34 Amazing Amusement Parks in America

17 Jan 34 Amazing Amusement Parks in America

Lovers of adventure, thrills and excitement, do we have the Wanderlist for you! Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock your entire life, you no doubt are well aware of Disneyland. Most kids aspire to one day visit this wondrous theme park but as adults we might be looking for something a little more than Mickey Mouse.

We searched and searched to put together our list of the most intimidating, the highest, the scariest and the most fun amusement parks in the United States. If you’re a fellow amusement park junkie like us, you will definitely find this article helpful and informative when looking for some fun for your visit to the US.

As per usual, if you feel we need to add more to this list, you know the drill, do not hesitate to let us know in the comments section, following this post.

Walt Disney World Resort


1. MAGIC KINGDOM, Lake Buena Vista – Florida

www.disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/magic-kingdom

Magic Kingdom, was the first of the Disney theme parks built in Florida in 1971. Similar to Disneyland Park in Anaheim, it is dedicated to fairy tales and Disney characters. The park is divided into six themed “lands.” Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland and Tommorowland with rides, roller coasters and characters for every age.

Magic Kingdom

2. DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS, Lake Buena Vista – Florida

www.disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/hollywood-studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a theme park dedicated to show business, drawing inspiration from the heyday of Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s and of modern-day animation. The park is also divided into six themed areas – Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Streets of America, Pixar Place, Animation Courtyard and Sunset Boulevard.

hollywood studios

3. EPCOT, Lake Buena Vista – Florida

www.disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/epcot

Originally known as the EPCOT Center (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow), Epcot is a theme park dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, namely technological innovation and international culture. The park is recognizable by the large sphere called Spaceship Earth and is double the size of Magic Kingdom.

Epcot

Disneyland Resort


4. DISNEYLAND PARK, Anaheim – California

www.disneyland.disney.go.com/destinations/disneyland

Disneyland, now known as Disneyland Park, was the first theme park opened in 1955 by Walt Disney and the only one in which he directly supervised the design and construction. Disneyland Park consists of eight themed “lands” – Main Street USA, Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Fronierland, Critter County, Fantastyland, Mickey’s Toontown and Tommorowland.

Disneyland

5. DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK, Anaheim – California

www.disneyland.disney.go.com/destinations/disney-california-adventure

Disney California Adventure is the second of the Californian park and was completed in 2001. It is themed after the history of California and consists of seven themed areas called “ditricts” – Buena Vista Street, Paradise Pier, Grizzy Peak, Pacific Wharf, Hollywood Land, A Bug’s Land and Cars Land.

Disney California Adventure

Universal Studios


6. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD, Hollywood – California

www.universalstudioshollywood.com

Universal Studios Hollywood is a film studio and theme park located just outside of Los Angeles, California. It is one of the oldest and most famous Hollywood film studios and is still in use to this day. This park is split into two areas on different levels, connected by a series of escalators called the Starway. These areas are known as the Upper lot and Lower lot. 

Universal Studios

7. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA, Orlando – Florida

www.universalorlando.com/Theme-Parks/Universal-Studios-Florida

Universal Studios Florida’s theme is the entertainment industry, in particular movies and television. Each attraction is meant to inspire guests to “ride the movies”. The park features seven themed areas all situated around a large lagoon – Production Central, New York, San Francisco, London/Diagon Alley, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone and Hollywood. 

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Grand Opening Publicity

8. ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE, Orlando – Florida

www.universalorlando.com/Theme-Parks/Islands-of-Adventure

Islands of Adventure is the second of Universal’s theme parks in Orlando, Florida which opened in 1999. The park’s overall theme is that of a journey of exploration, with the slogan “Live the Adventure”. The park consists of seven themed “islands,” – Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing.

Ripsaw Falls

Six Flags


9. SIX FLAGS NEW ENGLAND, Agawam – Massachusetts

www.sixflags.com/newengland

Six Flags New England is the Coaster Capital of New England with an impressive lineup of rides including: New England SkyScreamer, Flashback, Pandemonium, Mind Eraser, Batman the Dark Knight, Goliath, and Wicked Cyclone. There’s also four areas dedicated to children including Looney Tunes Movie Town, Kidzopolis, Whistlestop Park and Splash Island.

six flags new england

10. SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN, Vallejo – California

www.sixflags.com/magicmountain

Magic Mountain offers almost every type of roller coaster experience you could ever imagine. When you visit the park, be sure to check out the all new Twisted Colossus, which is considered to be the longest version of hybrid coaster in the entire world. Get ready to ride upside down and ride side up. Avoid the crowds by visiting during off-peak season and weekdays and surely you will be able to try out all the coasters in the park.

six flags magic mountain

11. SIX FLAGS FIESTA TEXAS, San Antonio – Texas

www.sixflags.com/fiestatexas

With more than 60 amazing rides, slides, shows and attractions including nine exhilarating coasters, Fiesta Texas is an excellent amusement park in San Antonio. Notable rides include: Batman the ride, Boomerang, Der Twister, Goliath and Poltergeist.

six flags fiesta

12. SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE, Jackson – New Jersey

www.sixflags.com/greatadventure

Six Flags Great Adventure is massive! At 510 acres it is the world’s largest theme park. This results in a ton of great rides and plenty of activities the whole family can enjoy. Notable rides include: Bizarro, Dare Devil Dive, Batman the ride, El Diablo, El Toro and the epic Kingda Ka.

six flags great adventure

13. SIX FLAGS ST. LOUIS, St. Louis – Missouri

www.sixflags.com/stlouis

Six Flags St. Louis features nine heart-pounding roller coasters – three wooden and six steel. All up combined they total over 22,720 feet of roller coaster track.  Four of their coasters are ranked in the Top 10 according to the Roller Coaster Data Base including The Boss and The Screamin’ Eagle.

six flags st louis

14. SIX FLAGS OVER GEORGIA, Atlanta – Georgia

www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia

Six Flags Over Georgia boasts 12 heart-pounding roller coasters headlined by the hyper-coaster Goliath which is ranked as one of the top coasters in the world. Other notable rides include: Dare Devil Dive, a beyond-vertical coaster that sends you soaring through three inversions; Georgia Scorcher and Goliath.

six flags over georgia

15. SIX FLAGS DISCOVERY KINGDOM, Valencia – California

www.sixflags.com/discoverykingdom

Experience a full day of fun and discovery with over 40 rides and attractions. With eight thrilling roller coasters, you won’t want to miss Medusa with its 150-foot plunge and the one-of-a-kind SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight! With wet and wild water rides, kid-friendly play areas like Looney Tunes Seaport, Tava’s Jungleland and Seaside Junction, there’s something for all ages, all year long.

six flags discovery kingdom

16. SIX FLAGS OVER TEXAS, Arlington – Texas

www.sixflags.com/overtexas

Six Flags Over Texas features a total of 11 themed areas including a special area for younger kids in USA & Bugs Bunny Boomtown. Thrilling roller coasters like Mr. Freeze: REVERSE BLAST™ and BATMAN THE RIDE™ can be found in Gotham City; and sensational rides such as Roaring Rapids and Shockwave in the Tower section.  

Batman the ride

17. SIX FLAGS AMERICA, Baltimore/Washington, DC – Maryland

www.sixflags.com/america

Six Flags America is the Nation’s Capital of Thrills featuring more than 100 exciting rides, games, shows and attractions including Hurricane Harbor water park—free with park admission. Get two parks for the price of one!

six flags america

18. SIX FLAGS GREAT AMERICA, Chicago – Illinois

www.sixflags.com/greatamerica

Six Flags Great America offers endless adventures for the entire family with 14 exhilarating roller coasters, a 20-acre water park, spectacular shows and four children’s themed areas with more than 30 rides. Notable rides include: Demon, Batman the ride, Raging Bull and Superman the ultimate flight.

six flags great america

Busch Gardens


19. BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA BAY, Tampa Bay – Florida

www.buschgardens.com

Previously called Busch Gardens Africa, this is a 335-acre, 19th century African-themed animal theme park. Over the years, the park built roller coasters and a sister water park called Adventure Island, becoming one of the top 25 most-visited theme parks worldwide.

Kumba

20. BUSCH GARDENS WILLIAMSBURG, Williamsburg – Virginia

www.buschgardens.com

Opening in 1975, this park is themed around various European countries. Busch Gardens is widely known for its roller coasters, including Griffon, Alpengeist, and Apollo’s Chariot.

busch gardens williamsburg

21. LEGOLAND FLORIDA, Winter Haven – Florida

www.florida.legoland.com

LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is an interactive theme park that offers more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, restaurants, shopping, a botanical garden and the LEGOLAND Water Park. While the theme park targets families with children ages 2 to 12, anyone who is a LEGO fan should plan a visit.

Legoland Florida

Cedar Fair


22. CEDAR POINT, Sandusky – Ohio

www.cedarpoint.com

Dating back to 1870, Cedar Point is the second-oldest amusement park in America. Set on the shore of Lake Erie, it features a world-record 72 rides, including 16 roller coasters. It is the only amusement park in the world with four roller coasters taller than 61 meters (200 feet), and is one of the most visited seasonal amusement parks in the United States – with an estimated 3.38 million guests in 2013.

cedar point

23. KINGS ISLAND, Kings Island – Ohio

www.visitkingsisland.com

Ohio is home to the Kings Island theme and amusement park. Families and thrill-seekers flock here to experience the famous Banshee roller coaster. Known to give anyone who rides it, all kinds of terror, this ride goes fast, slow, sideways and even upside down.

kings island

24. CAROWINDS, Charlotte – North Carolina

www.carowinds.com

The name “Carowinds” is a hybrid of “Carolina” and “winds”, referring to the winds that blow across the states of North and South Carolina. Opening in 1973, the park is based loosely on eight themes, including County Fair, Thrill Zone, Planet Snoopy and Boomerang Bay.

Rugrats Runaway Reptar

25. KNOTT’S BERRY FARM, Buena Park – California

www.knotts.com

Located on the site of a former berry farm established by Walter Knott and his family, today the theme park features 40 rides including roller coasters, water rides, historical rides. There are four themes areas – Ghost Town, Fiesta Village, The Boardwalk, and Camp Snoopy.

knotts berry farm

26. WORLD’S OF FUN, Kansas City – Missouri

www.worldsoffun.com

Opening in 1973 at a cost of $10 million, today admission to Worlds of Fun includes access to Oceans of Fun, an adjacent water park. Worlds of Fun’s themes are adapted from the classic Jules Verne book, “Around the World in Eighty Days”, with attractions divided into five major sections – Scandinavia, Africa, Europa, the Orient, and Americana.

worlds of fun

27. KINGS DOMINION, Doswell – Virginia

www.kingsdominion.com

This big theme park is known for its roller coasters, thrill ride, water attractions and animatronic dinosaurs. For thrill seekers, the WindSeeker and Intimidator 305 are the most popular attractions, while visitors looking for more relaxed rides should check out the family-friendly Grand Carousel or Blue Ridge Tollway.

kings dominion

28. VALLEYFAIR, Shakopee – Minnesota

www.valleyfair.com

Featuring over 75 rides and attractions and eight roller coasters, Valleyfair also has a water park called Soak City that is included in the admission fee. Roller coasters include a kiddy roller coaster (Cosmic Coaster), a steel roller coaster with a wooden structure (Arrow Dynamics) and a steel hyper roller coaster (Chance Morgan), currently the tallest in Valleyfair.

valley fair

29. MICHIGAN’S ADVENTURE, Muskegon – Michigan

www.miadventure.com

Boasting 53 rides, including seven roller coasters, thrill seekers can try a number of rides to get their heart rates pumping – including RipCord (which takes 1-3 riders into the air before plunging them down in a pendulum motion) and the Shivering Timbers (wooden roller coaster).

michigans adventure

30. CALIFORNIA’S GREAT AMERICA, Santa Clara – California

www.cagreatamerica.com

Originally opening as Marriott’s Great America in 1976, it has appeared in movies including Beverly Hills Cop III and Getting Even with Dad. Featuring over 40 rides and attractions, the theme park includes eight roller coasters.

californias great america

31. HERSHEYPARK, Hershey – Pennsylvania

www.hersheypark.com

Established in 1906 as a leisure park for Hershey (yes, the famous chocolate company) employees, today the park includes 70 rides and attractions, a zoo called ZOOAMERICA and is a stroll to Hershey’s Chocolate World, which includes shops, restaurants, and a chocolate factory-themed tour ride.

hersheypark

32. KNOEBELS, Elysburg – Pennsylvania

www.knoebels.com

Pronounced kuh-NO-bels, the amusement park is the United States’ largest free-admission park, and has been around since 1926. Visitors can check out more than 60 rides, including two roller coasters, a carousel built in 1913, and a haunted house dark ride.

Knoebels

33. KENTUCKY KINGDOM, Louisville – Kentucky

www.kentuckykingdom.com

Previously called Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, guests has a wide variety of amusement rides, and a water park called Hurricane Bay. Kentucky Kingdom reopened successfully in 2014 after government incentives and investments to revive the park.

kentucky kingdom

34. SILVER DOLLAR CITY, Branson – Pennsylvania

www.silverdollarcity.com

Visit this 1880s-themed amusement park, which runs from mid-March until late December each year. The theme park is divided into 10 distinct districts, and throughout the year Silver Dollar City also hosts six festivals, including the Bluegrass & BBQ Festival, the Southern Gospel Picnic and the National Harvest & Cowboy Festival.

silver dollar city
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Michael Glass

Michael is the founder of Backpacker Travel. He also runs walking tours in San Francisco and is a freelance travel writer. Michael is extremely passionate about travel and loves to explore festivals around the world.

2 Comments
  • Walt Hoffman
    Posted at 22:28h, 16 November Reply

    #15. SIX FLAGS DISCOVERY KINGDOM is located in Vallejo, CA…not Valencia, CA

    • Profile photo of Michael Glass
      Michael Glass
      Posted at 01:01h, 17 November

      Thanks for letting us know Walt. This has now been fixed.

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