For many of us, there is no better way to spend a vacation or nice summer’s day than at an amusement park. These parks are created to entertain their guests with their attractions and shows and are big business.
Many amusement parks are packed full of heartstopping thrills whereas others focus more on animals and fun themes.
Whether you’re an adult, a young child, or somewhere in between, most amusement parks have something for you.
You can find amusement parks all over the United States so there is sure to be one near you.
From world-famous parks such as Walt Disney World to smaller parks that are only locally famous, amusement parks come in all shapes and sizes.
In this article, we have a list of the top 30 amusement parks in the US to visit in 2023.
Before you go to any of these parks make sure to check whether you need to purchase a ticket in advance and make sure you take some sun cream and keep yourself hydrated!
Let’s get started!
1. Bay Beach Amusement Park
Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin
The Bay Beach Amusement Park is only open between May and September but it is the ninth oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States and is over 100 years old!
It’s very much a community amusement park so don’t expect anything on the scale of some of the larger parks but it has 24 rides that are suitable for all ages.
The newest ride is the Zippin Pippin which is a thrilling ride with numerous large drops.
There are many family rides and rides for kids and although there are four thrill rides, the park is aimed more at families.
Admission and parking are free as you instead purchase tickets to ride each ride. The most expensive ride only costs $1 per person!
2. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Location: Tampa Bay, Florida
This is the first of two different Busch Gardens parks that we’ve included on this list and the first of many parks located in Florida.
It’s a very large park with plenty to do so you may find that one day is not enough.
The main draw of the park is the accredited zoo. You can take an open-air vehicle tour across the park’s Serengeti Plain to see a variety of animals that are native to Africa, such as giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and antelopes.
The park is more than just animals, however, as it also has many thrilling and extreme roller coasters.
Brand new to the park in 2023 is the Serengeti Flyer, which is the tallest and fastest back-to-back coaster in the world! There are also some kid-friendly rides and a Sesame Street-themed area.
3. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Our second Busch Gardens amusement park has plenty to separate it from its sister park in Tampa.
It’s repeatedly been voted one of the most beautiful amusement parks in the world due to its picturesque location and landscaping. There is a European theme to the park which makes it stand out from the crowd.
While at the park, you will be able to have several different animal experiences and see animals such as Clydesdale horses, sheep, Highland cattle, gray wolves, and various birds of prey.
The park offers a variety of different shows and events that change with the seasons and make this park especially worth a visit during the festive season.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is also home to a large number of exciting coasters.
DarKoaster is the first indoor straddle coaster in North America and is due to open in 2023. For kids and families, there are several more traditional and comer rides.
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
With 57 rides, Carowinds is a great amusement park for anyone who loves coasters.
The park has 13 rides that it classifies as having an “aggressive” level of thrill and topping the list of these are the Intimidator, Fury 325, Copperhead Strike, and Caroline Cyclone. If you like thrills, you’re sure to love Carowinds!
As well as the wild rides, you can also enjoy the water at the Carolina Harbor Waterpark which is also part of the park. There’s plenty for young kids as well as the park has several rides and attractions themed after Peanuts.
5. Cedar Point
Location: Sandusky, Ohio
This is one of the best amusement parks in the country and a must-visit attraction if you live in Ohio or are able to travel to it.
The park is located near Lake Erie so you can not expect amazing coasters but stunning views from around the park and at the highest peaks.
The park has 70 fantastic rides including some world-beater thrilling coasters. Some of the coasters reach speeds over 90 miles and heights of more than 300 feet!
If you like something a little more sedate then there are just as many calmer coasters and ones aimed at kids and families. Kids are sure to love all of the Peanut themed rides!
There are plenty of special events throughout the year that are always fun to visit. During the warmer months, you can also book a trip to the waterpark next door.
6. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Location: Orlando, Florida
This is the first of several Disney-owned amusement parks. The park opened in 1998 and combines animals with more traditional attractions.
There are several different animals that you can see in the park, such as tigers, lions, rhinos, and several aquatic animals. You can walk around the park to see the animals or take a guided safari tour of an African savanna.
There are plenty of opportunities to interact with some of the gentler animals in the park and you can learn about the park’s conservation efforts.
For fans of the Avatar movie franchise, you can also enjoy a couple of rides themed around the movie. Avatar Flight of Passage will take you on a 3D ride over the world of Pandora.
7. Disney California Adventure Park
Location: Anaheim, California
This is one of the Disney parks on the West Coast of the country and is a must for any Disney and Marvel fans.
The park features Avengers Campus, an area of the park dedicated to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As well as a couple of Marvel-themed rides, you may even be lucky enough to see your favorite heroes in action!
There are also several rides themed around popular Disney and Pixar properties as well as character greetings and shows.
Thrillseekers are sure to love the Incredicoaster and there are several Little Mermaid-themed attractions for younger guests.
8. Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Location: Orlando, Florida
Despite the name, this park is not located anywhere near Hollywood and is instead one of the many Disney parks located in Orlando, Florida.
One of the main highlights of Hollywood Studios is Galaxy’s Edge, an immersive park set in the Star Wars galaxy. Enjoy a couple of rides, eat in a cantina, or build your own lightsaber or droid.
It’s also the location of a Star Wars-themed hotel if you really want to go all-in on your journey to a galaxy far, far away.
Hollywood Studios also has Toy Story Land which is full of attractions featuring Woody and his friends. You can also scream in terror on the Tower of Terror and enjoy the music with the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
9. Disneyland Park
Location: Anaheim, California
If you want the full Disney experience but find yourself on the West Coast instead of the East, then Disneyland Park is the place to go.
It has all of the rides and attractions you expect from Disneyland with several themed lands organized around Cinderella’s Castle in the middle of the park.
Like Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando, it features the Star Wars land Galaxy’s Edge and has the same two thrilling rides and other experiences.
Enjoy futuristic and space-themed rides in Tomorrowland, go back to the past in Frontierland, enjoy your favorite Disney characters in Fantasyland, and have some wild times in Critter Country!
There are plenty of opportunities to meet characters and experience Disney magic throughout the park.
Location: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Known for its links to the forever popular country singer Dolly Parton, Dollywood is one of the most popular amusement parks in the US.
It is both an amusement park and a water park and has plenty of options for staying on the park grounds.
The park has 11 themed areas with dozens of rides and attractions for all the family to enjoy.
In 2023, the park will be getting its largest coaster to date in Big Bear Mountain and this is only one of several thrill rides available.
There are several shows held every day for guests to attend and guests can also enjoy interacting with the bald eagles housed in the park’s Eagle Mountain Sanctuary.
For fans of Dolly Parton, there are several attractions and exhibits related to her career and her life to enjoy.
Location: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Funland is only open during the summer season and covers late May through to early September.
The opening hours can change depending on the day and month so we would advise double-checking these details before you arrange a visit.
Although the park is small and old-fashioned compared to many of the larger amusement parks on this list, it’s not without its charms and is well worth the visit if you’re in Delaware.
The park opened in 1962 and is now a fun day out for the entire family.
The park has 20 different rides to choose from and 15 different games. The rides range from thrill rides such as Gravitron and Superflip 360 to calmer rides such as the Boats.
The games on the Boardwalk are old-fashioned games of skill with plenty of great prizes to be won so why not test your skills at Funland?
12. Fun Spot America
Location: Kissimmee, Florida
There is lots to see and do at Fun Spot in Kissimmee. The amusement park is packed full of thrilling rides and arcade games and is a great day out for the entire family.
Highlights of the Kissimmee park include Sky Sled, the tallest SkyCoaster in the world at a massive 300 feet!
There are several fun go-kart tracks including Vortex Track which features the world’s steepest banking curve and two-seater karts so an adult can drive while a child enjoys the ride!
For kids that want to get behind the wheel, they can enjoy the Kiddie Bumper Kars.
There are many old-fashioned Midway games that offer prizes for the most skilled. Try out water gun, basketball, and even axe-throwing games. There is a large arcade with the latest games available as well.
Location: Hershey, Pennsylvania
Owned by the same company that makes the chocolate of the same name, Hersheypark has rides, games, shows, and plenty of chocolate.
Hershey’s Chocolatetown and Hershey’s Chocolate World are two areas of the park that are a must for chocolate lovers.
As well as several restaurants and stores dedicated to chocolate, you can also enjoy Candymonium which is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the park.
There are many other rides dotted throughout the park as well. Fahrenheit is a fast and thrilling coaster with a massive 97-degree drop and Great Bear is an inverted coaster that is sure to make you scream.
The park has many calmer rides for children and those that like things a little slower and there are also many water slides to enjoy as well.
14. Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
Location: Santa Claus, Indiana
This park is a two-for-one deal as you not only get the Holiday World amusement park but also the Splashin’ Safari waterpark as well.
The park even offers free parking, soft drinks, and sunscreen for guests so you will definitely get your money’s worth.
The park is home to America’s only launched wing coaster and it will rapidly propel you to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds!
Families can enjoy several rides together and there are also many rides and attractions designed just for kids, from merry-go-rounds to slides.
There are just as many water attractions as there are dry ones and these vary from large and fast slides to wave machines.
You can also enjoy a show while you’re at the park and it has many special events throughout the year to reflect the changing seasons.
15. Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
This amusement park was once owned by Six Flags (more on those parks later) but is now under new management.
The change in management hasn’t changed much and if you’re in Louisville, we highly recommend that you visit the park.
Kentucky Kingdom has many rides for the entire family to enjoy. Thrill seekers can enjoy Lightning Run, a steel coaster that has a 100-foot tall, 80-degree drop.
You can also enjoy the aptly named Scream Extreme and T3, the tallest coaster in Kentucky.
The park also includes the waterpark Hurricane Bay although this is only open during the holiday season beginning in May.
You can enjoy several slides and wave machines. During the summer season, you can also enjoy a variety of shows, festivals, and events.
16. Kings Island
Location: Mason, Ohio
Kings Island is one of the largest amusement parks in the Midwest. It opened over 50 years ago and has become a popular attraction in the local area.
As well as the amusement park itself there is also Soak City Water Park. Both parks are closed during the closed season with Kings Island opening in mid-May and the Water Park in late May.
The most famous ride in the park is the Diamondback roller coaster. It’s one of the most highly-rated steel coasters in the world and hits speeds of 80 miles per hour.
Thrill seekers will also love several other rides in the park such as Banshee, Invertigo, and Orion. Of course, there are a variety of more sedate rides for families and kids as well.
17. Knoebels Amusement Resort
Location: Elysburg, Pennsylvania
This is the largest amusement park in the country that offers free entry!
It also has free parking and picnic facilities so it is a great choice for a day out if you’re working on a budget. The park closes during the winter and reopens in late April or early May.
Instead of paying for entry for each ride and game individually. The most expensive rides are only $4 per person but most are around the $2 mark.
Thrill seekers will love Impulse and its upside-down twists and free falls as well as the classic wooden roller coaster, Phoenix.
Kids will love the chance to take to the skies by controlling their own flights on Helicopters or Jet Skyfighter. There are many old-fashioned rides for the family such as Bumper Cars and the Grand Carousel.
18. Knott’s Berry Farm
Location: Buena Park, California
There are so many rides, attractions, and shows to enjoy during your trip to Knott’s Berry Farm. There is something for all of the family as well as whether you’re after thrills or looking to spend some time with the kids.
Thrill seekers will want to try out Xcelerator the Ride which will rocket you to 82 miles per hour in just over two seconds. You can also ride Silver Bullet and its drop of 109 feet.
As the park used to be a farm, many attractions have a more grounded feel such as stables, a railroad, stagecoaches, and even a fully functional blacksmiths.
During the warmer summer months, you can also visit Knott’s Soak City Waterpark. This has 23 slides and a raft ride.
Location: Carlsbad, California
If you have younger kids who love playing with Lego, then a trip to Legoland is sure to make them happy. It’s aimed at children between the ages of 2 and 12 years old and also includes a water park and a Sea Life Aquarium.
As the park is aimed at younger kids, there aren’t any wild rides but there is plenty for all of the family to enjoy.
As it’s a Lego park, there are plenty of opportunities for kids and adults alike to get their hands on some Lego blocks and do some building as well!
The park is full of interesting and fun shows and activities. Enjoy some 4D movies, meet some Lego characters, and see lots of marine animals at the Aquarium.
20. Nickelodeon Universe
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
From one amusement park that is firmly designed for young children to another, you will find Nickelodeon Universe located at the Mall of America.
The park is open all year round and is perfectly located for the kids to enjoy while a parent gets some shopping done.
The park has 27 different rides and attractions and many of them are themed after popular Nickelodeon properties such as Rugrats, Spongebob Squarepants, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Some of the rides are more thrilling than you may expect and your kids are sure to love them!
While in the park, you may also be lucky enough to meet one of your favorite Nickelodeon characters. There are different events held throughout the year as well.
21. Santa’s Village
Location: Jefferson, New Hampshire
Santa isn’t just for the festive season with this Christmas-themed park. It closes for a few months at the beginning of the year but brings Christmas joy from late May through to the New Year.
Visiting Santa during the hot summer months might seem strange at first, but your family is sure to love the attention to detail and Christmas spirit that is evident throughout the park.
Kids can meet Santa and even become one of his elf helpers at the North Pole Workshop.
One of the highlights of the park is the Skyway Sleigh which is a sleigh-themed monorail. Get a photo of the family together in one of the sleighs. You can meet Santa’s reindeer, ride bumper cars, and enjoy a ride on The Chimney Drop.
22. Seabreeze Amusement Park
Location: Rochester, New York
Seabreeze Amusement Park is only open for a short window between mid-May to mid-September so if you do plan to visit, keep this in mind! It consists of two main parks, the first is a ride and game amusement park and the second is a water park.
One of the most famous rides in the park is Jack Rabbit, a wooden roller coaster that is the oldest continuously operating roller coaster in the country. It’s now over 100 years old!
This is just one of several thrill rides at the park but there are also plenty of opinions for families and kids.
The park also offers shows, games, and shopping with one of the major highlights being the Cirque En Vol acrobatics show.
The waterpark has slides and water fun for all of the family and you can race each other on the Hydro Racer slide.
23. SeaWorld Orlando
Location: Orlando, Florida
Regularly voted as one of the best amusement parks and the top marine life park in the country, SeaWorld is a must if you’re in Orlando and are interested in the oceans and the life within them.
Like the other SeaWorld parks (more on those later) the Orlando version has its fair share of marine animals but it has more of a focus on rides and attractions as well.
It has some of the most exciting and thrilling coasters in Florida, including the Pipeline: The Surf Coaster which is due to open in 2023. This fast and tall coaster aims to help you feel the power of the ocean waves.
When it comes to animals, SeaWorld Orlando is probably best known for the killer whales and dolphins in the park. You can learn all about these animals in fun presentations hosted by SeaWorld’s knowledgeable staff.
24. SeaWorld San Diego
Location: San Diego, California
From one coast to the other with our next SeaWorld choice! SeaWorld San Diego focuses on the marine life that can be found in the Pacific Ocean and it is located in Mission Bay, right near the coast.
There are a few rides for you to enjoy while you’re in the park. Arctic Rescue will open in 2023 and will be the longest straddle-style coaster on the West Coast.
The park also has Emperor which is the tallest, fastest, and longest dive coast in California.
There are several animal presentations that you can enjoy featuring killer whales, sea lions, and dolphins.
You can also see a variety of other animals such as walruses, beluga whales, penguins, sharks, and several species of birds.
25. Silver Dollar City
Location: Branson, Missouri
Silver Dollar City is an 1880s theme park in Missouri that features rides, live shows, concerts, and many heritage crafts.
It’s a taste of days gone by but still has plenty of thrills and excitement for even the most modern guest.
As well as the roller coasters and rides you can explore Marvel Cave, a limestone cave network underneath the park. A tour of the caves is included with your ticket price and will last around 60 minutes.
We would also recommend visiting the master craftsmen in the park. You can see how blacksmiths, candy makers, glass blowers, and candle makers used to ply their trade.
The main park opens in mid-March while the attached water park opens in late May.
26. Six Flags Great America
Location: Chicago, Illinois
This is the first of two Six Flags parks on this list. This park is located just outside of Chicago and usually opens in March or April for the coming season.
As is expected from a Six Flags park, there are many rides to choose from and something for all of the family.
Fans of DC Comics characters are sure to love the Batman, Superman, Flash, Joker, and Justice League-themed rides and each of these takes inspiration from the character it is named after.
The park also offers several shows that change throughout the season and several events. Celebrate Mardi Gras, the 4th of July, or Halloween in the park!
27. Six Flags Magic Mountain
Location: Los Angeles, California
Like Six Flags Great America, Six Flags Magic Mountain is full of exciting and thrilling rides. It shares several rides with Great America and other Six Flags parks so you can be sure of a fun experience.
The park includes Full Throttle, which is the fastest and tallest 160-foot looping coaster, and CraZanity, the tallest pendulum ride that you will find on the West Coast.
You can also enjoy The New Revolution Classic which was the first 360-degree loop coaster in the world.
Kids can enjoy the numerous Looney Toons-themed rides throughout the park and the entire family will love the shows and events.
28. Universal’s Islands Of Adventure
Location: Orlando, Florida
Located as part of the Universal Orlando Resort, Islands of Adventure has plenty of excitement for all of the family.
Thrill seekers will love the Jurassic World VelociCoaster which has two different launches and four inversions so you can ride it again and get a different experience.
There is also plenty for Harry Potter fans to enjoy with several rides themed around the popular franchise.
Walk through Hogwarts on your way to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, enjoy the 3-D ride The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, or take the kids on a Dr. Suess-themed ride.
29. Universal Studios Hollywood
Location: Hollywood, California
There is lots to see and enjoy at Universal Studio Hollywood! From February 2023 you can enjoy the new Super Nintendo World and explore the Mushroom Kingdom with Mario and Luigi as well as enter lands themed around Harry Potter and Jurassic Park.
If you love movies, you can enjoy the 60-minute Studio Tour which will take you on a guided tour of some of the production lots found at Universal Studios. You may even get attacked by a shark on your way!
30. Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom
Location: Orlando, Florida
Our final choice of amusement park is arguably the most famous park in the world. It features the iconic Cinderella Castle at the heart of the park and is essential for anyone who is a Disney fan or has kids.
You can ride iconic rides such as It’s A Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion and meet many of your favorite Disney characters as part of the Disney character experiences.
You may even be lucky enough to see some characters wandering around the park!
Magic Kingdom also has several shows and live entertainment performances you can watch. Some of them are stage shows with limited capacity but others are parades you can catch from within the park.
In this article, we listed the top 30 amusement parks in the US to visit in 2023. We picked amusement parks from across the country and from coast to coast.
Some of the amusement parks are packed with dozens of thrilling roller coasters, others have lots of exciting and interesting animals, and other parks are more geared to families of all ages.
No matter where you are in the US or what type of amusement park you’re looking for, there are sure to be several options in this list for you.
We hope you enjoy our suggestions and enjoy the parks you decide to visit!
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