As families gear up for summer vacations and the weather begins to heat up, there's no better time to let your inner (or outer) child run free. And what better place to feel young than at a theme park designed for just that? From testing your skills as a wizard to leaping off a tall building, here are the best new attractions and death-defying rides of 2010.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal's Islands of Adventure
For the first time ever on June 18, muggles (non-wizards or witches) are invited to step behind the enchanted curtain and enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You will get the chance to explore the streets and shops of Hogsmeade, including familiar places like the "Three Broomsticks" and "Hog's Head," before testing your bravery with three new rides.
Next, you can visit Hagrid's hut, where the burly groundskeeper will give you very specific instructions on how to approach a mythical Hippogriff (a creature with the head of an eagle and the body of a horse). Once you have mastered how to say hello, you will take a "training flight" aboard "Flight of the Hippogriff," a magical wicker coaster that spins and dives through the pumpkin patch and zooms past the hut.
Finally, the ultimate test awaits you at the "Dragon Challenge," where you will choose between a Chinese Fireball and a Hungarian Horntail "dragon," and then hang on tight as the two twist, loop, and come dangerously close to colliding. This ride is actually two different high-speed roller coasters that intertwine at dizzying heights.
Before you head back to the uneventful world of the magically-challenged, stop in one of the many stores in Hogsmeade, and pick up Quidditch necessities, a Screaming Yo-yo, and a few Fizzing Whizzbees.
One-day one-park access tickets start at $79 for adults and $69 for kids.