The 10 Best Theme Parks in America · The Inspiration Edit (2023)

The 10 Best Theme Parks in America

There are dozens of theme parks in America today. Picking the top five or so, however, isn’t really that hard. All of them can be readily identified by most Americans. And one stands out from the rest as the undisputed winner – the top dog of all theme parks.

The 10 Best Theme Parks in America · The Inspiration Edit (1)

Disneyland, Where It All Started

What child, or adult for that matter, doesn’t love Mickey Mouse? And where better to see him, and other lovable characters, than at a theme park built around them?

Disneyland, or its younger brother Disneyworld is considered by most number one. And it should be, given that Walt Disney pretty much invented the whole idea of modern day theme parks.

Before Disneyland was opened in the mid-1950’s in Southern California, there were, of course, other theme parks. New York’s Coney Island well pre-dates Disneyland, as do others. However, most of today’s parks are much more anchored to a “theme” and go well beyond being simply a collection rides, games and entertainment.

The 10 Best Theme Parks in America · The Inspiration Edit (2)

Disneyworld, Orlando, Florida

Disneyworld is the most visited theme park in the world with a whopping 52 million visitors a year. It is a massive entertainment complex which opened in 1971 to mirror and expand upon the original Disneyland in Southern California. The park has four theme parks; Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney Animal Kingdom and, of course, the Magic Kingdom which features many of the new and original Disney characters and rides.

If that weren’t enough, there are 27 themed hotels and two water parks in the complex. The entire park is 25,000 acres, much of it still undeveloped.

Disneyworld, and its older brother, Disneyland are true entertainment blockbusters. They are an American cultural phenomena one that has spread worldwide.

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Disneyland Park (originally Disneyland), Anaheim, California

Although much smaller than Disneyworld, Disneyland is the mother of all American theme parks. It was founded in 1955 by Walt Disney and has remained an extremely popular holiday destination. This is due, in part, to the company’s ability to retain their traditional cartoon and fairytale characters – Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White, etc. – while adding newer franchises such as Star Wars and Pixar’s many lovable computer animated characters.

Disneyland Park consists of nine themed “lands” such as Frontierland, Futureland and Adventureland. But what really makes Disneyland Park special after all these years is that it has remained true to its original vision to be “the happiest place on earth.”

Epcot. Bay Lake, Florida

Epcot is part of Walt Disney World Resorts and is one of Florida’s most unusual theme parks. The park is dedicated to human achievement, technical innovation and international culture, It’s something like a year around World’s Fair. Epcot is the fourth most visited theme park in the U.S. with over 13-million visitors a year.

The park is divided into two themed areas. Future World is just that, showcasing science and technology innovations for the future. The other area is World Showcase which features eleven pavilions, each built around a particular country. Among the eleven are those from France, Japan, Germany, Italy, China.

For something different than your run of the mill theme park, you should visit Epcot.

Six Flags Magic Mountain. Anaheim, California

If you want to get scared out of your wits, Six Flags Magic Mountain is the place to go. Voted America’s Best Theme Park by readers of USA Today, this park features an amazing 17-story, 75-miles an hour ride called CraZanity. Couple that with the 19 world class roller coasters and 100 rides, and you’ve got a theme park that will really rattle your brains and body.

For those seeking something less adventure, Six Flags Magic Mountain has Bugs Bunny World, a 6-acre attraction which has numerous rides that won’t give you a heart attack.

Sea World. San Diego, California

Started in the 1960’s, SeaWorld was one of the first themed oceanariums, or water mammal entertainment parks. It’s known the world over for its performing killer whale shows. If you want to get up close and personal to dolphins, sharks and sea lions, this is the place to be.

The park is on 190 acres in always sunny San Diego, California. It features interactive attractions, rides, aquariums and has amazing landscaping. Visitors get to see the mysteries of the deep blue sea and all the creatures that call it home. It also offers visitors the world’s first horizontal infinity-loop coaster.

Importantly, all the fun at SeaWorld helps finance rescue programs which have, to date, saved over 35,000 animals. SeaWorld – doing good while having fun.

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The 10 Best Theme Parks in America · The Inspiration Edit (3)

Universal Studios Hollywood. Universal City, California

Another popular theme park in California is Universal Studios Hollywood. It’s focus is on TV and movie programs and characters. The park has exciting rides, live shows, many based on popular characters such as Harry Potter.

If you have a strong stomach, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, will give you a thrill of a lifetime. This roller-coaster reaches 65-miles an hour and blasts loud rock music to muffle the screams of those brave enough to ride this monster.

Bring a lot of sunscreen when you go, because it never gets cloudy in Southern California.

The 10 Best Theme Parks in America · The Inspiration Edit (4)

Bush Gardens. Tampa, Florida

Owned by SeaWorld Entertainment and one of America’s oldest theme parks, Bush Gardens first opened its doors in 1959 in Tampa, Florida. The original purpose of the park was to promote products made by the large beer company Anheuser-Busch.

USA Today ranks Bush Gardens as among the top five theme parks in the U.S. Visitors can take a safari tour, see world class shows and ride hair-raising roller coasters. And you can see a true American icon, the famous Clydesdale horses pulling a large wagon-sized barrel of beer.

When you go, don’t drink too much of the sponsor’s product otherwise you may lose your lunch on one of their wild rides.

Knox Berry Farms. Buena Park, California

Southern California’s Knox Berry Farm is a family focused theme park that features over 40 rides including roller coasters, water rides and other exciting amusements. Over 4-million people visit the park every year.

Started in the 1920’s as a small roadside berry stand, Knox Berry Farm has grown into one of Southern California’s most popular theme parks. There’s a replica of an old Western ghost town and thrill rides like Shoot-the-Chute and Perilous Plunge which is the steepest and tallest water ride in the world.

This is a fun and wholesome theme park for the entire family.

Hersey Park. Hershey, Pennsylvania

Named after the famous chocolate bar company, Hersey Park is a popular East Coast family fun destination 95-miles west of Philadelphia. The park has 70 rides and live entertainment at the Hershey Park Amphitheatre and Music Box Theatre.

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The price of admission also includes access to ZooAmerica, an 11-acre, year around attraction which features over 200 animals from five regions of North America. Hershey Park has appeared on many TV shows, movies, and popular books including the 2019 suspense novel “Beneath the Lights”.

They say you can smell the chocolate from Hersey Park long before you see it from the road.

Silver Dollar City. Stone County, Missouri

Located in America’s heartland, Silver Dollar City is a theme park in the popular country western music mecca of Branson, Missouri. The theme here is more down-home, traditional Americana than most of the country’s other theme parks.

It has 40 rides, live shows and 100 resident craftsmen who demonstrate America’s historical crafts. The park in open from March through December and is guaranteed to provide visitors with a real taste of old time America.

How to Get into the U.S. as a Tourist: Waivers and Visas

If you are coming to the U.S. from oversees, from countries outside of Europe, you may need to apply for a B-2 tourist visa. There are about 40 countries that don’t have to apply in-person for this visa most of them are in Europe. Others are South Korea, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand to name a few.

People from these countries can travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) but they must apply online for this through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a flight to the U.S.

Getting a B-2 visa is time consuming and depends a great deal on what country you come from. A person must apply online through the Online Visa Application (DS-160) to set up an interview which will take place at an American consulate or embassy. You can go to the U.S. government website to see what documents are required and what the wait time is to get your tourist visa or check on your ESTA visa status. Wait times vary from country to country.


These are America’s 10 best theme parks. They are well worth visiting when you come to the U.S. After all, what trip to America would be complete without having your picture taken with Mickey Mouse?

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About Angela Milnes

Angela Milnes is a Qualified Early Years Teacher who has specialised in Preschool and Kindergarten teaching. She has a wealth of experience teaching young children and is passionate about kids crafts and having fun as a family. Angela has also taught cooking skills and loves to share both family recipes and easy instant pot recipes here on The Inspiration Edit. Follow her on Pinterest!


What is the #1 theme park in the USA? ›


According to Tripadvisor's Traveler's Choice Best of the Best awards for amusement parks in the U.S., Dollywood is the number one winner! Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in the Smoky Mountains, and it's known for 11 different attractions and award-winning shows.

What is the theme park in step by step? ›

Opening of show is at an amusement park which is supposed to be located on the shores of Lake Michigan. The amusement park is actually Six Flags Magic Mountain (located in Valencia, California) which in reality is many miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.

How many theme parks are in USA? ›

There are 5,814 amusement and theme parks in United States.

What are 10 careers in the theme park industry? ›

If you're interested in working at an amusement park, you may want to learn about some jobs with high earning potential.
8 amusement park jobs with above-average pay
  • Emergency medical technician. ...
  • Customer service manager. ...
  • Retail manager. ...
  • Head custodian. ...
  • Park manager. ...
  • Electrician. ...
  • Landscape technician.
Nov 23, 2021

Where is the largest theme park in the US? ›

1. Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL, USA – 15,000 hectares.

How did Colossus catch fire? ›

Sheriff's officials said the fire was sparked by welders working on the ride, which is under reconstruction. No park visitors were riding Colossus at the time the blaze broke out -- the 36-year-old roller coaster closed in mid-August.

What is the fastest roller coaster in the world? ›

Formula Rossa is the world's fastest rollercoaster with a speed of 0 to 240 km/h in 4.9 seconds. Feel the surge of 4.8Gs in the pit of your stomach as you scale heart-racing heights of 52m.

How did step by step end? ›

The show's ratings (which had been declining for several seasons) continued to fall and it ended its run in June 1998. "Step by Step" had no official series finale although the series' last episode centered on Frank and Carol considering selling the house.

What is the #1 theme park in the world? ›

Magic Kingdom, United States

Magic Kingdom is the most-visited theme park in the world, and right now, it's celebrating 50 years since opening as the first Disney World theme park in Florida.

Who made the first theme park? ›

70 YEARS OF FAMILY FUN. The history of the nation's first theme park is the story of a family which has, for seven decades, dedicated itself to providing millions of guests with good, old-fashioned family fun. Evansville, Ind., industrialist Louis J. Koch created the world's first theme park as a retirement project.

What was the very first amusement park? ›

The first permanent enclosed entertainment area, regulated by a single company, was founded in Coney Island in 1895: Sea Lion Park at Coney Island in Brooklyn. This park was one of the first to charge admission to get into the park in addition to sell tickets for rides within the park.

What is the highest paying job in Disney World? ›

Senior Project Manager is the highest paying job at Walt Disney World at $121,000 annually.

Do you get paid well working at Disney? ›

How much does Disney World pay? Disney World pays its employees an average of $18.62 an hour. Hourly pay at Disney World ranges from an average of $12.75 to $36.49 an hour.

What job pays most Disney? ›

Highest Paying Jobs At The Walt Disney Company
RankJob TitleAverage Salary
1Senior Software Engineer$167,171
3Business Analyst$103,401
4Finance Analyst$99,222
16 more rows

What is the biggest theme park in the world 2022? ›

Walt Disney World surely rates a mention, however, as the world's largest amusement park. The Orlando-area site needs to be big because it's also the most visited theme park, with around 50million visitors a year. It contains 24 hotels, six theme and water parks and four golf courses.

What is the safest amusement park in America? ›

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

It is the definition of safety and excitement all in one facility. Every child and most adults dream about visiting Disney amusement park at least once in their lives. Why wouldn't they? It's the place where magic comes to life.

What is the biggest Six Flags in the US? ›

Six Flags Magic Mountain has 19 operating roller coasters, the most of any park in the world. The historical evolution of these rides started in May of 1971 and continues today. This park covers 262 acres and is open year-round.

Why is 6 flags called? ›

Throngs flocked to Six Flags Over Texas when the park opened in 1961. Six themed sections, modeled after the culture of the six countries whose flags flew over Texas during the state's colorful history, created a spectacular and magical setting for guests — and provided the park's name.

Which Six Flags is the best in California? ›

Six Flags Magic Mountain is known as the “Thrill Capital of the World,” and the 260-acre theme park features record-breaking, world-class roller coasters and over 100 rides, games and attractions for the entire family and was voted by USA TODAY readers as America's Best Theme Park.

What is the first theme park? ›

The Guinness Book of World Records holder, Bakken in Kampenborg, Denmark, opened in 1583 near popular fresh-water springs as a pleasure garden with live entertainment, fireworks, dancing, games and some early rides.

Which is better Disneyland or Disney World? ›

With double the theme parks and two water parks, Disney World offers more attractions overall than Disneyland. Guests can find details on all the attractions and experiences available at Disneyland and Disney World on their respective websites.

Which Disney park is the best in USA? ›

1. Magic Kingdom. Without question, Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World Resort's best theme park. It opened in 1972 as Disney World's original theme park.

Is Knott's Berry Farm America's first theme park? ›

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Knott's Berry Farm and it is a perfect time to reflect on the Farm's unique history. It's an incredible story of hard work and happy accidents that resulted in America's first theme park.

Where is the oldest theme park? ›

Bakken. Bakken or Dyrehavsbakken, located in Denmark, is the oldest amusement park in the world. It opened in 1583, and the first attraction is actually all-natural. The area is home to a natural spring, which attracted city-dwellers in Copenhagen with poor water quality to travel up north.

Where is the oldest amusement park? ›

  • Bakken, Klampenborg, Denmark 1583.
  • The Prater, Vienna, Austria 1766.
  • Blackgang Chine Cliff Top Theme Park, Ventnor, UK 1842.
  • Tivoli, Copenhagen, Denmark 1843.
  • Lake Compounce Amusement Park, Bristol, CT, USA 1846.
  • Hanayashiki, Tokyo, Japan 1853.
  • Jardin d'Acclimatation, Paris, France 1860.
  • Grand Pier, Teignmouth, UK 1865.

Why is it called a theme park? ›

This is where the word "theme" in "theme park" comes into play. A theme park is a defined, designed space whose design reflects a unifying theme or collection of themes. Those themes can draw from fiction or other forms of storytelling, from history, or even just from other locations around the world.

How much is a ticket to Disney World? ›

The multi-day ticket pricing will be based on the arrival date chosen at the time of purchase. As an example, a one-day ticket varies in pricing from $109 to $159 per day depending on the exact dates that are chosen to visit a theme park and which additional options are chosen.

Is Disney in Florida or California better? ›

While Disney World clearly has the advantage of size, Disneyland has far more rides per square foot than the park in Florida. Rides like Star Tours and the Star Wars land Galaxy's Edge are all found within the main Disneyland park. In Florida, these rides are found in Hollywood Studios and not in the Magic Kingdom.

Which Disney park has Star Wars? ›

You can explore an all-new land at Disney's Hollywood Studios - Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Discover your own Star Wars story and live your adventure in a galaxy far, far away, whilst exploring a remote outpost and flying the Millennium Falcon.

Is 12 too old for Disney World? ›

Parents often wonder if their kids are too young (or too old) to go to Disney World. The best age to take a child to Disney World is between 3 and 12 years old, but people of all ages will enjoy the park.

Which Disney World park is best for 7 year old? ›

Disney World for 7 Year Old

A great park to start for at for a 7 year old would be Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom. If your little one is wanting to try bigger rides, but not fully get scared, these two parks would be great.

Where is the most beautiful Disneyland? ›

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is simultaneously the most beautiful Magic Kingdom-style park ever built, and the park with the most squandered potential.

How many Six Flags are there in the world? ›

Six Flags
FormerlySix Flags, Inc. (2000–2010)
HeadquartersArlington, Texas, U.S.
Number of locations27
Area servedUnited States Mexico Canada
Key peopleSelim Bassoul (President & CEO) Ben Baldanza (Non-Executive Chairman)
11 more rows

How old do you have to be to go to Knott's Berry Farm? ›

Under the policy, all guests ages 17 years old or younger must be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 21 years old to be admitted to the park. Any adult 18+ as well as chaperones must be able to present a valid photo ID with date of birth for admission.

How old is Knott's Berry Farm? ›

Knott's Berry Farm
OwnerCedar Fair
General managerJon Storbeck
SloganAmerica's 1st Theme Park, California's Best Theme Park, The Friendliest Place in the West
11 more rows


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