School is out, and summer is in full swing! That means it’s time to plan some family fun this season, and often that means a visit (or two, or three!) to a local theme park. Or perhaps you are planning to travel somewhere and are curious about what theme parks might be around.
The temptation to visit Disney theme parks is always there because we all grew up longing to meet The Mouse and visit Cinderella’s Castle. Perhaps you got to go there as a child, or perhaps that dream still has yet to be fulfilled. Either way, thousands of people flock to Disney’s magical gates every year, spending fortunes on the experience. While Disney is totally awesome and all, there are other amusement parks that are just as much fun (and cost a fraction of what Disney costs!). Here are the 10 best non-Disney theme parks, ranked.
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10 Holiday World – Santa Claus, IN
Holiday World is such a fun place to visit, especially if you’re someone who loves to experience different holidays! This theme park is divided into sections based on popular holidays. It offers lots of different rides for both adults and children, and it even has an incredible Splashin’ Safari Water Park, where you can go to cool off between rides! There are also lots of shows throughout the season and fun theme days that you can take part in.
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Hershey Park is definitely a sweet place to visit! With all things chocolate-related throughout the park, you’re sure to have a fun time and a full belly when you leave. There are countless fun things to do here, from the awesome water park to their new Chocolatetown to ZooAmerica, their zoo with over 200 animals, all included with your park pass! There are also lots of rides for adults and kids to enjoy and plenty of dining opportunities while you’re there.
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What started out as a family farm has grown into an enormous theme park with many different things to offer its visitors. Knott’s has several new attractions in place for this summer, including their Ghost Town Alive! interactive experience, where guests will travel back in time to the Ol’ West and take part in various fun and exciting challenges. The park also has their Knott’s Summer Nights program, which features fun family shows and experiences in the evening at the park. With roller coasters, kid rides, and Knott’s Soak City water park nearby, you won’t have a hard time spending a day here!
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The great thing about Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is that you can visit two parks instead of just one! That’s right, Water Country USA is right beside Busch Gardens, so you have plenty of opportunities to have some fun. Busch Gardens offers lots to do, including many different rides for both children and adults, as well as awesome shows throughout the park for you to watch.
Then, hop on over to Water Country USA, where you can cool off in their lazy rivers, slide down their incredible water slides, or take the kids to the water park made just for little ones. A 2-day, 2-park pass is only $80 when you purchase ahead online.
6 King’s Island – Mason, OH
King’s Island is a fun-filled theme park that will keep you busy from sunup to sundown! They have many different roller coasters and thrill rides for those adventure seekers out there, as well as wonderful family rides, and a kiddie play area with pint-sized rides for even your smallest thrill seekers. Included in your park pass is also admission to their Soak City Water Park, where there are tons of exciting water slides, wave pools, and paddling pools for your little ones.
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Are you ready to travel to Africa? Ok perhaps not really, but would you like to experience an African-themed amusement park? Then head on over to Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Florida, a 335-acre African-themed amusement park full of wonderful rides, experiences, and of course, animals! The park offers visitors many different rides, from thrilling roller coasters to family fun rides, and everything in between. It also offers visitors a chance to get up close and personal with some of Africa‘s most exotic animals, as this park is home to over 200 animals!
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Tickets to Busch Gardens are a little pricier at $85 per adult per day if you purchase online ahead of time. There is also the opportunity to buy a combination ticket for other attractions in the area, should you wish to do so.
4 Six Flags Magic Mountain – Valencia, CA
With so many thrill rides to keep you spinning, Six Flags Magic Mountain certainly makes for a fun day! They have amazing rides like the CraZanity, a 17-story tall pendulum ride, and SUPERMAN: Escape from Krypton, one of the tallest roller coasters in the world at 415-feet, hitting spe of 100 mph in 7 seconds! Afterward, settle your heart rate, and bring the kids to their play area, with tons of fun rides and activities for even the smallest of visitors to enjoy. There are also lots of dining options and live entertainment throughout the park.
Tickets to Six Flags Magic Mountain are $75 for a day pass if you purchase ahead online, or if you are flexible with your dates, certain days of the week are cheaper. Check online to get the best deal!
3 Universal Studios – Orlando, FL
When it comes to theme parks, Universal Studios is Disney’s biggest competitor in Orlando, as it offers a ton of fun for the family as well. With thrilling roller coasters and fun family rides, there is lots to keep everyone busy. You also have many opportunities to see your favorite characters, like the Simpsons, Spider-Man, and Minions! Don’t forget the various Harry Potter rides and experiences as well, a sure hit for kids!
Tickets to Universal Studios are $115 for adults and $110 for children (not much of a deal there). If you combine and decide to visit both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, then you can get a 2-park pass for $170 ($165 for children ages 3-9).
2 Canada’s Wonderland – Vaughn, Ontario, Canada
Our one Canadian theme park on the list is Canada’s Wonderland, located in Vaughn, Ontario, just north of Toronto. This theme park is similar to the ones in the U.S. in that they offer a whole lot for the family! With many different roller coasters throughout the park, including The Leviathan – one of the world’s tallest roller coasters, a whole kid section with appropriate (and still thrilling) rides for kids, and tons of dining options, Canada’s Wonderland is a fun place to visit.
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They also offer a massive water park, with tons of slides, a lazy river, wave pool, and of course a splash park for kids. If you happen to be passing by the large mountain at certain parts of the day, you’ll even catch the Victoria Falls High Divers jumping off the mountain! Tickets for the park are $53 CAD per adult if you order online and $40 CAD for kids over 3 years and under 48″ tall.
1 Cedar Point – Sandusky, OH
The self-proclaimed Roller Coaster Capital of the World, Cedar Point offers thrill-seekers and family adventurers a jam-packed day of fun and excitement. With so many different exciting rides to experience, you will have a hard time fitting it all into one day! If you’re a roller coaster lover, you’ll have to make sure you experience Top Thrill Dragster, a ride that launches you up a 90-degree incline 420-feet in the air, reaching spe of 120 mph in only 3.8 seconds!
Once you recover from that stomach-lurching ride, be sure to check out some of the fun rides for the kids, and stop at one of their many dining options to refuel before hitting the rest of the park. Cedar Point also has a water park, Cedar Point Shores Waterpark with many water slides and splash pads for families to enjoy.
Tickets to Cedar Point are $53 per adult and $45 for juniors/seniors if you order online. Tickets to the water park are not included in this price; these tickets are $40 per adult and $26 for juniors/seniors. Combine both parks over 2 days for only $80 per person.
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