"It's almost like timing is everything," Mangone said. "And in 2012 we're seeing short-term and long-term projects coming to fruition at the same time, which certainly should create some great thrills at amusement parks."
Among the new coasters debuting are Manta at SeaWorld San Diego, which will simulate underwater flight; and Superman-themed launch coasters at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif., and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif. Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill., introduces a new coaster called X-Flight, in which two riders sit side-by-side with their feet dangling, experience a 12-story drop and turn upside down five times.
Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa., introduces a 200-foot-tall coaster called Skyrush, which will reach speeds of 75 mph and includes five zero-G airtime hills. Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., opened the 210-foot-tall Wild Eagle coaster in March. Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia unveils a half-mile-long indoor-outdoor coaster called Verbolten.
Apocalypse at Six Flags America in Largo, Md., is a 100-foot-tall stand-up coaster, and the Stinger at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pa., is a scorpion-themed boomerang-style coaster that features six inversions and face-to-face seating.
Based on attendance trends and season-pass sales, Speigel said the theme park industry is expected to see 7 percent growth or more this year, which is much better than expected. He attributes it to the number of new attractions, an improving economy, pent-up demand and other factors.
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