I love amusement parks. I love the rides, the show and the escape from reality.
I realized that in the past few years I have been to over 20 theme parks. But, I have been to less than 25. So, I present to you MY top 20:
20. Dutch Wonderland: Located in the heart of Amish Country in Pennsylvania, this is a very small park with rides that are best described as quaint. Still, they have a giant pink dragon mascot and a pretty cool train that circles the park. This park is geared towards the younger set, but it's still worth a visit.
19. TIE DisneyQuest/AdventureDome: I figured I would put these both together since they are the only indoor amusement parks I have ever been to.
DisneyQuest: A state of the art park inside a giant building in Downtown Disney at the Orlando Florida Walt Disney World resort. The park is small, but has some pretty neat, state of the art, simulator rides. This includes a Virtual Jungle Cruise, Cyber Space Mountain and a Buzz Lightyear themed bumper car attraction.
It's not the greatest, but it is certainly different from any other park in the world.
AdventureDome: Located inside Las Vegas' Circus Circus hotel, this is the world's largest indoor amusement park. Featuring a rollercoaster, miniature golf and more. It is one of the few things to do in Las Vegas if you don't gamble, do drugs or solicit hookers. Of course if ya don't like that stuff what the hell are you doing in Las Vegas?
18. Busch Gardens Virginia: A fun theme park with different themed lands and several roller coasters. They also have a 3-D movie featuring Christopher Lloyd and Weird Al.
17. Six Flags Great Adventure: This giant park features about 50 or so rides, but all of them can be fit into 3 categories: "steel rollercoaster," "log fume" or "spinning carnival ride." Still, it's a fun place to spend a day and you can get a photo with Yosemite Sam.
Just next door (and included in admission price) is one of the coolest places in the world: Six Flags Wild Animal Safari. Here you get to drive your car down a highway full of rhinos and giraffes.
16. Dorney Park: A classic coaster park, Dorney also features occasional appearances from Snoopy and friends. When you visit them, ask why in God's name their strip was called "Peanuts." Dorney is in Allentown Pennsylvania.
15. Hershey Park: Located by the Hershey Chocolate factory in Hershey, PA, this park is supposedly themed "entirely around chocolate." If this is the case, candy bars must love high speed, looping, steel roller coasters.
14. Lake Compounce: A cute little place that is considered the oldest of all amusement parks. It has an incredible "ski lift" type ride that takes you waaaaaay up a hill. It goes so far up the hill that it takes about 30 minutes to come back down. The park also features Garfield and Odie. When you visit them, ask why in God's name Garfield the Movie sucked (and don't take Brekin Meyer for an answer.)
13. Paramount's King's Dominion: In Virginia Paramount has made a fantastic themed park. The park features rides and shows themed to Scooby Doo, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Spongebob. You can dine in eateries themed to Forrest Gump and Happy Days.
12. Sea World San Diego: The first of Sea World's famous parks, this one suffers only from having a small space. Still, you have Shamu and I love Shamu.
11. Disney Studios (AKA Disney MGM Studios): The smallest of Disney's Florida parks (not including Disney Quest) this is THE place to ride Rockin' Roller Coaster and the Great Movie ride.
10. Sesame Place: The little park in the parking lot of a Langhorne, PA mall has changed a whole lot over the years. The park now features the Super Grover Vapor Trail rollercoaster as well as a handful of rides that are fun for adults as well as kids. I love to go just to get my picture with Big Bird. I usually ask him why in God's name did Garfield the Movie suck.
9. Disney's California Adventure: The second park at the Disneyland resort in California is themed to its home state. The park has a fantastic "hang gliding" ride called Soarin' over California.
8. Universal Studios Florida: Although this park (like Disney Studios) is not ACTUALLY a studio it's still a whole lot of fun. My favorite ride is the awesome simulator, Back to the Future.
7. Sea World Orlando: Shamu is here of course (and I have publicly professed my love for him - see #12) but this park beats it's San Diego cousin by having some of the most amazing rides anywhere. One ride, Journey into Atlantis, is perhaps the most unique ride I have ever seen. Its park dark ride, part roller coaster and part log flume ride.
6. Universal Studios Hollywood: This IS a real movie studio and thus the movie back lot tour is awesome! You get to see real sets from the entire history of Universal and there is always something shooting there.
5. Animal Kingdom: Located in Walt Disney World Orlando, this is park zoo, part theme park - all fun. I think I stole that from their brochure.
4. Islands of Adventure: When building this park next to its Florida 'studio' park, Universal did something very unusual: they made a second park that was BETTER than the original. IOA was amazing and full of things to do right from the opening day. The park features a Marvel superhero section, a cartoon themed land, a Dr. Seuss section and (my favorite) Jurassic Park. This section features a full scale replica of the main building from the film and an awesome Jurassic Park log flume ride.
3. Magic Kingdom: The centerpiece of Walt Disney World in Florida, this park should be well known to most people in the world. In fact, 7 out of 10 Americans have visited either this park or Disneyland California.
At a glance, this park and Disneyland look like twins. Upon closer review, the two parks are totally different. Among the highlights of the Florida park is Stitch's Great Escape, The Hall of President's and the Carousel of Progress.
2. Epcot: Located in Orlando, this park is half World's Fair and half futuristic theme park. My favorites are Journey into Imagination, Mission: Space and El Rio Del Tiempo (think "It's a Small World" with mariachi music.)
1. Disneyland: Considered the first REAL theme park, Disneyland took the idea of an amusement park and carefully created different themed lands. Disneyland has more rides per acre then any park I have ever been to. The rides are jammed in tightly and many are exclusive to this park. Some of the highlights are Matterhorn Mountain, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Storybook Land Canal Boats.
What is YOUR favorite amusement park?