The Top 20 Amusement Parks in North America in 2020 [Includes Map]

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Update: In light of the spread of COVID-19, parks may be closed, partially closed, or have reduced availability. There may also be procedures in place for visiting the parks. Please check with official park websites for more details to plan your visit.

Amusement parks are popular all over the world, but nowhere more so than in North America.

From small independent parks to giants, including Walt Disney World Resort attractions and Universal Studios, you and your family are guaranteed the vacation of a lifetime at the best amusement parks in North America. We’ve ranked the top 20 by 2019 visitor numbers, which is the latest available data.

20. Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, Illinois)

Six Flags Great America
Image Credit: Six Flags Great America

2019 visitors: 3,169,000

Part of the world-famous Six Flags chain, Six Flags Great America first opened in 1976 and has grown in size ever since. The park now offers more than 15 roller coasters, 3 specially-themed children’s areas, and the 20-acre Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park. The park is popular with visitors of all ages and sees over 3 million visitors pass through its gates each year.

How to Get There

By Air:

Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is the closest airport to Gurnee and the Six Flags Great America park, although Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport is also within a reasonable distance of both the town and the park.

Both airports have rental cars, buses, shuttles, and taxis that can be used for transportation to the park.

By Road:

From Chicago: Take I-94 or I-294 West. Exit on Grand Avenue (Route 132) east in Gurnee. Six Flags is located immediately on the right.

From Milwaukee: Take I-94 East. Exit on Grand Avenue (Route 132) east in Gurnee. Six Flags is located immediately on the right.

From Iowa: Take I-88 East to I-294 North in Illinois. Take I-294 North until it becomes I-94 West. Continue on I-94 West and exit on Grand Avenue (Route 132) east in Gurnee. Six Flags is located on the right.

From Indiana: Take Tri-State Hwy. 80/94 West. Continue into Illinois and take I-294 West. Stay on I-294 West until it becomes I-94 West. Continue on I-94 West and exit on Grand Avenue (Route 132) east in Gurnee. Six Flags is located on the right.

By Public Transportation:

Pace Suburban Buses provides direct service from Schaumburg and Rosemont to Six Flags Great America on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at certain times of the year: from June to Labor Day and every Friday and Saturday in October. Check its website for up-to-date information and departure times.

Attractions and Shows

Six Flags Great America offers family-friendly rides and attractions for all ages. Younger family members can enjoy a variety of rides designed to take tiny tots on a magical journey as they spin, ride, and fly.

Older visitors will enjoy the Logger’s Run ride that takes the whole family on a fast-paced, slippery adventure, as well as Roaring Rapids for watery fun, and any of the scenic railway rides that travel through the park.

Thrill-seekers have more than 15 roller coasters to choose from, including the American Eagle double-tracked coaster, the relentless loops and twists of BATMAN: The Ride, and the high-speed double corkscrew of the Demon.

Special and Seasonal Events

The park offers a full program of shows and festivals throughout the year. The most notable include the 4th of July extravaganza, Mardi Gras festival, and the super scary (yet family-friendly) Fright Fest in October.

There are also special events and discount days for season pass holders and regular visitors to the park.

Where to Stay

Holiday Inn Gurnee Convention Center is the only full-service hotel close to the park. It offers a free shuttle service, indoor pool, hot tub, free meals for kids under 12, and discounted tickets to the attractions.

Hampton Inn Gurnee offers friendly service and comfortable accommodation within walking distance of the park. It also has a large outdoor pool. Visitors can purchase discounted park tickets in the hotel lobby.

Baymont by Wyndham Gurnee is within walking distance of both the park and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. The hotel also offers a free fitness center, a large indoor pool, and discounted attraction tickets.

Where to Eat

There are more than 18 food outlets dotted around the park. Visitors can enjoy traditional American food, including burgers at Johnny Rockets, Italian fare at Primo’s Pizzeria, or healthier options at the Go Fresh Cafe.

Food outlets can be found in all of the different sections of the park, so you’ll never go hungry. There are also plenty of places to stop for a drink and an ice cream if your little ones need something quick to keep them going.

Ticket Info

Ticket prices vary depending on the time of year, and there are usually discounts if you book in advance.

  • 1-day tickets to Hurricane Harbor Chicago start at $24.99 per person and monthly memberships with unlimited visits to ALL Six Flags theme parks and ALL Six Flags outdoor water parks start at $6.99 per month
  • 3-park season passes start at $91.99

You can find out more about ticket prices and special offers at the Six Flags Great America website.

19. Hersheypark (Hershey, Pennsylvania)

Hersheypark
Image Credit: Hersheypark

2019 visitors: 3,384,000

Hersheypark is a family theme park that first opened its doors in 1923. Part of the world-famous Hershey chocolate brand, the park now offers over 70 rides and spans more than 110 acres, making it the biggest one of its kind in Pennsylvania.

How to Get There

Hersheypark is easily accessible by car, and public transportation can be limited. Many visitors simply rent a car and drive.

By Air:

Harrisburg International Airport is just 15 minutes away from the town of Hershey and the park. You can catch flights to Hershey from most international U.S. airports.

The airport offers car rental, public transportation, and taxi services for transportation to the park.

By Road:

From New York City: Follow I-78 West or I-81 South to exit 66 or 67 and take Route 39 to Hershey or Front Street South.

From Philadelphia: Follow the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) West to Hershey at exit 266 or Harrisburg at exit 247. Follow I-83 South to exit 43 or I-81 South to exit 67A.

From Pittsburgh: Take the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) east to exit 266, then Route 11 North to I-81 North to exit 77.

From Baltimore: Take I-83 North to Route 322 East and follow signs for Hershey.

By Public Transportation:

You can catch the train to Hershey or Harrisburg courtesy of Amtrak, or jump on the Greyhound bus. Buses to the park from within Hershey are few and far between. Most visitors prefer to take a taxi instead.

Attractions and Shows

There are lots of family-friendly rides within the park, as well as bigger rides to suit thrill-seekers of all ages. From the mini pirate and mini scrambler rides for little ones to the terrifying fun of the Great Bear roller coaster, there’s something to suit everyone at Hershey Park.

The park has a large selection of water rides that are great fun when the weather is warm.

Special and Seasonal Events

The park offers a full program of events year-round, including live shows and concerts throughout the summer season, Halloween fright nights in October, and Festive Fun for Christmas.

Where to Stay

There are 3 onsite hotels, all of which offer accommodation suitable for families with children:

The Hershey Lodge offers comfortable accommodation full of plenty of sweet treats and a pool complex for everyone to enjoy.

The Hotel Hershey is a spa retreat that offers total relaxation for the whole family close to the main park attractions.

Hershey Park Camping Resort combines campfires and camping with modern conveniences right beside the park.

Where to Eat

Hersheypark has plenty of places to grab a quick bite to eat. Mostly filled with recognizable chains, there are some hidden gems, including the Founders Kitchen, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and the Spring Creek Smokehouse.

Ticket Information

Ticket prices change depending on the season, and discounted tickets can be purchased online in advance.

  • 1-day tickets (ages 2 and up) start at $54.95
  • 2-day tickets for ages 3 to 8 and 62+ are $40 per day
  • Season passes start at $149

You can find more details on ticket prices and discounts on the Hersheypark website.

18. Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, New Jersey)

Six Flags Great Adventure
Image Credit: Six Flags Great Adventure

2019 visitors: 3,451,000

Part safari park and part theme park, Six Flags Great Adventure is home to 1,200 animals from 6 different continents. The park offers a great day out for the whole family, as well as an opportunity to see wild animals up close and learn about conservation.

How to Get There

By Air:

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) are both about 60 miles away from Six Flags Great Adventure Park.

Both airports offer rental cars, public transportation, and taxis for transportation to the park.

By Road:

From Within New Jersey: Take N.J. Turnpike to exit 74, I-195 East to exit 16A, or Garden State Parkway exit 98, then travel for 1 mile west on Route 537 to Six Flags.

From Philadelphia: Take the Ben Franklin Bridge to Route 38 East, then N.J. Turnpike to exit 7A or Route 295 to I-195 East and follow Route 537 to the park.

From New York: Take the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, or Holland Tunnel to N.J. Turnpike South to exit 7A, then proceed to exit 16A on I-195 to Route 537 and the Six Flags exit.

From the Jersey Shore: Take Route 138 West or Garden State Parkway exit 98 to I-195 West to exit 16, then go 1 mile west on Route 537 to Six Flags.

By Public Transportation

New Jersey has a vast network of easy-to-use, affordable, and convenient public transportation that will take you right to the park gates. For details of time and routes, visit the NJ TRANSIT website.

Attractions and Shows

The animals are the biggest attraction at Six Flags Great Adventure. Visitors can see lions, tigers, giraffes, bears, and many more animals in the park. The Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure is a great way to experience it all, especially with a stop at Camp Aventura to see the smaller animals or say hello to the sea lions.

There are plenty of kid-friendly rides at the park, including the Big Wheel, Bugs Bunny Camp Carousel, and Congo Rapids. For older thrill-seekers, El Torro, Kingda Ka, and Nitro are just a few of the world-class roller coasters here.

Special and Seasonal Events

There are plenty of seasonal events, including Memorial Day, Labor Day, Comic Con-themed events, and lots of live music concerts. The park is famous for Fright Fest around Halloween, and Christmas attractions run from mid-November through the New Year.

Where to Stay

There are lots of hotels and motels to choose from within close proximity to the park.

Ramada Toms River offers affordable and flexible accommodation just 30 minutes away from the park.

DoubleTree by Hilton Tinton Falls is great for visiting both Six Flags Great Adventure and the family-friendly beaches on the Jersey Shore.

Holiday Inn East Windsor, NJ, has affordable accommodation complete with its very own kids’ program just 20 minutes from the park gates.

Where to Eat

The park has plenty of snack shops, cafes, and restaurants to choose from. Best of the West offers big burgers and Chicken Express has a menu packed with Japanese fare, while Granny’s Country Kitchen serves up home-fried chicken.

With over 15 options, you will be able to feed even the fussiest eaters!

Ticket Information

Ticket prices vary depending on the time of year and number of guests, and you can find good deals by booking online in advance.

  • Adult 1-day tickets start at $42.49 online
  • Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure starts at $19.99
  • 2-park season passes start at $95.99

You can find out more about ticket prices and special offers at the Six Flags Great Adventure website.

17. SeaWorld San Diego (San Diego, California)

SeaWorld San Diego
Image Credit: Tinseltown via Shutterstock

2019 visitors: 3,485,000

The SeaWorld Company is one of the most famous in the world, offering visitors an opportunity to see a variety of sea creatures and learn about important conservation issues. SeaWorld San Diego first opened in 1964 and now has 26 animal habitats, 15 rides, 20 shows, 2 play areas, 4 limited-time events, and 11 distinctive experiences, including swimming with dolphins.

How to Get There

San Diego is easily accessible by most forms of transportation. Driving from the city of San Diego to SeaWorld takes just over 15 minutes.

By Air:

The nearest international airport is San Diego International Airport (SAN), although McClellan-Palomar Airport (CLD) has domestic flights from Carlsbad and is just 25 miles from SeaWorld San Diego.

Both airports offer rental cars, public transportation, and taxi services for transportation to the park.

By Road:

From San Diego: Take I-5 North from 1st Avenue and continue until you reach exit 1 from I-8 West. Then hop on West Mission Bay Drive, and take Ingraham Street and Perez Cove Way to South Shores Road to the park.

From Los Angeles: Pick up US-101 South, then follow I-5 South to SeaWorld Drive/Tecolote Road in San Diego, then take exit 21 from I-5 South.

By Public Transportation

The Metropolitan Transport System of San Diego runs buses to and from the city. You can find out about schedules and ticket prices here.

Amtrak runs trains to the park regularly from all over the state of California. Amtrak schedules and ticket prices vary according to your starting point.

Attractions and Shows

SeaWorld offers plenty of opportunities for you and your family to see the park animals close up. Spend your day visiting the famous orca whales or swimming with the dolphins. You can also observe a wide variety of reef life and learn about the conservation of ocean creatures from all over the world.

If you want to get your ride on, the park offers plenty of water-themed roller coasters, wet-and-wild rides, and family fun. There’s always something to see in the aquariums, and you can see the orcas, dolphins, and sea lions in the main auditorium daily.

Special and Seasonal Events

During the summer months, you and your little ones can see the Sesame Street Parade every weekend afternoon. The park also offers Memorial Weekend Celebrations and the circus-inspired Electric Ocean events on summer evenings.

Where to Stay

Being so close to San Diego itself, there are plenty of options for lodging both in and outside of the park. Whatever your budget and the size of your family, there will be something suitable.

Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Old Town — SeaWorld Area, is a family-friendly hotel within walking distance of SeaWorld and other local attractions.

Holiday Inn Express San Diego is the place for clean, comfortable accommodations close to the park and with its own pool.

Where to Eat

If you want to book an experience package in advance, you can eat breakfast with the dolphins or enjoy dinner with the orcas, among other rare treats. If you just want to grab a bite, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes, and ice cream parlors to choose from, including the Shipwreck Reef Cafe and Mama Stella’s Pizza Kitchen.

Ticket Information

Tickets can be purchased as part of a vacation package, online, or at the gate. Pricing includes:

  • 1-day tickets for ages 3+ start at $73.99
  • Unlimited passes start at $93.99

You can find more information about ticket prices and discounts on the SeaWorld San Diego website.

16. Kings Island (Mason, Ohio)

Kings Island
Image Credit: Kings Island

2019 visitors: 3,521,000

Only open during peak season, this family-friendly theme park offers Planet Snoopy for the younger children, a selection of roller coasters for kids of all ages, and a water park.

How to Get There

Kings Island is situated in the town of Mason, Ohio, and it is easy to get to using several different transportation options.

By Air:

The town of Mason is served by 3 airports: John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), and Dayton International Airport (DAY).

All airports offer car rental, public transportation, and taxi services for transportation to the park.

By Road:

From Cincinnati: Take I-75 North, OH-126 East, and I-71 North to Warren County, then take exit 24 from I-71 North onto Kings Island Drive to the park.

From Hamilton: Take OH-129 East to Liberty Way, then take exit 25A from OH-129 East onto Kings Island Drive.

From Columbus: Take I-70 West/I-71 South and head towards East State Street. Follow I-71 South to OH-741 South/Kings Mills Road in Mason, and then take exit 25 from I-71 South until exit 25 for Kings Mills Road/OH-741 North towards Mason.

By Public Transportation:

You can take a bus from Mason, Hamilton, or Cincinnati that will deliver you directly to the park gates. Go Metro services the park, and you can find detailed schedules on its website.

Attractions and Shows

There is a wide selection of attractions for visitors of all ages to enjoy at Kings Island, including whitewater rapids, bumper cars, a railroad train, and even a replica Eiffel Tower. There are also plenty of rides for older thrill-seekers, with 12 roller coasters to choose from, including the Mystic Timbers ride (voted by Amusement Today as the Best New Ride in 2017).

Splash City is a waterpark that visitors to Kings Island can include in their visit, so be sure to take your swimsuit with you!

If you’re planning on catching a show, there is always something to see: live bands, circus performances, and regular shows from Snoopy and his gang for the children to enjoy.

Special and Seasonal Events

Because the park is only open during peak season, there is always something special going on, including a 4th of July spectacular, a Halloween Haunt throughout October, and Winter Fest for the holidays.

Where to Stay

There are numerous options when it comes to choosing where to stay during your visit to Kings Island. You can stop at one of the nearby towns or stay at the resort itself. Our favorites include:

Great Wolf Lodge offers suites that are perfect for groups and families and is located close to the gates of the water park.

Super 8 by Wyndham Mason offers budget-friendly, motel-style accommodations within a short distance of the park, offering easy access to all local attractions.

Mason Comfort Suites offers comfortable and affordable rooms and suites in a convenient location, complete with a pool.

Where to Eat

The park offers plenty of well-known food outlets to help you and your family refuel. Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, and Cinnabon are there to keep you going, as are nearly 40 other eateries, including the super child-friendly Planet Snoopy Grill and Snoopy Snack Shack.

Ticket Information

Like most other theme parks and attractions in the U.S., you can get discounted ticket prices by purchasing online, but a general idea of prices includes:

  • Single-day tickets are $45 with after 3 p.m. admission starting at $29.99
  • Season passes start around $118 online

You can find out more about ticket prices and special offers on the Kings Island website.

15. Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)

Six Flags Magic Mountain
Image Credit: lilyling1982 via Shutterstock

2019 visitors: 3,610,000

Home to some of the most famous roller coasters in the world (and with a huge 19 roller coasters to choose from), Six Flags Magic Mountain offers plenty of adrenaline-fueled fun for the whole family.

How to Get There

Based just outside Santa Clarita in glorious California, Six Flags Magic Mountain is easily accessible from across the state.

By Air:

The nearest airports to Six Flags Magic Mountain are Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR). Rental cars, buses, and coaches can be found at both airports for transportation to the park.

By Road:

From Anaheim: Take I-5 North and exit at the Magic Mountain Parkway turn off.

From Hollywood: Take Highway 170 North to I-5 North and exit at the Magic Mountain Parkway turn off.

From San Diego: Take I-15 to join I-5 until you reach the Magic Mountain Parkway turn off.

From Ventura or Santa Barbara: Take the 101 Freeway South to the 126 Freeway East until you reach I-5 South. Exit at the Magic Mountain Parkway to reach the park.

By Public Transportation

The Red Metro Line and the Metrolink train line both connect directly with the park itself. You can find out more about the local schedule on their websites.

Attractions and Shows

Six Flags is home to some of the most awe-inspiring roller coasters in the world. Whatever your age, there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy.

With the 4D interactive family gaming attraction Justice League: Battle for Metropolis alongside rapids rides, go-karts, and traditional kid-friendly attractions, Six Flags Magic Mountain has plenty to keep the whole family busy. There are also pint-sized trucks, cars, and mini rides for even the youngest family members to experience.

The real thrill-seekers in your family will never get bored trying out the amazing rides on offer in the park, like hypercoaster Goliath, the 360-degree spins and loops on X2 and The New Revolution, and the face-down flying coaster Tatsu.

Special and Seasonal Events

During the summer months, visitors can enjoy Memorial Day events, gaming weekends, and a selection of live concerts. In October, the park holds its popular Fright Fest (complete with scare actors and ghoulish goings-on), and Christmas brings a Fire and Ice Festival with Santa coming along for the ride, too.

Where to Stay

Best hotels in and around the park include:

The Comfort Suites near Six Flags Magic Mountain is a ranch-style hotel offering comfortable and affordable accommodations just 4 miles from the park entrance.

Hyatt Regency Valencia offers luxury accommodations complete with gym, pools, and onsite restaurants close to the park.

La Quinta Inn & Suites Santa Clarita/Valencia is a hotel with first-class flexible rooms and suites as well its own pool and fitness center.

Where to Eat

Within the park itself, you will find a variety of eateries to suit every member of your party — including Big Belly Burgers, Carlini’s Pizzeria, Full Throttle Sports Bar, and the Funnel Cake Factory, among others. With over 30 eateries to choose from, you will never go hungry here!

Ticket Information

You can book your tickets online and find out about prices on the Six Flags website, but a general idea of costs would include:

  • 1-day tickets start at $92.99
  • 2-park season passes start at $92.99

14. Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)

Cedar Point Ohio
Image Credit: Joe Hendrickson via Shutterstock

2019 visitors: 3,731,000

Cedar Point is famous for its large selection of roller coasters and is a definite must-visit for thrill-seekers of all ages. First opened in 1870, it is the second-oldest park in the U.S. and regularly sees nearly 4 million visitors each year.

How to Get There

By Air:

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE), Toledo Express Airport (TOL), and Sandusky County Regional Airport are closest to the park.

All of them offer rental cars, public transportation, and taxi services for transportation to the park.

By Road:

From Toledo: Head east on I-80/I-90 to exit 110 (Sandusky), then turn left onto OH 4 and follow the signs to Cedar Point.

From Cleveland: Head west on I-480, then west on I-80 to exit 118 (Sandusky). Make a right turn onto US 250 and follow the signs to Cedar Point.

From Columbus: Take I-70 East/I-71 North until you reach US-250 West. Continue until you reach US-6 and turn off for Sandusky, where you will see signs for Cedar Point.

By Public Transportation:

Greyhound buses will deliver you to Sandusky from many destinations throughout Ohio; see the Greyhound website for schedules and ticket prices.

Alternatively, you can find train services to Sandusky from everywhere except Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, South Dakota, and Wyoming. More details on schedules and ticket prices can be found here.

Attractions and Shows

Cedar Point has over 18 roller coasters and 71 other rides for visitors to enjoy, making it one of the most fun-packed destinations in the country. Younger visitors can enjoy the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad, the Sky Ride, and 4×4 Trucks, as well as a whole host of other kid-friendly rides and activities.

For bigger kids of all ages, Steel Vengeance (the tallest, fastest, and longest hybrid roller coaster in the world) is just one of the many coasters available in a park, which proudly claims to be the Roller Coaster Capital of the World!

If you want to take in a show at Cedar Point, there is a full program of live music, children’s entertainment, and parties for you to watch and join daily.

The park is also home to the fantastic Dinosaurs Alive! Experience that offers immersive animatronic dinosaur fun for everyone.

Special and Seasonal Events

From the opening weekend event in May through Halloweekends in October, every month offers unique seasonal events for the whole family to enjoy.

Where to Stay

If you want to stay close to the park, there are plenty of hotels, motels, and lodges for you to choose from.

Hotel Breakers at Cedar Point offers beachside fun just moments away from the park and is perfect for kids of all ages.

Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay is just a short drive from the park itself and is a fun-filled water resort all on its own.

Cedar Point’s Express Hotel offers cool, comfortable accommodations with a dedicated children’s play area and is within easy reach of all of the nearby attractions.

Where to Eat

With over 40 restaurants, snack bars, and shops on-site, you won’t go hungry at Cedar Point. The usual chains are there, including Starbucks, Subway, and TGI Fridays, but there are also plenty of smaller independent eateries to choose from, too.

Ticket Information

Ticket prices vary depending on the time of year and the day of the week you visit. Booking in advance online can also help reduce the price of entry.

  • 1-day adult ticket from $47
  • Unlimited visit Gold passes start at $129

You can find more details on ticket prices and discounts on the Cedar Point website.

13. Canada’s Wonderland (Vaughan, Ontario, Canada)

Canadas Wonderland Yukon Striker
Image Credit: Canada’s Wonderland

2019 visitors: 3,950,000

Open from May to September, Canada’s Wonderland is the largest amusement park in Canada and has plenty to offer everyone in the family. First opened in 1981, the park is located in beautiful Ontario and is one of the most visited parks in North America.

How to Get There

Only 30 minutes outside of Toronto, Canada’s Wonderland is easy to get to and has good signage for finding the park.

By Air:

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is the closest airport to the park, and regular shuttle services run to and from the park entrance throughout the day.

The airport also has rental cars and public transportation services that will help you to get to the park in your own time.

By Road:

From Toronto: Take the Gardiner Expressway West to ON-427 North, ON-401 East, and ON-400 North to Major MacKenzie Drive West/York Regional Road 25 in Vaughan, then take exit 35 from ON-400 North and onto Major MacKenzie Drive West/York Regional Road 25 to the park.

From Hamilton: Take Express Toll Route/ON-407 East to Major MacKenzie Drive West/York Regional Road 25 in Vaughan, then take exit 35 from ON-400 North. Follow until you reach Major MacKenzie Drive West/York Regional Road 25 to the park gates.

From Buffalo: Head northeast onto Highway ON-420 West and take exit 139 for Highway ON-427 toward Highway ON-401/Pearson. Continue onto Highway ON-427 North, take the exit onto Highway ON-401 East, then merge onto Highway ON-400 North toward Barrie. Take exit 33 for Rutherford Road, go north onto Canada’s Wonderland Drive, and follow signs to the park entrance.

By Public Transportation:

G.O. Transit operates 1 bus (Route 60) directly to Canada’s Wonderland from both York Mills Bus Terminal and Yorkdale Bus Terminal during the park’s operating season. YRT buses also run to and from the park.

Attractions and Shows

Home to 16 roller coasters, including Leviathan (the tallest coaster in the country) and Canada’s first inverted coaster Flight Deck, the park is perfect for thrill-seekers of all ages. Taxi Jam, Ghost Coaster, and Silver Streak are perfect for even the youngest roller coaster enthusiasts.

There are also plenty of raceways, water rafting, carousels, and traditional amusement park rides to enjoy.

The park offers daily shows, including Snoopy’s Symphony of Water and other Peanuts-related activities for children, as well as Cirque Canadian and Victoria Falls High Divers for everyone in the family.

Special and Seasonal Events

The summertime program is packed with children’s shows like Ultimate Circus Skills, Splash Time, and Kidzfest, while autumn brings Oktoberfest and Halloween Hauntings.

There is also plenty for the grown-ups to enjoy, with food fairs from around the world, BBQ and Beer evenings, and lots of Canadian-themed sporting events.

Where to Stay

Being close to Toronto means you have plenty of options when it comes to finding a base from which to explore the park.

Best Western Plus Toronto North York is a plush hotel close to the park entrance that offers the choice of large family rooms or private suites.

Monte Carlo Inn Vaughan Suites is just 5 minutes from the park entrance and offers basic but comfortable suites with everything you need for a self-catering vacation.

Comfort Inn Toronto North is close to a large shopping mall and children’s play center as well as the park itself, making the Comfort Inn a good value accommodation for the whole family.

Where to Eat

The park offers plenty of places to refuel, including Subway, Tim Hortons, and Dairy Queen, as well as lesser-known eateries serving burgers, pizza, and a wide range of other treats.

Ticket Information

Ticket prices vary depending on the time of year and day of the week. As always, it is usually cheaper to purchase tickets in advance online.

  • 1-day adult passes start from $39.99
  • Season passes start at $75.99

You can also purchase reduced tickets after 4 p.m., and group tickets are available at discounted rates for families and larger groups.

You can find more information about ticket prices and discounts on Canada’s Wonderland website.

12. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Tampa Bay, Florida)

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay coaster
Image Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

2019 visitors: 4,180,000

Themed after 19th-century Africa, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers visitors the chance to explore a stunning tropical landscape, see exotic animals, and enjoy thrilling rides. Famous for its over-the-top Christmas Town and celebrations, this park is one of the most visited in the U.S.

How to Get There

By Air:

The nearest major airport to the park is Tampa International Airport (TPA), while St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) is just 25 miles from the park itself.

Both airports offer car rental, public transportation, and taxi services for transportation to the park.

By Road:

From North Florida: Travel south on I-75 to Fowler Avenue exit 265, then proceed west on Fowler Avenue to McKinley Drive. Turn left on McKinley. Proceed south on McKinley to parking and the main entrance to the park.

From Southern Florida: Travel north on I-75, past the intersection of I-4, to the Fowler Avenue exit 265, then proceed west on Fowler Avenue to McKinley Drive. Turn left on McKinley. Go south on McKinley to parking and the main entrance to the park.

From Orlando: Travel west on I-4 to I-75. Go north on I-75 to the Fowler Avenue exit 265, then bear left onto Fowler Avenue. Turn left on McKinley and proceed south on McKinley to parking and the main entrance to the park.

From St Petersburg: Travel north on I-275 to the Fowler Avenue exit, then turn east on Fowler Avenue and proceed 2.5 miles to McKinley Drive to the main parking lot entrance.

By Public Transportation:

There is a shuttle bus service that runs to and from the park from various locations throughout Orlando. The shuttle is operated by Mears Destination Services. You can check its website for times and prices.

Attractions and Shows

Visitors of all ages can enjoy a selection of super fast and furious roller coasters, as well as the river rapids and water flumes. The Serengeti Express will take you and your family through the park to catch a peek at the animals that live there, or you can take the Skyride cable car for panoramic views.

Shows to suit every member of your group can be found daily, including the Let’s Play Together children’s shows and the Turn It Up ice-skating spectaculars.

If you want to see the animals, the park zoo is home to more than 12,000 animals of 300 different species. You can learn about their natural habitat and conservation issues on your visit.

Special and Seasonal Events

It’s not just the amazing Christmas Town events that visitors come to see. The park has an extensive program of events year-round, including meet and greets with animal conservationists, and a range of fun themed weekends throughout the summer.

Where to Stay

Close to Orlando, St. Petersburg, and the beaches of Clearwater, there are plenty of hotels to choose from.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tampa -USF-Busch Gardens offers comfortable family accommodations just a short distance from the park gates.

La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Tampa Near Busch Gardens is easily accessible and affordable accommodation with a big outdoor pool and plenty of activities for the children.

Baymont by Wyndham Tampa Near Busch Gardens is a newly renovated hotel close to the park entrance with a large pool and outdoor games for all to enjoy.

Where to Eat

There is a wide range of fabulously themed eateries at Busch Gardens, including the Dragon Fire Grill & Pub, the Zambia Smokehouse, and the Bengal Bistro.

Ticket Information

Ticket prices vary depending on the time of your visit. Visitors can purchase additional passes to avoid lines and can find big discounts when booking in advance online.

  • 1-day tickets start at $95.99 for visitors 3 years and older

You can find more information about ticket prices and discounts on the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay website.

11. Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park, California)

Knotts Berry Farm
Image Credit: Knott’s Berry Farm

2019 visitors: 4,238,000

Located in sunny California, Knott’s Berry Farm offers visitors 4 uniquely themed sections full of fun. Ghost Town, Fiesta Village, the Boardwalk, and Camp Snoopy have more than 40 rides between them, and the whole park is an homage to its Californian frontier history.

How to Get There

Being in California means there are several large cities close to the park. Whether you choose to fly, drive, or take the bus, there are plenty of ways to reach the park.

By Air:

The 2 closest airports to the park are the regional John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA) — just a 20-minute drive away — or the larger Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) that is still just 30 minutes away.

Both airports offer rental cars, public transportation, and taxi services for transportation to the park.

The Karmel Shuttle also services both airports and runs to and from the park several times a day.

By Road:

From Anaheim: Take the I-5 North to Buena Park, then take exit 23B from CA-91 West/State Highway 91 West to CA-39 South/Beach Boulevard Drive to Western Avenue for the park entrance.

From Los Angeles: Take I-5 South to CA-39 South/Beach Boulevard in Buena Park, then take exit 116 from I-5 South before driving on to Western Avenue to reach the park entrance.

From Long Beach: Follow I-710 North and CA-91 East to South Knott Avenue in Buena Park, and then take exit 23A from CA-91 East. Continue onto El Verano Drive to Western Avenue to the park entrance.

By Public Transportation:

Metrolink Trains service the Buena Park Metrolink stations that are only minutes from the park.

Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) offers buses that run along Beach Boulevard to the gates of Knott’s Berry Farm itself.

Attractions and Shows

The most popular and well-known attraction at the park is the 2,100-ft waterway ride Timber Mountain, where you can journey back to the Old West on a thrilling 42-foot flume ride. There are also plenty more family-friendly rides and attractions throughout the park, including stagecoach adventures, merry-go-rounds, bumper cars, and the Calico Railroad steam engine.

Older thrill-seekers will enjoy the historic GhostRider — the longest, tallest, and fastest wooden roller coaster on the West Coast — as well as the vertical drop HangTime and the super-fast 360 Silver Bullet.

The park has a full show program, including lots of interactive fun with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy at the Camp Snoopy Theatre. Kids of all ages can enjoy the Wild West Stunt Show, the Crazy Hillbillies, and the Calico Saloon Show.

Special and Seasonal Events

The Knott’s Boysenberry Festival is a popular event that celebrates the very best of the Wild West, while the Knotts Spooky Farm and Ghost Town Alive bring a little bit of the fear factor to the park for Halloween.

Other events include a Memorial Day fireworks spectacular and a wide range of additional events across the Christmas period.

Where to Stay

Sleep in style close to the park entrance in these top family-focused hotels:

Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Buena Park is a modern hotel with a pool and play park close to the park entrance.

Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel combines comfortable grown-up accommodations with a specially designed Snoopy-themed wing all just moments away from the park gates.

Radisson Suites Hotel Anaheim is an upmarket hotel offering family-sized suites, complete with a pool and plenty of luxury touches.

Where to Eat

With a focus on BBQ and all things western, you can choose from tacos, burgers, and other family favorites across the park. The Ghost Town offers huge bowls of steaming chili, while the Farm Bakery brings you freshly made sweet treats, all baked on the farm itself.

Ticket Information

Ticket prices vary depending on the time of your visit. Discounts are available by booking online in advance or taking advantage of special offers. Visitors can purchase Fast Lane tickets and other promotions for additional costs.

  • 1-day adult tickets start from $59 online
  • 1-day junior tickets start from $49 online
  • Season passes are available from $101

You can find more information about ticket prices and discounts on the Knott’s Berry Farm website.

10. SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, Florida)

SeaWorld Orlando TurtleTrek Turtle Habitat
Image Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

2019 visitors: 4,640,000

A highly regarded theme park and marine zoological park located in sunny Florida, SeaWorld Parks and Resorts Orlando consists of 3 parks — SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando, and Discovery Cove. It focuses on marine life and conservation, as well as entertaining visitors with unprecedented access to some of the most amazing sea creatures on Earth.

How to Get There

By Air:

The 2 closest airports to the park are Orlando International Airport (MCO), which is just under 10 miles from the park entrance, and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), which is just under 30 miles from the park.

Both airports offer car rental, public transportation, and taxi services, as well as dedicated shuttle services that will allow you to continue your journey to SeaWorld Orlando.

By Road:

From Orlando, Universal Studios, and Daytona: Take I-4 West to exit 72 (Beachline Expressway/FL-528/Airport) to the International Drive exit (exit 1). Turn right onto Central Florida Parkway where the entrance to SeaWorld is on your right.

From Cape Canaveral: Take FL-528 West (Beachline Expressway) to International Drive (exit 1), then turn left onto International Drive and right onto Central Florida Parkway where the entrance to the park is on your right.

From Lake Buena Vista and Tampa: Take I-4 East (toward Orlando) to exit 71, which is the exit for SeaWorld. The main entrance to SeaWorld will be on the left-hand side of Central Florida Parkway.

By Public Transportation:

The I-Ride Trolley features 78 stops along the International Drive attractions corridor, including SeaWorld Orlando. The trolley runs from early morning until late night, with buses an average of 20 minutes apart.

Most hotels in the area offer a variety of shuttle services to and from all of the local attractions, including SeaWorld. Ask at the front desk for details.

Attractions and Shows

Most visitors come to see the world-famous Orca Encounter show. There are also shows featuring dolphins and sea lions, or you can catch penguin action at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.

If you want to get your thrills up above the watery world of the park, the Manta roller coaster is meant to simulate the flight of a manta ray and is not for the faint-hearted. The Kraken is a floorless roller coaster that is ranked among the top rides in the U.S.

There are also plenty of smaller rides and attractions for younger members of the family, and a whole host of educational experiences based on the park’s ongoing commitment to conservation.

Marine shows are held daily, and all are designed to impress without harming any of the animals in their care.

Special and Seasonal Events

Open year-round, SeaWorld Orlando has a full program of events for all to enjoy. Free outdoor concerts, food festivals, and holiday spectaculars are all held on the grounds of the park, as well as a Halloween Spooktacular, July 4th celebrations, and Christmas and New Year events across the festive season.

Where to Stay

As Orlando is jam-packed with theme parks and attractions, it’s not hard to find family-friendly accommodation anywhere in Florida.

Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld offers fabulous accommodations complete with oversized guest rooms, an outdoor pool, and the Aqua Zone Water Park for toddlers and children.

Hilton Grand Vacations at SeaWorld offers studios and family suites with 3 swimming pools, 2 children’s wading pools, and a full recreation program for all ages.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando at SeaWorld is the place to go for comfortable accommodations complete with the Shamu Pool, Splash Zone, and a games room to keep the kids entertained.

Where to Eat

Whether you want to eat breakfast with Elmo, dine with Shamu, or simply stop for a quick bite to eat, there are plenty of places to refuel in the park itself. The Seafire Grill, Flamecraft Bar, and Mango Joe’s all offer a good choice of food set in themed surroundings.

Ticket Information

Buying in advance can save you money on tickets, and you can get good deals if you book online through the SeaWorld Orlando website. You can also choose packages that include hotel accommodation, line-jump tickets, and all-inclusive food tickets.

A rough guide for a single-day pass would be:

  • 1-day ticket on the day $87.99
  • Annual passes start at $138

For more information about ticket prices and discounts, visit the SeaWorld Orlando website.

9. Universal Studios Hollywood (Universal City, California)

universal jurassic world mosasaurus
Image Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood

2019 visitors: 9,147,000

One of the biggest and best-loved theme parks in the world, Universal Studios Hollywood offers visitors fun-filled days spent in the heart of the entertainment industry. First opened in 1964, the park now offers a wide variety of blockbuster-based rides and entertainment.

How to Get There

In the heart of Hollywood, Universal Studios is easily accessible by all means of transportation.

By Air:

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the closest international airport to the park. You can fly here from almost anywhere in the world, and the airport offers rental cars, public transportation, and taxi services to get you to the park.

By Road:

From Hollywood: Take the 101 Hollywood Freeway North to Universal Studios Boulevard. Turn right onto Universal Studios Boulevard and follow signs to Universal Studios Hollywood.

From Santa Monica: Take the I-10 Santa Monica Freeway East to the 405 Freeway North. Exit to the 101 Ventura Freeway East/South and then continue on the 101 Freeway and exit on Lankershim Boulevard. Turn right on Lankershim Boulevard and follow the signs to Universal Studios Hollywood.

From San Diego/Anaheim: Take the 5 Golden State Freeway North. Exit to the 101 Hollywood Freeway North then continues on the 101 Freeway and exit at Universal Studios Boulevard. Turn right onto Universal Studios Boulevard and follow the signs to Universal Studios Hollywood.

By Public Transportation:

Metro Rails Red Line trains will take you to the heart of the studios, and are a cost-effective option for those traveling on a budget.

Most tourist hotels offer shuttle services to and from the park, and this will often be included as part of your hotel package.

Attractions and Shows

Harry Potter, Transformers, The Walking Dead, Jurassic World, and many more major blockbusters are all part of the Universal Studios experience. From roller coasters to walk-through attractions and even the World-Famous Studio Tour, there is something for everyone at this movie-based theme park.

Younger members of the family have their own dedicated part of the park, too, where they can mix with the Minions and enjoy pint-sized rides in Super Silly Fun Land.

When it comes to shows, Universal Studios Hollywood offers some of the best in the business, including Waterworld, special effects shows, and themed stage shows.

Special and Seasonal Events

Enjoy Halloween Horror Nights, Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, or even Grinchmas as part of Universal’s year-long events program.

There is always something special going on at the park, and you won’t be missing out no matter what time of year you choose to visit.

Where to Stay

There is a wealth of family-friendly hotels close to the park, so whatever your budget, you will easily find somewhere fabulous to stay.

Sheraton Universal Hotel is a 4-star luxury hotel for the whole family, complete with an amazing pool area located at the gates of Universal Studios Hollywood.

The Garland offers a calm oasis away from the busy and bustling tourist district, as well as plenty of retro-cool for the family to enjoy.

Burbank Inn and Suites offers sumptuous oversized suites within easy access to Universal Studios Hollywood.

Hot Tip: You can receive a ton of value when you book your L.A. hotel with points. Our guide to the 10 best hotels in Los Angeles to book with points shows you what’s possible by detailing the likely value across all 4 major hotel brands.

Where to Eat

Dine with all your favorite film stars at the Three Broomsticks, Moe’s Tavern, or the Jurassic Cafe, among others. Every eatery in the park is themed and great fun for the whole family.

Ticket Information

Admission to big parks like Universal Studios Hollywood can be expensive compared to other parks, which is why most visitors buy in advance as part of their vacation package.

  • General admission tickets cost $109 per person
  • Annual passes start at $119

Offers and online booking details can be found on the Universal Studios Hollywood website.

8. Disney California Adventure Park (Anaheim, California)

Disneyland California Ferris Wheel
Image Credit: Tyler Nix via Unsplash

2019 visitors: 9,861,000

Offering a taste of everything Californian, this theme park features 7 different districts, all offering an entertaining insight into the rich history of the Sunshine State. First opening its gates in 2001, the park has installed more rides and themed areas in the last 5 years to boost attendance, and it certainly seems to have worked.

Disney California Adventure Park is located adjacent to Disneyland and shares many of the same amenities.

How to Get There

By Air:

John Wayne Airport (SNA) is located in Santa Ana, California, 35 miles south of Los Angeles and about 14 miles from Disneyland. The airport offers rental cars, public transportation, taxi, and shuttle services that will take you directly to the park or your hotel.

By Road:

From Anaheim and North Los Angeles: Take the 1-5 South and follow the exit signs for Disneyland Drive, then proceed across Ball Road. Use the left 3 lanes to access the Mickey & Friends parking structure.

Traveling from Santa Ana and the South: Take the I-5 to the Katella Avenue/Disney Way exit, then proceed on Disney Way for approximately 0.5 miles to Harbor Boulevard and turn left to find Disney parking on your left.

From the 22 Freeway (Garden Grove Freeway): Exit the 22 Freeway on Harbor and head north for approximately 2.5 miles. Disney parking will be on your right after crossing Orangewood Avenue.

Traveling West on the 91 Freeway: Take the 57 (Santa Ana) Freeway South and exit on Katella Avenue. Turn right at East Katella Avenue and continue to South Harbor Boulevard where the Toy Story lot will be on your left.

Traveling East on the 91 Freeway: Take I-5 South and exit on Disneyland Drive toward Ball Road. Use the left 3 lanes to access the Mickey & Friends parking structure.

By Public Transportation:

The Greyhound bus station is located less than a half-mile east of the Disneyland Resort. See its website for information on scheduling and prices.

The Metro Express Line 460 bus stops at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. For more information on schedules, fares, and station locations, please visit the Los Angeles Metro website. The Orange County Transportation Authority website runs a variety of services that pass through the resort and surrounding areas.

The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train runs along the West Coast and offers a scenic way to reach your Disney destination. Schedules, fares, and route information can be found here.

Attractions and Shows

Incredibly child-friendly and crammed full of their favorites, your little ones will love everything the park has to offer, including Buena Vista Street for an old Hollywood vibe and Pixar Pier for its themed attractions. The must-see Cars Land built in a replica Radiator Springs is one of the most popular attractions in the park.

There are also areas and rides dedicated to the Guardians of the Galaxy, Monsters Inc., the Avengers (coming soon!), and, of course, Mickey and Minnie and all their friends.

A few grown-up rides can keep adults entertained, too, like Soarin’ Over California and Incredicoaster.

The shows at either Disneyland Resort are always first class, and this park is no exception. See some of the finest children’s shows in the world — like the Frozen theatrical spectacular — every day throughout the season.

Special and Seasonal Events

As you would expect from such a family-focused destination, every social occasion and holiday has events at Disney California Adventure Park. The most popular events include Mickey’s Halloween parties, the California Adventure Food and Wine Festival, and a fun-packed Christmas and New Year holiday season.

Where to Stay

A trip to any Disneyland Resort is made all the more special with a stay in any of its onsite hotels.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offers newly refurbished accommodations with kid-friendly rooms and its own entrance to the park.

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is a seaside-themed hotel with an amazing rooftop waterslide and plenty of pool fun for everyone.

Disneyland Hotel will allow you to make a splash at the 2 towering monorail waterslides or have breakfast with your favorite characters at this popular resort hotel.

Where to Eat

There are over 110 restaurants within the park itself, and you will pretty much be able to feed your little ones anything they want. Among the most popular are Flo’s V8 Diner, the Galactic Grill, and the Hungry Bear Restaurant.

Ticket Information

Any Disneyland Resort tickets are best purchased in advance as part of your travel package. Spend the entire day in 1 park or enjoy both on a Park Hopper ticket. Multi-day tickets with more than 3 days come with a bonus Magic Morning hour of early admission.

Single-day tickets not purchased in advance can be as much as $117 per person, and may not be available during busy times.

  • 1-day advance adult tickets start at $97
  • 1-day passes start at $105

For more information about ticket prices and discounts, check out the Disney California Adventure Park website.

Hot Tip: The 2020 reopening of Disneyland has been postponed, but if you plan on visiting either park this year, be prepared for some changes. Visit our guide to The Reopening of Disneyland: What to Expect and What Is Changing.

7. Universal’s Islands of Adventure (Orlando, Florida)

universal hagrids magical creatures motorbike adventure
Image Credit: Universal

2019 visitors: 10,375,000

The Orlando-based Universal’s Islands of Adventure park is home to 7 islands that are all uniquely themed. From the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the Marvel Super Hero Island, this addition to the attractions of Orlando is proving vastly popular with visitors from all over the world.

How to Get There

By Air:

The nearest airport is Orlando International Airport (MCO), which receives flights from all over the world. The airport offers rental cars, public transportation, and taxi services for your ongoing journey.

You can also pick up shuttle services that stop at all of the major hotels and attractions throughout the resort.

By Road:

From Lake Beuna Vista and Kissimmee: Take I-4 East to exit 75A, then follow the signs to Universal Orlando’s main parking garage or one of the 3 resort hotels.

From Orlando: Take I-4 West to exit 74B, then follow the signs to Universal Orlando’s main parking garage or one of the resort hotels.

By Public Transportation:

Most hotels in the area offer shuttle buses that run throughout the day. They usually stop at a variety of different attractions in the Orlando area and are an easy way for you and your family to travel.

Outside these tourist shuttles, Florida does not have a particularly robust public transportation system. If you want to save money and take the bus, the Lynx Bus travels from downtown Orlando to Walt Disney World Resort and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Attractions and Shows

Each of the 7 different islands offers an entirely new world for visitors to explore. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Seuss Landing, The Lost Continent, Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, and Marvel Super Hero Island all offer lots of themed rides, attractions, and adventures for the whole family to enjoy.

Multi-sensory rides, epic roller coasters, 4D attractions, and much more await across the park, and even the youngest members of your party can get involved with plenty of mini rides and character-filled fun on offer.

The islands also offer regular shows and entertainment featuring characters from an array of different films and shows, including nightly performances from the world-famous Blue Man Group.

Special and Seasonal Events

Every day is a holiday at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, though the park also puts on a full program of events throughout the year, including Halloween Horror Nights, Mardi Gras, and a Christmas spectacular that runs for the entire festive season.

Where to Stay

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort features 2 massive pools, a lazy river, and a bowling alley, making this hotel the perfect place to keep the kids entertained, even when they’re not at the park.

Universal’s Aventura Hotel opened in 2018 and is an ultra-stylish yet family-friendly property that has specially designed Kids Suites to easily accommodate a family of 5.

Ramada by Wyndham Kissimmee Gateway offers plenty of amenities onsite, including multiple pools and an activity club for the kids, making it a great value choice for families with children of all ages.

Where to Eat

With a whopping 125 restaurants, cafes, bars, and snack shacks onsite, you will never go hungry here! Choose from themed restaurants like the Marvel Diner or the Leaky Cauldron Dining Hall, or chow down at any of the many eateries offering food from all around the world.

Ticket Information

Many visitors choose to purchase their tickets in advance as part of their vacation package. Savings can be made online, and combo tickets and additional features like line jumping tickets can be added before you arrive at the park.

  • 1-day park ticket for adults from $119
  • 1-day park ticket for children from $114

You can find more information about ticket prices and discounts on the website for Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Hot Tip: All 3 Universal Orlando Resort parks reopened in June 2020 after being closed for months due to COVID-19. See what new safety measures are in place in our guide to the changes at the parks, hotels, and restaurants

6. Universal Studios Florida (Orlando, Florida)

Universal Studios
Image Credit: FF16 via Pixabay

2019 visitors: 10,922,000

Located in Orlando, Universal Studios Florida is a theme park and production studio based around all aspects of the entertainment industry. Featuring numerous attractions and live shows, the park encourages visitors to “ride the movies” and is a popular addition to the Orlando resort attractions.

How to Get There

By Air:

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is just 17 miles away from the park itself, while Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) is a bit farther at 38 miles away.

Both airports offer rental cars, public transportation, taxi services, and shuttle buses for transportation to the park.

By Road:

From Miami, Fort Lauderdale, St. Augustine, or Gainesville: Take I-95 to the I-4 West exit, then continue to exit 75A and follow the signs to Universal Studios.

From Kissimmee: Head to Formosa Gardens Boulevard and turn right onto Highway 92. Drive 3 miles to merge onto I-4 East toward Orlando. Continue for 10 miles to take exit 75A, which is the Universal/International Drive exit, and then turn left. Follow the signs to Universal Studios.

By Public Transportation:

Most hotels offer shuttle buses to and from the park. Public shuttles are available from Mears Transportation Group, offering shared shuttle services throughout Orlando.

Attractions and Shows

Much like its Hollywood counterpart, one of the biggest draws to Universal Studios in Florida is the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter which continues to bring in visitors by the millions. You can also explore Production Central that features well-known characters such as Betty Boop and Shrek or enjoy the Fast & Furious – Supercharged Ride and the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.

Take a tour of the studios to learn about the fascinating history of the Universal brand and see how many major blockbusters it has been responsible for making.

Shows are always first class at the park, and throughout the year, you can enjoy epic performances such as the Blues Brothers Show, The Bourne Stuntacular, and FEAR FACTOR LIVE. There are also plenty of character-based interactive shows for little ones to get involved with throughout the park.

Special and Seasonal Events

Halloween Horror Nights, Mardi Gras, and live music events at the Hard Rock Cafe are just a few of the annual events held at the park. Christmas and New Year are also magical when spent with the cast and characters of your favorite movies and shows.

Where to Stay

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a vibrant, retro-style hotel with 2 massive pools, a winding river, a bowling alley, and much more for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort has a lagoon-style pool and a white sandy beach that are the perfect places to wind down after a busy day at the park. Perfect for kids of all ages, you can treat your family to a Polynesian paradise.

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando proves that just because you are on vacation with the kids doesn’t mean you don’t get to feel like a rock star. Kids will love the pools and entertainment; adults will love the rock memorabilia and bar.

Where to Eat

There are 125 cafes, restaurants, and ice cream parlors in the park, meaning you will never be far from your next meal. Enjoy traditional favorites like Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. or Finnegan’s Bar and Grill, or sit down to themed meals at the Leaky Cauldron or Duff’s Bar.

Ticket Information

Tickets will always be cheaper purchased in advance or as part of a vacation package. You can also add value passes that allow multi-day access or line-jump with the Express Pass.

  • 1-day park ticket for adults from $119
  • 1-day park ticket for children from $114

You can find out more about ticket prices and availability on the Universal Studios Florida website.

5. Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Bay Lake, Florida)

Star Wars Galaxys Edge
Image Credit: Disney Parks

2019 visitors: 11,483,000

Inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood, this studio attraction is an homage to all things Tinseltown, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Toy Story, and the Muppets. First opened in 1989, the park continues to grow as more and more movie-based attractions are added.

How to Get There

By Air:

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is just 17 miles away from the park itself, while Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) is slightly farther away at 38 miles.

Both airports offer rental cars, public transportation, taxi services, and shuttle buses to get you to the park.

By Road:

From Daytona: Take I-4 West to Walt Disney World exits. Follow the signs to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

From Tampa: Take I-4 East to Walt Disney World exits, then follow the signs to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

From Miami or Ft. Lauderdale: Take Florida’s Turnpike North to Osceola Parkway West (exit 249) to the Walt Disney World exits, then follow signs to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

From Northeast Florida: Take I-95 South to I-4 West (exit 260B, old 86) to the Walt Disney World exits, and then follow the signs to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

From Northwest Florida: Take I-75 South to Florida’s Turnpike South (exit 328, old 65) to I-4 West (exit 259) to the Walt Disney World exits, then follow the signs to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

By Public Transport

Most hotels run shuttle services to and from the main resort attractions. You can also share private shuttles using Mears Transportation Group, which offers more shuttles in Orlando than any other provider.

Attractions and Shows

An absolute must-see for Star Wars fans of all ages, visitors can enjoy Star Wars-themed rides, theater shows, and attractions at Star WarsGalaxy’s Edge. Other popular attractions include Slinky Dog Dash at Toy Story Land and the all-new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway that debuted in 2020.

Thrill-seekers shouldn’t miss the famous haunted elevator ride, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, or high-speed excitement of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Children’s shows full of all of their favorite characters and movie stars are available daily, with live stage shows bringing Frozen and Beauty and the Beast to life.

Special and Seasonal Events

Guests can enjoy seasonal events, including Halloween-themed fun throughout October and Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! at Christmastime.

Where to Stay

The Walt Disney World Resort offers a wide variety of accommodation options to suit every budget and group size. From luxury villas and themed hotels to budget lodgings, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Walt Disney World Swan Hotel is set in the center of the Walt Disney World Resort less than half a mile from the entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This deluxe, family-friendly hotel is everything you dream of when you think of Disney.

Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort is almost as much fun as the Walt Disney World Resort itself and offers an incredible outdoor play space featuring multiple pools, lazy rivers with inner tubes, water slides, hot tubs, and splash areas.

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is a lovely hotel just 2 miles away from the park entrance with plenty of pools and outdoor activities for the kids, including a 3-mile-long lazy river.

Where to Eat

As you would expect from a Walt Disney World Resort attraction, there are plenty of places to stop and refuel throughout the park, including Hollywood and Vine, the Sci-Fi Cafe, or the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. They are all heavily-themed, full of fun, and serve up great food for the whole family.

Ticket Information

Tickets are cheaper when purchased in advance or as part of a vacation package. You can also add value passes that allow multiple park access via Park Hopper, multi-day park access, and a Water Park and Sports option.

Multi-park tickets offer better value when visiting any of the Walt Disney World Resort attractions, and are usually sold as 2- or 3-day passes.

  • 1-day adult tickets for 1 park start at $114
  • 2-day adult tickets for 1 park start at $212

You can find out more about ticket prices and availability on the Disney’s Hollywood Studios website.

Hot Tip: You can now virtually experience some of the most sought-after Disney rides and attractions from parks around the world in our latest guide! Check out virtual rides of 4 attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run!

4. EPCOT (Bay Lake, Florida)

Epcot Center
Image Credit: Al Seeger via Pixabay

2019 visitors: 12,444,000

Designed and built to celebrate a world of technological innovation and international culture, EPCOT is a theme park with a difference. Guests can visit both Future World and the World Showcase to enjoy unusual attractions, including space flight simulators. First opened in 1982, the park continues to go from strength to strength as technology becomes more advanced.

EPCOT will be completely reimagined in 2021 as part of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary with 4 new neighborhoods and new attractions, like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

How to Get There

By Air:

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is closest to the park. It offers rental cars, public transportation, taxis, and shuttle services, as well as Disney’s Magical Express to selected hotels.

By Road:

From I-95: Take U.S. Highway 1 or go southbound on Florida’s Turnpike, then take I-4 West to the Walt Disney World exits.

From Southbound I-75: Take Florida’s Turnpike South to I-4 West to the Walt Disney World resort exits.

From Northbound on Florida’s Turnpike: Take Osceola Parkway, which connects with U.S. Highway 192 and the Walt Disney World resort exits.

From the Daytona Area: Take I-4 West to the Walt Disney World exits.

From the Tampa Area: Take I-4 East to the Walt Disney World exits.

From Miami or Ft. Lauderdale: Take Florida’s Turnpike North to Osceola Parkway West (exit 249) to the Walt Disney World exits.

From Northeast Florida: Take I-95 South to I-4 West (exit 260B, old 86) to the Walt Disney World exits.

From Northwest Florida: Take I-75 South to Florida’s Turnpike South (exit 328, old 65) to I-4 West (exit 259) and the Walt Disney World exits.

By Public Transportation

Shuttle services run from most of the major hotels to the park entrance. You can share private shuttles using Mears Transportation Group, as well as the famous Disney Monorail, to move between the parks themselves.

Attractions and Shows

Take the children on a Journey Into Imagination with Figment, featuring the cute and lovable dragon character that is the park’s mascot, or enjoy an immersive ride on Mission: Space, which simulates astronaut training for a future trip to Mars.

Test Track allows visitors to design and test drive their very own cars and is a hugely popular ride for the whole family. Turtle Talk With Crush is full of laughs for all-ages and The Seas with Nemo & Friends takes advantage of a fin-tastic 5.7-million-gallon Caribbean coral reef aquarium.

There are also other movie-related rides for the children to enjoy, like Frozen Ever After, as well as shows that are immersive, educational, and technologically outstanding.

Special and Seasonal Events

The park offers a wide range of food and drink festivals throughout the year with an emphasis on world flavors. There is also plenty of fun to be had at various art and technology festivals and EPCOT’s very own annual Yuletide Adventure.

Where to Stay

Disney Beach Club is a New England-style hotel offering swimming pools and a 3-acre water park at Stormalong Bay, complete with a water slide housed within a shipwreck, water guns and fountains, and the lazy river.

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is a 1940s-inspired hotel combined with plenty of family-friendly activities, including fishing, an arcade, and the Luna Park pool with its elephant statues and Keister Coaster Water Slide.

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort offers plenty of pools, as well as easy access to the nearby Crescent Lake lagoon, which is perfect for enjoying cycling trips and fishing excursions.

Where to Eat

Meet Disney princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, or listen to the oompah band at the Biergarten. Whatever kind of dining experience you’re looking for, EPCOT has it. Foods are served from all around the world: Teppan Edo offers Japanese food, while Via Napoli offers the best pizza anywhere in Orlando.

Ticket Information

Tickets to any of the Walt Disney World Resort attractions are cheaper when purchased in advance or as part of a vacation package. You can also add value passes that allow access to the park across several days, multiple parks daily via Park Hopper, and a Water Park and Sports add-on option.

  • 1-day adult tickets for 1 park start at $114
  • 2-day adult tickets for 1 park start at $212

You can find out more about ticket prices and availability on the EPCOT website.

Hot Tip: Check out these tips to make your Disney vacation as stress-free as possible.

3. Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Bay Lake, Florida)

Disney's Animal Kingdom
Image Credit: Disney

2019 visitors: 13,888,000

Themed around nature, animals, and conservation, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been part of the Walt Disney World Resort since 1998. Featuring 7 separate areas — Pandora – The World of Avatar, Oasis, DinoLand U.S.A., Discovery Island, Africa, Asia, and Rafiki’s Planet Watch — the park offers visitors a chance to see majestic animals in an enhanced natural environment.

How to Get There

Much like all of the major Orlando attractions, getting to and from the park is relatively easy, with plenty of transportation options available.

By Air:

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is located just 30 minutes from Walt Disney World, or the alternative Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) is about an hour away.

Both airports offer rental cars, public transportation, taxis, and shuttle services for access to the resort. Disney’s Magical Express runs from Orlando International Airport only.

By Road:

From Daytona: Take I-4 West to the Walt Disney World exits, then follow the signs to the Walt Disney World Resort.

From Tampa: Take I-4 East to the Walt Disney World exits, and follow the signs to the Walt Disney World Resort.

From Miami or Ft. Lauderdale: Take Florida’s Turnpike North to Osceola Parkway West (exit 249) to the Walt Disney World exits, then follow the signs to the Walt Disney World Resort.

From Northeast Florida: Take I-95 South to I-4 West (exit 260B, old 86) to the Walt Disney World exits, then follow the signs to the Walt Disney World Resort.

From Northwest Florida: Take I-75 South to Florida’s Turnpike South (exit 328, old 65) to I-4 West (exit 259) to the Walt Disney World exits, then follow the signs to the Walt Disney World Resort.

By Public Transportation:

Shuttle services run from most of the major hotels to the park entrance. You can share private shuttles using Mears Transportation Group, or use the famous Disney Monorail to move between parks.

Attractions and Shows

With an all-new Avatar-themed world in the park, there are now 7 areas to enjoy on your visit. Take a river journey into the bioluminescent rainforest, go on a guided safari tour through the African savanna, see the interactive dinosaur attractions, or just spend the day with lions, tigers, and other animals from around the world.

This park is all about animals and offers plenty of opportunities to learn more about Animal Kingdom’s important conservation work. There are a few thrill rides for younger visitors, but mostly, it’s a family day out with animals in mind.

The park also offers stage shows that encapsulate the spirit of Africa and other parts of the world, as well as tours and treks to see the animals.

Special and Seasonal Events

As you would expect from a Walt Disney World Resort, there are plenty of events year-round, including Halloween events, Christmas attractions, and many more.

Where to Stay

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village is an amazing African-themed resort hotel that lets you view free-roaming animals, exotic birds, and tropical flora.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House is a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the parks. This themed hotel is a quiet slice of heaven complete with pools and distant views of the animals.

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a budget-friendly option compared to the themed hotels in the resort. That said, the Coronado Springs resort still manages to offer a fabulous colonial feel, as well as a large pool with a water slide.

Hot Tip: Looking for more options? Explore our in-depth guide on where to stay in Orlando for your Disney vacation. Our list includes on-property, off-property, and Airbnb options. 

Where to Eat

Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers some of the very best food to be found through the entire resort. With authentic flavors from all around the world, you can enjoy much more than just burgers and pizzas here. Tusker’s House, Yak and Yeti Restaurant, and Flame Tree Barbecue are 3 of the most delicious eateries in the park, but you may need to book ahead as they get very busy during peak season.

Ticket Information

Tickets are cheaper when purchased in advance or as part of a vacation package. You can also add value passes that allow multiple day access to the park, access to multiple parks daily via Park Hopper, and a bonus Water Park and Sports option.

Multi-park tickets offer better value when visiting Walt Disney World Resort attractions and are usually sold as 2 or 3-day passes.

  • 1-day adult tickets for 1 park start at $114
  • 2-day adult tickets for 1 park start at $212

You can find out more about ticket prices and availability on Disney’s Animal Kingdom website.

2. Disneyland (Anaheim, California)

Disneyland Fireworks
Image Credit: Disney

2019 visitors: 18,666,000

The original Disneyland is one of the oldest and best-loved theme parks in the world. Now a huge resort offering a wide variety of events, rides, and attractions, Disneyland continues to pull in visitors year after year.

How to Get There

Based in Anaheim, California, access to the park is easy from all directions.

By Air:

The closest airport is John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA), although some tour operators will fly you into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Both airports offer rental cars, public transportation, taxis, and shuttles to the main resorts.

By Road:

From Anaheim and North Los Angeles: Take the 1-5 South and follow the exit signs for Disneyland Drive, then proceed across Ball Road. Use the left 3 lanes to access the Mickey & Friends parking structure.

Traveling from Santa Ana and the South: Take the I-5 to the Katella Avenue/Disney Way exit, then proceed on Disney Way for approximately 0.5 miles to Harbor Boulevard and turn left to find Disney parking on your left.

From the 22 Freeway (Garden Grove Freeway): Exit the 22 Freeway on Harbor and head north for approximately 2.5 miles. Disney parking will be on your right after crossing Orangewood Avenue.

Traveling West on the 91 Freeway: Take the 57 (Santa Ana) Freeway South and exit on Katella Avenue. Turn right at East Katella Avenue and continue to South Harbor Boulevard where the Toy Story lot will be on your left.

Traveling East on the 91 Freeway: Take I-5 South and exit on Disneyland Drive toward Ball Road. Use the left 3 lanes to access the Mickey & Friends parking structure.

By Public Transportation:

Many of the large resort hotels offer shuttles services to and from the park. The Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) provides convenient, affordable shuttle services throughout Anaheim daily.

Attractions and Shows

All the magic of Disney is here, including Main Street, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain. There are plenty of opportunities to see Mickey, Minnie, and a host of other characters throughout the park.

The immersive new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge also features hot attractions Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

The shows at Disneyland are some of the best in the world! You and your family can choose from Mickey and the Magical Map, the Magic Happens parade, and Fantasmic!, among others.

Special and Seasonal Events

Spend Christmas on Main Street as the park pulls out all the stops to make your yuletide the best one ever, or enjoy haunting nights during Halloween. It also offers a full program of events throughout the year, including July 4th fireworks and much more.

Where to Stay

The Disneyland Hotel offers the best family-friendly accommodation in the park, including 3 themed pools and 4 dining experiences all within walking distance of Downtown Disney and the parks themselves.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a Disney-themed hotel that combines the flavor of Disney with first-class lodgings, complete with a huge pool and entertainment.

Fairfield Inn by Marriott Anaheim Resort offers large family rooms and a pool just half a mile from the park entrance. An affordable option, this resort is surrounded by shopping malls and restaurants.

Where to Eat

The park has plenty of places to eat for the whole family to enjoy, including Blue Bayou Restaurant for some Cajun spice, Victorian-era dining at the Plaza Inn, and classic American food at the Carnation Cafe. There are also pizza places, sweet treats, and soda stalls on almost every corner for quick eats on the go.

Ticket Information

Tickets to Disneyland are usually cheaper when purchased in advance or as part of a vacation package. Enjoy the day at Disneyland or jump over to Disney’s California Adventure Park on a Park Hopper ticket. Score a bonus Magic Morning hour of early admission with a multi-day ticket with more than 3 days.

  • 1-day adult tickets during peak season start at $97

You can find out more about ticket prices and availability on the Disneyland website.

1. Magic Kingdom (Lake Buena Vista, Florida)

Disney Magic Kingdom
Image Credit: HenningE via Pixabay

2019 visitors: 20,963,000

Magic Kingdom, the most visited and well-known theme park in the world, is nearly 50 years old and growing every year. The most magical place on Earth still draws in millions of visitors every year who come to see classic Disney-themed attractions and have their picture taken in front of Cinderella’s castle.

How to Get There

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is closest to the Walt Disney World Resort. It offers rental cars, public transportation, taxis, and shuttle services, as well as Disney’s Magical Express to select hotels across the resort.

By Road:

From I-95: Take U.S. Highway 1 or go southbound on Florida’s Turnpike; take I-4 West to the Walt Disney World exits.

From Southbound I-75: Take Florida’s Turnpike South to I-4 West to the Walt Disney World resort exits.

From Northbound on Florida’s Turnpike: Take Osceola Parkway, which connects with U.S. Highway 192 and the Walt Disney World resort exits.

From the Daytona Area: Take I-4 West to the Walt Disney World exits.

From the Tampa Area: Take I-4 East to the Walt Disney World exits.

From Miami or Ft. Lauderdale: Take Florida’s Turnpike North to Osceola Parkway West (exit 249) to the Walt Disney World exits.

From Northeast Florida: Take I-95 South to I-4 West (exit 260B, old 86) to the Walt Disney World exits.

From Northwest Florida: Take I-75 South to Florida’s Turnpike South (exit 328, old 65) to I-4 West (exit 259) and the Walt Disney World exits.

By Public Transportation

Shuttle services run from most of the major hotels to the park entrance. You can also share private shuttles using Mears Transportation Group or take the famous Disney Monorail to move between parks.

Attractions and Shows

Ride beside the Pirates of the Caribbean, get spooked in the Haunted Mansion, let the kids fly on Dumbo the Flying Elephant, or scream into the darkness on Space Mountain. Whatever makes you smile, it is all here.

The Swiss Family Treehouse, Walt Disney World Railroad, and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin are all perfect for kids of all ages, and the Magic Kingdom has mile upon mile of family-friendly entertainment throughout the park.

Park-favorite Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will soon compete for attention (and lines) when the new TRON Lightcycle Power Run opens in 2021, just in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.

When it comes to shows and live entertainment, you can catch all your favorite Disney characters every day — or stay a little later to experience the famous Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade down Main Street.

Special and Seasonal Events

Celebrate Mardi Gras, 4th of July, and other holidays with all your friends at the Magic Kingdom. Halloween brings many themed events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, all of which are suitable for the kids. Christmas and New Year’s in the park are truly magical.

Where to Stay

If you are going to visit the best-loved theme park in the world, you probably want to go all out and stay there, too.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is the crown jewel of the Walt Disney World resorts. This 5-star hotel offers swimming pools featuring slides and waterfalls, as well as plenty of different character-themed activities like the Wonderland Tea Party and Musketeer Club.

Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel offers kids clubs, child care, swimming pools, and 17 restaurants all on-site at one of the most popular hotels in the Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is set on the sandy banks of Bay Lake and is an American pioneer-inspired lodge offering a kids club with a whole range of fun activities from water sports to cycling and video games, as well as swimming pools and slides.

Where to Eat

The Columbia Harbour House offers fast food with substance, while Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe offers as much Mexican food as you can manage.

Choose from one of the many other eateries dotted throughout the park, including Liberty Tree Tavern, Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, the Plaza Restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Be Our Guest Restaurant. They are all famous for their great service and fun Magic Kingdom feel — don’t forget the Dole Whip!

Ticket Information

Tickets to the Magic Kingdom are usually cheaper when purchased in advance or as part of a vacation package. Park Hopper allows access to multiple parks within the same day and you can also find options for multi-day park access and an add-on for Water Park and Sports.

  • 1-day adult tickets start at $115

You can find out more about ticket prices and availability on the Magic Kingdom website.

Hot Tip: Yep, points hacking at Disney is definitely possible. If you’re interested, check out our piece: How to Visit Disney World for Cheap by Using Points & Miles.

Final Thoughts

Anywhere you go in the U.S. or Canada, you can guarantee the roller coasters will be harder and faster than anywhere else in the world. If you’re looking for the ultimate family-friendly vacation of a lifetime experience to share with the kids, you simply can’t beat the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort attractions.

From California to Orlando, every single Disney park has been carefully crafted to offer you and your family to the most unforgettable experiences. Enjoy the regional parks and attractions, by all means, but if you’re going all out, Disney wins in every respect.


Frequently asked questions

What state in the U.S. has the most theme parks?

Out of the top 20 most-visited theme parks in the U.S., 8 are located in the state of Florida followed by California with 5.

What is the oldest operating roller coaster in the U.S.?

Leap the Dips first opened in 1902 in Lakemont Park, Altoona, Pennsylvania. The roller coaster drops 9 feet and gets up to 10 mph. You can still ride the roller coaster today.

What is the number 1 theme park in the world?

The number 1 amusement park in the world is the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The second and third most popular amusement parks in the world are Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, and Tokyo Disneyland.

Amar Hussain

About Amar Hussain

Amar was born and raised in England, UK, embarked on an 11 country round the world gap year after graduation and then became well and truly hooked. The first gap year inspired a second which ended up being a 23 country down-the-world trip from Canada to Antarctica. Since then Amar has endeavored to turn his gap year into a ‘gap life’ and has spent the last 10 years traveling the 7 continents.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

23 comments

  1. Awesome travel experience, Thanks for sharing it…

    Reply

  2. Alex Haberman April 20, 2019

    Good list, but I’ll say is that there is a big difference between an amusement park and a theme park. Disney parks are all mostly theme parks, and don’t provide the thrills amusement parks do, like Cedar Point or Six Flags Magic Mountain. I’m not saying they’re better, as it just depends whether you tend to enjoy theme parks or amusement parks more. However, if you were strictly ranking based off of the title, Disney parks would, for most, not rank that high. Same goes for Universal parks, but they would probably rank higher than Disney parks, as they are pretty much hybrids between amusement and theme parks, creating a great balance. I may seem like I’m just heavily driving a point that is a nit-pick, but ask most other amusement/theme park enthusiasts, and they’ll agree.

    Reply

    • Lital Gottlieb May 6, 2019

      I tend to agree with Alex here..some of the best and my ultimate favorite amusement parks are the one’s who have the best rides, best roller-coasters and Disney/Universal offer a different experience. It’s more for kids and or adults who are kids (guilty as charged), and offer a fuller experience that usually has nothing to do with the rides. yes the rides are much more complex and cool but the sheer amount of thrilling Adrenalin filled rides are a lot smaller..
      Plus, if you have been to one six flags you have been to all, no?

      Reply

      • Hi Lital,

        Thank you for your comment. While I agree hardcore amusement park fans may make the distinction between an amusement park and a theme park, by definition, it is not wrong to say a theme park is a type of amusement park and therefore the title of this list, and its contents, still make sense.
        “Theme Park – an amusement park with a unifying setting or idea.”

        As for whether some of these parks would or should have made the list, the rankings were based on visitation numbers rather than ride types, themes, or thrill levels.

        Thanks, Amar

        Reply

  3. The images for Disneyland and California adventure are transposed.

    Reply

    • Hi Dewey, we’ll take a look – thanks for chiming in! 🙂

      Reply

    • On a similar note, the photo for “8. Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Florida” is a ride that no longer exists. The ride was Dueling Dragons (later changed to Dragon Challenge). The ride was demolished about 10 years ago. There is now a coaster ride called Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.”

      Reply

  4. While Canada’s Wonderland is bigger and more exciting, it isn’t Canada’s first amusement park. Playland in BC opened in 1910. Even if you take into account the fact that it moved, it opened at its current location in 1958.

    Reply

  5. How are you going to put Disney in all of the top spots? Sponsored? No they don’t need your money. I’m not even from that state but Cedar point is the clear winner.

    Reply

    • Hi Karl,

      I can assure you that the post was not sponsored by Disney. The top 20 is ranked by 2017 visitor numbers.
      Thanks for reading!

      Reply

      • The beginning of the article says “We’ve ranked the top 20 by 2017 visitor numbers, which is the latest available data.” Its not a list of “best” amusement parks. Its a list of the top (i.e. most popular) ones.

        Reply

      • Wish you put that in the title, that it’s ranked by visitor numbers, so I could have skipped it.

        Reply

    • David Hinkle May 25, 2020

      Michigans Adventure in Muskegon, MI should have been on this list. It has an amusement park and a water park plus on the shores of the largest lake in the USA.

      Reply

  6. Jim Wilkins May 25, 2020

    Cedar Point 14th lol.
    It’s clearly top 3. Have you been there?
    You can’t go by attendance because it’s only open 5 1/2 months a year.

    Reply

    • Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your feedback but keep in mind that this article is not an opinion piece. The parks are ranked based on their 2017 visitor numbers.

      Reply

  7. Corey S Tatun May 31, 2020

    Also wrong about Disney World being open ‘over 50 years’ as this article was written in 2017. Disney World will not be open 50 years until October 1, 2021.

    Reply

  8. I think you should’ve included Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA, it is a park worthy of attention. It has won most beautiful theme park in the world for 28 consecutive years and counting.

    Reply

  9. I came here to say the same thing!!! I went there a few years ago and it was amazing. I do have to tip my hat to the author though, for mentioning Canada’s Wonderland. I’m considering a road trip with a few friends centered around an amusement park destination, and it’s kinda annoying how these lists always end up being packed with Disney parks. I feel like everyone knows they exist, and in my opinion, if you’re looking for rides and value, Disney parks are overrated. It’s almost like making a list of the ten best restaurants and including McDonald’s because they have the most customers.

    Reply

  10. Denzel Chew August 14, 2020

    Amazing, this is so informative. After this pandemic, I will go to SeaWorld to see my favorite animals. Thanks for this article and for giving such specific information. The Shamu Rocks show is amazing and it’s not hard to find a place to stay there.

    Reply

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