Fast & Furious Supercharged/Universal Studios Hollywood

As technology and media advances, theme parks are upping their game to keep riders entertained.

“Attraction design is [moving] from being ride equipment to an [experience] that makes the guest part of the story,” says Cindy Emerick Whitson, vice president of Dynamic Attractions in Orlando. She’s worked on the design and manufacturing and the testing and installation of around 100 attractions across the United States, including some of the newest and most buzzed-about attractions at Universal Studios in Orlando and L.A.

“An attraction identifies with and grabs people’s senses, [providing] an immersive experience that guests can see, smell and feel,” she says.”Bringing in elements such as heat, wind and water provides another level of realism to deliver an attraction instead of just a ride.” 

Here are a few interactive attractions that will pull you into the action.

Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, Thorpe Park Resort, Chertsey, UK

Just an hour from London, step inside a suspended Victorian train carriage at Thorpe Park’s newest attraction. Illusionist Derren Brown has created a horror-inducing experience that blurs perception with virtual reality, live action, illusion, CGI and 4-D special effects and will leave you wondering if you really did just see a ghost.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, The Wizarding World of Harry PotterUniversal Studios Orlando

Be part of the magic as you journey through Hogwarts with Harry, Dumbledore, Ron and Hermione via projection technology, then hop on board an enchanted bench that simulates free flight where youll escape a fire-breathing dragon, fly by a Quidditch match, encounter the Whomping Willow and more.

Fast & Furious-Supercharged, Universal Studios Hollywood 

Get your adrenaline pumping at this hydraulic, motion-based ride that boasts the world’s longest and most expansive 360-degree 3D-HD screen. Drift into the underground world of L.A. street racing with effects like mist and smoke and race through action sequences alongside the original cast at perceived speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour.