Amusement parks are fun, engaging tourist spots that provide entertainment for children, teenagers, and adults. Theme parks make for great vacation destinations for families or even just great places to enjoy a weekend getaway.
In the United States, there are more than 400 theme parks. Out of all of the parks in the country, it can be hard to pick which ones to visit. If you are looking for a travel destination, especially one that is not too far away from Raleigh, here are some great amusement parks that the whole family will enjoy, especially the roller coaster lovers.
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Ticket Prices: $65 single day admission ages three to 61, $44 for juniors (under 48” tall) and seniors ages 62 and older. Some discounts may be available if you order online.
Best Rides: Fury 325, Intimidator
For Kids: Carowinds has a section named “Planet Snoopy”, which includes rides suitable for younger kids. All of the rides in Planet Snoopy are named after classic Peanuts characters such as the Woodstock Express, a small roller coaster, and Snoopy’s Junction, a train ride.
Waterpark?: Carowinds’ Carolina Harbor includes 15 water rides that both adults and kids can enjoy. The Carolina Harbor is open from May 20-21, May 27-August 27, September 2-4, and September 9-10.
Need to Know: Carowinds is home to a couple of the best roller coasters around. At a length of 6,602 feet and reaching a maximum height of 365 feet, Fury 365 is the world’s tallest giga coaster – a coaster that is 300-399 feet tall and completes a full circuit – and the fourth longest roller coaster on the planet. The Intimidator is one of the fastest, tallest, and longest roller coasters in the southeastern United States. Each coaster provides an extreme thrill and both are two of my favorite rides I have ever been on.
Although the park has some entertaining rides, it isn’t cleaned very well. Throughout Carowinds, trash can be seen lying on the ground, making the park seem unattractive.
Location: Hershey, Pennsylvania
Ticket Prices: For one day admission, tickets are $64.95 for people ages nine to 54, $41.95 for kids ages three to eight and seniors ages 55-69, $26.95 for seniors over the age of 70, and free for children ages two and under.
Best Rides: Fahrenheit, Storm Runner, Great Bear
For Kids: Hersheypark has more than 20 rides designed just for kids. Kid-friendly shows are also performed each day in certain areas around the park and Hershey’s candy mascots can be found in the park for photo opportunities.
Waterpark?: The Boardwalk at Hersheypark features six water slides and eight other water attractions. The water park is open from May 27-September 4.
Need to Know: Hersheypark has a great atmosphere that attracts people of all ages. There are a variety of rides that children will enjoy along with 13 roller coasters that will excite the the thrill seekers in the family.
Fahrenheit and Storm Runner are two exciting rides that will be sure to give you an adrenaline rush. With a first drop of 97 degrees, Fahrenheit is one of the steepest roller coasters in the world.
The Storm Runner, a launch roller coaster, will have your heart racing the minute you are strapped into the train. Before the ride begins, the train slowly rolls out onto the track and a recording of a heart beat plays in the background. Then, after sitting still for a few moments, the train quickly accelerates to a speed of 72 miles per hour in just two seconds before racing up the first hill.
The park itself is very family-oriented and is clean, attractive, and organized. Hersheypark is a great destination to visit with your family, friends, or even just by yourself.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Ticket Prices: $80 for single day admission for people ages 10 and up, $70 for kids ages three to nine
Best Rides: Griffon, Apollo’s Chariot, Tempesto
For Kids: Busch Gardens features rides called KIDsiderate Attractions, which are all intended for kids. Most of the kiddie rides revolve around a Sesame Street theme.
Waterpark?: No, but Escape from Pompeii, Le Scoot, and the Roman Rapids are water rides in the park that will definitely create a splash and get you wet.
Need to Know: Busch Gardens has some great roller coasters that will give people a thrill. Apollo’s Chariot is consistently voted each year as one of the top steel coasters in the world and definitely lives up to its reputation. Griffon, my personal favorite, provides a unique ride experience with a cliffhanger drop from the top of the first hill.
The park itself is very spread out, divided into nine country-themed sections. It is a long walk to get from place to place, and there are very few paths to take to get around the park. However, located in the woods around a river, Busch Gardens has great aesthetics and is very clean.
Dining in the park can be a challenge. Busch Gardens does not have any food vendors such as Chick-fil-A or Subway. Instead, each section of the park has one or two restaurants that go along with its country theme. The food sold is just mediocre without a wide variety of meal options. Also, since the park is so spread out, you may have to walk far to find the type of food you are looking to purchase.
For both roller coaster enthusiasts and families alike, Carowinds, Hersheypark, and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg are great vacations spots that will entertain and excite.