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Whitecap Racer is the world’s longest mat racer and takes guests 70 feet high as they race to the finish in six side-by-side tunnels to the bottom. (Image: Courtesy Hersheypark)

8 new amusement park rides and attractions you need to experience

If you are a fan of amusement parks, 2018 is shaping up to be a can't-miss season for adrenaline junkies. From new hybrid wood and steel coasters giving you major airtime to water rides that will get you psyched (and soaked), we have found eight new rides and attractions debuting this year at parks within driving distance of the nation’s capital.

Twisted Timbers at King’s Dominion
Drive Time: Approximately 90 minutes from D.C.

Wood and steel intertwine into twisting barrel roll drops, dynamic inversions and gravity-defying weightlessness on Kings Dominion’s newest coaster, Twisted Timbers.

Twisted Timbers is an innovative hybrid coaster that uses the latest technology to combine wood supports with a steel track to give riders an exhilarating experience with maneuvers previously unimaginable on a traditional wooden coaster. The coaster is designed by Rocky Mountain Construction of Idaho, a company renowned for reimagining wooden coasters. Reaching a top speed of 54 miles per hour, it features 3,351 feet of track, a 109-foot-tall barrel roll drop, three loops and 20 airtime moments.

Kings Dominion has more than 60 rides and attractions including 13 coasters, a water park and a 14-acre children’s area called Planet Snoopy, which was expanded in 2017 and now has 20 rides.

Wahoo River at Six Flags America
Drive Time: Approximately 50 minutes from D.C.

Last year, Six Flags America gained many fans with the introduction of the Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth, a 242-foott-tall swing ride. For 2018, it has a new addition to its Hurricane Harbor Water Park, Wahoo River.

Wahoo River replaces Castaway Creek and is 33 percent wider and more than 40 percent longer. This “bigger, better and wetter” attraction includes significant upgrades such as a zero depth entry that will make it convenient for guests of all ages to slip into the cool water with inflatable tubes. Riders will experience seven different water action zones with sprays, geysers, waterfalls, leaky pipes, aqua arches and bucket dumps; a wave generator that pulses waves every few seconds propelling guests down the water channel; and nearly 2,500 feet of new deck space with hundreds of deck chairs.

Six Flags America has also introduced a new membership program that includes all of the benefits of its season pass program along with new value-added offerings such as discounts on food and beverages, preferred parking and priority water park entry.

Hologate at Adventure Park USA
Drive Time: Approximately 70 minutes from D.C.

Adventure Park USA is upping its appeal with the introduction of Hologate, a four-player virtual reality attraction that immediately transports you to a new world to experience a new reality and a new dimension of thrill.

Once players step inside the high-end system they will forget about pixels and technology as soon as they put on their headsets. The advanced graphics make every motion feel real with no lagging, no buffering and no motion sickness. The Hologate experience is timed for five-10 minute gameplay, the ideal and most preferred time for a multiplayer virtual reality experience.

On Saturdays, Adventure Park USA offers unlimited access to most rides and attractions for only $19 per person, but Hologate is not included as part of this special offer and does require an additional fee.

Breakers Edge Water Coaster and Whitecap Racer at Hersheypark
Drive Time: Approximately 150 minutes from D.C.

Hersheypark has two new thrill attractions at The Boardwalk At Hersheypark water park: Breakers Edge Water Coaster and Whitecap Racer.

Breakers Edge Water Coaster at Hersheypark is the world’s first hydromagnetic water coaster with flying turns to smoothly rocket riders through splash-filled hills and sweet thrills that are perfect for the whole family. The four-person inline raft gives guests a bobsled ride feeling as gravity drops and smooth linear induction motors power guests up and down hills and turns. This water coaster has an estimated hourly ride capacity of 600 guests and a ride time of about one minute.

Joining Breakers Edge Water Coaster is Whitecap Racer, the world’s longest mat racer and takes guests 70 feet high as they race to the finish in six side-by-side tunnels to the bottom. Each rider speeds through two tight 360-degree loops, while open racing lanes with low separator lanes allow racers to see and hear each other as they challenge each other using a slider timing system.

Opened in 1906, Hersheypark has numerous rides and attractions, including 14 coasters as well as ZooAmerica, an 11-acre, walk-thru zoo with more than 200 North American animals. Also, adjacent to the park is Hershey's Chocolate World, a visitors' center that is open to the public and contains shops, restaurants and a chocolate factory-themed tour ride.

Battle for Eire at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Drive Time: Approximately 165 minutes from D.C.

An exhilarating new adventure is underway at Busch Gardens Williamsburg with its innovative virtual reality attraction, Battle For Eire.

Battle For Eire is the story of a heroic fairy warrior, Addie, and her quest to rescue the Heart of Eire from evil villain Balor. This one-of-a-kind ride is a marriage of a motion-based theater simulator with state-of-the-art 360-degree virtual reality headsets, creating a thrilling experience unlike any other in the theme park industry. Riders are completely immersed within the story and able to see, hear and feel actions happening all around them, both through the virtual reality headsets and within the motions of the simulator.

For the 2018 season, visitors can purchase a two-park "Summer Fun Card" online that offers unlimited access to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and its adjacent sister park, Water Country USA. The card is $85 per person and is good through Sept. 9.

Merlin’s Mayhem at Dutch Wonderland
Drive Time: Approximately 145 minutes from D.C.

Ever dreamed of hunting for dragons? You can do on Dutch Wonderland’s new suspended roller coaster, Merlin’s Mayhem.

Rising about 60 feet in the air, Merlin’s Mayhem takes riders soaring through the sky with Merlin to find his beloved dragon. Along the way there are two helix turns and many twists and dips. Merlin will give clues and encouragement through on-board audio within the seats

Designed specifically for families with young children in mind, Dutch Wonderland has more than 30 rides, Duke’s Lagoon water play area and lots of live kid-friendly entertainment.

Oscar’s Wacky Taxi at Sesame Place
Drive Time: Approximately 180 minutes from D.C.

Sesame Place is joining the hybrid wood and steel coaster trend with its new Oscar’s Wacky Taxi, one of the largest new attractions in the park’s 37-year history.

Oscar’s Wacky Taxi features a bright yellow, taxi-inspired train with everyone’s favorite grouch at the helm. It sends riders speeding down an exhilarating first drop of 40 feet, traveling over 1,200 feet of track with exciting twists, turns, and plenty of airtime hills. Oscar’s Wacky Taxi joins Super Grover’s Vapor Trail as the second roller coaster at the park.

Sesame Place was recently designated as a Certified Autism Center with its entire staff receiving autism sensitivity and awareness training. The 14-acre park also features Elmo’s World, which opened in 2006, and Cookie’s Monster Land, which opened in 2014. Visitors will find a total of 11 dry rides, nine water attractions, five interactive play elements, the Sesame Street Neighborhood, three live daily character shows and a daily character parade.