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USATourist News Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

June 2010 - Amusement Parks

In this issue:

Summertime is officially here in the United States, which means amusement and water park doors are open. In previous issues we've offered tips and suggestions for some of the large theme parks such as Disney World, SeaWorld and LegoLand. This USATourist News Magazine issue is dedicated to theme parks all across America. Some are well-known, others are quirky, lesser known locations, but they all have one thing in common and that's the promise of a day of fun.

East Coast Adventures

We are going to start with an amusement park which was pronounced a National Historic Landmark, as it was America's first planned amusement park. Metro New York's Playland has been thriving since 1928. Today it features 50 rides and attractions, free entertainment, a beach, pool, miniature golf, an indoor ice-skating rink, boardwalk and pier on Long Island Sound.

Tornado Water Ride

Your whole family can ride a giant raft down the Tornado at the WaterWorks park.
© Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

Ocean Breeze Waterpark in Virginia Beach is a 19-acre park featuring a million-gallon Runaway Bay wave pool, 16 water slides and a children's section. In Richmond, Virginia park-goers enjoy the 400-acre theme park Kings Dominion with more than 60 rides, shows and attractions. This year the new 5,100-foot long steel Giga-coaster Intimidator 305 opened to the public. This is the tallest and fastest gravity driven roller coaster on the East Coast. It speeds along the tracks at 92 miles per hour and is 305 feet tall. Kings Dominion is also home to 14 other world-class roller coasters, a large children's area and WaterWorks, a 20-acre water park (included with park admission).

The Water Mine Family Swimmin' Hole, related to Fairfax County Parks & Recreation Department, boasts being one of Washington, DC's best kept secrets. Activities include slides, flumes, sprays, showers, floatables and interactive play features. The area is encircled by Rattlesnake River, a slow-moving river, where guests can float in tubes and relax.

In Bucks County, Pennsylvania a favorite child-geared park is Sesame Place - the only Sesame Street-themed park in the US. This year it's turning 30 years old. Celebrations will include parades and concerts. It is located 30 minutes north of Philadelphia and 90 minutes south of New York City.

A trip to Pennsylvania isn't complete without a stop at Hershey Park, yes we're talking about the one near the chocolate factory - The Sweetest Place On Earth.. The park has over 60 rides and attractions. Admission to Hersheypark includes the adjacent ZooAmerica, an 11-acre North American Wildlife Park. The Hershey's Chocolate World visitors' center offers free admission to its shops, restaurants and a chocolate tour ride.

Kennywood Park near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was founded in 1898 as a modest trolley park. Since then, the park has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The park has been updated several times, including the inclusions of modern thrill and water rides, roller coasters and kiddie rides. Kennywood calls itself one of "America's Finest Traditional Amusement Parks".

Slip, Slide and Ride in the South

The theme park Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. As you probably guessed, country singer Dolly Parton is an owner of this one-of-a-kind Great Smoky Mountains theme park. Music, shows, roller coasters, festivals, kiddie rides and the adjacent water park, Dolly's Splash Country, make this a great theme park vacation.

Beech Bend Roller Coaster

Beech Bend Park's Kentucky Rumbler is the most twisted wooden roller coaster in a seven-state region.
© Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Bowling Green, Kentucky is proud of its Beech Bend Amusement Park and Splash Lagoon. This particular park has over 40 rides, including the Sea Dragon from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. The water park recently underwent a huge expansion to make room a 1,100 ft. lazy river, a 275,000 gallon wave pool and a four-story play structure featuring seven slides.

Bargain tip: According to the Beech Bend, "A new value for this year will be free soft drinks inside the park in addition to the already free parking, sunscreen, inner tubes and mats."

Amusing Midwest

In Green Bay, Wisconsin Bay Beach Amusement Park has been open for 100 years. It's still as great as it was when it first opened and so are the prices. There are 16 rides inside the 45-acre park and the best part - tickets are only 25 and 50 cents each (rides are one to two tickets). The traditional concession foods make an appearance including hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn and ice cream treats. The most expensive item is $1.50. What a bargain!

Ohio's Lake Erie is home to Cedar Point, a long-time Midwest favorite spot. The park recently opened a new 2,100-foot-long water thrill ride. Shoot the Rapids is a white-water rapids simulation which includes an 85-foot drop and a scenic tour around the Frontier Trail and Millennium Island. But the fun doesn't stop with Cedar Point, the area's largest natural water park, the Lake Erie Shores & Islands, has four indoor and two outdoor water play lands. Also in the area is Great Wolf Lodge, Castaway Bay, Kalahari and Rain which combine lodging, entertainment and aquatic fun under one roof.

The Wild West

Pacific Park, is the only free-admission amusement park in Los Angeles and has a variety of games, activities and 12 amusement rides for kids of all ages.

In Salem, Oregon The Enchanted Forest is a charming park with a fairytale theme. The park appeals to all ages with rides and themed attractions (Western Town, Storybook Lane, English Village and Haunted house).

Pacific Park in Santa Monica

Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier has a fantastic view of the ocean.
© Santa Monica Amusements L.C.C.

On the other extreme, Silverwood Theme Park in northern Idaho is the Northwest's largest theme park. It sits on 200 acres with 65 rides, shows and attractions. Aftershock, a 191-foot tall steel roller coaster, is one of the top attractions as are the two wooden roller coasters, Tremors and Timber Terror. Also included with admission is access to the Boulder Beach water park.

Las Vegas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, and if you're a thrill-ride seeker, you will certainly have the opportunity to scream at Adventuredome at Circus Circus, the largest indoor theme park in Nevada or down the Strip at New York-New York where the outdoor Roller Coaster features the first-ever "heartline" twist and dive and reaches speeds of 67 miles per hour.

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Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair


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