What’s New: Best Openings and Attractions for Kids and Families Spring 2022

Rise NY is a breathtaking simulated aerial tour of NYC. ​Photo courtesy of Rise NY
Rise NY is a breathtaking simulated aerial tour of NYC. ​Photo courtesy of Rise NY

Discover the best openings and attractions for kids this spring: these are perfect ideas for family summer travel!

Is the world getting back to normal? Is there a normal anymore? These questions are frankly too much to contemplate as school wraps up and parents are desperately trying to finalize non-refundable summer camp and family travel plans. But one thing we can say for sure is that big things are opening again, and there's probably something new and exciting wherever you happen to live or plan to travel to this summer. From a new amusement park for tots in San Diego to a new way to go skating at Rockefeller Center in NYC, here are the highlights of the best things that have opened recently for kids and families.

If you are planning a family trip this summer, we've got plenty of reviews, resources, and ideas in our Family Travel Guide. And if you're staying home, we rounded up a cool 100 fun activities on our Ultimate Summer Bucket List.

Get a view of NYC landmarks like the Statue of Liberty from above. Photo courtesy of Rise NY

1. Rise NY — NYC

A brand new experience has opened close to Times Square that takes visitors on a breathtaking simulated aerial tour of New York City. With your feet dangling from the full-motion seats, you soar and swoop through the city, its landmarks, and all its seasons in RiseNY’s awe-inspiring love letter to the Big Apple. Hit all the tourist destinations at once!

Related: Sesame Place: An Amusement Park for Every Preschooler's Must-Do List

Sesame Street comes to life at the new Sesame Place in San Diego. Photo by Kristen Schrass for Mommy Poppins

2. There's a Brand New Sesame Place — San Diego

One of our LA writers visited the park before it opened and got the inside story on what kids love about the country's newest theme park. There's a water park element to the place, too, which is open year-round, and it's definitely one of the best amusement parks in the US for kids under 5.

Related: 10 Best Hotel Water Parks in Orlando

Your kids may not want to leave the new World Center Marriott water park. Photo rendering courtesy of Marriott

3. The New World Center Marriott Water Park — Orlando

Thrilling water slides, a giant lazy river, and a toddler-friendly splash pad: what's not to love? One of our Florida writers visited the resort recently to see what's coming and why this Orlando attraction should definitely be on your radar.

Related: Top Attractions in NYC: Best Things To See and Do With Kids

You don't have to wait for winter to skate at Rockefeller Center. Photo courtesy of rockefellercenter.com

4. Retro Roller Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center — NYC

Think you can only strap on skates at Rockefeller Center at Christmas? That's no longer the case, and we got the scoop on summer skating at Rockefeller Center. (Also, here are the best restaurants near Rockefeller Center, so your family won't wander into a tourist trap and can get some actually tasty eats.

Related: 100 Things To Do With Houston Kids Before They Grow Up

Operate real construction equipment at Dig World. Photo by Jessica Stautberg for Mommy Poppins

5. Dig World TX — Houston

This construction-themed adventure park just opened near Houston. Here kids can operate the equipment instead of just watching: drive skid steers, dig dirt with excavators, and more. Then explore the park's other rides and attractions. (Now Diggerland in NJ isn't the only construction-themed theme park!)

Related: Top Attractions in Philadelphia: Best Things to See and Do with Kids

Catch Harry Potter: The Exhibition before it moves on in September. Photo by S. Ramones, courtesy of visitphilly.com 

6. Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute — Philadelphia

If you find yourself in Philly, don't miss this Harry Potter exhibit;  it’s every bit as magical as you'd hope. Original props and costumes are displayed alongside themed interactive installations, giving Potterheads a behind-the-scenes look at favorite characters, scenes, and settings. There are simulated wand duels, potion mixing, and of course, a game of Quidditch. But it disappears, like magic, in September, so make plans to visit this summer.

Related: 40 Things To Do in Denver with Kids, Other Than Hiking

The Dr. Seuss Experience brings the famous author's books to life. Photo by Vicky Yip for Mommy Poppins

7. The Dr. Seuss Experience — In Colorado this summer

This traveling show is one our Houston editor caught when it was there, and she said it’s as if the books have come to life. The show has moved to Colorado through September, and continues touring the US from there. The experience gives kids a chance to see, hear, feel, and experience their favorite settings from nine of Dr. Seuss’ stories as they go from room to room to interact with each installation.

Related: New Worlds Await for Kids at the Kennedy Space Center's Planet Play Attraction

Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex is a space fanatic's dream. Photo courtesy of the Kennedy Space Center

8. Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex — Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, FL

This new, 50,000-square-foot, multi-level attraction at Kennedy Space Center opened in March. It gives space fanatics of all ages first-hand views of modern-day spacecrafts such as a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster and Orion Crew vehicle. The main concourse features a 4D motion theater offering four different journeys. It's as close to outer space as you can get without paying for a ride on a tech billionaire's rocket.

Related: Exciting Happenings at Orlando Theme Parks This Year

Why stay at a regular hotel when you can stay aboard a starship? Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando

9. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Experience  — Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando

At this one-of-a-kind hotel experience, guests stay aboard a starship for a two-night adventure. The journey begins on a launchpad with a simulated blast off into space. The launch paddocks at the Halcyon starcruiser, where guests have their own passenger cabin complete with bunk beds and a galactic view. Young Jedis can get a sneak peek of the inner workings of the ship, encounter stormtroopers in the ship's atrium, wield a lightsaber, and navigate the ship with the crew's help.

Related: London with Kids: 50 Best Things To Do in London on a UK Family Vacation

Sing and dance along with Peppa, Daisy, and friends at Peppa Pig Live! Photo courtesy of the production

10. Peppa Pig Live! — In the UK this summer

Our Atlanta calendar editor checked out this show when it was in Atlanta, and we heard rave reviews from readers wherever the show stopped. It's heading to the UK for the summer, and if you're planning a trip abroad with toddlers, they'll love this even more than London Bridge. Hopefully, the show will plan more stateside stops in the fall! (We're tracking this, so be sure to check your local calendar of events for updates.)

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