2013 New Theme Park Attractions for the Midwestern United States

In our continuing series of the 2013 new theme park attractions opening across the country we rundown the additions to amusement parks and zoos in the Midwest. The heartland’s about roller coasters. America’s roller coast, Cedar Point, has revamped its entrance to add yet another roller coaster to the park, and we have not one, but TWO upside down wooden roller coasters. Yes, wooden roller coasters have been around for over 125 years, but technological innovations now allow the inversions, twists, and turns previously experienced only on steel roller coasters. Continue reading for highlights from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) report for the new attractions coming to the Midwestern U.S.

Cedar Point GateKeeper

 From IAAPA’s Press Release


Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL, adds the most technologically advanced show in the park’s 37-year history, “igNIGHT.” This nighttime production features singing, dancing, pyrotechnics, video, and laser elements. The grand finale takes place in the newly remodeled Hometown Square section of the park. In addition, park visitors can now ride “Batman: The Ride” backward. Riders reach top speeds of 50 mph and travel through 2,700 feet of track, all while maneuvering hairpin turns, vertical loops, corkscrews, and a head-over-heels roll without knowing what is coming next.

Santa’s Village Azoosment Park in  Dundee, IL, introduces the new “Wildcat Roller Coaster  and “Ding ‘em Dodge ‘em Bumper Cars.” The steel coaster climbs more than four stories high and sends guests on a thrill-filled ride with plenty of airtime twists and drops. The new bumper car attraction provides fun for the whole family. Other new attractions include games, exotic animals, and magic shows.


Hyena Falls,” a new water slide complex at Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, IN, includes four in-the-dark water slides. The longest slide is 350 feet long and also features a half-pipe element, while the remaining three slides are 327, 302 and 297 feet long. Holiday World also debuts “Kitty’s Tea Party,” a new teacup ride designed for the young and young-at-heart.

Following a two-year hiatus, butterflies have returned to White River Gardens at the Indianapolis Zoo as part of the all-new “Butterfly Kaleidoscope” exhibit. This limited-engagement exhibition includes nearly 40 different species of native and exotic butterflies and many brand-new features and experiences, like a one-of-a-kind giant mobile suspended overhead, colored glass windows and scenes, handmade glass feeders, and build-a-butterfly activities.

The new Seven Peaks Waterpark Duneland, located in northwest Indiana, features 15 water slides, including four 70-foot freefall drop slides and a giant half-pipe tube ride. The water park also features a 500,000-gallon wave pool, a quarter-mile lazy river, and two areas designed specifically for kids, with splash features, water slides, group pavilions, cabanas, and more.


The 17,600-square-foot Helzberg Penguin Plaza at the Kansas City Zoo features a 100,000-gallon cool pool and snow for cold-water penguins as well as a 25,000-gallon warm wet area with sand for warm-water penguins. Each exhibit provides child-friendly views showcasing the black-and-white birds in a natural environment.


Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, MI, opens “River Canyon Run,” a whitewater rafting attraction that takes three to four people at a time sliding and winding down a long indoor tunnel that stretches out of the resort and then back inside, culminating in a final splash. The water park resort also adds “Ten Paw Alley,” a bowling alley designed for kids, and expands “Scooops Kid Spa,” where young girls enjoy ice cream-themed manicure and pedicure services.

Great Wolf Lodge - River Canyon Run

Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon, MI, unveils “Lakeside Gliders.” The flying vehicles have a stationary rear wing and a moveable front wing which allow guests to control their flight experiences as the vehicles rotate faster and faster, fanning out over a large area.


Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minn., opens its new “Gorilla Forest.” The exhibit includes a 10,000-square-foot outdoor area and a 2,000-square-foot indoor area where gorillas can play, climb, forage for food, and display their extraordinary family and social dynamics to the public in immersive natural habitats.

Dinosaurs Alive!” debuts at Valleyfair in Shakopee, MN. The attraction includes a multi-sensory and interactive dinosaur park with more than 30 life-sized dinosaurs on five wooded acres (two hectares).

Dinosaurs Alive at Cedar Point Amusement Park


Branson Tracks family fun and go-kart center in Branson, MO, upgrades two of its tracks, and adds a new arcade, children’s rides, a kiddie go-kart track, a four-station batting cage for both baseball and softball, and a newly expanded birthday party facility.

Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, MO, celebrates its 40th anniversary with the completion of the largest expansion of the Oceans of Fun water park in the attraction’s history. Guests can now enjoy both Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun with a single admission ticket. Six new slides are housed on a 65-foot-tall complex overlooking “Surf City Wave Pool.” At the peak of the complex, guests climb into the “Aqua-Launch,” a chamber with a floor that suddenly drops out, sending riders down one of three slides into a high-speed, near-vertical drop and a series of loops and S-curves in a translucent flume. Known as a “constrictor” slide, the fourth slide features double tubes spiraling down an enclosed slide with four 360-degree turns. Two additional enclosed tube slides offer guests thrills and chills with high speed drops and banked turns.

Schlitterbahn Kansas City Water Park opens “Meg-a-Blaster.” The four-person raft speed slide stands more than 130 feet tall, includes uphill travel, and reaches speeds of more than 65 mph.

Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, introduces Outlaw Run, a new hybrid wooden roller coaster that boasts an 81-degree drop, a 68 mph top speed, and three inversions, including a double barrel roll. The $10 million attraction is Silver Dollar City’s largest investment in a new ride in the past decade.

Sliver Dollar City - Outlaw Run

Outlaw Run © 2012 Silver Dollar City

Six Flags St. Louis introduces the 125-foot-tall “Boomerang,” which hurtles riders along 1,650 feet of twisted steel track at speeds of up to 50 mph. Guests race through a half loop, careen into a right half cork screw followed by a left half cork screw, then another half loop, and finally blaze through a full loop before climbing a second lift hill – all in anticipation of the same ride experience in reverse.


The Beach water park in Mason, Ohio, undergoes a $5 million renovation which includes construction of the “Kiddie Cove” kids interactive play area, featuring a dumping bucket and spray grounds, as part of its “Big Surf” wave pool. The renovation also enhances the Emerald Bay activity zone that includes the “High Tide Hoops” water basketball play area and anchored floating lily pads.

Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, debuts “GateKeeper.”  Guests will sit on either side of the track on this winged roller coaster and travel along the 4,164-foot ride as it takes them down a 170-foot drop, up a 105-foot-tall camelback hill, through two keyholes, and around a 360-degree giant flat spin curve at speeds up to 67 mph. Click here for our review of Cedar Point’s GateKeeper roller coaster.

After the completion of phase three of its construction, the Cincinnati Zoo’sAfrica” exhibit now includes a wider vista that offers visitors a new opportunity to see African lions and cheetahs. When fully completed, “Africa” will be the largest exhibit in the zoo’s history.

EnterTRAINment Junction in Cincinnati, Ohio, debuts a miniature working replica of Cincinnati’s historic Coney Island Amusement Park. The new exhibit, covering more than 1,000 square feet, features working rides from Coney Island’s past, such as the “Shooting Star” roller coaster, the “Lost River,” the Ferris wheel, “Flying Rockets,” “Tumblebug,” carousel, haunted house, and numerous other attractions. All rides and attractions are being made from scratch by hand, based on historic photos and dimensions, with most items created in a 1/24th scale.

Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio, debuts a new indoor glow-in-the-dark mini-golf experience, “Howl at the Moon Glow Golf.” Families use glow-in-the-dark golf balls to putt their way through a forest filled with woodland creatures. The Great Wolf Kids Store, which features exclusive Great Wolf Kids souvenirs and gifts, also opens and includes “Creation Stations” where children can stuff their own Great Wolf Kids character and decorate “Like Me” shirts – one to wear, and one to share with their new stuffed friend.

Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, expands its “Dinosaurs Alive!” attraction which already includes six scenes depicting different aspects of dinosaur life and features 56 lifelike animatronic dinosaurs. More details on the expansion will be announced at a later date.

Monkeys, Magic, and More at the Great Plains Zoo

© 2013 Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History. All Rights Reserved.

South Dakota

The Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, S.D., opens a snow monkey exhibit as part of the “Monkeys, Magic and More” project. The zoo also debuts a new summer pond for flamingo viewing.


Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park transforms its traditional wooden roller coaster, “Hades,” into “Hades 360,” an all-wooden roller coaster with an upside-down roll.

Hades 360 at Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park

Hades 360 at Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park © 2013 Mt Olympus Resorts, All Rights Reserved.


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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I’m a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.