The Top 20 Amusement Parks in North America [2018]

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

From small independent parks to giants including Disney 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 them by 2017 visitor numbers, which is the latest available data.

20. Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Illinois

2017 visitors: 3,039,000

Part of the world-famous Six Flags chain, Great America first opened in 1976 and has grown in size ever since. The park now offers more than 15 roller coasters, the 20-acre Hurricane Harbor water park, and 3 specially themed children’s areas. 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 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 the I-94 or I-294 West. Exit on Grand Avenue (Rt. 132) east in Gurnee, Illinois. Six Flags is located immediately on the right.

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

By Public Transportation:

Pace Suburban Buses provides direct service from Schaumburg and from Rosemont to Six Flags Great America on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from June to Labor Day, and every Friday and Saturday in October. Check their 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 the 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 twist of the BATMAN ride, and the high speed, double corkscrew of the Demon ride.

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 held 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 Inn and Suites is within walking distance of both the park and Hurricane Harbor. The hotel also offers a free fitness center, a large indoor pool, and discounted attraction tickets.

Where to Eat

There are over 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 from $65 per person, but the $75.99 Thrill Pass offers better value, as these are valid for unlimited visits from April to September
  • Children under 48” are $55.99
  • Children under 2 years old go free
  • Membership packages offer unlimited access to the park and start from $275 per person or $7.15 monthly
  • Family passes are available and work out cheaper than buying single tickets

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

19. SeaWorld, San Diego, California

2017 visitors: 3,100,000

The SeaWorld Company is one of the most famous in the world and offers 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. Travel from the city of San Diego to SeaWorld takes just over 15 minutes by road.

By Air:

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

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

By Road:

From San Diego: Take the I-5 N from 1st Ave and continue until you reach exit 1 from I-8 W. Then hop on W Mission Bay Dr, and take Ingraham St and Perez Cove Way to S Shores Rd to the park.

From Los Angeles: Pick up the US-101 South, then follow the I-5 S to Sea World Dr/Tecolote Rd in San Diego, then take exit 21 from I-5 S.

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 on a regular basis 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 oceanic 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 brand new, family-friendly hotel within walking distance of SeaWorld and other local attractions.

Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa offers luxury accommodation on Mission Bay, complete with a comprehensive Kids Club and plenty of activities for adults, too.

Holiday Inn Express San Diego is the place for clean, comfortable accommodation 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 3+ start at $59.99 midweek, increasing to $69.99 for an any-day pass.
  • 2-day tickets for 3+ start at $79.99
  • Annual passes start at $119

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

18. Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey

2017 visitors: 3,236,000

Part safari park, 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 close up and learn about conservation matters.

How to Get There

By Air:

Newark Liberty International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport 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 the NJ Turnpike to Exit 74, the I-195 east to exit 16A or Garden State Parkway exit 98, then travel for 1 mile west of Rte. 537 to Six Flags.

From Philadelphia: Take the Ben Franklin Bridge to Route 38 east, then the NJ Turnpike to exit 7A, or Rte. 295 to I-195 east and take follows Rte. 537 to the park.

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

From the Jersey Shore: Take Rte. 138 West or Garden State Parkway exit 98, to I-195 west to exit 16, then 1 mile west on Rte. 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 360 Safari tour is a great way to experience it all, especially with a stop off at Camp Adventura 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, carousel and Congo Rapids. For older thrill seekers, El Torro, Kingda Ka, and Nitro are just a few of the world-class roller coasters at the park.

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 and Christmas attractions that run from mid-November through the New Year.

Where to Stay

There are lots of hotels, and motels to choose from within close proximity of 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 eateries to choose from, 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 good deals can be had by booking online, in advance.

  • Adult 1-day tickets start at $51 online in advance and $85 on the day of arrival
  • Kids 1-day tickets start at $48
  • Annual passes and memberships start at $87.99

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

17. Hersheypark, Pennsylvania

2017 visitors: 3,276,000

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 can easily be accessed by road, although 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 67and 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 the I-83 South to Exit 43 or the 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 the 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. But buses to the park 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 throughout October, and Festive Fun for Christmas.

Where to Stay

There are 3 onsite hotels, all of which offer accommodation well suited 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 with a difference 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 Smoke House.

Ticket Information

Ticket prices change depending on the season. Discounted tickets can be purchased online in advance.

  • 1-day ticket (2 and up) are $44.95
  • 1-day concessions tickets are $28.99

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

16. Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California

2017 visitors: 3,365,000

Home to some of the most famous roller coasters in the world, and a massive 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 Mountains is easily accessible from across the state.

By Air:

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

By Road:

From the nearest town of Anaheim: Take the Interstate 5 Freeway north, and exit at the Magic Mountain Parkway turn off.

From Hollywood: Take the 170 Freeway north to Interstate 5 Freeway north and exit at the Magic Mountain Parkway turn off.

From San Diego: Take the Interstate 15 Freeway to join the Interstate 5 Freeway 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 the Interstate 5 Freeway 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 all-new 4D interactive family gaming attraction Justice League: Battle For Metropolis alongside rapid 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.

For the real thrill-seekers in your family, they will never get bored trying out all of the hyper coasters, 360s and slingshot rides on offer in the park.

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 holiday flavor to the park with 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, self-catering accommodation just 4 miles from the entrance to the park.

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 from $55 in advance, $85 at the gate
  • Annual passes from $85 per year (discounted rate only, full price $269 per year)

15. Kings Island, Mason, Ohio

2017 visitors: 3,469,000

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 is easy to get to using a number of different transportation options.

By Air:

The town of Mason is served by three airports: Port Columbus International Airport, Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, and James M. Cox Dayton International Airport.

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

By Road:

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

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

From Columbus: Take the I-70 West/I-71 South and head towards E. State St. Follow the I-71 S to OH-741 S/Kings Mills Rd in Mason, and then take exit 25 from I-71 South until exit 25 for Kings Mills Rd/OH-741 N towards Mason.

By Public Transportation:

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

Attractions and Shows

There is a wide selection of attractions for visitors of all ages to enjoy at Kings Island, including whitewater rapids, dodgems, a railroad train, and even a replica Eiffel Tower. There are also plenty of rides for older thrill seekers, with a choice of 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 on the day you visit.

If you’re planning on catching a show, there is always something to see including 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 the peak season, there is always something special going on, including the 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.

Comfort Suites, Mason 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 yours 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:

  • Adult weekday ticket $44.99
  • Junior weekday ticket $39.99
  • Weekend tickets from $51.99
  • Season passes start around $117 online

You can find out more about tickets prices and special offers at the Kings Island website.

14. Cedar Point, Ohio

2017 visitors: 3,604,000

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

How to Get There

By Air:

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Toledo Express Airport, and Sandusky County Regional Airport are the 3 nearest airports 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 simply 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 the I-70 E/I-71 N until you reach the 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, Ohio 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 and Lake Eerie Railroad, the Sky Ride, and 4×4 racing, 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 that 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 entertainers, and parties for you to watch and join in on a daily basis.

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

Special and Seasonal Events

From the opening weekend event in May through Halloweekends in October, every month offers uniquely 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. 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 onsite, 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 $49
  • 1-day junior ticket from $45
  • Membership and annual passes are available from $144 per year

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

13. Canada’s Wonderland, Ontario

2017 visitors: 3,760,000

Open from May to September, Canada’s Wonderland is the first and 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 Airport 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 Expy W to ON-427 N, ON-401 E and ON-400 N to Major MacKenzie Dr. W/York Regional Rd 25 in Vaughan, then take exit 35 from ON-400 N and onto Major MacKenzie Dr. W/York Regional Rd 25 to the park.

From Hamilton: Take Express Toll Route/ON-407 E to Major MacKenzie Dr. W/York Regional Rd 25 in Vaughan, then take exit 35 from ON-400 N. Follow until you reach Major MacKenzie Dr. W/York Regional Rd 25 to the park gates.

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

By Public Transportation:

GO Transit operates one bus (Route 60) directly to Canada’s Wonderland from both York Mills Bus Terminal and Yorkdale Bus Terminal during our operating season. You can find out more at www.gotransit.comYRT buses also run to and from the park.

Attractions and Shows

Home to 16 roller coasters including Leviathan, the tallest coaster in the country, as well as 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 of roller coaster enthusiasts.

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

The park offers daily shows including Snoopy’s Symphony of Water and other Peanuts-related actives for the children, as well as the 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 the autumn brings Oktoberfest and Halloween Hauntings.

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

Where to Stay

Being based close to Toronto means that there are 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 based close to the park entrance that offers the choice of large family rooms or private suites.

Monte Carlo Inn Vaughan Suites is based 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 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 cost from $59.99
  • 1-day kids passes cost from $49.99
  • 3-day passes are available from $39.99

You can also purchase reduced tickets after 4:00 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 the Canada’s Wonderland website.

12. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

2017 visitors: 3,961,000

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, the 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, while St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport has domestic flights and 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 to 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. Proceed 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 onto 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 their 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 and include 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 from 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 offers comfortable family accommodations just a short distance of the park gates.

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

Baymont Inn & Suites Tampa 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 on offer 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 from $89.99 for visitors 3 years and older
  • Fun passes are available from $99.99

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

11. SeaWorld Orlando

2017 visitors: 3,962,000

A highly regarded theme park and marine zoological park located in sunny Florida, SeaWorld Orlando consists of 3 parks. 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, which is just under 10 miles from the park entrance, and Orlando Sanford International Airport, 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, which 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-hand side.

From Cape Canaveral: Take FL-528 (Beachline Expressway) west to the International Drive exit (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. Further details can be found at the I-Ride Trolley website.

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 further details.

Attractions and Shows

Most visitors come to see the world-famous Shamu Rocks show. There is also the all-new One Ocean multi-sensory show, or 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 and is not for the faint-hearted. The Kraken is a floorless roller coaster that is ranked one of 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 in the grounds of the park, as well as a Halloween Spooktacular, July 4th celebrations, and Christmas and New Years 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 wonderfully 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 $99.99
  • 1-day ticket in advance $79.99
  • You could also save money by purchasing a multi-site ticket or an annual pass

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

10. Knott’s Berry Farm, California

2017 visitors: 4,034,000

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 park is a 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/Orange County Airport (just a 20-minute drive away), or the larger Los Angeles International Airport, which 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. More information can be found at the Karmel Shuttle website.

By Road:

From Anaheim: Take the I-5 N to Buena Park, then take exit 23B from CA-91 W/State Hwy 91 W to CA-39 S/Beach Blvd. Drive to Western Ave for the park entrance,

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

From Long Beach: Follow I-710 N and CA-91 E to S Knott Ave in Buena Park, and then take exit 23A from CA-91 E. Continue onto El Verano Dr to Western Ave to the park entrance.

By Public Transportation:

Metrolink Trains service the Buena Park Metrolink stations, which are only minutes from the park. You can find out more information about schedules and ticket prices at www.metrolinktrains.com.

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 this 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.

For older thrill seekers, the historic GhostRider is 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 the 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:

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.

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

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

Tickets prices vary depending on the time of your visit. Discounts can be made 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 $59.99
  • 1-day junior tickets start from $49.99
  • Season passes are available from $99.99

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

9. Universal Studios, Hollywood

2017 visitors: 9,056,000

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 Theme Park is easily accessible by all means of transport.

By Air:

Los Angeles International Airport 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 for transportation to the park.

By Road:

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

From Santa Monica: Take the 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 Blvd. Turn right on Lankershim Blvd and follow the signs to Universal Studios Hollywood.

From Anaheim: Take the 5 Golden State Freeway North. Exit to the 101 Hollywood Freeway North then continue on the 101 Freeway and exit at Universal Studios Blvd. Turn right on to Universal Studios Blvd and follow the signs to Universal Studios Hollywood.

From San Diego: Take the 5 Golden State Freeway North. Exit to the 101 Hollywood Freeway North then continue on the 101 Freeway and exit at Universal Studios Blvd. Turn right on to Universal Studios Blvd 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. Times and prices can be found here.

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

Attractions and Shows

Harry Potter, Transformers, The Walking Dead, Jurassic Park, 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 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 their year-long events program.

There is always something special going on at the park, and you won’t be missing out, whatever 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 a fabulous pool area located at the gates of Universal Studios.

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.

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 can be expensive compared to other parks, which is why most visitors buy in advance as part of their vacation package.

  • Ticket prices on the day can cost upwards of $109 per person.

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

8. Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Florida

2017 visitors: 9,549,000

Under the umbrella of the Universal Entertainment group, the Orlando-based 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, 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 the I-4 East to exit 75A, then follow the signs to Universal Orlando’s main parking garage or one of the three resort hotels.

From Orlando: Take the 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 will 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.

Florida does not have a particularly robust public transportation system, and there are plenty of shuttle buses available for tourists. If you want to save money and take the bus, the Lynx Bus travels from downtown Orlando to Disney and Universal Islands of Adventure. You can find out more at the GoLynx website.

Attractions and Shows

Each of the 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 Islands of Adventure, but the park puts on a full program of events throughout the year including Halloween Horror nights, Mardi Gras, and a full 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.

Adventura Universal Orlando is new for August 2018 and is ultra stylish, but still family friendly with specially designed Kids Suites that will 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 the Ramada 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 $115
  • 1-day park ticket for children from $110

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

7. Disney California Adventure

2017 visitors: 9,574,000

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.

How to Get There

By Air:

John Wayne Airport is located in Santa Ana, California, 35 miles south of Los Angeles and is also 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 the north: Take the 1-5 South and follow the exit signs for Disneyland Drive, then proceed across Ball Road. Use the left three lanes to access the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure.

Traveling from Santa Ana and the south: Take the I-5 to the Katella Ave / 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 Ave. Turn right at E. Katella Ave. and continue to S Harbor Blvd, where the Toy Story Lot will be on your left.

Traveling East on the 91 Freeway: Take I-5 S 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 their 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 Disneyland 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, A Bug’s Life for its themed activities, and the Frozen ride for fans everywhere. 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., Winnie The Pooh and, of course, Mickey and Minnie and all their friends.

There are a few grown-up rides for adults to enjoy too, like Autopia and Hyperspace Mountain to keep you entertained while the kids are.

The shows at any Disney resort are always first class, and this park is no exception. See some of the finest children’s show in the world held 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. 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 Disney resort is made all the more special with a stay in any of their onsite hotels.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offers newly refurbished accommodation 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 Disney resort tickets are best purchased in advance as part of your travel package. There is a myriad of different combinations to choose from including multi-park tickets, line-jumper tickets, and all-inclusive tickets.

Single day tickets not purchased in advance can be as much as $110 per person and may not be available during busy times.

  • 1-day advance adult ticket start from $79.99
  • 1-day advance children’s tickets start from $59.99

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

6. Universal Studios Florida

2017 visitors: 10,198,000

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 is just 17 miles away from the park itself, while Orlando Sanford International Airport is just further away at 38 miles away. Both airports offer rental cars, public transportation, taxi services, and shuttle buses for transportation to the park.

By Road:

From St. Augustine and Gainesville: Take the I-95 and look for the I-4 west exit and then continue on to Exit 75A. Then follow the signs to the Universal Studios Theme Park.

From Miami and Fort Lauderdale: Take the I-95 and look for I-4 west and turn onto it. Then look for Exit 75A and follow the signs to the park.

From Kissimmee: Head to the Formosa Gardens Boulevard and turn right onto Highway 92. Drive 3 miles to merge onto I-4 east toward Orlando. Continue for 10 miles then 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, which offers 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 that continues to bring in visitors in their millions. You can also explore Production Central that features well-known characters such as Betty Boo and Shrek or enjoy the Transformers 3D ride and the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.

You can also 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, Caribbean Carnivals, and the Blue Man Group Show. 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 Years are also magical when spent with the cast and characters of your favorite movies and shows.

Where to Stay

Universals 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 place 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; you 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 enjoy themed food 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 access to the park across a number of days, line-jump tickets, and all-inclusive tickets.

  • 1-day adult tickets start from $115
  • 1-day kids tickets start from $110

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

5. Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Florida

2017 visitors: 10,722,000

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 is just 17 miles away from the park itself, while Orlando Sanford International Airport is just slightly further away at 38 miles.

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

By Road:

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

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

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

From Northeast Florida: Take I-95 South to I-4 West (exit 260B, old 86) to Walt Disney World exits, and then follow signs to Disney 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 Walt Disney World exits, then follow signs to Disney 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 run more shuttles in Orlando than any other provider.

Attractions and Shows

An absolute must-see for Star War fans of all ages, visitors can enjoy Star Wars-based rides, theatre shows, and attractions. There are also Disney Pixar Incredibles 2-based attractions, Muppets 3D, and Frozen rides for the whole family.

For thrill seekers, there is the famous haunted elevator-themed ride: the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. New attractions for 2018 include a Toy Story-themed ride and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Mine carts.

Children’s shows are available on a daily basis and are full of all of their favorite characters and movie stars, as well as the Disney Movie Magic show and Beauty and the Beast live on stage.

Special and Seasonal Events

Enjoy the Incredibles Summer, Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM at Christmastime, and Halloween-themed fun throughout October. There are regular food and wine festivals as well as the Epcot International Festival of Holidays.

Where to Stay

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

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

Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort is almost as much fun as the Disney 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 Bonnet Creek Hotel Lake Buena Vista 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 Disney 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 access to the park across a number of days, line-jump tickets, and all-inclusive tickets.

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

  • 2-day adult tickets for 1 park start from $233
  • 2-day kids tickets for 1 park start from $219

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

4. EPCOT, Florida

2017 visitors: 12,200,000

Designed and built to celebrate a world 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 ever more advanced.

How to Get There

By Air:

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is nearest to the Disney World resort. It offers rental cars, public transportation, taxi, and shuttle services, as well as Disney’s Magical Express to selected hotels across the resort.

By road:

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

From Southbound Interstate 75: Take Florida’s Turnpike South to Interstate 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) to 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, 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.

Virtual reality is a big deal in the park, and attractions like the 4D roller coaster simulator, the Sum of All Thrills are brilliant fun. Test Track allows visitors to design and test drive their very own cars and is a hugely popular ride for the whole family.

There are also Frozen, Guardians of the Galaxy, and other movie-related rides for the children to enjoy, 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 their 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. With foods being 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 Disney 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 a number of days, line-jump tickets, and all-inclusive tickets.

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

  • 2-day adult tickets for 1 park start from $233
  • 2-day kids tickets for 1 park start from $219

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

3. Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Florida

2017 visitors: 12,500,000

Themed around nature, animals, and conservation, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been part of the Disney resort since 1998. Featuring 3 separate areas: Oasis, Africa, and Asia, the park offers visitors the chance to see the 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 is located just 30 minutes from Walt Disney World, or the alternative Orlando Sanford International Airport is about an hour away.

Both airports offer rental cars, public transportation, taxi 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 Walt Disney World exits, then follow signs to the Disney World resort.

From Tampa: Take the I-4 East to Walt Disney World exits then follow signs to the Disney World resort.

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

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

Attractions and Shows

With an all-new Avatar-themed world in the park, there are now 4 areas to enjoy on your visit. Take a river journey into the bioluminescent rainforest, take a guided safari tour through the African savanna, see the interactive dinosaur attractions, or just spend the day with the lions and tigers and other animals from around the world.

The park is all about the animals and offers plenty of opportunities to learn more about the important conservation work that takes place in the park. 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 Disney resort attraction, 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 when 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.

Where to Eat

Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers some of the very best food to be found through the 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 access to the park across a number of days, line-jump tickets, and all-inclusive tickets.

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

  • 2-day adult tickets for 1 park start from $233
  • 2-day kids tickets for 1 park start from $219

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

2. Disneyland, California

2017 visitors: 18,300,000

The Californian resort of 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 good from all directions.

By Air:

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

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

By road:

Traveling South on I-5: Take I-5 south and exit Disneyland Drive and turn left (South). Proceed across Ball Road. Use the left three lanes to access the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure.

Traveling North on I-5: Take the Katella Ave / Disney Way exit then proceed on Disney Way for approximately 0.5 miles to Harbor Boulevard and turn left onto Harbor Boulevard and Disney parking will be on your left.

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

Traveling West on the 91 Freeway: Take the 57 (Santa Ana) freeway South, then exit on Katella Ave and turn right at E Katella Ave. Proceed on Katella Ave approximately 2.0 miles and turn left (South) at S Harbor Blvd and turn left into Toy Story Lot.

Traveling East on the 91 Freeway: Take I-5 S and exit on Disneyland Drive toward Ball Road and 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 on a daily basis.

Attractions and Shows

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

The shows at Disneyland are some of the best in the world, and you and your family can choose from Mickey and the Magical Map, the Paint the Night 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. They also offer a full program of events throughout the year including July 4th fireworks and much more.

Where to Stay

The Disneyland Hotel has been recently renovated and 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 kids entertainment.

Fairfield Inn by Marriott Anaheim Resort offers large family rooms and a pool and is 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. You can also add value passes that allow access to the park across a number of days, line-jump tickets, and all-inclusive tickets.

  • 1-day adult tickets during peak season start from $135
  • 1-day kids tickets during peak season start from $127

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

1. Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

2017 visitors: 20,450,000

The most visited and well-known theme park in the world is over 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 nearest to the Disney World resort. It offers rental cars, public transportation, taxi, and shuttle services, as well as Disney’s Magical Express to selected hotels across the resort.

By road:

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

From Southbound Interstate 75: Take Florida’s Turnpike South to Interstate 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) to 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 and use the famous Disney Monorail to move between the 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.

When it comes to shows and live entertainment, you can catch all you favorite Disney characters every day, or stay a little later to catch the famous Main Street parade.

Special and Seasonal Events

Celebrate Mardi Gras, 4th of July, and many other holidays with all your friends at the Magic Kingdom. Halloween brings many themed events, all of which are suitable for the kids. Christmas and New Years 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 onsite at one of the most popular hotels in the Disney Orlando 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.

Ticket Information

Tickets to the Magic Kingdom are usually cheaper when purchased in advance or as part of a vacation package. You can add value passes that allow access to the park across a number of days, line-jump tickets, and all-inclusive tickets.

Most tickets are sold as 2- or 3-day passes, as there is too much to see in a single day alone.

  • 2-day adult tickets start from $135
  • 2-day kids tickets start from $127

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

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 Disney resort attractions.

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

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1 comment

  1. Awesome travel experience, Thanks for sharing it…

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