With summer just around the corner thoughts turn to warm-weather vacations. And what family summer vacation is complete without at least one trip to an amusement or theme park?
Every year millions of Americans flock to parks across the country for spills and stomach-lurching thrills. 2014 looks set for extra fun with many parks offering expansions on already popular attractions (Wizarding World of Harry Potter) or brand new roller coasters that are sure to be scream-inducing (Goliath).
With the opening of the "Despicable Me" Minion Mayhem experience at Universal Studios Hollywood on Apr. 12, the season of fun officially gets underway.
U.S. & World
Check out the video above to see amusement park fan James Franco make sure he's first in line for Minion Mayhem, then read on to discover what new thrills await at a park near you:
"Despicable Me" Minion Mayhem - Universal Studios Hollywood (California)
The 3-D "Despicable Me": Minion Mayhem motion-simulator uses HD digital technology to take participants into the world of supervillain-with-a-heart-of-gold Gru, his three adopted daughters and the adorable yellow-hued, pill-shaped minions. (Opens Apr. 12)
Falcon's Fury - Busch Gardens Tampa (Florida)
Falcon's Fury is a 335 foot tower drop featuring a first-of-its-kind seating configuration. At the top of the tower seats rotate 90 degrees to position riders face-down. The result: a five-second drop at 60 mph - face first! (Spring 2014)
New England SkyScreamer - Six Flags New England (Massachusetts)
Billed as the tallest attraction in the park’s history and the tallest swing ride on the planet, the New England Sky Screamer will lift riders over 400 feet in the air, swinging them around at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. (2014)
Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley - Universal Studios Orlando (Florida)
Opened in 2010, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction expands this year to include a replica of Diagon Alley complete with a Leaky Cauldron restaurant and a Gringotts Wizarding Bank indoor roller coaster. A Hogwarts Express train will transport visitors between the existing Hogsmeade Village at Islands of Adventure and the new Diagon Alley. (Summer 2014)
Goliath Wooden Coaster - Six Flags Great America (Illinois)
Goliath is a new triple-record-breaking wooden coaster that will be the new staple of the park’s skyline. Billed as the world's fastest wooden coaster, it will carry riders at speeds up to 72 mph, to heights of 180 feet and drops at a stomach-turning 85 degrees. Add in an underground tunnel, over-banked turns and multiple inversions - including a 180-degree zero-G roll twist - and you have a coaster not for the faint of heart. (Spring 2014)
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train - Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (Florida)
This family friendly coaster takes riders through the story of "Snow White" on vehicles that swing back and forth. Participants cruise through a mine glittering with diamonds and emeralds and experience large lifts, across sharp banks and breath-taking turns. (Spring 2014)
Tsunami Soaker - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (California) and Six Flags St. Louis (Missouri)
The Six Flags parks outside San Francisco and St. Louis will each get the same Twist N Splash water battle rides.The Tsunami Soaker carries up to five other passengers in one of the nine round boats sitting on a circular floor atop a pool of water. Think the classic tea cup ride with added splash. As the ride begins, the floor will lower into the water leaving your boat to float, spin and splash around. Each seat is armed with a giant water gun you can aim at other riders as well as innocent bystanders. (2014)