose your lunch. There are a lot of new rides hitting US theme parks in 2021.

new theme park rides 2021
The Velocicoaster at Universal Studios. | Photo courtesy of Universal Studios
The Velocicoaster at Universal Studios. | Photo courtesy of Universal Studios

More than a few of us could go for a good scream right now. Theme parks are back in 2021; they're welcoming guests—with some restrictions still in place—and making up for lost time. 

A lot of attractions that were planned for 2020 never opened due to the pandemic. So, this is a big year for park-goers: Not only is it possible to get back on a roller coaster, but parks like Disney and Universal are cutting the ribbon on a whole lot of heart-pounding new rides.

Here are the most stomach-churning, hat-stealing, scream-worthy new theme park rides coming in 2021. 

best theme park rides 2021
Photo courtesy of Disneyland

Avengers Campus

Disneyland
Anaheim, California
This isn't a single ride, but a whole new area of the park—the first MCU-specific Marvel theme area in the US, which may be the biggest new theme park attraction in the US this year. (Super Nintendo World might take the title for a global opening.) Opened on June 4, the Avengers Campus is built around the previously opened ride, Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! 

The new area also includes Spider-Man Adventure, an interactive screen ride, though those are the only two rides you'll find, for now. There's also a whole lot of themed food if you're looking for very small or very large food altered by Pym particles. 

best new roller coasters of 2021
Photo courtesy of Legoland New York Resort

Lego Factory Adventure Ride

Legoland New York Resort
Goshen, New York
This ride is part of the newly opened Legoland New York Resort, the third Legoland park in the US and eighth in the world. But this is the only one of those eight parks that has the Lego Factory Adventure Ride. It's a dark ride that's still geared towards kids, as you'd expect from most Lego-based entertainment. (But, like The Lego Movie, everyone can enjoy it.)

Other rides at the new Legoland include The Dragon, a roller coaster, and Lego Ninjago the Ride, an interactive experience "where children train side by side with Master Wu to save the World of Ninjago."

Jersey Devil Coaster

Six Flags Great Adventure
Jackson Township, New Jersey
The newest coaster at Great Adventure hits 58 miles an hour and rises 13 stories before sending you down, down, down. The two-and-a-half minute ride is the "world’s tallest, fastest, and longest single rail coaster," according to Six Flags. (Though, that's certainly a different thing than being the world's tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster in general.) It also boasts a zero-gravity roll and a 180-degree stall. Bring a change of pants. 

Jurassic World Velocicoaster

Universal Islands of Adventure
Orlando, Florida
Cross the bridge from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter into the Jurassic Park/World theme area to hit Universal's newest roller coaster. The Velocicoaster is an intense journey through a velociraptor paddock. The line—and you're going to be in line for a while—features loads of Jurassic easter eggs (dino eggs?) before you're encouraged to leave everything in a locker. The ride has two launches, the fastest of which hits 70 mph in 2.4 seconds. There are multiple inversions, a 53-mph barrel roll, and a "Top Hat" that flings you 155-feet into the air before twisting into an 80-degree drop. 

Secret Life of Pets ride
Courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood

Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash

Universal Studios Hollywood
Los Angeles, California
On this family-friendly ride based on the family-friendly films, you'll encounter 64 animal robot figurines that take you on a trek through their plush New York apartments and less-cushy New York alleys. If you're paying close attention, you'll even see yourself briefly turned into one of the pets. It's a slower ride with lots to look at, but kids will enjoy this one. 

best theme park attractions 2021
Photo courtesy of Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure

Walt Disney World
Orlando, Florida
The trackless Ratatouille-themed ride originally debuted at Disneyland Paris but is opening at the France Pavilion in Epcot Center this fall. Rescheduled from 2020, it launches October 1, 2021 just in time for Disney World's 50th-anniversary celebration. Jump in and have Chef Remy shrink you to his size for an adventure through Auguste Gusteau's Parisian restaurant.

Ice Breaker

SeaWorld
Orlando, Florida
SeaWorld's first launch coaster is set to open at some point this year, though there's still no exact date. Ice Breaker will have backward and forward launches, including a reverse launch into a 93-foot, 100-degree angle fall that SeaWorld's calling the "steepest beyond-vertical drop" in Florida. The opening moments look like you're a baby being rocked to sleep by a demon. That's a whole lot of anticipation to endure if your least favorite part of a coaster is the climb to the top.

Emperor

SeaWorld San Diego
San Diego, California
Named after the park's famous emperor penguins—SeaWorld San Diego is the only place in North America where you can see one—this ride was originally scheduled to open in 2020. No date has been given yet for this year's opening, but the floorless coaster will hit 60 mph and contains a 150-foot drop. It's billed as the "tallest and fastest floorless dive coaster in the state," which is a pretty specific superlative but alluring nonetheless.

Iron Gwazi

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Tampa, Florida
Roller coaster enthusiasts know that Busch Gardens has some pretty intense ones. Iron Gwazi, originally scheduled to open last year, follows suit: It's a hybrid coaster with three inversions, a top speed of 76 mph, and a 91-degree drop from 206 feet up in the air. It touts "a dozen airtime moments" and three inversions. That first drop is not for the faint of heart. 

Dare Devil Dive Flying Machines

Six Flags Fiesta Texas
San Antonio, Texas
If you love coasters but fear the tilt-a-whirl, steer clear of this one. The steampunk-themed ride is a four-seat plane that banks, loops, and swirls around a central pillar. The ride opened in March with promises that you'll experience "the thrills and sensations of weightlessness." It's hard to tell from pictures, but the top of the ride is five stories up in the air.

best roller coasters of 2021
Photo courtesy of Adventureland

Dragon Slayer

Adventureland
Altoona, Iowa
Adventureland is calling this a 4-D spin coaster, and if you see the ride, you might suggest there be more emphasis placed on the "spin" part. The steel coaster has you free spinning all over as it winds through its twists. It only hits a maximum speed of 35 mph, but there's a lot of motion going on. It looks like a ton of fun, assuming you can handle spinning like a sideways top for a couple of minutes.

Stunt Pilot

Silverwood
Athol, Idaho
There were once vintage plane airshows in Athol. Silverwood is keeping the spirit of those shows alive with a new single-track coaster that transitions between elements quickly, mimicking the banking and excitement of an aerial show. It starts with a big 113-foot drop and then gets into three inversions as the coasters bursts through an open barn door and other obstacles, reaching a top speed of 52 mph. 

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin Nelson on Twitter.