10 Best US Theme Park Additions of the Decade (2010s)

10 Best US Theme Park Additions of the Decade 2010s

Well, the decade is coming to a close, and we here at Theme Parks and Entertainment could think of no better way to ring in the New Year than with a celebration of some of the best new additions the 2010s brought us at US theme parks. So here are 10 of the best US theme park additions of the decade, in no particular order.

Happily Ever After

This fireworks show is just amazing. The score, the mix of classic songs with some great underappreciated music makes this (in my opinion) the undisputed champion of Walt Disney Wolrd nighttime entertainment (now that IllumiNations is gone). This is the best use of projection mapping Disney has done, and it really makes for a great end to any day at the Magic Kingdom.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Ok, so any one of the individual rides could have made this list, so we are looping them all in here just so we can fit more. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Hogsmeade were revolutionary, forcing Disney to step up its game and bringing us many of the other attractions on this list. Then Universal topped the immersion factor with Diagon Alley. Now with the Hagrid roller coaster, Universal continues to outdo themselves. These lands brought Universal from a second rate theme park company to one that can top Disney at its own game. I'd call that a success.

Pandora World of Avatar

So I debated as to whether to put Pandora or Flight of Passage on this list, but ultimately I decided on the land itself. Why? Because it was something new for Disney, a fully immersive land based on one IP. and they did it flawlessly. They even made the storyline fit in with the overall conservation theme of Disney's Animal Kingdom, something I wish they would try to do more often. Every spot in this land is worthy of a million photos and it only gets better at night.

Fantasmic 2.0 Disneyland

I know this will be controversial but this update is amazing. Sure the Pirates of the Caribbean sequence isn't perfect, but everything else about this update is just amazing. The projection mapping, the updated effects, it all just wows, taking the 20-year-old show from nearly seeming outdated to seeming like it was designed yesterday.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Even with all of the problems related to its opening, there's no denying that this land is simply one of the best Disney has ever done. The sheer scale of Rise of the Resistance alone is shocking, and the land provides something other immersive lands haven't, a blank pallet. When you visit Pandora or Hogsmeade, you are following other characters' stories. Here you live your own. We can debate which one is better, but what Disney did here was create something new, and a new approach to immersive theme park storytelling.

Cars Land

This land is amazing and almost singlehandedly turned Disney California Adventure from an afterthought into a mandatory second-day addition to any Disneyland trip. Radiator Springs Racers is the best family thrill ride Disney had made in recent memory and deserves its status as the best ride in its park. Nothing else compares to the detail in its rockwork, or how it perfectly recreates each individual shop in Radiator Springs. And that's without bringing up sensational seasonal decorations.

Ghost Town Alive

This may not be some elaborate theme park land or shiny new attraction, but it infuses so much life into Knotts Berry Farm on a yearly basis that I cannot imagine not including it on this list. Every year it gets an entirely new story about the town of Calico and is told throughout an entire day. You can get so wrapped up in it you don't even visit the rest of the park (definitely not speaking from experience).

Main Street USA Projections

This may seem like a relatively small addition, but it completely changed Disneyland fireworks shows forever. Disneyland can never have a Happily Ever After like show that requires you see the castle to get the full experience, but Disney found a way around it, instead, they use the facades of Main Street USA as the canvas for projection mapping. The effect works so well I wish that Disney would bring it to other parks as it compliments castle projections.

Disney's Animal Kingdom at Night

Disney's Animal Kingdom is such a beautiful park that it was always a shame that it closed so early in the day. That all changed a few years ago with Pandora and suddenly the park stays open past dark on a nearly daily basis. This also led to a variety of great new offerings from Rivers of Light to the Tree of Life Awakenings.


Disney before this decade was the undisputed champion of the theme park world. After Harry Potter showed up that wasn't the case anymore. When there's increased competition, the visitors are who benefits. Many of the Disney things on this list like Galaxy's Edge wouldn't have been built, or at the very least would not have been nearly as elaborate if Disney wasn't forced to prove themselves against Universal.