The Top 10 Amusement Parks in America

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The deciding factor in selecting the top ten amusement parks in America was the answer to the following question: is the park worth a trip across country? If the park is in Florida is it worth the trip from the West Coast? If the park is in California is it worth the journey from Boston or Baltimore? If the answer was yes, the park qualified for inclusion.

The list also favored parks associated with popular franchises (Disney, Marvel Comics, Peanuts, and Sesame Street just to name a few). While this may put off some adults (okay, most adults), kids love the characters. And after all, amusement parks are all
about the kids.

1. Walt Disney World Resort
Location: Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Phone: 407-939-7675
Size: 25,000 acres
Rides: They don't have "rides" they have "attractions. "
Operating Season: Hours vary by season.
Top Attractions: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Walt Disney World Resort is the largest and most-visited amusement park on the planet. There's not enough summer to see and do everything Disney World has to offer. Sure the resort is a "little" commercialized, but with 25,000 acres of high quality fun Disney World is the prime vacation spot for both the young and the young heart.

2. Universal Orlando Resort
Location: Orlando, Florida
Phone: 407-363-8000
Size: Unknown
Rides: 25+
Operating Season: Hours vary by season.
Top Attractions: Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Wet 'n Wild Orlando, City Walk Orlando

Universal Orlando Resort is a smorgasbord of family fun. Many of its amazing rides and attractions, including 4-D adventures and state-of-the- art roller coasters, are based on popular movies and television characters like Harry Potter, Shrek, The Simpsons, and
Marvel Comics. Yet, as cool as Spider-Man and the Hulk are they can't beat the mouse and that's why Universal Orlando is number two.

3. Cedar Point
Location: Sandusky, Ohio
Phone: 419-627-2350
Size: 364 acres
Rides: 75 total, 17 roller coasters
Operating Season: May through Early November
Top Attractions: 17 roller coasters, water rides, Challenge
Park, Planet Snoopy

Many amusement park enthusiasts put Cedar Point on the top of their "Best of" lists. That's because it's probably the best pure amusement park in the world. After all, its 17 roller coasters are the most of any park on the planet. Besides the coasters, visitors can get all wet at their world famous water park, Soak City, or enjoy one of their many exciting live shows. Cedar Point comes in it at number three because, well, to put it
bluntly, it's in Sandusky and it doesn't have the cool franchises like Disney World and Universal Orlando.

4. Disneyland Resort
Location: Anaheim, California
Phone: 714-781-4565
Size: 510 acres
Rides: 1 (see #1)
Operating Season: Hours vary by season.
Top Attractions: Disneyland, Disney's California Adenture, Downtown Disney

Disneyland Resort contains two amusement parks, one is the famous Disneyland, which opened in 1955, and the other is Disney's California Adventure. The two parks, together with Downtown Disney and various hotels, attract more than 20 million visitors every year. So why is this legendary resort only number four on our list? Is it because of the song "It's a Small World (After All)" incessantly repeats during the ride of the same name? Yes.
5. Europe
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Phone: 800-343-7946
Size: 250 acres
Rides: 25 total, 5 roller coasters
Operating Season: March through October
Top Attractions: Roller Coasters, Sesame Street Forest of Fun, Special seasonal events

In case you didn't glean it from its title, Busch Gardens Europe has a European theme going on. It also has a small but highly rated set of roller coasters. When your stomach needs a break from the thrill rides, the park offers several relaxing but entertaining Broadway style shows. Busch Gardens is a great place to visit during the holidays.

6. Six Flags Great Adventure and Wild Safari
Location: Jackson Township, New Jersey
Phone: 732-928-1821
Size: 260 acres for Great Adventure, 350 acres for Wild Safari
Rides: 46
Operating Season: March through November
Top Attractions: Roller coasters, 350-acre wildlife preserve, Looney Tunes pals

Due to its close proximity to New York and Philadelphia, Six Flags Great Adventure is one of the most popular amusement parks in the North East. Great Adventure is known for its spectacular roller coasters like Nitro, The Ride, Kingda Ka, and El Toro. Its 350-acre wildlife preserve is home to 1,200 animals and the park boosts that it's the largest "drive-thru safari" outside of Africa.

7. Canada's Wonderland
Location: Vaughan, Ontario, Canada (Greater Toronto Area)
Phone: 905-832-8131
Size: 330 acres
Rides: 48 thrill rides
Operating Season: May through October
Top Attractions: Planet Snoopy, The Mighty Canadian Minebuster, Riptide, Drop Tower, Psyclone, Whitewater Bay, Hollywood's Stunt Spectacular

Canada's Wonderland is renowned for its great variety of roller coasters, probably the best assortment on the continent. In fact, if you ignore the United States, Canada's Wonderland has the most roller coasters of any amusement park in the world. This is
also the most visited seasonal park in North America. Canada's Wonderland is about 30 minutes from downtown Toronto.

8. Legoland California
Location: Carlsbad, California
Phone: 760-918-LEGO
Size: 128 acres
Rides: 50+
Operating Season: Hours vary by season.
Top Attractions: Miniland, Legoland Water Park, Dino Island, Fun Town, Pirate Shore, Imagination Zone

Everything is better when it's made out of Lego's. Amusement parks are for kids but this park's height requirements really favor vertically-challeng ed young ones. Legoland is laid out in nine areas each with a different theme. One of the most popular areas of the park is Miniland. In this area, artists have used Legos to construct several American landmarks to 1:20 scale.

9. SeaWorld San Diego
Location: San Diego, California
Phone: 800-25-SHAMU
Size: 189 acres
Rides: 8
Operating Season: Hours vary by season.
Top Attractions: Journey to Atlantis, Wilde Arctic, Lights, Camera, Imagination 4-D!, Sesame Street Bay of Play, Dolphins, Orcas

SeaWorld is a classic. Since opening in 1964, SeaWorld San Diego has delighted visitors with exhibits, rides, and of course, its wonderful marine wildlife. SeaWorld is near the bottom of our list because it lacks the thrill rides of other amusement parks and it maybe too educational for some kids. Still, SeaWorld has enough things to do and see to make it a viable vacation destination.

10. Knoebels Amusement Resort
Location: Elysburg, Pennsylvania
Phone: 800-487-4386
Size: Nearly 300 acres
Rides: 55
Operating Season: April through September
Top Attractions: Twister, Flying Turns, Haunted Mansion, Grand Carousel, 3 Ponds Golf Course

Knoebels is a straight-forward, non-pretentious, kid-friendly, family-run amusement park. The park was created to entertain, not to sell merchandise- no ubiquitous cute and furry corporate mascots here. Knoebels has the best amusement park food in the country and bills itself as "America's Largest Free Admission Park." You can buy rides a la carte or via a day pass.

About the Author:

Ryan Hogan writes for a website that offers parents who want to have fun all kinds of useful resources such as a directory of fun parenting businesses like toy stores across America. Also read the parenting blog that offers great information for parents such as the top amusement parks in America: blog/?p=19

(c) 2010 Ryan Hogan
Parenting Fun 411

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