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The Most Iconic Amusement Parks in the United States

Published on February 8, 2018

Looking for a unique experience at an amusement park that will leave your family with fantastic memories? A lot of amusement parks today seem similar – no distinguishable theme, costly, and lacking the nostalgic feel of parks in the past.

Luckily for those lovers of true amusement parks, there’s still a few holdovers that have modernized their rides and amenities without losing their uniqueness. Read on for the most iconic amusement parks in the United States that will have you planning your next trip before you finish the article!

Hershey Park
Hershey, PA

As a child, surely you heard the rumor there was an amusement park that was totally dedicated to chocolate. Once it was discovered this chocolate heaven did in fact exist, you most likely hounded your parents for a visit.

Originally created by Milton S. Hershey as a recreation area for employees of the Hershey Chocolate factory, Hershey Park has evolved into a delight for kids, adults, amusement park enthusiasts and chocolate lovers alike. It has over 70 rides (including 13 roller coasters), multiple stages for live performances and even several “strolling shows” that make their way through the park, truly bringing the show to the people.

It is awesome. And while it’s slightly disappointing its streets are not paved with chocolate like you dreamed of as a child, it still provides a unique experience.

DON’T MISS: The Storm Runner. It goes from 0-72 mph in just two seconds, has a 135-foot loop and an 18-story drop. Just to be safe, do this one before lunch.

Holiday World
Santa Claus, IN

Like Hershey Park, hearing of an entire city, let alone amusement park, dedicated to something as glorious as Christmas was almost too much for the senses. Originally opened in 1946 under the name “Santa Claus Land”, Holiday World brands itself as the first true “theme” park in the world. And even though its name has changed, the spirit of embracing the joys of holidays has remained the same. Only now, the park is divided into four holidays — Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July.

One of the few family-owned theme parks in the United States, it is a family park in the truest sense of the words. While it has modern rides and enough thrills to keep the adults and teens captivated, it is still rooted in the nostalgia and joy of holiday celebrations. With lots of rides, a water park, and affordability, it’s a perfect way to cram four joyous holidays into one amazing day.

DON’T MISS: The Thunderbird Steel is the first launched wing coaster in America. The riders sit suspended on either side of the track as it whips literally around the park.

Pacific Park
Santa Monica, CA

This staple of southern California family fun is worth traveling to wherever you’re from. Located on the world-famous Santa Monica Pier, Pacific Park is like experiencing an amusement park the way they were intended. It is compact, affordable with tons to do, and the staff couldn’t be any friendlier.

Entering the park is free (yes, free) and the rides are available to pay as you go or through an unlimited all-day wristband. After taking in the rides, and filling your arms with prizes you won from all the midway games, there’s nothing more relaxing than shopping on the boardwalk or taking in some of the amazing food ranging from traditional California cuisine to classic amusement park treats.

DON’T MISS: Pacific Wheel is the world’s first and only solar-powered Ferris wheel reaching 130 feet over the Pacific Ocean where you can take in views of the Los Angeles shoreline. It’s, in a word, breathtaking.

Pigeon Forge, TN

Who doesn’t love Dolly Parton? She is a national treasure and global icon. Since Mount Rushmore is out of space, she has a theme park in her honor. Surrounded by breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains, the park is home to more than 40 rides and attractions. It is part theme park, part resort, and full of southern charm.

It’s an amusement park but the real draw of Dollywood is no doubt its live entertainment. On one of its many stages, you can take in live music performances of country, southern gospel, classic rock ‘n’ roll and Appalachian music. And if you’re lucky, Dolly and her family may pop on stage for a song or two.

DON’T MISS: “Lightning Rod”, which is currently the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster.

Cedar Point
Sandusky, OH
Cedar Point is that place with all the roller coasters, that everyone has heard of but can never seem to remember the name or where it’s located – Cedar Point on a Lake Erie peninsula in Northern Ohio. Google it. It’s one of the oldest continually operated amusement parks in the United States and has been thrilling people since it opened its doors in 1870.

While Cedar Point has over 70 rides, tons of games, and amazing food, it is without a doubt a rollercoaster junkie’s heaven. They are built for all sizes, ages, and every type of intestinal fortitude.

DON’T MISS: Millennium Force will be making its debut in 2018 as the tallest, fastest and longest hybrid roller coaster in the world and will set over 10 different world records.