amusement parks usa

There is nothing quite so thrilling as a day at a theme park, and whether you are young or young at heart, enjoying rides and the atmosphere of the best amusement parks is an incomparable experience. The United States is home to some of the most exciting rides and roller coasters in the world. While Disney World may have the reputation as being one of the best amusement parks in the country, there are many other theme parks across the nation that have many more thrilling and adrenaline-pumping rides to offer at a fraction of the cost. Here are the top 10 amusement parks in the United States that are well worth a visit.

1 – Carowinds, Charlotte, NC

carowinds charlotteLocation: 14523 Carowinds Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28273-6756
Opened: March 31, 1973
Single Ticket Price: $39.99
Tripadvisor Rating: 4/5

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The Carowinds theme park in Charlotte, N.C., is right on the South Carolina state line. That means that some of this park’s best roller coasters cross both states. The Fury 325 was recently awarded the Golden Ticket Awards title of Best Roller Coaster in The World. But, if your theme park tastes aren’t quite as white-knuckle, you can enjoy some authentic Carolina cuisine, with a barbecue at the Harmony Hall and a ride on the flumes at Carolina Harbor.

2 – Holiday World, Santa Claus, IN

holiday worldLocation: 452 E Christmas Blvd, Santa Claus, IN 47579
Opened: August 3, 1946
Single Ticket Price:
Tripadvisor Rating: 4.5/5

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If you love all things festive, you need to head to Santa Claus, Ind. One of the best amusement parks in the United States is here and it is dedicated to some of the year’s most popular holidays. The four-themed lands — Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas – give visitors the opportunity to live through all their favorite times of the year in one visit. All the rides in each zone follow the area’s theme. This is a very family-friendly day out. Also, visit the Splashin’ Safari water park. With free sunscreen, free soda, and even free parking, it is a far cry from Disney World! For those who are never satisfied without roller coasters, there are five to enjoy.

3 – Six Flags Fiesta, San Antonio, TX

Six Flags Fiesta TexasLocation: 17000 IH-10 West, San Antonio, TX 78257
Opened: March 14, 1992
Single Ticket Price: $58.99
Tripadvisor Rating: 4/5

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The Six Flags brand is well-known for its brilliant roller coasters, and fans of white-knuckle rides won’t be disappointed at this Texas theme park. The unique feature of this park is that it is integrated into a wall of a quarry, which serves as the backdrop to the park. Many coasters are built into it, which allows for the incorporation of some unusual elements. This is also a very attractive park with uniquely themed areas.

4 – Chocolate World, Hershey, PA

Chocolate World, Hershey, PALocation: 101 Chocolate World Way, Hershey, PA 17033
Opened: June 30, 1973
Single Ticket Price: $38
Tripadvisor Rating: 4/5

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Hershey, the best-known chocolate brand, and Chocolate World Hersheypark are right next door to their headquarters! Yes, there is chocolate galore, but there are also plenty of great rides to enjoy, including 13 roller coasters with amazing loops, turns, twists, and drops.

5 – Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA

knott's betty farmLocation: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620-3225
Opened: June 19, 1920
Single Ticket Price: $43
Tripadvisor Rating: 4/5

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An oldie but a goodie, Knott’s Berry Farm is just 10 minutes from Disneyland, and it has the honor of being the first theme park in the United States. Opened in 1920, this charming place combines great family rides with shows, impressive food, and, of course, roller coasters! It is the perfect spot for anyone visiting Southern California, whether they love thrills or less adrenaline-filled experiences!

6 – Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ

six flags great adventuresLocation: 1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson, NJ 08527
Opened: June 19, 1920
Single Ticket Price: $76.99
Tripadvisor Rating: 4/5

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Another park from the Six Flags brand, this park promises plenty of excitement and adventure. As well as 13 roller coasters, there are also plenty of family-friendly rides and there is even a safari! This park is also home to Kingda Ka, a 456-foot-high roller coaster, which is currently the tallest anywhere in the world. It is also the fastest roller coaster in the United States. However, fans of wooden coasters should head straight to El-Toro, one of the best of its kind anywhere in the world.

7 – Kings Island, Mason, OH

The Beast_Kings IslandLocation: 6300 Kings Island Dr, Mason, OH 45040
Opened: April 29, 1972
Single Ticket Price: $39.99
Tripadvisor Rating: 4/5

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Another very popular theme park, this time in Ohio, Kings Island is an enormous 364-acre park that offers something for the entire family. Its kid’s area has been voted No. 1 for its fun-packed offerings. Three of the coasters, The Beast, Banshee, and Diamondback, are considered to be among the best in their class and draw coaster junkies to visit southern Ohio again and again. Mystic Timbers is the latest offering. Opened in 2017, it took the title of the fifth wooden coaster in the park and helped Kings Island to take the record-breaking status as the park with the most wooden tracks anywhere across the globe.

8 – Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN

dollywoodLocation: 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Opened: 1961
Single Ticket Price: $69
Tripadvisor Rating: 4.5/5

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While it may have a reputation for being cheesy, Dollywood is an incredibly charming theme park and is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to experience plenty of classic Southern charm. While it may not be a top spot for true coaster aficionados, there is plenty to enjoy here for all ages, sizes, and shapes. With fantastic food and friendly employees, this park is part-owned by singer Dolly Parton, and, therefore, a lot of the entertainment is show-based. Dollywood won the Best Shows award from the Gold Ticket Awards, and it also won the title of Best Christmas Event for Smoky Mountain Christmas. It is wonderful to visit all year-round, especially in the winter with its beautiful twinkling lights. In 2016, the Lightning Rod roller coaster opened and took the Gold Ticket Award title for Best New Coaster that year. It has the honor of being the world’s only launched wooden coaster and it is also the fastest of its kind.

9 – Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA

Six Flags Magic MountainLocation: 26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy, Valencia, CA 91355
Opened: May 29, 1971
Single Ticket Price: $59.99
Tripadvisor Rating: 4/5

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Another from the Six Flags portfolio, Six Flags Magic Mountain park is a hotspot for coaster junkies because there are 19 of them here, more than in any other theme park anywhere in the world. If you love coasters, you absolutely need to come here. There are four for kids, three for families, and the remainder are squarely aimed at adrenaline fans. While there aren’t many exciting flat rides or shows, this park is sure to be a hit with teens.

10 – Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH

cedar pointLocation: 1 Cedar Point Dr, Sandusky, OH 44870
Opened: 1870
Single Ticket Price: $45
Tripadvisor Rating: 4.5/5

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Arguably one of the very best amusement parks in the United States, Cedar Point is unique, sitting on the peninsula that juts into Lake Erie with a beach right next door. There are no less than 16 coasters here, and some are widely believed to be the best. Millennium Force is highly rated, while Maverick is powerful and Top Thrill Dragster is fast and tall, taking its riders at a top speed of 120 mph and 420 feet in the air. There is something for everyone! In 2016, its Valravn coaster opened, which drops its riders 200 feet at an angle of 90 degrees. There are 70 rides overall in the park, so older kids and grownups can conquer the coasters while the kids also have plenty to do.

Whether you love shows, flat rides or crave the adrenaline rush that comes with riding one of the world’s fastest and/or scariest roller coasters, there is sure to be an amusement park in the United States that fits the bill. No matter where in the country you go, you’re sure to find theme parks to suit all tastes and to keep the entire family occupied on their day out!

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Jean Carter is from Oakland, California and studied jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, California. After graduation, and pining for a warmer climate, Jean relocated to the Tule Springs suburb of Las Vegas, where she owns and operates her own online jewelry boutique incorporating traditional native American styles with her own unique designs. A true fan of the sophistication and glamor of Las Vegas casino life, Jean is also a freelance blogger specializing in all things suave and fashionable surrounding the casino lifestyle.