Readers Choice

10Best Readers' ChoiceChosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best

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    #10 - Disneyland Park - Anaheim, Calif.

    The original "Happiest Place on Earth," Disneyland Park in Anaheim was the brainchild of Walt Disney himself. Dedicated by Disney in 1955, the 85-acre park features eight themed "lands" with more than 60 attractions. Some of the most iconic theme park rides out there - It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion and Star Tours to name a few - can be found here (nearly every ride is a highlight), making up for what the park lacks in more adrenaline-pumping offerings.

    Photo courtesy of Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

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    #9 - Busch Gardens - Williamsburg, Va.

    The European-themed installment of Busch Gardens in Williamsburg transports visitors to England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy circa 17th century, albeit a rather exciting version of the era, with more than 50 rides and attractions spread over 100 acres. Busch Gardens Williamsburg frequently ranks among the world's most beautiful theme parks, and its thrill ride options are top notch. The guest favorite? Griffon, the world's first floorless dive coaster that plunges 205 feet at 75 miles per hour.

    Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg

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    #8 - Magic Kingdom Park - Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

    The Magic Kingdom, the Florida version of the original Disneyland, was the first Walt Disney World park to open, and much like it's West Coast predecessor, it's divided into six themed "lands" with some of the same attractions that have made Disney a household name when it comes to theme parks: Space Mountain, It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise, among others. The newly opened Seven Dwarves Mine Train showcases the ongoing creative efforts of Disney's Imagineers.

    Photo courtesy of Kent Phillips/Disney

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    #7 - Kings Island - Mason, Ohio

    Kings Island, sister park of Kings Dominion and one of the nation's most visited theme parks, has plenty of family-friendly offerings among its 100 rides, shows and attractions, but the roller coasters are king. The park boasts 15 of them, including the world's longest wooden roller coaster, The Beast, as well as Diamondback, one of the top steel coasters in the country. Park admission also includes entrance into the 33-acre Soak City water park.

    Photo courtesy of ings Island/

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    #6 - LEGOLAND California - Carlsbad, Calif.

    A favorite among families with younger children, LEGOLAND California opened in 1999 as the nation's first LEGO-themed park. What it lacks in teen-friendly thrill rides (though the Knight's Tournament Robocoaster can pack an adrenaline-inducing punch), it makes up for in wildly inventive hands-on experiences and meticulous LEGO creations. The new in 2014 LEGO MOVIE EXPERIENCE offers guests a look behind the scenes of the hit 3D animated film.

    Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND California

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    #5 - Hersheypark - Hershey, Pa.

    The theme park of every chocolate lover's dreams, Hersheypark features 110 acres with 70 rides (including 12 roller coasters), five strolling shows, six stages, three additional performance areas, a waterpark and an 11-acre wildlife park, all accessible via a single admission. Fahrenheit, one of the park's most popular thrill rides, is a vertical lift coaster with a 90-degree, 121-foot lift followed by a breathtaking 97-degree drop.

    Photo courtesy of Hersheypark

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    #4 - Cedar Point - Sandusky, Ohio

    Located on a Lake Erie peninsula in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Point bills itself as "the roller coaster capital of the world" with 17 roller coasters covering 10 miles of track (out of 72 total rides). The 364-acre park has a history dating back to 1870, making it the second oldest continually operated amusement park on the continent, and it's managed to maintain that classic park feel, complete with 3 miles of midway and one of the only operating D.C. Muller carousels in the world.

    Photo courtesy of Courtesy of

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    #3 - Dollywood - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

    Tucked amid the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, country music- themed Dollywood has all the makings of a great theme park - thrill rides, coasters, kiddie rides and everything in between - it really shines in its other extras. Live craft demonstrations, lavish stage shows and a full calendar of special events mean there's always something going on, and the Southern-inspired food offerings are a cut above the typical theme park fare.

    Photo courtesy of Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism

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    #2 - Six Flags Great Adventure - Jackson, N.J.

    Six Flags Great Adventure is home of the world's tallest steel roller coaster, Kinda Ka, as well as the recently debuted Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom, the world's tallest and fastest drop ride. The park boasts around a dozen coasters in all, plus a slew of tamer rides and attractions, Looney Toons character meet-and-greets, live stage shows and a 350-acre safari park with 1,200 animal residents.

    Photo courtesy of Jeremy Thompson

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    #1 - Six Flags Magic Mountain - Valencia, Calif.

    For roller coaster lovers, it doesn't get much better than Six Flags Magic Mountain. The park boasts the world's largest lineup of coasters - 18 of them - including some rather inventive offerings and record-breakers. Stars of the heart-pumping ride list include Revolution, the first giant looping roller coaster in the world, and SUPERMAN: Escape from Krypton, which shoots riders backwards from 0 to 100 miles per hour in seven seconds flat, before reaching a dizzying height of 415 feet.

    Photo courtesy of Jeff Turner

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Six Flags Tops in Best Theme Park contest

Dollywood, Cedar Point, Hersheypark also score with readers

After four weeks of intense voting, our readers have spoken and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California has won the #1 spot in our Best Theme Park contest.    

In a unique twist, this 10Best Readers' Choice contest has also resulted in a second Six Flags park - Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey - taking second place.   Tennessee's beloved Dollywood, which was promoted by namesake Dolly Parton, landed in third.

The full list of winners in the 'Best Theme Park' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice is as follows:

  1. Six Flags Magic Mountain - Valencia, Calif.
  2. Six Flags Great Adventure - Jackson, N.J.
  3. Dollywood - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
  4. Cedar Point - Sandusky, Ohio
  5. Hersheypark - Hershey, Pa.
  6. LEGOLAND California - Carlsbad, Calif.
  7. Kings Island - Mason, Ohio
  8. Magic Kingdom Park - Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
  9. Busch Gardens - Williamsburg, Va.
  10. Disneyland Park - Anaheim, Calif.

Congratulations to all the winners!  There's still enough nice weather ahead to enjoy the park closest to you.  Get out and enjoy!

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The Experts

Arthur Levine

One ride on a carousel, and Arthur Levine was hooked for life. Now an avowed park-aholic, he's been able to turn his passion into his profession. A travel writer who specializes in the amusement industry, Levine has been the Theme Parks Expert at since 2002. He also writes about parks regularly for USA Today and writes features for other publications such as Consumers Digest, the Denver Post, the Boston Herald, and the Columbus Dispatch. He is frequently cited in national media and is a featured speaker for industry organizations such as Walt Disney Imagineering.

James Riley

James Riley covers theme parks for USA TODAY as a travel editor for Experience America. While he could find every hidden Mickey at the Magic Kingdom, he leaves coasters with more than five inversions to the brave, and instead faces his own challenge: the line for churros.  

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