It's that time of year again. School is out, the sun is shining and it's time to take that well-deserved vacation. To help you plan the ultimate summer trip, we asked a panel of theme park industry experts to nominate their favorite amusement parks, hotels, restaurants, entertainment and water parks from coast to coast. For the last four weeks, our readers have been voting for their top picks, and the results are in.
Click on each category below to see the full list of winners:
Best Amusement Park: Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio
Winning park known for its classic coasters — Photo courtesy of Cedar Point
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.
Best Amusement Park Entertainment: Celtic Fyre at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
This is the third win for Celtic Fyre — Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Celebrate the Celtic tradition of storytelling through dance at this incredibly popular, high-energy show at Busch Gardens Williamsburg that will have you laughing and clapping to the beat of festive music. Animals native to Ireland make appearances and audience participation provides another fun angle.
Guests leave the show with a newfound or rekindled love for all things Irish.
Best Amusement Park Hotel: Hotel Breakers in Sandusky, Ohio
Winning hotel offers convenient access to Cedar Point — Photo courtesy of Cedar Point
Located within steps of both Cedar Point and Cedar Point Shores, Hotel Breakers was expanded in 2018 to 669 rooms and suites. Guests enjoy waterfront views and a full-service beachfront bar, two outdoor pools, an outdoor water playground, fire pits, beach games and an arcade.
Best Amusement Park Restaurant: Via Napoli at Epcot
Find this winning restaurant in Epcot's Italy pavilion — Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World
Hearty pastas, wood-fired pizzas and other Southern Italian favorites fill the menu at Via Napoli in Epcot's Italy Pavilion. This casual and family-friendly eatery also serves Italian wines, beers (by the pint or pitcher) and specialty cocktails.
Best Indoor Water Park: Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark in Tannersville, Penn.
Winner brings the outdoors inside with a transparent roof — Photo courtesy of Camelback Resort
Aquatopia at Camelback Resort in the Poconos boasts 125,000 square feet of water-filled fun, featuring seven pools (including a wave pool), 13 slides, an adventure river and a water play structure with nearly 100 gadgets and interactive elements and a 1,000-gallon dumping bucket.
A highlight for thrill-seekers is Storm Chaser, one of the longest indoor, uphill water coasters in the USA. Visitors looking to relax can work on their tan year-round thanks to Aquatopia's transparent roof.
Best Outdoor Water Park: Splashin' Safari Water Park in Santa Claus, Ind.
Santa Claus, Indiana water park wins for second time — Photo courtesy of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
It may be in Santa Claus, Indiana, but Splashin’ Safari’s about as far from the North Pole as you can get, offering myriad thrills to cool guests off in the summer heat.
Families who thrill-ride together will revel catching actual air on Mammoth – a water coaster so massive that its seven-story bulk takes up more than three acres! Multiple drops employ cutting edge technology, lifting up to six passengers to plunge again and again and again.
Best Roller Coaster: Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point
Steel Vengeance broke records when it debuted in 2018 — Photo courtesy of Cedar Point
The world record-breaking Steel Vengeance just debuted at Cedar Point in May 2018 as the world's tallest and fastest hybrid coaster with the steepest drop (90 degrees), longest drop (200 feet), most inversions (four), and most airtime (27.2 seconds) on any hybrid coaster. At 5,740 feet, it's also the world's longest hybrid coaster and sure to be a new guest favorite.
Congratulations to all our amusement park and water park winners.