If you’re planning your 2023 vacation schedule, you could take trips to edifying, educational locations that will inspire and enrich you and your family — or you could travel the world seeking out white-knuckle thrill rides and edifices to pure adrenaline and sensory overload like the 11 attractions listed here. I know which I’m doing.
All planned for openings in 2023, these roller coasters and rides are dotted all over the map, from Orlando to L.A. to Japan, and cover every taste, from pushing-the-limits coasters to meditative recreations of ancient Japan to a brand new theme park. (But it’s mostly roller coasters.)
Super Nintendo World, Universal Studios Hollywood
To say the opening of the Nintendo-themed section of Universal Studios Hollywood is highly anticipated is a huge understatement. The park did a better-than-Disney job with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter a decade or so ago, and if the magic holds up for Nintendo’s beloved intellectual property, it will be something very special. Plans include interactive games, walk-around characters, a huge interpretation of Bowser’s castle, and Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, the centrepiece augmented reality ride that recreates a game of Mario Kart. Sign me up! We won’t have to wait long to check it out: Super Nintendo World opens on Feb. 17.
Big Bear Mountain, Dollywood
Dolly Parton is amazing. Over the last few years, she helped fund the Moderna COVID vaccine, made a plan to send free books to every kid in California, and still found time to single-handedly design and build the Big Bear Mountain roller coaster that’s coming to Dollywood in 2023. I’m lying, she didn’t actually design or build the coaster, but the not-too-extreme, family-style coaster with its own soundtrack is a perfect fit for Dolly’s amusement park. It opens in the spring.
Mononoke Village, Studio Ghibli Theme Park
You’ll have to travel to Japan to visit Mononoke Village at Studio Ghibli Theme Park, but if you’re a fan of the films of animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, it might be worth the trip. The Studio Ghibli Theme Park is not the kind of place with thrill rides. It’s meant to immerse visitors in “life-size sets that are harmoniously integrated with nature.” The soon-to-be-opened Mononoke Village is based on Princess Mononoke and is meant to transport visitors to the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573), when the film is set. The park as a whole just opened a few months ago, and this new addition is planned for 2023.
Primordial, Lagoon Amusement Park
If you like both dark rides and roller coasters, you’ll love Primordial. Billed as a “one-of-a-kind interactive coaster,” Lagoon has been building this monstrosity for the last seven years. It combines the thrills of coasters with yet-to-be-fully-revealed dark ride sections, giving thrill-seekers the best of both worlds. It’s slated to take on its first victims — I mean “riders” — at some point this year.
Arieforce One, Fun Spot Atlanta
Inspired by aviation, this all-steel coaster is for white-knuckle connoisseurs: It’s 47.24 m high, reaches 101 km per hour during its 83 degree drop, and features a “raven-truss dive” and two zero-G rolls. It’s not for scaredy-cats, for sure. It will open in 2023.
Pipeline: The Surf Coaster, SeaWorld Orlando
Since showing off the talents of trained whales and dolphins is culturally suspect these days, SeaWorld is getting creative with its coasters. Pipeline aims to recreate the thrill of surfing by putting riders in a stand-up coaster styled to look like a giant surfboard, then sending them on a looping steel track that mimics an epic day at Waimea, except faster and more epic: 97 km per hour, an inversion, and five airtime moments. Cowabunga. It’s coming this spring.
Mattel Adventure Park, Glendale, Ariz.
The rest of these entries are rides and attractions, but Mattel Adventure Park is a full-on new theme park opening in 2023. Planned as part of a larger resort located outside Phoenix, Mattel Adventure Park will leverage Mattel’s iconic toy lines to attract kiddies, but that doesn’t mean it’s only for little ones — the Hot Wheel’s roller coaster has a couple loops, and loops are appropriately terrifying. You’ll also be able to step into the world of Barbie to finally visit her damn dream house, play laser tag in the He-Man universe, and more. It’s slated to open in 2023.
Catapult Falls, SeaWorld San Antonio
I’m not suggesting you willingly go to San Antonio, but if you end up there because you’ve been kidnapped or something, you’ll be able to take your mind off the ransom demands by checking out Catapult Falls at SeaWorld. This innovative ride combines roller coaster and the flume for something that they’re calling a “launched flume coaster,” but no matter the name, it looks ridiculously fun. Check it out in the 3D mock-up in the video above. There’s no opehning date yet, beyond “2023.”
Tron Lightcycle Run, Walt Disney World Orlando
The reboot of Tron will be 13 years old when when Tron Lightcycle Run opens at Orlando’s Magic Kingdom this year, so I’m not sure why it’s in Disney’s Tomorrow Land, but that aside, the fast-as-fuck coaster looks truly unique. You ride it in a leaned-over light-cycle posture, and it combined cyber-y indoor parts with outdoor sections. I’m on board when this thing takes riders in April.
Wild Mouse, Cedar Point
If you’re serious about roller coasters, you go to San Dusky, Ohio’s Cedar Point — when this park opens a new attraction, the thrill-world takes notice. The Wild Mouse is the park’s 18th coaster, and was inspired by the beloved original Wild Mouse coaster, but, in keeping with the times, this is Mouse is way bigger, faster, and more thrilling than the coaster that shares its name. It features cars that spin 360 degrees and hits speeds up to 35 miles-per-hour — while you’re spinning around. It’s planned for opening in 2023.
Wildcat’s Revenge, Hershey Park
Maybe roller coaster designers have gone too far. Designed by thrill ride kings Rocky Mountain Construction, wooden coaster Wildcat’s Revenge begins with a 42.67 m hill that turns into an 82 degree drop where riders will hit speeds of up to 62 miles per hour, followed by four inversions, ending in a counterclockwise 270-degree roll and a dive. It’s too much, Hershey Park, we can’t handle this level of thrill. It will be open in summer 2023.