Wednesday 21 February 2018

4 to try: Brand new theme park rides for your American holiday

American dreams

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios, Orlando
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios, Orlando
Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
The Walking Dead attraction opening at Universal Studios, Florida

Tom Sweeney

America’s theme parks add even more attractions to entice holidaymakers. Here are the best.

Harry in Hollywood

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened this month at Universal Studios Hollywood. I've been twice to the Orlando version (pictured above), and it truly is a magical experience.

The Californian attraction promises to cast the same spell on Muggles - wander the streets of Hogsmeade, try a non-alco butterbeer, buy character wands in Ollivanders and step inside Hogwarts for a thrill-a-minute go on the best immersive theme park ride in the world, complete with fire-breathing dragons.

It's a must on any family holiday bucket list.

Get there: universalstudioshollywood.com

The Walking Dead

Don't dare enter the Walking Dead maze at Universal Studios Hollywood with a newly-acquired tan - you'll come out as white as a sheet and nobody back home will believe you've been away. Based on the smash-hit cable TV show and opening soon, this walk-through (or run-like-hell-through) attraction full of animatronic zombies promises to be a scream - in more ways than one. I've seen a video preview, and there appears to be a defibrillator for everyone in the audience. Sorry, kids, this is for over-13s only.

Get there: universalstudioshollywood.com; opens summer 2016.

Skull Island: Reign of Kong

IW Images Skull I.jpg
Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

Irish holidaymakers are going to go ape over this scary new attraction at Florida's Universal Orlando Resort. Climb aboard a truck for an expedition into a world of prehistoric predators that view visitors as easy prey - until the mighty, chest-thumping King Kong comes swinging to the rescue.

Watch (and pray) as he attempts to save you from giant spiders and knocks lumps out of T-Rex. This is gorilla warfare at its fiercest.

Get there: universalorlando.com; opens summer 2016

Mako at Seaworld

iwMako PlazaBirds.png

If Baz Ashmawy is really intent on killing his Mammy, he should take her for a three-minute spin on Orlando's tallest, longest and fastest roller-coaster, which awaits daredevil riders this summer.

Mako is 61 metres high, 1.6km-long and the cars go at 117kph. There's a weightlessness-inducing drop from the top, too. (SeaWorld has wisely bowed to pressure and will cease its killer whale theatrical shows by the end of the year.)

Get there: seaworldparks.com; opens summer 2016

Top tip

Buying theme park tickets online is almost always cheaper than on the day (you guarantee your date and skip the ticket box line, too). Right now, Universal Orlando is offering a third day free with two-day tickets.

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