It already seems like 2014 is shaping up as a great year for ride enthusiasts around the world, as a number of new theme parks are planned for Europe and several major attractions are in the works for Asia.
Consider this a tentative and fluid list of new attractions on tap at international parks (outside the United States). As is often the case, some projects may get delayed while new ones will get announced.
Since it is still early, I'll update my top 14 over the coming months as new projects are announced. Until then, here's my list of most anticipated rides for 2014:
1) Universal Studios Japan, Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- Construction is underway at Universal Studios Japan on a clone of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with a 2014 opening expected.
2) Disneyland Paris, Ratatouille dark ride -- With an estimated budget of $150 million, the new Ratatouille Kitchen Calamity attraction at the Disneyland Paris resort is expected to feature trackless-ride vehicles with 3-D projections and special effects.
3) Liseberg, Projekt Helix coaster -- Based on Mack Rides' Blue Fire megacoaster, the $30-million Projekt Helix, set to debut in spring 2014 at Sweden's Liseberg amusement park, will feature plenty of steep drops, banked turns and airtime hills, as well as six inversions, including a pretzel loop, a heart-line roll and a pair of corkscrews.
4) Sochi Adventure Park, a new Russian theme park -- The $300-million Sochi Adventure Park is scheduled to open in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics with 35 rides and attractions themed to Russian folklore and continue as a year-round theme park following the Games.
5) Cinecitta World, a new Italian theme park -- Slated for completion in 2014, the $800-million movie theme park outside Rome is expected to feature roller coasters and dark rides based on some of the 3,000 movies and television shows produced by Cinecitta Studios.
6) Red Sea Astratrium, a new Jordanian theme park -- Drawing on Middle Eastern cultural and historical themes, the $1.5-billion resort project in Jordan will feature roller coasters, dark rides and flight simulators as well as a multiattraction "Star Trek" experience.
7) Heide Park, wing coaster -- The first pieces of track for a new Bolliger & Mabillard wing coaster have begun arriving at Heide Park, about an hour south of Hamburg. The German park has been teasing that the 2014 ride will be big and fast. The new coaster is expected to be the same size and scale of Gardaland's Raptor, according to Screamscape.
8) Europa Park, Arthur and the Invisibles -- Germany's Europa Park will add a new carousel, kiddie drop tower and indoor family roller coaster in 2014 based on the "Arthur and the Invisibles" animated movie by French director Luc Besson.
9) Plopsaland de Panne, a new water park -- The Belgium theme park plans to add a $20-million Plopsaqua indoor water park with a wave pool, a lazy river and several slides.
10) Dreamworld, Australian Aboriginal Wildlife Experience -- The $2.2-million overhaul of the Australian park's wildlife experience will celebrate Aboriginal culture while letting visitors interact with kangaroos, emus, dingoes, crocodiles and koalas. The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by late 2013.
11) Dinoland, dinosaur attraction -- Los Angeles-based Super 78 Studios is developing an "experiential attraction" for the Chinese theme park based on an animated movie set in a world populated by dinosaurs and humans.
12) Ocean Park, koala exhibit -- Eight koalas raised by the Cleland Wildlife Park in Australia will move into a new $5-million home at the Hong Kong theme park in late 2014.
13) Efteling, double-drop tower -- Efteling is expected to add a Zierer-built family tower ride to the Volk van Laaf area of the Netherlands theme park in 2014, according to Screamscape.
14) Thorpe Park, new coaster -- According to a long-term growth plan submitted to the local planning authority, the British amusement park expects to add two roller coasters, each more than 130 feet tall between 2014 and 2016.
Related theme park stories and photo galleries
Universal Studios Hollywood: Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Six Flags Magic Mountain: Full Throttle
SeaWorld San Diego: Aquatica