Best amusement parks?

Looking for a place or places to travel to this fall, and was wondering what the best amusement parks are I haven’t been to yet that are around other things worth seeing. By best, I mean lots of high, fast roller coasters and other thrill rides.

Parks I’ve been to: in order I liked them
Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags St. Louis
Six Flags Great America
Worlds of Fun

I’ve been also been to Islands of Adventure, Magic Kingdom, and Epcot, although those are in a different class.

I know the two obvious ones are Cedar Point (ruled out because there’s nothing else really interesting in the area) and Six Flags Magic Mountain (my sister want to wait to visit the area until “Harry Potter Land west” is done)

I’ve only ever been to the ones around the general Maryland vicinity, which would be Six Flags America, King’s Dominion, and Hershey Park.

Six Flags America is nothing special.

King’s Dominion has the best rides of the three. Highlights include Volcano, the Dominator, Avalanche, and my personal all-time favorite, the Rebel Yell. Worth a visit.

Hershey Park is my personal favorite. It doesn’t have the best rides and I don’t much care for candy, but I tend to have the best overall experience here. Highlights are the Great Bear, Fahrenheit, and the Wildcat. It also has a small zoo attached.

Ruling out Cedar Point in a discussion of best amusement parks is blasphemy of the highest order.

The amusement parks I have been to, in order from best to worst:

  1. Six Flags Magic Mountain (Santa Clarita, CA)
  2. California’s Great America (Santa Clara, CA)
  3. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, CA)
  4. Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park, CA)
  5. Disneyland/Disney World (Anaheim CA/Orlando FL)

Don’t take that as an indictment of Disneyland necessarily, but I’m big on thrill rides and the Disneyland parks are not exactly known for their cutting-edge coasters.

California’s Great America is great because it’s a dual amusement park and water park in one. Magic Mountain is considered one of the best parks in America (Cedar Point is often mentioned as well) for thrill rides.

I just visited Sea World, San Diego, and enjoyed the new “Manta” high-speed roller coaster. It uses accelerator wheels, rather than a climb to a high point, for its initial energy and impetus. (“California Screamin’” at Disney’s California Adventure uses the same technique. Fun! Definitely a big leap forward in technology.)

Sea World’s “Atlantis” also has something unique; I’ve never seen this anywhere else. It has an elevator. You ride up, swoop down, splash, and then are lifted vertically to swoop again. Surprised the hell out of me!

Hold on, bucko! Just what kinds of things are of “interest” to you?

I have fond memories of our annual visits to Six Flags over Texas as a child. Almost annual, as we skipped a year or two. But we usually went every summer, as my father always got free admission tickets. I wonder what it’s like these days.

I came close to getting to Cedar Point, in the yearTop Thrill Dragster opened a Cedar Fair Gold Pass still got you into any park and my friends were considiering going by car, but Cedar Fair had an awful time getting TTD to work so we couldn’t guarentee it would be working by the time we drove our there.

Thing’s we’re interested in:
Myself: huge bridges, prisons, roller coasters of course, driving roads I haven’t been on before.

My sister: zoos, anything nautical, good food, literary sites (we saw the Louis Mary Alcott home when we were in Boston), unique/regional resteraunts.

Both of us: seeing iconic attractions: we’ve seen Biltmore, the FL Keys, the Freedom Trail, Mt Rushmore, I’ve also seen the Gateway Arch, the DC area attractions and the Space Needle. Also anything historical, and just seeing other areas of the country, especially if scenic.

I did try for an excuse to make her want to go to Ohio, but the best I could do was the Toledo zoo.

You can hit every ride in Hersheypark in a single day if you get there early enough. 90% of The alleged awesomeness of Cedar Point is 100% better than what I hear, which is that you’ll be lucky to hit even half the park because the lines are so long. Objectively it’s better, but is it really? Waiting in line for hours at every coaster is hardly my idea of fun.

Since you specified that you consider “best” to be dependent on roller coasters, Kings Dominion is IMO the easy choice (in that given general area of the country at least).

Personally I think Busch Gardens is way better, but I’m not big on roller coasters (though they have plenty).

Kennywood has a lot of classic coasters that are great rides. Thunderbolt, Jack Rabbit, and Racer are the woodies and Phantom’s Revenge is a pretty good hypercoaster. Their other two rides are pretty good as well.

Second Hersheypark. Get there early on a weekday and you can hit all the coasters pretty fast.

Also in Pennsylvania is Knoebels, which currently has two good wooden coasters. The Twister, which is a slightly modified copy of the old Mister Twister in Denver and The Phoenix, which was moved from San Antonio. It’s also a fun park to visit in general and has free admission and free parking. Try the carousel; it’s still got a working ring dispenser. If they ever manage to get Flying Turns up and running you’ll be able to ride a bobsled coaster that doesn’t exist anywhere else in America. The closest I know of would be Avalanche at Kings Dominion.

If you’re interested in roller coasters in general, a trip to Altoona, PA for Lakemont is a must. While the park itself stinks (I’m told it was much better 20 years ago), they’ve got Leap-The-Dips, the world’s oldest operating roller coaster and America’s only side-friction coaster. Skyliner is a pretty good wooden coaster and was moved from a park in New York.

Some people around here push for Six Flags New England. I couldn’t stand the place on my one visit and barely managed to ride anything at all. If you go, pay extra for the queue-jumping pass. I’d rather go up to Great Escape and ride The Comet (wood on steel and another moved ride.)

If you like rollercoasters, you simply have to go to Cedar Point. Its the rollercoaster mecca.

Nobody’s mentioned it yet, but King’s Island in Cincinnati has some pretty cool rollercoasters too…especially the Beast and the Diamondback. But especially the Beast.

I came in here to say Cedar Point. My brother and I spent two days there, and we got on almost all the coasters, many more than once. If you’re a fan of coasters, Cedar Point is a must. It’s not just the ‘biggest’ and the ‘fastest’, the smaller coasters are just as fun to ride.

Walt Disney World is number one in all respects.

The Great Escape was pretty good until Six Flags bought it out and eliminated everything that made it worth going to.

Six Flags New England was absolutely terrible, designed not for fun, but to screw its visitors as blatantly as possible.

Cedar Point.

What is it about Six Flags that makes everything terrible? And thanks for putting into words exactly how I felt about New England. The only reason the OP might want to go is that it has an awful lot of coasters. Enjoy the $20 parking, long walk, waiting for metal detector, massively overpriced food, lack of shade, and people cutting in line. The only reason I didn’t feel more ripped off is that I had bought a season pass before going to the Great Escape, figuring that I could try at least two (or three, if I felt like going to Montreal) parks relatively cheaply.

I think you could put together a week-long trip hitting good amusement parks and classic coasters and never leave Pennsylvania. Put Kennywood and Hersheypark on the ends and stick Lakemont and Knoebels in the middle. Maybe hit Idlewild for the classic rides there or even Dutch Wonderland for the first coaster built by Custom Coasters International.

Disney is out to take your money, but the do it pleasantly, some subtlety and giving with good value. Souvenirs, for instance are relatively expensive – but they are also of higher quality. Your breakfast pancakes are overpriced – but they look like Disney characters, so it’s a little bit different. You pay, but you have fun paying.

Six Flags it out to take your money, and don’t try to hide it, and the act like bullies toward anyone who might try anything to keep their costs down. Food is overpriced, too, but it’s no better than what you get at McDonald’s.

My disgust with them began with Six Flags New England. My daughter’s choir was asked to perform there. One of the kids brought his lunch. The storm troopers at the gate made him throw it out, and as he didn’t bring enough extra money to buy their overpriced food, he ended up starving. This for someone who was invited to perform there. This single asshole move showed just what scum they have there.

There was an amusement park near us called Great Escape. It was fun and had things to do for people of all ages (including preschoolers). Some roller coasters, but also some Disney-like rides that were simpler fun. Free parking. Picnic areas – you could bring your lunch and eat at the park.

Six Flags bought it. The changes came over the years: now you have to pay to park ($18 minimum – remember, it was free years ago). No food allowed (“For your safety” :rolleyes:). No chairs. $13.49 for a cheesburger, fries, and a drink – if you get the special online deals.

There was also Six Flags New England’s attempt to force people to pay their overpriced parking fee: businesses nearby would sell parking spaces for far less than what Six Flags gouged customers for. Six Flags basically bought off the town council to declare this illegal because of “safety concerns” (there had never been any problems). The council members who voted for it lost their posts the next election and the ordinance was repealed.

Six Flags is scum, plain and simple.

Go on a weekday and you won’t have this problem.

A couple years back I went on the last weekday it was open (In October they go to a weekends-only schedule through halloween) and I rode the Millenium Force 10+ times, raptor 5 times, etc. But even in the summer, you can ride every coaster multiple times on a Tues/Wed/Thurs. You just need to be there when it opens, hit popular rides in the early morning, ride the less popular rides at peak hours (there is never a line for the Gemini, Blue Streak, Corkscrew, or the Wildcat minicoaster and they’re all fun, especially Gemini) and then revisit the new hotness in the evening.

Cleveland has a nice zoo (so does Toledo, FYI) and the Natural History Museum owns Lucy, the 3.2 million year old hominid skeleton. One of my favroite things to see is the USS Cod, a WWII submarine/museum ship you can go inside and poke around, (open the cabinets and look at the coffee cups, lie in the bunks, etc). Typically there are veterans on hand to chat with you and answer questions.

Well the last time I was there (2 years ago, September) I walked directly on to every ride. On that note - I very much recommend going in September. :slight_smile:

Prior to that I hadn’t been in 15 years. It’s still the gold standard and someone that loves amusement parks should make it a point to get there. Two days is definitely recommended, and yes - lines suck. Verily.

My impressions so far:
Cedar Fair: Terrible rides, Good atmosphere (theming has been dumbed down over the years but not quite to the extent of SF), Not as eager to vacuum out your wallet as Six Flags.

Six Flags: I’m suprised they don’t have pay toilets, great rides, less atmosphere, more security (metal detectors and bag searches).

Granted my experience is from one of the best (Great Adventure) and two OK (St Lous and Great America) Six Flags Parks, and two terrible (Valleyfair and Worlds of Fun) and one OK (Carowinds) Cedar Fair Parks.

Southwest does fly to Cleveland so I may just have to go out there with or without my sister next summer.