8 awesome new theme park attractions for a 2016 holiday

Last updated 19th November 2018

Most kids love theme parks and 2016 really raises the bar in terms of creative and high-tech thrills. Mark Frary, Editor of 101 Family Holidays, reveals this year’s best new theme park attractions.

1/8. CBeebies Land at Alton Towers


Hold on tight kids! The Octonauts ride

CBeebies Land has proven to be a huge success since opening in 2014, welcoming more than a million visitors in its opening year. The £9 million zone grew in 2015 with the opening of the Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure. The coaster, based on the popular series’ Gup A underwater exploration vessel, lets toddlers pretend to be Barnacles, Kwazii and Peso. This is one the kids will definitely want to ride more than once.

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2/8. Efteling in the Netherlands


Are you brave enough to ride the Baron 1898?

The Dutch theme park Efteling, which attracts four million visitors a year, opened it £13 million dive coaster Baron 1898 last summer and has established itself as one of the park’s most popular rides. The coaster is themed around the 19th century Dutch mining industry and riders experience a 37.5 metre freefall, entering the smoke-filled mine at 90 km/h. The coaster then pulls an Immelman loop before a second drop and a zero-g roll – definitely not one for the faint-hearted.

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Image credit: TimvdH96, CC-BY- SA-4.0

3/8. IMG World of Adventure in Dubai


Are your kids ready to take on the world’s largest indoor theme park?

The opening date for what is said to be the world’s largest indoor theme park, IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai, has been announced for 15 August 2016. The park will feature four themed zones – Cartoon Network, MARVEL, IMG Boulevard and the Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure. The park, which has cost £680 million to build, covers 1.5 million square feet and is expected to attract 4.5 million visitors in its first year. The Cartoon Network zone will feature a 5D Ben 10 battle ride while the Lost Valley will be home to more than 70 animatronic dinosaurs while the Velociraptor roller coaster will accelerate you from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds.

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4/8. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


The Flight of the Hippogriff ride, set against an enchanting sky

Harry Potter has finally made it to Hollywood! Six years after the boy wizard waved his magic wand over attendance figure at Universal Studios Orlando, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has opened at Universal Studios Hollywood. The attraction will be familiar to those who have visited the Florida counterpart (there’s an Ollivander’s wand shop and lashing of butterbeer) but the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey quidditch ride has been improved; riders now wear a pair of 3D quidditch goggles to make this dark ride even more realistic. You will also be able to have your photo taken in one of the old carriages of the Hogwarts Express.

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5/8. Ninjago at Legoland California


Fight the flames using hand motion sensors on Ninjago

If your kids spend their time pretending to be Kai, Zane or Nya, then they are going to love the new Ninjago ride at Legoland California Resort. What is really cool about this new ride is that it uses hand motion to help you fight the sneaky and snakey Serpentine and other assorted baddies. The ride uses high-tech sensors to monitor your hand gestures to let you throw lightning bolts, move shockwaves, send ice soaring and emit fire balls. Sophisticated software works out where you are aiming and this is translated into the screens. Ninjago the Ride is the main attraction of the theme park’s Ninjago World, which includes a number of other spinjitsu-themed areas.

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6/8. Dollywood


The Lightening Rod ride on a hair-raising 90 degree bank

Dolly Parton’s Tennessee theme park, Dollywood, seems like an odd combination to some but you cannot deny that the country and western star knows how to thrill. The park’s new Lightnin Rod launched wooden coaster uses 1950s-era hotrods as its ride cars, which whisk you up 20 storeys high before dropping 165 feet. At top speed, you’ll hit 73 mph – the fastest for a wooden rollercoaster anywhere in the world. The ride was set to open at the beginning of April but testing has been extended to test the innovative technology. It looks awesome and the delayed opening cannot come soon enough for thrillseekers.

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7/8. Europa Park in Rust, Germany


Europa Park adds Ireland to its international offering in 2016

Europa Park is always a winner with families thanks to its short queues and for not being too pushy with trying to sell you stuff, meaning you never have to miss a ride. The park, whose zones are themed around European countries, adds Ireland this year. The new area comprises a themed fishing village and a handful of rides aimed at younger children – a swing boat, a leprechaun train roller coaster and a tractor ride. It also features a huge indoor soft play centre.

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8/8. Motiongate Dubai


In true Dubai style, Motiongate is vast – dwarfing Disneyland in California

Not content with one new theme park, Dubai has another opening in October 2016. Motiongate is a Hollywood studio theme park done Dubai style and both Sony Dreamworks and Lionsgate are involved. The involvement of Lionsgate will see the opening of two Hunger Games themed rides – an aerial tour of Panem and a high speed bullet train rollercoaster. The park will also feature a new Legoland and a Bollywood themed park. Motiongate is costing £2 billion to build on a site close to the emirate’s famous Palm measuring an incredible 25 million square feet – Disneyland in California is a tenth of that size.

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Looking for thrills close to home? From water parks to the world’s fastest tunnel slide, make the most of the coolest UK attractions opening in 2016.