Is a trip to Disney too expensive or complicated? Check out these 8 alternatives
By Monica Fish
Produced by Planner at Heart and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
It’s supposed to be the happiest place in the world – and now that it’s reopened, most visitors agree. Those who can afford it, that is. Has Walt’s vision of “a kind of family park where parents and children can have fun together” been abandoned?
According to Mousehacking, a basic trip to Disney World for a family of four costs $5,731. While you can save by driving or using rewards points to book a hotel or flight, the ever-increasing price of Disney theme park tickets can’t be avoided.
According to a Bankrate survey, 70% of Americans are changing their summer vacation plans due to inflation-related price increases, and 25% are changing their trips to destinations closer to home. With over 475 amusement parks across America, there are plenty of fun theme park options to keep your family and wallet happy. Here are eight award-winning theme parks to consider.
1. Legoland—California, Florida, New York
Everything is great at Legoland’s three theme parks across America. Designed specifically for ages 2 to 12, master builders and thrill seekers will enjoy a trip to their theme parks full of rides, shows and Lego building activities. In 2022, their Florida location added the First Peppa Pig theme park and an all-new Pirate River quest adventure. In 2021, Legoland New York, their largest and newest park, opened in the Hudson Valley, about 90 minutes from New York.
They also have Legoland theme parks in the UK, Denmark, Germany, Dubai, Malaysia, and Japan.
2. Knott’s Berry Farm – California
California’s first theme park near Disneyland was originally a simple roadside berry stand. As it grew, the Knott family built a western-themed town to entertain long lines of customers. One hundred years later, this amusement park boasts 40 rides, including first-class roller coasters, family attractions like Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang, and a water park. You will always find delicious dishes and exclusive snacks true to its roots.
For the 2022 summer season, they’ve added DJ Lance Rock, from Nick Jr.’s award-winning show, Yo Gabba Gabba, to their Walter Knott Theater schedule.
3. Silver Dollar City—Missouri
Located in Branson, dubbed “the Orlando of the Midwest”, Silver Dollar City has been delighting visitors for over 50 years and is consistently ranked among the top 5 amusement parks in America.
“Silver Dollar City is a true anomaly of a theme park that embraces its mountain roots through its immersive atmosphere, attractions and food,” said theme park reporter Carly Caramanna. “The 1880s theme feels utterly authentic while seamlessly blending the past with the future – multi-generational local craftsmen ride alongside roller coasters setting industry precedents, and the result is pure magic.”
4. Cedar Point—Ohio
Enjoy Cedar Point’s entire summer season and 71 rides for less than a day’s admission to a Disney park. $99 season passes, including parking, are available for a limited time. Cedar Point is the second oldest amusement park in North America, located on Lake Erie between Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio. For over 150 years, families have enjoyed live entertainment, mile long beach and attractions such as Steel Vengeance, Top Thrill Dragster and Millennium Force.
“Our team is thrilled to see guests at the park again, enjoying all that Cedar Point has to offer,” said Carrie Boldman, vice president and general manager of Cedar Point. “With all the upgrades we’ve made, including the new Farmhouse Kitchen & Grill in Frontier Town, the fully transformed Castaway Bay (indoor water park) and Sawmill Creek resorts, an incredible array of entertainment and all the signature rides and entertainment world we are known for, there really is no better place to celebrate summer.
Hersheypark, recently named one of the top ten theme parks in the country, is a 3-4 hour drive from the New York, Washington DC and Pittsburgh metro areas. A $55 ticket includes admission to their theme park, water park, and zoo.
“Growing up in Hersheypark, it’s my hometown park, and it’s become truly world-class. It’s a full day of fun for all ages,” says Jenn Greene, Hershey’s Park Ambassador and travel writer. not that sweet east coast stopover!”
6. Dollywood, TN
Known for its family charm and owner Dolly Parton, Dollywood is more popular than California’s Disneyland parks, not to mention it’s much more affordable. A World’s Best Amusement Park on TripAdvisor, Golden Ticket’s Most Beautiful Park, and Budget Travel’s Best Value Theme Park boasts more than 50 rides, slides, shows, and restaurants on 160 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains.
“This season we will have an even bigger flower and food festival, the return of our drone show, as well as the Gazillion Bubble Show this summer,” said Pete Owens, vice president of marketing and public relations. from Dollywood.
7. Busch Gardens — Virginia
One of the most popular things to do in Williamsburg is a European-themed amusement park with over 50 rides and attractions, including Griffon, one of the tallest roller coasters in the world.
Located three miles from historic Williamsburg, this 134-acre adventure park’s Summer Nights are back for 2022. Enjoy their live concert series with world-class artists, extended hours of operation from park, culinary experiences and nightly fireworks.
People who like to eat and drink around Disney’s Epcot can enjoy a similar experience with Busch Garden’s seasonal summer menu, including new snacks, candies, and summer non-alcoholic cocktails.
If you have a train or a kid who loves dinosaurs, plan a trip to Edaville outside of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A premier family theme park, it features 90 rides and attractions and a real Sodor, the largest Thomas & Friends attraction in the United States. For less than $40 a ticket, you’ll get access to all three of their parks, including CranCentral and Dino Terrain.
Plan a trip to their spooky Halloween party or their beloved Christmas Lights Festival, with over seven million exhibits, for affordable family entertainment outside of the summer.
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