25 newly-discovered travel destinations from Wanderfly.com

If you’ve checked out Wanderfly, the new travel planning and booking service that suggests destinations and activities based on your interests, you know they’ve come up with some unique and untouristy destinations. Now they’ve gone beyond the beaten tourist track with 25 newly-discovered travel destinations. Why just see the Great Wall of China when you could see a whole city full of kittens in China (far greater if you ask us!)?! Fan of Dolly Parton? Thousands go to Dollywood, why not relax on a man-made archipelago in the shape of Dolly and Kenny Rogers at Islands in the Stream in Dubai? Can’t get enough of that rascal Charlie Sheen? Intrepid adventurers can get inside his brain and see what all that tiger’s blood does.

The Wanderfly researchers teamed up with Whim Quarterly to unearth these new places and the best activities to do. The new destinations were chosen for their interactive experiences to give travelers the most authentic experience. “We challenge any traveler to find even a single destination that can compare to these unearthed gems,” says Wanderfly co-founder Christy Liu. “Paris? London? Cleveland? With respect to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they all pale in comparison to such places as ObeCity, Funkytown, and Your Mom’s House.”

For more on these exciting new discoveries, visit Wanderfly.com and click the crazy kitten on the home page and then Get Going. But hurry, some of these destinations may only be available on April 1st.

Dollywood wins major theme park award

Dolly Parton visited Orlando, Florida, yesterday to accept the Applause Award on behalf of her theme park, Dollywood.

“I love my music, but when you get a chance to do things like this, where you serve so many people in a different way, it makes me proud of something that so many people can enjoy,” Parton said during the ceremony on the opening day of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo.

The Applause Award is bestowed every other year on one park deemed to exhibit overall excellence.

was recognized for its originality, cleanliness, friendliness of the staff and family values.

“Of course, Walt Disney became successful because he had Mickey Mouse, who has two big ears. So, I figured I could be successful with Dollywood with my two big partners,” Parton said. She then glanced down at her famously large chest before pointing at Pete and Jack Herschend in the audience.

Parton partnered with their company, Herschend Family Entertainment, to open Dollywood in 1986 on the site of the former Silver Dollar City theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Theme park news roundup: New thrills on the way in 2011

Summer season is winding down, and that means it’s the time of year when theme parks start announcing their new attractions for the 2011 season. Here’s a look at the latest news and rumors about new attractions at U.S. theme parks:

Dollywood to open the Barnstormer

Dolly Parton’s theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, will add a $5.5 million ride called the Barnstormer. It’s designed to simulate stunt flying with the use of two pendulum arms. The ride will rise 81 feet in the air. Dollywood is also building a new barnyard-themed children’s play area around the Barnstormer.

The new ride will have a height requirement of 48 inches. It’s expected to open in March 2011.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay launches teaser Web site

Construction of a new attraction has been going on for months at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, but the park has made no official announcements as to what the new ride will be. It is widely believed that the new attraction will be a roller coaster. Park officials have only said that there will be thrils and animal encounters.The Tampa, Florida, theme park has launched a teaser web site, BuschGardens2011.com, with videos of park officials talking about their big secret. The latest video is with design and engineering VP Mark Rose, who does reveal that the 2011 project will have the largest footprint of any attraction at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Cedar Point releases new ride clues on Facebook

Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is giving fans of its Facebook page clues about a new 2011 attraction. So far, pictures of a windmill and a dinosaur have been posted.

The windmill picture links instructions for a class project on windy weather, and the dino image links to a site on dinosaurs for kids.

The theme park is promising that all will be revealed next week, on Aug. 24.

Hersheypark looking ahead to 2012

Often the first place that news about new theme park attractions emerges is through city and county construction permits that have to be obtained, and hearings that have to be held, when theme parks plan to build anything.

That’s exactly what happened this week in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, where Hersheypark theme park is building a new attraction for 2012.

At a municipal zoning meeting, Hersheypark officials revealed that new “marquee” attraction will be built in the park’s Comet Hollow area, and it will open in 2012. No word on what it will be, but the theme park is seeking permission for the new ride to have a maximum height of more than 212 feet.

Two New Roller Coasters with Top Thrill Factor

There are two new roller coasters opening this summer with a thrill factor rating of 5, according to the American Coaster Enthusiasts. A 5 means that you’re in for a hair-raising treat that is unique from other coasters’ offerings.

The Flying Turns is a bobsled ride of sorts. Styled after a roller coaster that was popular in the 1930s to 1950s, this ride is a remake. Two people sit with one in front of the other in one car that is joined with four others. The cars then zoom down a wooden track that circles in various configurations for two minutes. The thrill partly comes from it’s rarity. This is the only coaster like it. Head to Knobels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania to try it out, although, I’m not sure if it’s open yet. It is supposed to open this season though.

The other top thrills coaster, Griffon, is found in in Busch Gardens Europe, Williamsburg, Virginia. The park’s Web Site has a clip advertising it with a horror film type voice that finishes the description with “The only way down is face down.” It’s also described as “the world’s tallest, floorless dive coaster.” Just look at the photo. The dive part comes from the 90 degree angle decent. The floorless part might be because you sit with your legs dangling. Somewhere along the three minute ride there are two inverse loops that are patterned after the stunt of a World War I German fighter pilot. Leave your sunglasses behind.

The other top new coasters to open this year, according to the enthusiasts, are: Tony Hawk’s Big Spin (see post) Thrill factor: 2; Mystery Mine (see post) Thrill factor: 4; and the Maverick (see post) Trhill factor: 3.