Six Flags is updating and expanding its Justice League: Battle for Metropolis ride. // © 2016 Six Flags
Feature image (above): Disney World has big plans for celebrating its 45th anniversary year. // © 2016 David Roark
Theme parks are always creating new and improved thrills for visitors, and next year will be no exception. Disney California Adventure, in Anaheim, Calif., will be replacing one of its most popular rides, while at Six Flags’ parks an attraction gets a major upgrade and expansion. Also, Walt Disney World celebrates an anniversary with a range of special events.
Walt Disney World Resort: Celebrating 45 Magical Years
In October, Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary with a celebration at Magic Kingdom Park featuring 45 Disney characters — including Goofy, Donald, Pluto and, of course, Mickey and Minnie Mouse — and a special live arrangement of the classic Disney song “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
When Walt Disney World officially opened on Oct. 1, 1971, it was the dream of its original Imagineer, Walt Disney. Though he did not live to see opening day, Walt Disney’s dream has grown to include four Florida theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“I was here on that day,” George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World, told guests gathered in front of Cinderella Castle. “I can tell you that it was a day of joy, because we had the privilege of knowing that we were about to create Disney memories that our guests could cherish for a lifetime.”
In 2017, “The Most Magical Place on Earth” will bring to life the mythical world of Pandora, a land of floating mountains and bioluminescent rainforests inspired by James Cameron’s award-winning film “Avatar.”
Walt Disney World has designed exclusive merchandise to celebrate this milestone anniversary, including two limited-edition coins featuring the Magic Kingdom 45th-anniversary artwork. In addition, as a special anniversary gift, guests who purchase a 12-month Walt Disney World annual pass before Jan. 3 will receive 13 months of Disney magic for the price of 12.
Disney California Adventure: Guardians of the Galaxy Are Coming
Disney California Adventure Park’s popular Tower of Terror attraction may be checking out in January, but taking over that real estate in the summer of 2017 is a new “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride.
The iconic Twilight Zone Tower of Terror structure will be reimagined into the new adventure attraction, enhancing the tower’s free-fall sensation with innovative visual and audio effects to create multiple, random and unique ride experiences set to popular music inspired by the film’s soundtrack.
The result of a collaboration between the creators of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic books and Disney Imagineering, Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout! drops park guests into the middle of the story alongside characters from the comic books and film.
“The incredibly talented Disney Imagineering team has found a way to harness the spirit that drove ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’s’ success to create this immersive experience,” said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios. “We are eager to present the attraction to the millions who visit Disney California Adventure and place them in the center of the action as they join in a mission alongside our audacious Guardians of the Galaxy team.”
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! is one of several superhero rides that are planned for the park.
Six Flags: Justice League's Battle for Metropolis
Billed as “the state-of-the-art video game you can ride,” Justice League: Battle for Metropolis will debut at three Six Flags theme parks next year. Justice League rides have been introduced at several parks over the last three years, but this revamped version will be entirely new to the Southern California, Atlanta and New Jersey locations. Changes to the attraction include a new finale, new game targets and the introduction of one of DC Comic’s hottest super-villains: Harley Quinn.
Riders will battle alongside Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern to save Metropolis from Lex Luthor, The Joker and Harley Quinn. Interactive 180-degree screens will allow guests to engage in a multisensory gaming experience in motion-based vehicles synced to action scenes.
“There is nothing like this anywhere in the world — where riders are actually playing an interactive game while riding an action-packed, high-intensity attraction,” said Bonnie Sherman Weber, park president of Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif.