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Top 10 Amusement parks to take your Kids to... by Priyanka ,  Apr 24, 2013
School’s out and it’s time for some family fun in the sun. You told us your favorite water, amusement and theme parks, and there is something for every interest – and every budget.
You might think of amusement parks as being noisy places with overpriced food where your kids want to drag you off to every year--and you'd be right. As any parent knows, enduring amusement parks is as much a part of raising children as braces and funny haircuts. The only thing you can do is suck it up and hope that at least there's a decent golf course nearby. Amusement parks such as Coney Island, the pier at Santa Monica and even the Atlantic City boardwalk have become iconic symbols of Americana because of their blend of outdoorsy wholesomeness combined with adrenaline thrills, and unhealthy (but tasty) fast food. But most people would be surprised to learn that the oldest operating amusement park in the world is not American but Danish: Bakken, in Klampenborg, Denmark, opened in 1583. The oldest in the U.S. is Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn., which opened in 1846, according to Susie Story of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Parks are a growing industry, and U.S. parks account for only 54% of the worldwide revenue that, according to New York-based consultant Wilkofsky Gruen Associates, totaled $19 billion in 2001. The most visited park in the world is Tokyo Disneyland, which had over 17 million attendees last year. What makes the global success of theme parks even more surprising is the disastrous debut of Euro Disney in 1992. The French, as usual, practically revolted against the intrusion of American low culture on Gallic soil. But Disney retooled the park to tone down the American-ness, placed the emphasis on the rides and voilà. "Disney toned down the American arrogance, and now it's just fun," says Tim O'Brien, a senior editor at Amusement Business Weekly. "They also made it more of a European park than just a French one." (What does that mean? Serving wine and snails instead of Coke and hot dogs?) Its formula worked so well that Disney just opened a second park there. Romania even has plans to create a Dracula theme park--not in the count's alleged hometown but in Sighisoara, a city that ponied up free land. Later this year amusement parks will also be opening in such far-flung spots as Tunisia; Guatemala; Anchorage, Alaska; and Gelendjik, Russia. One reason parks are multiplying so quickly is because they're big business. The average price of a one-day ticket is around $25. Multiply that by a family of four and add Grandma and Grandpa, overpriced food, plush-toy souvenirs, mouse ears and perhaps a night or two in a hotel...and you're looking at some serious dough. But there are bargains to be found. Many parks offer package deals (with deeper savings on their Web sites), and few people may realize that the cost of a season pass is often just a few dollars more than the price of a one-day ticket. Now if the parks could only do something about the lines.

Cedar Point

Sandusky, Ohio

Touting itself as the roller coaster capital of the world, Cedar Point’s 17 coasters will ensure you’re riding all day. Enthusiastic reader Alicia Goettemoeller describes the park as an “adrenaline junkie’s paradise,” while reader Nick Schuyler says it is “built for grown-up kids.”


Elysburg, Pa.

This old-fashioned amusement park is a must for nostalgic types as well as the budget conscious – admittance and parking are free of charge. Reader Tracy Ginsburg Maier says “a family of 4 can eat, swim and ride all day for $100” at Knoebels.

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

No list of amusement parks would be complete without the happiest place on earth, Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Transport yourself back to your childhood with a trip to Space Mountain, or say hello to one of your favorite Disney characters.

Schlitterbahn Water Park

New Braunfels, Texas

Spread across 65 acres, Schlitterbahn has held the Amusement Today title for best water park for the past 13 years. It features an uphill water coaster ride, beaches, surfing, and more.

Universal¿s Islands of Adventure

Orlando, Fla.

Although most people associate Universal’s Islands of Adventure with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the park also has a number of roller coasters, 3-D rides and nearby restaurants and nightlife. Don’t forget to try the wizarding non-alcoholic beverage, butterbeer!

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Valencia, Calif.

On Memorial Day, this park will unveil its 18th coaster, the Green Lantern – unseating Cedar Point as the park with the most roller coasters in the world. Located near Los Angeles, the park also has plenty of Hollywood flair for those who prefer to stay on the ground.

King's Island

Mason, Ohio

King’s Island is one of the most visited theme parks in the US, with more than 3 million visitors per year. The park is especially known for its family-friendly attractions, such as Snoopy Island. Tickets to the main park also include admission to the nearby water park, Boomerang Bay.

Dells Water Parks

Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Wisconsin Dells is a water park aficionado’s dream, with dozens of indoor and outdoor water parks to splash around in. One of them, Noah’s Ark, is the largest outdoor water park in the US. Many are open year-round.

Hershey Park

Hershey, Pa.

Originally created as a recreation area for employees of the Hershey Chocolate factory, today Hershey Park boasts plenty of chocolate paraphernalia, as well as roller coasters and a water park. Tickets include admission to the nearby ZOOAMERICA.

Knott's Berry Farm

Buena Park, Calif.

Originally owned by the Knott’s jam producers, Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park is one of the older parks in the US, Knott’s Berry Farm is a classic for those looking for thrill rides, water rides and family fun