Best Amusement Park (2021)


North America is home to more than 400 amusement parks and attractions attracting some 375 million visitors annually, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. The choices can be overwhelming for those looking to plan the perfect vacation.

  • SeaWorld Orlando

    SeaWorld Orlando

    Most famous as a marine zoological park, SeaWorld Orlando has made a name for itself in the world of high-octane thrill rides as well, including Manta – one of the only coasters of its kind in the world – and Mako, a hyper coaster with deep dives, high speeds and thrills aplenty. Young visitors can now walk down Sesame Street and interact with their favorite furry friends.
    Photo courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando

  • Silver Dollar City

    Silver Dollar City
    Branson, Mo.

    Stepping into Silver Dollar City is like stepping back to an 1880s mining town. Covering over 100 acres, the park is the largest family-owned amusement park in the nation, attracting some two million visitors annually with its combination of on-park entertainment, festivals, 100 resident craftsmen and more than 40 rides and attractions. The park debuted a new rafting ride inspired by the Ozark waterways, Mystic River Falls, in 2020.
    Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City

  • Kings Island

    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. Orion, the park’s fastest, tallest and longest steel coaster, debuted in July 2020 and won Best New Amusement Park Attraction 2020 in our Readers' Choice Awards. 
    Photo courtesy of Don Helbig / Kings Island

  • Busch Gardens Williamsburg

    Busch Gardens Williamsburg

    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. 
    Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg

  • 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. 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 Dollywood

  • Busch Gardens Tampa

    Busch Gardens Tampa

    African-themed Busch Gardens Tampa opened in 1959, making it somewhat of a trailblazer in the Orlando theme park boom. It's since expanded to include nearly 300 acres of attractions, thrill rides and even a 12,000-animal zoo. While the park offers animal shows and interactions, as well as character encounters with the folks from Sesame Street to appeal to pint-sized park goers, the real draws are the coasters and thrill rides. Iron Gwazi, the tallest, fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in North America, is anticipated to open in 2021.
    Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa

  • Cedar Point

    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 18 thrilling coasters covering 10 miles of track (out of more than 70 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 Cedar Point

  • Hersheypark

    Hershey, Penn.

    The amusement park of every chocolate lover's dreams, Hersheypark features 121 acres with 70 rides (including more than a dozen roller coasters), strolling shows, five 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. Candymonium, the park’s tallest, fastest and longest hyper coaster debuted in 2020.
    Photo courtesy of Hersheypark

  • Magic Kingdom

    Magic Kingdom

    The Magic Kingdom, the Florida version of the original Disneyland, was the first Walt Disney World park to open. 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. Newer attractions like the Seven Dwarves Mine Train showcase the ongoing creative efforts of Disney's Imagineers. 
    Photo courtesy of Claire Celeste, photographer

  • Knott's Berry Farm

    Knott's Berry Farm
    Buena Park, Calif.

    Knott's Berry Farm really did start out as a berry farm, and guests can still dine at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant to sample her boysenberry jam. But today, the park is better known for its lineup of thrill rides and roller coasters, including HangTime, the first dive coaster on the West Coast. 
    Photo courtesy of Visit California/Hub

To help narrow down the options, we asked our readers to vote for their favorites, and the results are in.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Amusement Park are as follows:

  1. SeaWorld Orlando - Orlando
  2. Silver Dollar City - Branson, Mo.
  3. Kings Island - Mason, Ohio
  4. Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Williamsburg
  5. Dollywood - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
  6. Busch Gardens Tampa - Tampa
  7. Cedar Point - Sandusky, Ohio
  8. Hersheypark - Hershey, Penn.
  9. Magic Kingdom - Orlando
  10. Knott's Berry Farm - Buena Park, Calif.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning amusement parks!

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