Top 6 Theme Parks in the U.S. That Aren’t Disney World

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Going to Disney World may be the dream of many a little one and the first thing a quarterback plans to do after winning the Superbowl, but it’s not the only theme park in the U.S. that’s worth visiting. In fact, there are plenty of other fun theme parks that are packed full of family fun and adventure, both in the “Disney mecca” of Orlando, Florida and scattered across the country.

Universal's Islands of Adventure - Orlando, FL
The Incredible Hulk, Islands of Adventure

Universal's Islands of Adventure - Orlando, FL

Of course, even if you’re looking to experience something outside of Disney World, Orlando is still the best place to start. Because in addition to the famous home of Mickey and Minnie, there are also at least five other theme parks in the area including Sea World, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. This amazing park, which includes rides dedicated to movie favorites like Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and Spiderman, has been named the #1 amusement park in the world by TripAdvisor for three years straight.

Universal Studios Hollywood - Los Angeles, CA
Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood - Los Angeles, CA

On the opposite coast of the U.S. is another Universal theme park that movie lovers must check out – Universal Studios Hollywood. With lifelike rides and attractions that celebrate fan favorites like Revenge of the Mummy, Harry Potter, King Kong, Transformers, and the Fast and the Furious, this top-rated attraction in California is filled with thrills and excitement. Besides the rides, there are exciting shows to watch too like WaterWorld and the Special Effects Show that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat as performers demonstrate the secrets behind live animation, realistic fight sequences and even being set on fire!

The Island - Pigeon Forge, TN
The Island
The Island - Pigeon Forge, TN

The Island - Pigeon Forge, TN

Back east, The Island in Pigeon Forge in Tennesse is a hidden treasure. In fact, there’s so much to do here, that you’ll probably want to stay for a few days. Which you can easily do right on-site at the Margaritaville Island Hotel or the Margaritaville Island Inn. But what theme park would be complete without fun rides and attractions? And this place has plenty, including a ropes course, a mirror maze, bumper cars, an escape room, rides, and the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel – a giant Ferris wheel that gives riders a breathtaking view of Pigeon Forge and the surrounding mountains.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay - Tampa, FL
SheiKra, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay - Tampa, FL

Animal lovers will want to check out Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida because it’s a theme park and a zoo all in one. For adrenaline junkies, this park has some of the best roller coasters in Florida. There’s a spinning roller coaster, an inverted coaster, and the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America that pivots riders 90 degrees and drops them face first for over 300 feet. If your idea of entertainment is a little tamer, there are also lots of family-friendly shows to enjoy with music, dancing, ice skating, and live animals. Plus, Busch Gardens is also home to the largest zoo in Tampa, with over 300 different species of animals.

Cedar Point - Sandusky, OH
Cedar Point

Cedar Point - Sandusky, OH

Cedar Point is a 364-acre park located along the shores of Lake Erie and is considered the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World”. A popular theme park in Ohio, there are 18 different coasters here including Valravn – the longest, tallest, fastest dive coaster in the world and Steel Vengeance – a hybrid roller coaster that has broken ten world records. Besides the coasters, there are plenty of other thrill rides and family-friendly rides to try, a variety of live shows, and the Cedar Point Shores Waterpark that features 18 acres of slides, fountains, lagoons, and pools – all on the sandy shores of beautiful Lake Erie.

Hersheypark - Hershey, PA

Hersheypark - Hershey, PA

Chocolate lovers, rejoice! There is an entire amusement park for people like you in Hershey, Pennsylvania – the home of the famous Hershey Chocolate Factory. What first began as a rest and relaxation area for employees of the factory, has now turned into a full-blown amusement park for visitors from all over the world. In fact, when you visit Hersheypark, you get to experience three parks in one. First, there’s the park itself which features a wide variety of rides and attractions. Then, there’s The Boardwalk, a waterpark with slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river. Lastly, you can round out your experience with a visit to ZooAmerica – an 11-acre zoo with more than 200 different animals.

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