Thrill Ride

How theme parks are upping the ante

Are roller coasters recession-proof? No. But attendance at major theme parks in North America rebounded 2.9% last year, and globally the figure rocketed past 198 million--a 4.8% increase over 2010. Spurred by the popularity boost, almost every major theme park has raised prices this year. One-day passes to Disney World and Universal Studios Hollywood now sell for $89 and $80, respectively, both up at least 4% over 2011, as the parks rein in discounting. Here are the bigger, bolder attractions theme parks are offering to raise the thrill-per-dollar value.

Top-notch thrills

"This is the big steel year," says Palicki, noting that...

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