Five Amusement Parks to Visit this Summer
08 Jun, 2016
For many travelers, nothing combines the best aspects of summer and vacation like an amusement park. Though most have heard of the parks named Disney, Six Flags, Busch Gardens and Cedar Point, there are a few lesser known gems scattered across the U.S. that are perfect for the thrill seekers and roller coaster enthusiasts hitting the road this year.
Settled in the small town of Santa Claus, IN, Holiday World (Originally known as Santa Clause Land) opened modestly as a small, Santa-themed park geared toward children in 1954. Over a half century later, this park has grown to include attractions for the entire family, and is one of the most popular spots for roller coaster heads in the Midwest. In fact, along with the nation’s first launched wing coaster, Thunder Bird, Holiday World houses 3 of CosterBuzz’s Top 100 roller coasters in the country including The Voyage (4), Raven (39), and The Legend (63). Holiday World also advertises a ton of freebies included with your admission ticket including free parking, soft drinks, sun screen and Wi-Fi. Oh, and you get access to one of the top water parks in the country.
As if Branson, MO didn’t already have enough good, old-fashioned entertainment to draw you into town, it is also the home of Silver Dollar City. Originally built as an addition to the Marvel Cave exhibit in the Ozarks back in 1955, Silver Dollar City was designed to replicate the look of the area in the 1880s when the cave was first discovered. The small park became part of main stream pop culture in the 70s after being featured on an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Now known for its annual Old Fashioned Christmas Festival, Silver Dollar City also has 3 of CosterBuzz’s Top 100 roller coasters including Outlaw Run (2), Wildfire (75) and Powder Keg (80).
Billed as the “Thrill Capital of the Southeast,” Carowinds was conceived by a Charlotte businessman after visiting Disney Land. His dream was to build a similar park on the border between North and South Carolina that would help bring the states closer together. Carowinds has gone through a growth spurt in recent years after being purchased by Cedar Fair (the parent company of Cedar Point). Along with huge park expansions and the new Fury 325 giga coaster, the park also has top-rated CoasterBuzz attractions including Intimidator (11) and Afterburn (43). You can also get into the Boomerang Bay water park with the price of admission.
This Bristol, CT park has one of the more interesting histories dating back to 1846 when Gad Norton hired a scientist to perform an experiment with explosives and noticed that thousands of people came out to watch. Like any good visionary, he turned this event into an attraction and transformed the area into a popular picnic park. In the early 1900s the park began to grow into more of an amusement park when it introduced a now historic carousel and the Wildcat, one of the world’s oldest roller coasters in operation. The Wildcat still contains some of the original wooden boards from its opening in 1927! But don’t think this park is all old-school rides and attractions, it also the home of CoasterBuzz’s #7 ranked roller coaster, Boulder Dash. You might also occasionally see some familiar ESPN personalities while you’re there.
It’s hard to say that anything about Coney Island, one of the most famous neighborhoods in New York City, isn’t well known, but what you may not realize is that the current amusement park is less than 10 years old! Built on the same grounds as the previous Coney Island park, Astroland, and just south of the original Luna Park that opened back in 1903, this new amusement park was developed as part of NYC’s “Coney Island Revitalization Plan.” Luna Park still houses the original Cyclone (opened in 1927 and now an official NYC Landmark) and Thunderbolt, a roller coaster with a 125 ft 90-degree drop, Plus it’s right on the boardwalk and just a train ride away from Manhattan. So it’s got that going for it!