Theme parks in the USA are often regarded as must-visits for millions of travelers, young and old. These outdoor playgrounds often consist of thrilling rides, arcade games, and entertaining live shows, as well as larger-than-life characters from cartoons and fairy tales.

    While Disney reigns as the world’s most popular amusement park company, there are hundreds of theme parks all over the USA that have been entertaining families since the late 1800s. From meeting your favorite Disney characters to experiencing life as a wizard, rediscover your inner child with USA’s most amazing amusement parks.


    Disneyland Park – Anaheim, CA

    Meet your favorite Disney princesses in the Royal Hall

    Disneyland Park was built in 1955 by Walt Disney and features 8 themed areas that are packed with rides, colorful characters, live music, and street parades. Located on Disneyland Drive, it’s easily one of the best theme parks in the USA (and world).

    Thrill seekers can enjoy exhilarating rides at the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain, while families with young kids can explore the Sleeping Beauty Castle and meet Disney princesses at the Royal Hall. Read more...

    Location: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA

    Open: Monday – Thursday from 8 am to midnight, Friday – Saturday from 9 am to midnight, Sunday from 8 am to midnight

    Phone: +1 714-781-4636


    Universal Studios Florida – Orlando, FL

    Visit an actual prop bus used in the filming of Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

    Universal Studios Florida draws in the bumper crowds with its long line-up of Hollywood-inspired rides and attractions. Taking up half of the wider Universal Orlando complex, you get to get up-close with those naughty yellow minions from Despicable Me, fly across Springfield with The Simpsons, ward off alien attacks in the Men in Black simulator, or get lost in a world of magic on the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride.

    Compared to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the action here is more focused on delivering an immersive movie experience, with state-of-the-art technology used throughout the range of simulators. Read more...

    Location: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 407-363-8000


    Disney’s Magic Kingdom - Bay Lake, FL

    See fireworks outside the Cinderella Castle

    Disney’s Magic Kingdom is one of the largest theme parks in the USA – you can have fun at 6 different lands inspired by popular fairy tales. The iconic Cinderella Castle stands as the park’s centerpiece, and is lit up every night at 10pm by the famous fireworks display (that can be seen for free if you get close enough).

    Entrance into the park – which starts at around $100 – unravels a whole world of Disney-inspired shows, parades, roller coasters, rides and simulators, most of which cater more towards the younger kids. Among the available areas are Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Main Street, and Liberty Square. Read more...

    Location: 1180 Seven Seas Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA

    Open: Sunday – Thursday from 9 am to 11 pm, Friday from 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday from 8 am to midnight

    Phone: +1 407-939-5277


    Luna Park – Brooklyn, NY

    Experience a 26-meter plunge at the Coney Island Cyclone ride

    Luna Park, founded in the early 1900s, is a longstanding theme park on New York’s Coney Island. Visitors of all ages can enjoy more than 25 thrilling rides and dozens of traditional fairground and arcade games.

    One of the busiest theme parks in the USA, its iconic Coney Island Cyclone is a roller coaster ride that has been thrilling visitors since 1937. It has 12 drops and 27 elevation changes, as well as a 26-meter plunge with speeds of up to 60 mph.

    Location: 1000 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224, USA

    Open: Monday – Thursday from 10 am to 7 pm, Friday – Sunday from 10 am to midnight

    Phone: +1 718-373-5862


    photo by Epicgenius (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Universal's Islands of Adventure – Orlando, FL

    Explore the bustling village of Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Universal’s Islands of Adventure is made up of 7 different areas, namely the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, and Marvel Super Hero Island. Opened in 1999, the park has live action stunt shows for entertaining both adults and kids.

    Rollercoasters and themed rides tower overhead, and immersive simulators place you in the middle of your favorite movies – ideal for those who prefer their adrenaline fix to be a bit closer to the ground. Read more...

    Location: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819, USA

    Phone: +1 407-224-4233


    Cedar Point – Sandusky, OH

    Soar on one of the world’s tallest dive coasters

    Cedar Point has more than 70 thrilling rides, 17 of which are roller coasters of varying sizes and speed. Founded in 1870, it’s the oldest theme parks in the USA. A popular ride here is Valravn, a dive coaster that rides up to 67 meters before dropping at a 90-degree angle.

    For something a little less daunting, Cedar Point has family-friendly attractions such as water playgrounds, kid-sized slides, carousel, and mini cars.

    Location: 1 Cedar Point Dr, Sandusky, OH 44870, USA

    Open: Sunday – Thursday from 10 am to 11 pm, Friday – Saturday from 10 am to midnight (hours may vary)

    Phone: +1 419-627-2350


    photo by Tracy Rolling (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Knott’s Berry Farm – Buena Park, CA

    Explore the park grounds on an authentic Butterfield stagecoach

    Knott’s Berry Farm has been entertaining many with its family-friendly rides and live shows since 1920. Located in Anaheim’s Buena Park, the 160-acre park features Ghost Town, an Old Western town that hosts entertaining shows all year round.

    You get to pet friendly horses at the Liverary Stables, explore the town on a stagecoach, and check out Old West artifacts at the Western Trails Museum. One of its most popular rides here is GhostRider, a wooden roller coaster that towers almost 40 meters above the town.

    Read more

    Location: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620, USA

    Open: Monday – Thursday from 10 am to 8 pm, Friday - Sunday from 10 am to 11 pm (hours may vary)

    Phone: +1 714-220-5200


    photo by METRO96 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Disney California Adventure Park – Anaheim, CA

    Ride the Pixar-themed Ferris wheel

    Disney California Adventure Park offers plenty of thrilling rides, from simulated hang gliders to rope bridges surrounded by evergreen trees. Located in Disneyland Drive, you get to experience Walt Disney’s life back in 1923 by enjoying a trolley ride through Buena Vista Street, a vibrant walking street that’s filled with Art Deco buildings, retro restaurants, and cafés.

    The Pixar Pier features classic rides, such as midway games, a rollercoaster, a carousel, and a Ferris wheel decorated with characters from The Incredibles, Inside Out, and Toy Story. Read more...

    Location: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA

    Open: Monday – Tuesday from 9 am to 9 pm, Wednesday – Saturday from 9 am to 10 pm, Sunday from 8 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 714-781-4565


    Discovery Cove – Orlando, FL

    Swim with bottlenose dolphins at this water park

    Discovery Cove® Orlando is one of the few theme parks in the USA that lets you interact with marine animals. Located adjacent to SeaWorld®, its most popular attraction is the Dolphin Lagoon®, which lays on 30-minute small-group sessions with dolphins, allowing you to swim and get up-close with the gentle creatures.

    The Freshwater Oasis zone offers more of the same sort of thing, just with different animals like otters and marmosets, while Wind-Away River is a slow-flowing river that passes through landscaped jungles, caves and waterfalls. Almost all the attractions here involve getting in the water – so don’t forget your swimming costumes.

    Location: 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, FL 32821, USA

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +1 407-513-4600


    Six Flags Magic Mountain - Santa Clarita, CA

    Dangle from a 50-meter-high pendulum ride

    Six Flags Magic Mountain has more than 18 roller coasters, some of which are inspired by DC characters such as the Green Lantern and Batman. Located in California, the theme park is known for its CraZanity ride, which is one of the fastest pendulum rides in the world. You get to experience speeds of up to 75 mph and dangle from a height of 50 meters above the ground.

    There are also many immersive experiences at Six Flags Magic Mountain. The JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis is a 4D theatrical experience featuring life-like animatronic characters, special effects, and moving seats that travel through 10 scenes.

    Location: 26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy, Valencia, CA 91355, USA

    Open: Monday – Friday from 10.30 am to 6 pm, Saturday from to10.30 am to 9 pm, Sunday from to 10.30 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 661-255-4100


    photo by Jeremy Thompson (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveler

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