Five Theme Parks Your Teens Will Love

Thrills and adventure await your teen at these diverse theme parks across the U.S.

Family Travel Expert

Theme parks, more than just amusement, can be the most fun, as they transport you to a more specific place or mood. Teens love relating to their favorite movies or thrills and will certainly like what these top popular parks have to offer.

Busch Gardens - Tampa Bay, Florida — Photo courtesy of matthewingram

Busch Gardens, in Tampa Bay, Florida, is becoming known as the best place for coasters, with a total of six - Sheikra, Montu, Kumba, Gwazi, Scorpion and Cheetah Hunt. Deriving their names from its African wildlife theme, this park sports a Skyride (a better speed for mom and dad) that takes you right through the center of the animals' free-roaming 65 acre habitat, the first of its kind.  You can also treat your young adult to something really special - a behind the scenes tour like the Serengeti Safari or the close-up Elephant Keeper Experience.  They'll also love the thrill of the Congo Ride through the rapids, geyser and waterfalls.   Don't miss the nightly Kinetix show filled with rock music, fireworks and a chance to ride the lit up coasters in the dark.

Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort

In nearby Orlando, Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure takes guests through seven different islands based on different licensed characters or movies such as Marvel's Superheros, Jurassic Park, and the latest, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  The Incredible Hulk coaster at Marvel Super Hero Island is a favorite, as is Doctor Doom's Fearfall, not for the weak in the stomach!  On two different tall towers, riders experience 4 G's while being launched 40 mph almost 200 feet into the air!

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - Vallejo, CA — Photo courtesy of aresauburn

Formerly called Marine World, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, near San Francisco, CA features animal shows and amusement rides, including one of the tallest coaster inversions in the world, the newly opened Superman Ultimate Flight coaster.  With both land and sea animal exhibits, there are so many shows and exhibits to see and do, including an up close visit with the dolphins.  For big excitement, your teens will probably head to one if not all of the seven exciting roller coasters and the ultimate thrill ride, the SkyScreamer, which will have them becoming just that, swinging 150 feet 15 stories high.

Tower of Terror - Disney California Adventure — Photo courtesy of Roller Coaster Philosophy

Further south in Anaheim, California, is Disney California Adventure, based on iconic California landmarks and culture, in different historical settings.  The tallest attraction and one very popular with teens is the Tower of Terror, based on the Twilight Zone series.  Riders go up an elevator in the lighting struck Hollywood Hotel, accompanied by Rod Serling's voice and experience an almost 200 foot drop and the eerie disappearance of part of the hotel. 

In Cars Land, the ride Radio Springs Racers, based on Pixar's Cars movie, is one of the most expensive theme park rides ever built (at 200 million dollars!).  Riders in a 6 person vehicle go for the race of their lives, nearly colliding into characters and buildings, reaching a top speed of 40 mph.  Be sure to get your on-ride photo!

Paradise Pier - Disney California Adventure — Photo courtesy of Roller Coaster Philosophy

At Paradise Pier, hang on for a thrill ride on the California Screamin' coaster.  Later in the evening, catch the World of Color show, featuring fountains choreographed to music and Disney projected movie images.

You will definitely hear more "Are we there yet's" as opposed to "I wanna go home's" this summer if visiting one of many theme parks in the U.S. or abroad with your child.  Your teen might even feel a bit empowered and amused, allowing you to cling to them or bury your head, as you experience the many thrills and terrors alongside them. 

About Jennifer Boren

Jennifer has fond memories of experiencing scary rides and haunted houses with her own son.  She suspects he got a kick out of seeing his mom scared to death.

Read more about Jennifer Boren here.

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