By Betsy Stein
Planning your annual family trip to the amusement park this summer? Here’s what’s new at parks near the Baltimore/Annapolis area, from a raging roller coaster to a dinosaur encounter.
Six Flags America
The French Quarter Flyers and the Ragin Cajun roller coaster are new rides in the newly themed Mardi Gras section of the park this year.
A family-friendly, flying ride, French Quarter Flyers has eight individual cars each with a stationary rear wing and a moveable front wing that allow speeds up to 40 mph. The riders are the pilots and can pump up the thrill for a more intense, wild flight or sit back and take it easy and enjoy the ride.
Ragin Cajun is the park’s ninth roller coaster and is a fast-track coaster that twists, turns and tilts riders through 1,378 feet of 360-degree spins, drops, sudden twists and erratic speeds. The coaster cars spin independently while zipping through the course.
13710 Central Ave., Bowie/Mitchellville
The new Exploration Island offers encounters with lifelike dinosaurs in their natural, lush habitat. A Prehistoric Path takes visitors to see animatronic dinosaurs and shares their habits, history and family life through storyboards and fact panels.
Kids can help dig up the past at Dino Dig, and then take a ride on the newly relocated and lengthened Turnpike ride. The old-time cars putter along the outer rim of Exploration Island at 5 mph and offer another view of the dinosaurs.
2249 Lincoln Hwy E, Lancaster, Pa.
There are three new family rides at Hershey this season. Cocoa Cruiser is a new gravity coaster in a compact oval featuring a midcourse turn that forms a radius of more than 360 degrees. Also new is a classic Tea Cup ride featuring six spinning cups with a wheel in each allowing riders to control the spinning. Finally, the new Sweet Swing resembles a large bench swing with two sides, accommodating up to six riders each, with a maximum of two adults. The swing motion provides both exhilaration and airtime for riders.
100 W. Hershey Park Drive, Hershey, Pa.
Water Country USA
Colossal Curl is the park’s newest ride that takes visitors hurtling high above the park and offers a feeling of weightlessness. The colorful slide combines funnel and wave elements and can hold up to four passengers in its cloverleaf-shaped rafts.
176 Water Country Pkwy, Williamsburg, Va.