11 theme parks and attractions opening in 2020 around the world to get excited about

It’s going to be a massive year in 2020 for those who enjoy theme parks, with a number of brand new, highlight anticipated parks and expansions opening up all over the world. There are also new museums, IMAX cinemas and even hotels that are worthy of getting excited about here in Australia and overseas. Here’s a look at just 13 theme parks and attractions opening in 2020 that you need to get excited about.

Super Nintendo World (Osaka, Japan)

In time for the 2020 Olympics in Japan, Universal Studios is adding a new land to their Osaka location, all celebrating the world of Super Nintendo. Some of the details of the park are still shrouded in mystery, but we know it’s going to be $700 million attraction, with a Mario Kart ride and a Yoshi’s Adventure Ride at launch. Also, the whole land is going to be interactive; likely inspired by the success of the wand interactions in the Harry Potter world, guests will be able to wear a magnetic red wristband that will engage with the “levels” of the park, and even interface with your home console, according to Polygon. Given the success of their Harry Potter themed areas, you can bet this is going to be worth the trip.

This will be a Japanese exclusive until the “Epic Universe” park opens in 2023 as part of the Universal Studios Resort in Orlando, of which Nintendo is expected to have a presence (though it hasn’t been officially confirmed). And there are also plans to have Nintendo presence in Singapore and Hollywood. But this will be your only way to get your Nintendo Theme Park fix for quite a while.

Yayoi Kusama is taking over the New York Botanic Gardens

A “multisensory presentation of Yayoi Kusama’s connection with nature” is coming to the New York Botanic Gardens (NYBG) in May, and we for one are enthralled by the premise of this attraction from the acclaimed Japanese artist. According to the website “this exhibition is designed to capture and illuminate the artist’s profound engagement with nature throughout the changing seasons from spring into fall.”

“Across NYBG’s 250-acre landmark landscape and buildings, Kusama’s lifelong fascination with the natural world will be revealed in depth with multiple installations, including her signature mirrored environments and organic forms, colossal polka-dotted sculptures of flora, mesmerizing nature-based paintings, biomorphic collages, works on paper, botanical sketches, as well as a spectacular horticultural showcase in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. The exhibition will also debut new works created by the legendary artist, including a monumental pumpkin sculpture and her first-ever participatory greenhouse installation that will be transformed over the course of the exhibition.”

Sign us up. The exhibition opens at the NYBG on May 9th, and will sit there until November 1st. Grab all the details HERE.

Game of Thrones Studio Tour (Belfast, Northern Island)

It’s been reported that 2020 will see a Game of Thrones studio tour open up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It’ll be a 110,000-square-foot attraction that will feature immersive experiences, sets, costumes, weapons and props from the series, which was filmed in the city. The exact location of the tour will be 25 miles from Belfast, at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, which they used to film scenes in Winterfell and Castle Black, among others. So you can expect to see sets used there, as well as sets from other locations, which are being sent in and rebuilt for the experience.

A lot of this information came out in April of this year, but we haven’t heard too much about it since then. So we don’t have an exact launch date – but keep your eyes peeled for more details.

Avengers Campus to open at Disney’s California Adventure (Anaheim, CA)

With the limitations on its footprint, expansions have always been difficult for Disney’s California Adventure. Nonetheless, the first Marvel land in the Disneyland Empire is set to open next year in the park, being dubbed “Avengers Campus California”. It’s replacing the Bug’s Life land that used to sit next to the Guardian’s of the Galaxy ride, which is technically the first ride to sit in the new land; itself a refitting of the popular Tower of Terror ride.

While the exact launch date hasn’t been confirmed, it would be safe to assume they’re hoping to launch it for Summer 2020. The “campus” will feature the first Disney ride to feature Spider-Man, housed inside the “Worldwide Engineering Brigade” (or W.E.B.). There’ll also be an Ant-Man and the Wasp themed restaurant, a Doctor Strange live action show and more.

Though it’s not expected to open in 2020, a later addition for the Campus will be a ride at the Avengers HQ, set in Wakanda (from the Black Panther series). It’s going to be of particular interest to Disney theme park fans as it promises to introduce a new ride system exclusive to Disney parks – one inspired by the Soarin’ Over California ride that helped open California Adventure back in 2001.

The Marvel Theme Park Universe will expand in future years to Orlando’s Walt Disney Studios and Hong Kong Disneyland, where an Iron Man and Ant Man attraction are already in operation. Speaking of Hong Kong, in 2020 the redesigned Sleeping Beauty Castle is due to open. And though Arendelle: The World of Frozen was originally expected to open in 2020, it’s now expected in 2021.

What else is coming to Disney Parks in 2020?

And it’s not the only thing to open in California in 2020 – at the original Disneyland park next door to California Adventure, Star Wars Land will finally get its second ride – the Rise of the Resistance – on January 17h, which is the most technically advanced ride to ever appear at a Disney park, seeming to be a fusion of technologies found in the original Tower of Terror in Orlando and the Mystic Manor in Hong Kong. It’s already open in Orlando.

Walt Disney World in Orlando will have a couple more additions to its parks in 2020, as well. At Hollywood Studios, the big attraction to look out for is Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which is replacing The Great Movie Ride that launched alongside the park. It’s due to open on 4th March. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will also be added to the France Pavilion at EPCOT. A port of the ride you’ll find at Walt Disney Studios in Paris, it’s due to open this Summer. Look out for a number of updates to attractoins throughout the EPCOT park in 2020, including new dining options, new/updated films and a DuckTales themed scavenger hunt. And in case you were wondering, the epic new Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort that will be connected to Star Wars Land won’t open until 2021. We highly recommend keeping an eye on that one though in 2020 as we can see it being booked out pretty quickly.

IMAX returns to Sydney, Australia

Just in time for the new Christopher Nolan film TENET (which has been filmed in IMAX), Sydney is finally getting its IMAX Theatre back in 2020 – in the exact same location it once sat at Darling Harbour. While the most obvious difference is that the former site of the world’s largest IMAX screen will now sit underneath a 588 room W Hotel, they are also promising major upgrades to the site, with 430 luxury seats and the very latest laser IMAX projection and sound system. It’s expected to launch in June 2020, though the precise opening date has yet to be announced.

LEGOLAND Opening in Goshen, New York

New York’s LEGOLAND will be the ninth Lego park internationally (joining Billund, California, Florida, Malaysia, Dubai, Windsor, Japan and Germany), and the third in the USA. The park will be located in the Hudson Valley city of Goshen, about 100km outside of New York City, and will open on July 4. Taking up 150 acres, it’ll be the biggest Legoland in the world – which might explain the remote location. You can expect 50 rides, shows and attractions across seven “lands”, no less than 30 million Lego bricks making up the park, and its on site hote will open in 2021.

The lands and rides you’ll find here won’t be too dissimilar from other parks – there’ll be Knights’ Kingdom, Pirate Shores, Lego Ninja World and more – though they will be getting an exclusive “Factory Adventure Ride” that will present the first of its kind dark ride experience, transforming guests into Lego characters using on-ride tracking technology.

Meanwhile, at the Legoland California resort, just outside of San Diego in Carlsbad, 2020 will see the largest addition in the park’s history open, The LEGO Movie World. They new attraction area will be based on the LEGO Movies, immersing guests in the streets of Bricksburg. On its flagship ride, Masters of Flight, guests will hop aboard Emmet’s triple-decker flying couch for a thrill-seeking adventure. Guests will also enjoy the excitement of falling from Unikitty’s Disco Drop after being launched to the top of Cloud Cuckoo Land, then dropped, spun and bounced down to earth. Guests can also meet Emmet and friends in Emmet’s Super Suite apartment, explore Benny’s Play Ship and ride a fully re-imagined carousel.

US roller coaster park Six Flags expands to China

Without question the best chain of roller coaster parks in America is Six Flags – and now they’re set to be the latest North American company to expand to China with Six Flags Zhejiang. It will be located 45 miles south of Shanghai in Zhejiang, part of the county of Haiyan, and is being built at an incredible cost of US$4.6 billion. The Looney Tunes, Garfield and Tuzki francishes will keep the kids happy in the “Kids World”, while the sections of the park are inspired by some of the best Six Flag parks in the USA.

You’ll have the Magic Mountain area, based on the Six Flags park of the same name in Valencia, California, which has the world record for most roller coasters in a single park, and was memorably featured as Wally’s World in the classic National Lampoon’s Vacation. There’ll also be lands inspired by Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. A Hurricane Harbor Water Park will also be attached, as they are at many Six Flags parks in the USA.

It’s the first time Six Flags has expanded outside of North America, and is the first of three parks planned for launch in China – with a location in Chongqing also expected to open in 2020, and Nanjing in 2021. There’s also been an announced expansion into Saudi Arabia for 2023.

And Six Flags aren’t the only park set to move into the Chinese market. Set to open in 2021 is Universal Studios Beijing. At a cost of US$6.5 billion (roughly A$10 billion), it’ll be the most expensive theme park ever to be built (at the time of opening, and topping the previous record holder, Shanghai Disneyland). Spread over 300-acres there’ll be attractions themed around Harry Potter, The Fast & The Furious, Transformers, Despicable Me and Kung Fu Panda.

Academy Museum (Los Angeles, California)

The exact opening date in 2020 is still to be announced, but we already know pretty much everything we need to know about the new museum to know it’s going to be a cinephile’s dream destination. Set in LA’s Miracle Mile on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, the museum – designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano – will encompass six stories of state-of-the-art galleries, exhibition spaces, movie theatres, educational areas and special event spaces. Inaugural exhibitions will include a retrospective of legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and Making of: The Wizard of Oz. Keep an eye on their official website for more details.

Hotel Indigo finally opening in Australia

Keeping on the theme of hotel openings, Brisbane and Adelaide are set to launch the Hotel Indigo brand in Australia, with additional locations in Sydney and Melbourne to launch in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Part of the IHG group, the Hotel Indigo brand is one of the world’s most unique takes on modern hotel design, making them into an attraction of themselves.

No two Hotel Indigo properties are the same, with each drawing on the story of its local area to inspire every aspect of the hotel to help guests feel part of the destination. For the Brisbane location, expect a building that will embrace its home in the Fortitude Valley. Meanwhile, he Adelaide location (pictured above) will be drawing on the history of the Central Markey precinct.

Los Angeles is getting a museum dedicated to Mexican Food

LA Plaza Cocina will be the America’s first museum and teaching kitchen dedicated to Mexican Cuisine. It’s going to be located at LA Plaza Village, a 425,000 square foot mixed-use complex located in one of the oldest historic districts of Los Angeles, and is set to open in Spring 2020. The multi-disciplinary, 2,500-square-foot venue will aim to celebrate and educate visitors on Mexico’s culinary heritage, from its indigenous roots to its contemporary interpretations, through an array of exhibitions, cooking classes, lectures, workshops, and culinary festivals.

Record breaking observation desk to open in Hudson Yards (New York City)

And finally, the Edge outdoor observation deck will be opening at New York’s Hudson Yards in March, taking guests over 100 floors and 345 metres in the air. The skydeck with provide a unique 360-degree vantage of New York City’s iconic skyline, with a glass floor, angled glass walls and champagne bar.

Designed by William Pedersen and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) and extending out 80 feet from the 100th floor of 30 Hudson Yards, Edge redefines the New York skyline. A marvel of modern engineering and structural design, the 765,000-pound observation deck is comprised of 15 sections, each weighing between 35,000 and 100,000 pounds, all bolted together and anchored to the east and south sides of the building. The 7,500-square-foot outdoor viewing area is surrounded by 79 glass panels, each weighing 1,400 pounds, manufactured in Germany and finished in Italy.

For more details about the attraction, which will open on 11th March 2020, and for tickets which are already on sale, head HERE.

General admission adult tickets are $36 purchased online and $38 purchased on-site. Child tickets are $31 purchased online and $33 on-site. New York City residents can buy adult tickets online for $34. Special rates available for seniors, active and retired members of the U.S. military and groups. A champagne bar, located on the 100th Floor, will offer a glass of champagne or signature cocktail and light bites to enjoy indoors or outdoors on the sky deck. The champagne bar will be operated by London-based rhubarb hospitality group. Rhubarb will also operate Peak, the restaurant, bar, café and event space located on the 101st Floor. Peak will serve lunch and dinner offering a one-of-a-kind dining and social experience.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.