Theme parks have a welcoming effect on both tourists and locals alike. They offer visitors the chance to immerse themselves into a whole new world of action, adventure and fairy tales. They have been a popular form of entertainment for years. In fact, amusement park attendance continues to grow in the United States, and for good reason. Millions of people flock to these parks for thrilling rides, spectacular shows and family bonding time.
The parks are in full swing during the summer months, and the best time to plan for a trip is now. Rides and attractions that are suitable for all ages make them not only thrilling but family-friendly. Little ones will love the animal encounters in Sea World, while adults and teens will enjoy adrenaline-pumping rides, like the all-new spinning coaster Phoenix in Adventureland. If you’re looking for a summer vacation close to home, look no further than the amusement parks on this list, which are spread throughout the United States.
Located at Circus Circus in Nevada, this theme park takes the entertainment value of Las Vegas to a whole new level. With numerous rides and attractions, Adventuredome offers indoor fun for the entire family. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday the park turns down its lights and glows neon — make sure to experience the new Neon Disco Roller Skating Rink. While you’re there, speed through the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster on the Canyon Blaster, go bungee jumping at the Xtreme Zone and spin out of control on the Disk’O.
With over 100 rides, shows and attractions, Adventureland boasts fun for all ages. Hop aboard the A-Train for a round-trip tour of the park; ride the fast-paced coaster, Outlaw; cool off with the family on Raging River, a river rapids ride; and spin and swing on the Sidewinder. A new spinning coaster Phoenix will open in June. It will take riders on a 50-foot climb and reach speeds up to 40 mph. Consider staying at the Adventureland Inn for close proximity to the park.
Carowinds is located near Charlotte, North Carolina. 2019 brings the all-new, thrilling Copperhead Strike. The coaster will feature two magnetic launches and will reach speeds from 35 mph to 50 mph. Also make sure to ride the fan favorite, the Carolina Cyclone; fly through a rotating orbit on Electro-Spin and launch yourself up to 300 feet in the air on the Slingshot. Live entertainment, family-friendly rides and waterpark attractions are also available.
Also known as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” Cedar Point is the perfect amusement park for the adventurous family. They have a variety of family rides, world-class roller coasters, kids’ areas and a water park for when you get too hot. This summer the park will open a huge new attraction called Forbidden Frontier featuring interactive encounters and active challenges. Steel Vengeance, which opened in 2018, is also a favorite among visitors. It’s the world’s tallest hybrid roller coaster, which takes riders on four inversions up to 205 feet high, while speeding up to 74 mph and dropping 200 feet.
Get up close and personal with animals, ride thrilling roller coasters and eat delicious foods, all at Busch Gardens' Florida theme park. New this year, the park introduces Florida’s tallest launched roller coaster, Tigris. Riders will experience insane drops and a 150-foot skyward surge while catching speeds up to 60 mph on over 1,800 feet of steel track. Although there are numerous thrill rides, the park also boasts a variety of family-friendly shows; a few favorites include Turn It Up, Rock a Doo Wop and Let’s Play Together.
Located in Williamsburg, Virginia, is one of the most beautiful theme parks in the world, Busch Gardens. Virtual adventures, wildlife shows, numerous culinary options and thrilling roller coasters are just some of the many things you have to look forward to. One of the best times to visit is during the summer for the park’s various wet and wild adventures. The rides Le Scoot and Roman Rapids will definitely cool you down.
Located in Phoenix, Arizona, this approximately 10-acre park features rides and attractions for families and adrenaline enthusiasts. The park features an 18-hole miniature golf course, an indoor video game arcade and tons of rides. Enjoy an interactive experience on the XD Dark Ride, soar through vertical drops and spins on the Desert Storm and spin through Aladdin’s Castle on the Magic Carpet.
Thrilling coasters, family rides, and events for all ages can be found at Darien Lake in New York. Plummet into a 97-degree drop and reach speeds of 52 mph on the new Tantrum. Ride through a seven-story steel loop on Rolling Thunder, plunge 125 feet and go through a series of three loops on the Boomerang and soar through the sky on The Predator, the state’s tallest wooden roller coaster. Kids will enjoy the Beaver Dam Explorer, Bucky’s Barrels and Wally’s Weather Balloons.
Between Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World is where the magic happens. No matter what kind of adventure you and your family are looking for, you can find it here. Eat and drink your way around the best restaurants at Epcot and explore the world's cultures. Shrink down to toy size and hop on the back of Slinky Dog at the all-new Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios. At Animal Kingdom, Pandora - The World or Avatar is still a sight to behold with its bioluminescant lighting. And if we have to tell you how magical it is to meet Mickey Mouse and ride on some of the best Disney park rides of all time at the Magic Kingdom, well, we can't help you any more.
Spanning 150 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood is home to more than 40 world-class rides and attractions. Some of the world’s most intense, award-winning rides can be found here. Ride forward and backward on FireChaser Express, the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster; swirl through the sky on the Tennessee Tornado; and sour above the Smoky Mountains on the Wild Eagle. Keep a lookout for more — in 2018 USA Today reported that the park would be undergoing a $37 million expansion. New rides such as the family coaster the Dragonflier will open this year.
Let your creativity take over; visit a world full of unique and exciting opportunities — the Enchanted Forest. This theme park is meant for families and children of all ages; it’s a place where they can let their imaginations soar. Explore some of the park's many attractions — Storybook Lane, the Comedy Theatre and Fantasy Fountains. Hop on some of their thrilling rides — Big Timber Log Ride and Ice Mountain Bobsled Roller Coaster. Then take the kids on the Kiddy Bumper Boats and the Tiny Tune Train.
This is the only theme park in Colorado which features both dry and wet rides. 2019 brings about new family shows, an exciting summer concert series and a brand-new ride that takes you on a lit-up journey in the dark: Kaleid Scrape. Visitors rave about the park’s 20-story observation tower and Rapid Ride Pass which gives guests significantly reduced wait times on some of the park’s most popular attractions.
This Wild West-themed park features a number of rides for adults and kids — 50 thrill, family, kiddie and water rides in total. Four new kid-sized attractions are opening in the all new Timber Town this year. Visitors love the park’s classic wooden coaster, the Wildcat. Silver Bullet is also a favorite; guests say it’s like being shot from a cannon as you rocket through a high-speed looping coaster. While you’re there, don’t miss out on your chance to experience the breathtaking loops on Diamondback and Brain Drain.
Hershey Park, also known as “the sweetest place on Earth,” is one of the best family-friendly amusement parks in the U.S. Experience over 60 rides, watch a 3D show, learn the history of chocolate, and take a walk through the zoo next door. This summer welcomes the all-new dark gaming experience, Reese’s Cupfusion.
Pay one price and get access to two incredible parks — Holiday World Theme Park and Splashin’ Safari Water Park. Ride the nation’s first launched wing coaster, Thunderbird, and the two longest water coasters on the planet, Mammoth and Wildebeest. Also enjoy live shows and delicious foods. The park put $3.5 million into new attractions in 2018; so even if you have been there before, get out there this year to experience the new waterslide complex Tembo Falls and new entertainment including a musical magic show and stunt show.
Get ready for some heart-pumping rides — Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay is full of full-filled attractions. New this year, the wooden coaster Kentucky Flyer will take your family on an exciting ride, dropping 45 feet and reaching up to 35 mph. Kentucky Kingdom also offers its visitors the chance to enjoy movies in their 5D Cinema, see the park from above on the Giant Wheel, experience fast speeds on the Lightning Run and get soaked on the Raging Rapids River Ride. Don’t forget to make your way to Hurricane Bay and ride the Forbidden Passage, have fun with your family in the Family Wave Lagoon and spike your adrenaline on the Waikiki Wipeout.
Kings Island is one of the largest amusement and waterparks in the Midwest. Its 15-time Golden Ticket Award-winning Planet Snoopy children’s area features a collection of “Peanuts”-themed rides and attractions for every age including four roller coasters, live shows and meet-and-greet opportunities with Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy. The park’s newest family-friendly ride, Kings Mills Antique Autos, will feature a leisurely drive around a scenic track. Thrill seekers will enjoy rides like the Banshee, Diamondback and Invertigo.
Home to the tallest, longest and fastest wooden roller coaster on the West Coast — GhostRider — Knott’s Berry Farm has become an increasingly popular amusement park. Another coaster, the Xcelerator, speeds its passengers from 0 to 82 mph in 2.3 seconds, sending them straight up into the air. The park’s popular Bigfoot Rapids ride is currently undergoing major renovations and will be back open this year. The park also features Knott’s Soak City Waterpark, Orange County’s largest waterpark, which features a giant wave pool, interactive kids area, lazy river and 22 tube speed and body slides.
Stay at the Legoland California resort for the ultimate family getaway. The huge amusement park includes a water park and a massive aquarium. Kids will love the Lego Ninjago World, Imagination Station, Orange Rush and Splash Out. New this year, the park opens the LEGO City Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride, where guests will enjoy an underwater adventure filled with more than 2,000 sea animals.
Nickelodeon Universe, one of the world’s largest indoor theme parks and the largest in the Western Hemisphere, is coming to American Dream. The park will feature two record-breaking coasters, one of which is the highly anticipated Euro-Fighter, which will feature steep drops and give riders spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. The park will also contain a Dreamworks-themed water park, an aquarium and an indoor ski park.
Located in New Braunfels, Texas, is Schlitterbahn, famously known as one of the best water parks in the world. With two distinct sections, there is limitless fun for everyone. Visitors enjoy the park’s 51 rivers, slides, rides and chutes. Slide through the river rapids on Back Splash, plunge into the darkness on Black Knight and experience high speeds and drops on Dragon’s Revenge.
Watch famous whales and exciting shows and experience one-of-a-kind attractions at Sea World. Take the kids on the Wild Arctic Ride and the Journey to Atlantis. Touch sharks and view penguins on the Behind-the-Scenes Tour and view dolphins up close. This year, guests will be able to enjoy the all-new rafting ride, Infinity Falls, and an exciting water adventure called Ray Rush. When you’re ready for some thrill rides, hop on the monster coaster Kraken, spin on the Manta and take a journey through Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.
Sea World San Diego boasts tons of new rides and attractions in 2019. The all-new multi-launch coaster Electric Eel will take you through twists, loops and inversions; Tidal Twister will take riders on a thrilling yet confusing ride forward and backward. It features two trains that seem as if they are barreling toward one another. Families traveling with children will love witnessing the Orca Encounter, watching the Dolphin Days show and riding the Sea Dragon Drop, Tentacle Twirl and Flying Fish.
Silver Dollar City, located in Branson, is an 1880s-style theme park with over 40 rides and attractions. The highly anticipated Time Traveler coaster has been ready since 2018 for guests to ride. It is the world’s steepest, fastest and tallest spinning roller coaster which features a 95-foot-tall vertical loop and reaches speeds of 50.3 mph. The New York Times called it “One of the Wildest Coasters of 2018.”
Located in Vallejo, California, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will feature Northern California’s first 4D free-fly coaster, Batman: The Ride. It will take guests 120 feet high and have them free-flying and flipping through six free-fly inversions with unexpected drops. The park also features over 40 rides and attractions, including kids play areas, animal exhibits and wildlife presentations.
From fast roller coasters to kiddie rides, events and a variety of entertainment options, there are so many activities to choose from at this amusement park. This year guests will have the opportunity to ride the world’s tallest pendulum ride, Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth, which stands 17 stories tall. When you’re hungry, fuel up with some Asian cuisine, burgers, pizza, or healthier options such as a lean wrap or garden salad.
Tourists and locals love this amusement park, and for good reason. Interactive shows and awesome rides make Universal’s Islands of Adventure an unforgettable journey. Some of the park’s most famous rides include The Incredible Hulk Coaster, the Jurassic Park River Adventure and The Cat in the Hat. And on June 13, the brand-new Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure will open, allowing guests to zoom around the Hogwarts grounds and spot magical creatures.
Get ready for the ride of your life on Universal Studios’ live-action experiences. The Simpsons Ride, Revenge of the Mummy and E.T. Adventure are all guest favorites. Opening this year are two new hotels in the Universal Orlando Resort. While you’re there you should also check out The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle and Voodoo Doughnut at CityWalk.
The Victorian Gardens amusement park is located at Wollman Rink in Central Park. There’s a variety of kid-friendly rides to choose from and a ton of performances and interactive shows. Bonus: If you are looking to book a special event, Victorian Gardens in the perfect venue to host it. Enjoy rides, games, attractions, picnic areas, and the spectacular backdrop of midtown Manhattan.
Built around a natural underground cave that visitors can explore, this unique theme park features a variety of attractions and entertainment. Take the Wonder Cave tour and learn about past geological eras while exploring the cave’s fossilized prehistoric life. When you’re done, hop aboard the Express Train and head to the Texas Wildlife petting zoo and Mystery Mountain. If that is not enough fun for you, head to some of the other happiest places on earth that aren't Disney.
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