Whether it's a standalone day trip or just one part of a longer vacation, summer means taking the newest, biggest and fastest theme park rides out for a spin. From magnetically controlled spinning coasters and virtual reality immersions to water-bound hydrocoasters and full-fledged submarine rides, 2018 is shaping up to be a year filled with steep drops, tight turns, new technology and plenty of screams.
It's no secret that theme park tickets aren't cheap, but the best rides are worth the price of admission.
Click through to see the crazy theme park attractions for 2018 that are totally worth the money.
Ray Rush at Aquatica in Orlando, Fla.
Admission price: $39.99 for a single-day ticket advance purchase
SeaWorld's water park welcomes you to ride on Ray Rush — which is actually three rides in one. First, a water jet-powered blastoff gets things going. Then, get ready to splash into the giant Ray Rush water sphere. Finally, you'll find out where the ride got its name when you fall into the waiting wings off a massive manta ray.
See the best water park in every state and start making summer plans.
Battle for Eire at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va.
Admission price: $90 for a single-day ticket online advance purchase
Your bravery will be put to the test on this thrill ride, which — with some help from the magic of immersive virtual reality — transports riders to the mystical land of Otherworld. Drum up your courage and prepare for battle against unsavory characters like Balor, the evil Dark Lord. Your body stays in Virginia, but when you enter Battle for Eire, your mind will be in another realm.
Railblazer at California’s Great America in Santa Clara, Calif.
Admission price: $39 for a single-day ticket online advance purchase
The first coaster of its kind on the West Coast, Railblazer is a single-rail monster that you'll have to straddle over if you're brave enough to ride. This super-low center of gravity positioning ensures you'll feel the maximum impact of every twist and turn. A single-file train gives every rider on this new roller coaster a perfect view of what's in store for them, including a 90-degree drop, speeds of 50 mph, three inversions and a zero-gravity roll along 1,800 feet of track.
Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio
Admission price: $45 for a single-day ticket online advance purchase
Steel Vengeance claims the title of the world's first steel/wood "hyper-hybrid' that stands taller than 200 feet — 205, to be exact. Four inversions and four-direction ricocheting are just part of the fun — there's also the 10 world records that Steel Vengeance holds, including world's tallest, fastest and longest hybrid, fastest airtime, most airtime, steepest drop and longest drop.
Cedar Point offers some of the best theme park deals in the entire country.
Incredicoaster at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, Calif.
Admission price: $97 for a 1-day value ticket
This summer, Disney California Adventure will welcome a brand new land called Pixar Pier — and the star of it all will be a new roller coaster aptly named Incredicoaster, which brings to life characters from, you guessed it, "The Incredibles." Baby Jack-Jack is on the loose — and you're on a mission to find him. The good news is, you'll have plenty of help from the Parr family, who will be by your side the entire time on this high-speed thrill ride complete with dazzling lights and incredible special effects.
Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire at The VOID in Downtown Disney in Anaheim, Calif.
Admission price: $29.95 for The VOID
Heading to Downtown Disney during your trip to Disneyland? Check out The Void, which will house Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. This experience promises a totally immersive, multi-sensory ride that goes beyond virtual reality — this is "hyper reality," and once you enter the VOID, your world will be merged with that of the Star Wars universe. State-of-the-art audio and 3D sound provide the backdrop while you and the other riders head out in teams of four to take on whatever challenges emerge in this dangerous galaxy.
Disneyland is expensive, and extra stops to places like Downtown Disney add on even more costs. Use these secrets to save money while you're visiting the Happiest Place on Earth.
Slinky Dog Dash at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Fla.
Admission price: Prices vary for single-day tickets; two-day passes start at $104.50
Toy Story Mania! is already a fan favorite at Hollywood Studios — and the toys are poised to take over even more of the park. One of two major upgrades currently in the works, Slinky Dog Dash will transport riders into Andy's backyard — but not before they're shrunk down to the size of a toy, of course. Twists, turns, drops and other thrills await you and your family who will cling to Slinky's coils for dear life.
Breakers Edge Water Coaster at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa.
Admission price: $39.95 if you purchase before March 16; $69.95 after
Breakers Edge is the 14th roller coaster at Hersheypark — and its awesome technology is making a splash in the world of theme park rides. Twists, turns, tunnels and steep drops are all on the menu — but this is no run-of-the-mill water slide. Linear induction motors are the technology behind one of the smoothest water coaster rides imaginable on the world's first hydro-magnetic coaster.
Whitecap Racer at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa.
Admission price: $39.95 if you purchase before March 16; $69.95 after
Hersheypark is pulling out all the stops for a banner 2018, including the world's longest mat racing slide. It's the only attraction of its kind with two sets of looping tunnels, and each tunnel — all six of them — serves as its own color-coded racing lane. That, along with the built-in slider timing system, stokes competition and the need for water-driven speed.
After you get hyped on adrenaline, head to Hotel Hershey for relaxing chocolate spa treatments.
Twisted Timbers at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Va.
Admission price: $39.99 for single-day ticket online advance purchases
This hulking steel and wood hybrid beast claims to be the first of its kind in the mid-Atlantic. Situated on the edge of Candy Apple Grove, Twisted Timbers features a 109-foot barrel-roll drop, 20 airtime hills and two inversions along 3,361 miles of track, which riders cruise at speeds up to 54 miles per hour.
Hangtime at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif.
Admission price: $43 for single-day ticket online advance purchases
In the summer of 2018, Knott's Berry Farm will be the proud host of the first and only dive coaster on the West Coast. If you've got the stomach to brave Hangtime's twisting dive tracks, mid-air suspensions and inversions, just make sure you're not afraid of heights — riders will soar 150 feet above the boardwalk.
LEGO CITY: Deep Sea Adventure at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, Calif.
Admission price: $89 for single-day admission
Plenty of rides go over the water — some even make a splash. But LEGOLAND invites you to fully submerge. Climb on board a real submarine and descend into the depths of a mini-ocean complete with the creatures you would see in the actual abyss. And those aren't animatronics you see outside your porthole window — the sharks, stingrays and other exotic marine life are all real. Interactive touchscreen displays keep you busy as you descend with treasure hunts, information and more.
Raja at Noah’s Ark Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
Admission price: $34.99
The world's largest king cobra calls Noah's Ark Waterpark home. It's Raja, and anyone who dares to enter will face 335 feet of winding turns that hurtle riders along at speeds up to 32 miles per hour. Just when you think you've had enough, the finale includes you plunging — and presumably screaming — 37 feet into the waiting mouth of the cobra himself.
Infinity Falls at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla.
Admission price: $79.99 for single-park tickets
Rides at SeaWorld are classified by splash level. Thanks to rumbling waterfalls, spraying fountains and roaring rapids, the splash level for Infinity Falls is classified as "soaked." You'll hold on for dear life while plunging down the steepest drop of its kind and crash through angry rapids passing ancient civilizations. The message of conservation is an ongoing theme throughout the ride, which ends with you bobbing along through Harmony Village.
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Electric Eel at SeaWorld in San Diego
Admission price: $69.99 for single-park tickets
This year, SeaWorld welcomes the tallest and fastest coaster ever to be constructed in the history of the park: Electric Eel, which takes riders 150 feet in the air at speeds up to 62 miles per hour. Feel the jolt of a zero-G roll, a non-inverting loop and an in-line twist, all of which takes place along 863 feet of track that's densely packed into a relatively small space.
Time Traveler at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo.
Admission price: $65 for adult one-day admission
Chances are good that you've never been on a coaster with independently spinning cars powered with magnetic spin control — but that all changes with Time Traveler, the world's fastest, tallest and steepest complete circuit spinning coaster. Start by whirling into a 10-story, 90-degree drop that leads into a dive loop. Next, you'll be rocketed along in a double launch, followed by a 95-foot vertical loop and a zero-G roll. The double launch is the first and only of its kind, as are the vertical loop and triple inversion.
Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif.
Admission price: $44.99 when you book online at least one day before your trip
Discovery Kingdom will soon boast the first dueling looping coaster in the world. It's the Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster, and she takes her place among the lineup of must-ride superhero coasters that keep hordes of thrill-seekers flooding through the gates of Six Flags parks nationwide. You'll go head over feet on 12 different inversions on this figure-eight scream machine, which sends dueling passengers whizzing past each other during a constant state of upside-down mayhem.
Once you've checked out Discovery Kingdom, drive about an hour to San Francisco and tour the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Pier 39.
Wonder Woman Golden Lasso at Six Flags Fiesta in San Antonio
Admission price: $58.99 when you book online at least one day before your trip
Continuing the Six Flags superhero theme is Wonder Woman, whose Golden Lasso ride holds the title of the world's first single-rail coaster — and maybe the best roller coaster in the whole park. Ready to make history? The ride's full 90-degree drop will feel like child's play once you hit the 180-degree stall and zero-G roll.
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CYBORG Cyber Spin at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, N.J.
Admission price: TBA
The superhero trend continues at the Six Flags location in New Jersey with the world's first attraction inspired by DC's CYBORG. Six Flags describes the ride as "an unrelenting and intense anti-gravity experience." Pivot and flip in an unpredictable pattern as high as 70 feet in the air. Floorless seats leave your feet dangling, and at night, the ride doubles as a light show.
Mardi Gras Hangover at Six Flags Great America in Chicago
Admission price: TBA
Chicago's Six Flags will launch the largest loop coaster in the world this spring. The Chicago Tribune reported that Mardi Gras Hangover will induce cringes and screams with extended upside-down hangtime, 360-degree revolutions and multiple inversions. The 32-seat giant stands 100 feet tall.
Twisted Cyclone at Six Flags over Georgia in Austell, Ga.
Admission price: TBA
Devotees to both steel and wooden coasters won't be able to complain after riding Twisted cyclone, which is a steel-track coaster built into a traditional wooden frame. This massive hybrid features a 100-foot, 75-degree initial drop, three inversions and 10 moments of airtime — all while racing at speeds up to 50 miles per hour along 2,400 feet of track.
Fast and Furious Supercharged at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla.
Admission price: $110 for a single-day, single-park ticket
As one of history's biggest action franchises, "Fast and Furious" was destined for its own ride in Orlando — and Supercharged lives up to its name. There is, of course, an epic car chase — and you'll be in on the action right alongside Hobbs, Dom, Letty and the rest of the gang. Along the way, you'll encounter some of the best cars and locations from straight out of the movie series.