Is a Trip to Disney Too Expensive? Here Are 8 Other Award-Winning Amusement Parks

According to Mousehacking, a baseline trip to Disney World for a family of four costs $5,731. While you can save by driving or using reward points to book a hotel …

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Monica Fish

According to Mousehacking, a baseline trip to Disney World for a family of four costs $5,731. While you can save by driving or using reward 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, with 25% changing trips to destinations closer to home. With over 475 amusement parks across America, there are many fun-filled theme park options to make your family and wallet happy.  Here are eight award-winning theme parks to consider.

1. Legoland –  California, Florida, New York

Everything is awesome at Legoland’s three amusement parks across America. Designed specifically for 2-12 years olds, master builders and thrill-seekers alike 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 Hudson Valley, about 90 minutes outside of New York City. 

They also have Legoland Theme Parks in the United Kingdom, 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 has 40 rides, including first-class roller coasters, family attractions like Snoppy and the Peanuts Gang, and a waterpark. You’ll still find delicious food and exclusive snacks true to its roots.

For 2022’s summer season, they’ve added DJ Lance Rock, of 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 thrilling visitors for over 50 years and is consistently ranked as one of America’s Top 5 amusement parks. 

“Silver Dollar City is a true anomaly of a theme park that embraces its mountain roots through its immersive atmosphere, attractions, and food,” said Carly Caramanna, a Theme Park Journalist. “The 1880s theme feels utterly authentic while seamlessly blending the past with the future – local, multigenerational craftsmen are beside industry precedent-setting roller coasters, 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 shows, the mile long-beach, and attractions like Steel Vengeance, Top Thrill Dragster, and Millennium Force.

“Our team is excited to see guests in the park once again, enjoying everything Cedar Point has to offer,” said Carrie Boldman, vice president, and general manager of Cedar Point. “With all of the improvements we’ve made, including the new Farmhouse Kitchen & Grill in Frontier Town, the completely transformed Castaway Bay {indoor waterpark} and Sawmill Creek resorts, an amazing lineup of entertainment and all the world-famous rides and fun we’re known for, there really is no better place to celebrate summer.”

5. Hersheypark – Pennsylvania

Hersheypark recently named one of the ten best theme parks in the country, is a 3-4 hour drive from the New York, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh metro regions.  One $55 ticket includes admission to their theme park, water park, and zoo. 

“Having grown up at Hersheypark, it’s my hometown park, and it’s become truly world-class. With 15 roller coasters from mild to wild, a full-sized waterpark, family-friendly & kiddie rides, it’s a full day of fun for every age,” says Jenn Greene, a Hershey Park Ambassador and Travel Writer. “The food deserves its own praise with everything from over the top Hershey’s King  Size shakes to The Chocolatetown Burger at The Chocolatier.  Don’t miss this sweet stop on the East Coast!” 

6. Dollywood, Tennessee

Known for its down-home charm and owner, Dolly Parton, Dollywood is more popular than Disneyland California parks, not to mention a lot more affordable. A TripAdvisor Best Amusement Park in the World, Golden Ticket’s Most Beautiful Park, and Budget Travel’s Best Value Theme Park has more than 50 rides, waterslides, shows, and restaurants across 160 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains. 

“This season, we’ll have an even larger Flower & Food Festival, the return of our drone show, as well as the Gazillion Bubble Show this summer,” said Pete Owens, Dollywood Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations

7. Busch Gardens – Virginia

One of the most popular things to do in Williamsburg is a Europen-themed amusement park with more than 50 rides and attractions, including Griffon, one of the world’s tallest roller coasters. 

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-renowned acts, extended park hours, culinary experiences, and a nightly fireworks show.

People who enjoy eating and drinking their way around Disney’s Epcot can enjoy a similar experience with Busch Garden’s seasonal summer menu, including new snacks, treats, and summer cocktails and mocktails. 

8. Edaville – Massachuttes

If you’ve got a train or dinosaur-loving kid, plan a trip to Edaville outside Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A top family theme park with 90 rides and attractions and a real-life Sodor, the largest Thomas & Friends attraction in the U.S.  For under $40 a ticket, you’ll get admission to all three of their parks, including CranCentral and Dino Land. 

Plan a trip to their spooky Halloween celebration or beloved Christmas Festival of Lights with over 7 million on display for affordable family fun outside of summer. 

Feature Image Courtesy: Explore Branson.

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