Top Eight US Amusement Parks
- Holiday World
- Hershey Park
- Six Flags Magic Mountain
- Paramount King's Island
- Magic Kingdom
- Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure
- Cedar Point
Not the biggest, but clearly the friendliest and most attentive to patron's needs, Holiday World is a seasonally-themed wonderland in Indiana. Free sodas. Free sunscreen. The generosity carries over into one of the best waterparks to be included with a park's admission. Raven and Legend are a pair of testaments to how good wooden roller coasters can be when they're cared for right while a decent collection of flat rides fill the park that resonates with holiday cheer.
Maybe it's the free Chocolate World tour just outside of the turnstiles that puts one in such a sweet dispositions, but if this is Hershey's Kiss it's well worth the pucker. With one of the more complete collections of throwback rides and attractions to go with recent efforts to ramp up the park's coasters, Hersheypark is sweetness.
It's the flagship Six Flags park with the wildest coasters ever created. The only problem is that maybe they're too wild because their operating schedules are spotty at best. The park's hilly terrain is also rough as the day wears on. But when X2, Goliath, and Full Throttle are running, it is the most intense amusement park in the country.
The best traditional amusement park for young families, King's Island offers a massive children's area that dwarfs the competition. But it hasn't forgotten the thrillseeker either. Son of Beast is the world's first -- and only -- looping wooden coaster. It's also the biggest. The park also takes thrill rides indoors with its Tomb Raider ride and its Flight of Fear coaster.
As Florida's most popular park Magic Kingdom is tucked away deep in Disney's massive land holdings in Orange County (more than 40 square miles). While the park is missing some of Disneyland's best attractions like Indiana Jones or even some nostalgic staples like Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Toad and Pinocchio, Magic Kingdom has the ability to cheat your mind into thinking that you are in another world. While you will find better dining options at EPCOT and better thrill rides at Disney Studios, it's the classiest park in the country. Really.
Approaching 50 years and still the theme park benchmark, Disneyland may not have the luxury of space allowed to its Floridian Magic Kingdom sibling but it makes up for it by offering more attractions in one park with the aura of pixie dust in its original form.
Orlando finally grew up in 1999 when Islands of Adventure was born. It's quality over quantity as the park offers a few amazing rides rather than countless mediocre ones. Spider-Man is, hands down, the most impressive -- and immersive -- dark ride in America. Dueling Dragons brings a new meaning to thrilling near-misses. Popeye's raft ride is the country's best water raft attraction. Between the amazing eats at Mythos and the charm of the detailed touches in each of the five "islands" it was billed as the park for the 21st Century. Believe it.
Peninsular perfection. It doesn't get any better than this if it's coasters that you're craving. Even with the stubborn rollout of 2003's record-breaking Top-Thrill Dragster addition, Cedar Point is a masterpiece. While half of the park's collection of roller coasters is forgettable, it's the other half that wins you over. The blazing speed of Millennium Force, being thrust towards the Lake Erie shoreline on Magnum XL 200, the inverted perfection of Raptor -- it only gets better. Located off a Sandusky causeway the park swallows the thrill peninsula whole, complete with various on-site resorts, cottages and a top-notch campground. Two substantial kiddie play areas and a solid assortment of flat rides fill the areas that coaster track leaves behind.
List by: Rick Munarriz
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