The Ultimate 13 Top Theme Parks in the U.S. According to the Man Who’s Been to Them All

By: Georgia | Last updated: Nov 17, 2023

Meet our adventurer, Paul Ruben, an optical engineer turned amusement park enthusiast, who has traveled to 333 amusement parks and ridden 903 roller coasters worldwide.

This journey began at the age of five and transformed into a lifelong passion, ultimately leading to a career as a writer and editor for Park World magazine. Out of the countless parks visited, here are the 13 favorite theme parks in the United States that left a lasting impression.

Universal's Islands of Adventure

Experience a musical journey like no other at Orlando’s Universal Islands of Adventure. The music changes as you move from one island to another, creating a unique ambiance.

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Don’t miss Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, which are some of the most popular attractions at this iconic theme park.

Kennywood

Step back in time at Kennywood, Pennsylvania. This park offers old-fashioned rides like swings, bobsleds, and a collection of coasters ranging from mild to wild.

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It’s a nostalgic adventure for visitors of all ages. Must-rides include the Jack Rabbit, Racer, and Phantom’s Revenge, all of which are classic attractions that have stood the test of time.

Cedar Point

For those seeking adrenaline-pumping rides, Cedar Point in Ohio is the place to be. Surrounded by the beautiful Lake Erie, this amusement park is home to world-class roller coasters like the Millennium Force.

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It’s a paradise for thrill-seekers and a must-visit destination for roller coaster enthusiasts from around the world.

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Travel to Valencia, California, for record-breaking roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain. With 19 coasters, including the X2, Twisted Colossus, and The New Revolution, it’s a coaster fanatic’s dream come true.

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This park offers an unparalleled roller coaster experience that is sure to leave you breathless.

Seabreeze

Take a trip down memory lane at Seabreeze in New York. It’s the fourth-oldest operating amusement park in the US, offering a nostalgic experience for visitors.

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Don’t miss the Jack Rabbit roller coaster and the entertaining acrobatic shows along the midway, which are sure to be a hit with visitors of all ages.

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Carowinds

Discover the thrilling Fury 325 at Carowinds in North Carolina. This gigantic roller coaster winds through the inside, outside, and even beneath the park, creating a memory that will last a lifetime.

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The Fury 325 is one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world, offering a thrilling experience for the bravest of visitors.

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Six Flags New England

Have a taste of weightlessness on the Superman The Ride at Six Flags New England in Massachusetts. This classic amusement park turned Six Flags wonderland offers an array of big rides that will keep you coming back for more.

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Superman The Ride is one of the most popular attractions at this park, offering a unique and exhilarating experience for visitors.

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Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World isn’t just a single day adventure – it’s a four-park extravaganza in Florida.

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Each park boasts unique attractions, like the Hollywood Studios’ Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Epcot’s Spaceship Earth, Magic Kingdom’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Animal Kingdom’s Avatar Flight of Passage. To fully immerse yourself in the magic, plan a minimum of four days.

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Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, offers a variety of unique rides, from dark rides to roller coasters.

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Highlights include the Calico Mine Ride and the themed Western town area, Ghost Town. Don’t forget to enjoy a meal at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, open since the 1930s.

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Disneyland

Visit the original Disneyland in California for exclusive attractions like the Casey Jr. Circus Train and the Matterhorn Bobsleds.

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It’s a magical journey filled with nostalgia and excitement. Disneyland is the original Disney theme park and offers a unique experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.

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Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, and Kings Island

Dollywood in Tennessee offers the best entertainment, from bluegrass performances to ’50s and ’60s hits. Silver Dollar City in Missouri features interesting rides like the Time Traveler and PowderKeg, as well as the adjacent Marvel Cave.

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Kings Island in Ohio is home to the world’s longest roller coaster ride, the Beast, and the 91 mph Orion. Each park offers a unique experience that will leave you wanting more.

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