All Ages

10 Best Amusement Parks for Families in 2015

See recent posts by Amanda Geronikos

The best amusement parks for families run the gamut of attractions, from enticing shows to hair-raising rides, but they also offer extra perks for families, including ticket packages and savings and affordable accommodations nearby.

Bonus: Many of these amusement parks are on the up-and-up in 2016, with new rides and more.

Written by Amanda Geronikos


Cedar Point

"The Roller Coaster Capital of the World" has added yet another coaster to its repertoire for 2016: Valravn. It is now the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in the world!

Cedar Point, located in in Sandusky, Ohio, has also added Sunrise Thrills VIP Tours, which include a behind-the-scenes look at Valravn and other coasters, plus photos, Preferred Parking, some meals and Fast Line vouchers. Other additions include The Battle for Cedar Point, an interactive, virtual reality experience; Glass Academy at Cedar Point, a glass-blowing studio; and a free park app that allows you to see wait times for rides and receive exclusive offers.

Looking for a place to stay? See Cedar Point Family Hotels.

Recommended Hotel: Hotel Breakers


Carowinds is making a big splash in 2016, with a major water park expansion. Former Boomerang Bay is now Carolina Harbor Waterpark, with a six-story waterslide, two-acre family area, giant wave pool and more.

The amusement park, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, has also added a 30-minute show called Cirque Imagine and a Starbucks -- as if the adrenaline-inducing rides weren't enough to pep you up!

Recommended Hotel: Carowinds Great Wilderness Resort


Located in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, Knoebels is an old-fashioned amusement park in the woods. It"s also budget-friendly, allowing families to pay per ride or game; attractions start as low as $1!

In 2015, the little park launched a big coaster, Impulse, a steel tower roller coaster. Families (many of whom are repeat visitors) always return to enjoy the Phoenix, a now-legendary wooden coaster, as well as the park"s onsite campsites and cottages.

Recommended Hotel: Knoebels Campground


Just over an hour from Knoebels, Hersheypark offers big-time thrills, with 13 roller coasters that include Laff Trakk, the first indoor, spinning glow-coaster in the U.S.

Close to the park, the Chocolate Making Tour at Hershey's Chocolate World has been completely renovated, and the Hershey Lodge has added a new water complex the kids will love after a day at the amusement park.

Want to look at more area hotels? See Hershey Family Hotels.

Recommended Hotel: Hershey Lodge


Owned by Dolly Parton, Dollywood is the culmination of a theme park, water park, resort hotel (DreamMore Resort, added in 2015) and a renowned show (Dolly Parton"s Dixie Stampede).

New to the theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is Lightning Rod, the world's fastest wooden roller coaster (that also resembles a 1950s hot rod).

Find Pigeon Forge Family Hotels

Recommended Hotel: Dollywood's DreamMore Resort

Six Flags Great Adventure

Six Flags Great Adventure is surely one of the best amusement parks for families -- particularly for thrill-seeking teens. The park, located in Jackson, New Jersey, houses Kingda Ka, the tallest and fastest roller coaster in North America, and Zumanjaro, the tallest drop tower in the world.

The adrenaline rush continues with 2015's El Diablo, a looping roller coaster inspired by the Jersey Devil, and, new for 2016, The Joker.

Six Flags Great Adventure Family Hotels.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn East Windsor

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Attention daredevils: Busch Gardens Williamsburg has Tempesto, a coaster that hurls riders three times at speeds of 63 mph. Added in 2015, the ride's other elements include a vertical loop (loop-de-loop) -- 154 feet in the air. In 2017, the park will launch InvadR, a wooden coaster.

Even if your kids aren"t old enough to ride the coasters, you"ll be able to take advantage of discounted admission for preschoolers. Large groups also have the option to book meals in advance of their trip for a savings of up to 30 percent.

Find Williamsburg Family Hotels

Recommended Hotel: Kingsmill Resort & Spa

Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City, located in Branson, Missouri, specializes in rides for families, especially those with young children -- so much so that it launched 10 family-specific attractions at Fireman"s Landing in 2015, including Firefall, an eight-story drop ride, and Firehouse Splash Yard, a water spray area.

Also fun for families are the park's annual events and festivals, which include Country Music Weekend and An Old Time Christmas.

Find Branson Family Hotels.

Recommended Hotel: Silver Dollar City's The Wilderness

Knott's Berry Farm

Many families flock to California's Disneyland, but shouldn't overlook Knott's Berry Farm, just 15 minutes away. In 2015, the park opened Voyage to the Iron Reef, an interactive ride in 4D. In 2016, it's celebrating the 75th anniversary of Ghost Town with a show called "Ghost Town Alive!" and GhostRider train rides.

Knott"s also has an onsite hotel with packages that combine accommodations, breakfast and tickets. Plus, kids eat free. Even if you don't plan to stay onsite, you can save up to $25 on admission when you purchase tickets online.

Looking for a place to stay? Check out Knott's Berry Farm Family Hotels.

Recommended Hotel: Knott's Berry Farm Resort Hotel

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Batman: The Ride is worth a visit to Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, as is the park"s extensive set of thrill rides and family rides (some of which are in the water park). The roller coaster, added in 2015, features effects in 4D and not one, but two 90-degree drops.

When tickets are purchased online, families can save up to $20 on admission.

San Antonio Family Hotels.

Recommended Hotel: Courtyard San Antonio Six Flags at The RIM

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