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Newest, biggest, baddest roller coasters for summer

By Pam Grout, for CNN
updated 10:57 AM EDT, Sat July 6, 2013
After a summer 2013 update to a classic ride, this superhero flies backwards for the first time. After a summer 2013 update to a classic ride, this superhero flies backwards for the first time.
HIDE CAPTION
Batman: The Ride, Illinois
Bandit Bomber, Abu Dhabi
GateKeeper, Ohio
Nefeskesen (Breath Taker), Istanbul
Nyhed Juvelen (The Jewel), Denmark
The Outlaw Run, Missouri
The Joker, Mexico City
The Smiler, England
The Storm, Sicily
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Latest indicator of economic recovery: super-scary thrill rides
  • Fear factors are so high on the world's newest coasters that new verbs are being invented
  • Rides include world's first coaster with water bombs for each seat

(CNN) -- Get ready to shred your vocal cords.

Or just clench your jaw and hang on with white knuckles in terrified silence.

With spectacular thrill rides debuting around the world, summer 2013 is set to be a noisy season for roller coasters.

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Some of the scariest have already opened.

"We're seeing increased investments and the amusement parks are putting in some really innovative rides," says Dave Lipnicky, economist and volunteer public relations director for American Coaster Enthusiasts.

The thrill-ride expert says that during the recent recession, theme parks around the world went into maintenance-only modes in order to reduce operating costs.

But 2013 will go down as a year of major new installations.

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"It had been a while since we'd seen $10 million, $15 million, even $20 million thrill rides going in, but now there seems to be a pent up demand," Lipnicky says.

"I fully expect to have my socks blown off this year."

Here are 10 new rides that'll do the job, in alphabetical order.

1. Bandit Bomber (Yas Waterworld, Abu Dhabi)

This magnificent new ride opened in January in Abu Dhabi, where winter temperatures average in the upper 70s F.

That's probably why it's the first coaster in the world equipped with laser guns and water bombs in every seat.

Other 2013 debuts at Yas Waterworld include the Liwa Loop, the Middle East's only looping water slide, and Dawwama, the world's first and largest hydromagnetic-powered water slide.

Bells and whistles

Length: 1,690 feet (515 meters)

Speed: 37 mph (60 kph)

Height: 115 feet (35 meters)

Insane trademark: Water cannons and laser guns that set off geysers and waterfalls

Bandit Bomber, Yas Waterworld, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates;+971 2 414 2000; 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; ticket price 225 dirhams ($61); hours and prices vary

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2. Batman: The Ride (Six Flags Great America, Illinois)

More than 28 million riders have experienced this U.S. coaster since its debut in 1992.

The inverted coaster has been so popular, clones have popped up around the world, such as the popular Le Vampire in Montreal.

But 2013 marks the first time the original Batman: The Ride in Illinois will take riders on its hairpin turns, vertical loops, zero-G roll and corkscrew turns while traveling backwards.

"Nothing compares to the thrill of racing down 10 stories facing the other direction," says Hank Salemi, Six Flags Great American park president. "You literally have no idea what's coming next."

Batman: The Ride will travel backwards until July 7.

Bells and whistles

Length: 2,697 feet (822 meters)

Speed: 50 mph (80 kph)

Height: 105 feet (32 meters)

Insane trademark: 360-degree vertical loop, zero-G roll, all performed backwards

Batman: The Ride, 11 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, Illinois; +1 847 249 1776; 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; ticket price $41.99

The record-breaking GateKeeper arches through the keyhole of two new towers at Cedar Point\'s admission gate.
The record-breaking GateKeeper arches through the keyhole of two new towers at Cedar Point's admission gate.

3. GateKeeper (Cedar Point, Ohio)

Having debuted in May, this $26 million steel shocker claims the world's highest inversion at the terrifying height of 170 feet (52 meters).

It also establishes other records, including highest drop and longest track.

The GateKeeper brings the roller coaster count to 16 at Cedar Point, the self-dubbed roller coaster capital of the world.

At an international auction before the ride's debut, thrill seekers were able to bid to become one of the GateKeeper's first 64 riders. The highest bid was $1,351.

Bells and whistles

Length: 4,163 feet (1,269 meters)

Speed: 67 mph (108 kph)

Height: 170 feet (52 meters)

Insane trademark: Six inversions, 164-foot (50-meter) drop

Gatekeeper, One Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky, Ohio; +1 419 627 2350; 10 a.m.-8 p.m.); ticket price $44.99

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4. Nefeskesen (Breath Taker) (Vialand, Istanbul)

This Swiss-made coaster hurtles on its track at 68 mph (110 kph). More impressive is that it reaches that speed in three seconds flat.

It joins King Kong Village and 50 others attractions at Istanbul's new theme park, Vialand, which opened April 23.

Bells and whistles

Length: 3,280 feet (1,000 meters)

Speed: 68 mph (110 kph)

Height: 213 feet (65 meters)

Nefeskesen, Vialand, Yeşilpınar Mahallesi Girne Caddesi, Eyüp İstanbul, +90 212 618 9797; 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; ticket price 50 lira ($27)

The Jewel in Denmark features off-roading on all-terrain vehicles through a Mayan jungle on a quest for lost treasure.
The Jewel in Denmark features off-roading on all-terrain vehicles through a Mayan jungle on a quest for lost treasure.

5. Nyhed Juvelen (The Jewel) (Djurs Sommerland, Denmark) Opened on May 4, Denmark's longest coaster is also Europe's first double-launch coaster.

The cars look more like four-wheelers with handles for pretend steering, but they can speed to 53 mph (85 kph) and bank side to side at 80-degree angles.

Riders who aren't squeezing their eyes in terror are treated to a view of faux Mayan temples, waterfalls and a jungle.

Bells and whistles

Length: 3,280 feet (1,000 meters)

Speed: 53 mph (85 kph)

Insane trademark: Two launches, side banks at 80 degrees

Nyhed Juvelen, Randersvej 17, Nimtofte, Denmark; +45 8639 8400; 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; ticket price DKK 186 ($32)

6. Outlaw Run (Silver Dollar City, Missouri)

Quite a few trees gave up their lives for this groundbreaking new coaster's March debut. Made with 450,000 board feet of lumber, it's the first wooden coaster to feature a double barrel roll and three inversions.

"It's stratospheric," says Justin Garvanovic, founder of the European Coaster Club and editor of First Drop magazine. "This has never been done before on a wooden coaster."

Silver Dollar City ran more than 300 tests before turning riders loose to plummet 16 stories at 81 degrees. That's nearly vertical.

Bells and whistles

Length: 2,936 feet (895 meters)

Speed: 68 mph (109 kph)

Height: 164 feet (50 meters)

Insane trademark: 720-degree double barrel roll, vertical drop at 81 degrees

Outlaw Run, 399 Silver Dollar City Parkway, Branson, Missouri; +1 800 475 9370; 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; ticket price $62.34

7. The Joker (Six Flags Mexico)

The first Six Flags to open for the summer season, the Mexico City park rolled out The Joker, a heart-stopping coaster with cars that can do 360-turns right on the track.

Bells and whistles

Length: 1,348 feet (411 meters)

Speed: 31 mph (50 kph)

Height: "Three-story drop"

Insane trademark: Spinning cars on the track

The Joker, Carretera Picacho al Ajusco Km. 1.5, Heroes de Padierna, Tlalpan, Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico; +52 55 5339 3600; 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; ticket price 353 peso ($28)

The Smiler is as sinister as a roller coaster can get.
The Smiler is as sinister as a roller coaster can get.

8. The Smiler (Alton Towers, England)

Designers of The Smiler went so far as to hire psychological experts to help ramp up the fear factor on the $27 million ride that its public relations folk claim will "marmalize" riders, a term they invented that means, "feeling spaced out and mashed up."

Using mind-manipulating triggers such as giant syringes, spinning wheels, flashing lights and even tickling, The Smiler is meant to "blur the line between illusion and reality."

To up the game, Alton Towers staged a competition for the first rider, launched a Smiler game app and even branded sheep in South Wales with The Smiler's eerie face.

Bells and whistles

Length: 3,839 feet (1,170 meters)

Speed: 52.8 mph (85 kph)

Height: 98 feet (30 meters)

Insane trademark: 14 inversions

The Smiler, Alton Towers, Staffordshire, United Kingdom; +44 1538 703 344; 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; ticket price £35 ($53)

9. The Storm (Etnaland, Sicily)

Etnaland, a 40-acre waterpark located at the foot of a volcano on the island of Sicily, opened a new theme park in April.

Etnaland's main attraction is The Storm, a 105-foot (32-meter) coaster with a 70-degree first drop and a heartline roll (aka barrel roll), meaning the track twists 360 degrees around the train.

Etnaland also offers a Prehistoric Park with 21 life-sized dinosaurs.

Bells and whistles

Length: 2,625 feet (800 meters)

Height: 105 feet (32 meters)

Insane trademark: Two helix turns, 110-degree outbanks, 70-degree drop

The Storm, Etnaland S.r.l., C.da Agnelleria, Belpasso, Italy; +95 791 3334; 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; ticket price €25 ($32)

10. As yet unnamed roller coaster (Ocean Kingdom, China)

When it comes to superlatives in the world of coasters, China is the new destination.

"It's definitely a hotspot," says Dave Lipnicky of American Coaster Enthusiasts. "They've been building like crazy."

According to Lipnicky, the Chinese government has removed building restrictions, leading to an amusement park boom in China over the past 10 years.

One to look out for: Ocean Kingdom, a new theme park on Hengqin Island, will debut an as yet unnamed winged coaster in October. We can't wait to see the flips on that monster.

Bells and whistles

Investment in Ocean Kingdom: more than $3 billion

Cool accommodations: Dolphin-themed hotel with 1,888 guest rooms

On the drawing board: a night zoo, the world's highest Ferris wheel and world's longest wooden coaster.

For more on this summer's newest rides, check out the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions' database.

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