Best Family Theme Parks

These parks immerse your family in fantasy, fun, thrills and adventure.

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African Safari Wildlife Park

Take a drive through this sprawling African Safari Wildlife Park and get up close and personal with animals native to the African savannah. The animals (giraffes, zebras, water buffalo, and more) are used to being fed by visitors to the Sandusky park, so they'll lumber right up and introduce themselves.

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Cedar Point

Famous for its roller coasters, Cedar Point has been an Ohio attraction since the late 1800s. But don't expect old-fashioned amusements; the Sandusky park has kept pace with the times and offers world-class rides. You'll find traditional favorites, too, like merry-go-rounds (three), plus water parks, fairway-style games and live entertainment.

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The Happiest Place on Earth has entertained and delighted families since it opened in 1955. Disneyland park's eight themed lands of "yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy" are a mix of favorite fairy tales, themed adventures and thrilling mountains. Cross the esplanade and visit Disney's California Adventure — a tribute to the dreams and dreamers of the Golden State — where, this summer, guests can catch the new "World of Color" nighttime water show.

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Hershey Park

Amusement parks are great. Chocolate is great. Marry them and you have a place north of Lancaster that's just about as close to Willy Wonka's vision as you're going to find. Play all day at Hershey Park — a real, live Candyland.

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Universal Islands of Adventure

Explore the worlds of Dr. Seuss, Harry Potter and the Incredible Hulk at Universal Islands of Adventure. At the roller coaster haven, next to Universal Orlando, guest can experience the "Jurassic Park" River Adventure, Doctor Doom's Fear Fall, the 3-D Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and, one of the parks most popular rides: Dueling Dragons (the "duelers" are two intertwined coasters). Then check out the new rides, shops and restaurants in the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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While some amusement parks are frustrating for younger kids because of height restrictions, LEGOLand really is geared toward the younger set (specifically ages 2-12). This theme park near San Diego has rides you won't find anywhere else and is full of feats of creativity made out of ... you guessed it, LEGOs. This June, LEGOland opens up a new water park with slides, splash tower and lazy river where visitors can float on LEGO bricks.

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Mall of America

Even if your family isn't the shop-til-you-drop sort, you'll find plenty to do at The Mall of America, the largest indoor mall in the United States. Featuring a variety of shopping options (chain stores and boutiques), arcades, restaurants, drop-in childcare, the Lego Imagination Center, an aquarium, and, yes, an indoor amusement park, it's easy to spend a day — or an entire week — at this Minneapolis attraction.

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SeaWorld San Diego

Part amusement park, part aquarium, part outdoor marine zoo, SeaWorld San Diego is a theme park that has everything from shark encounters and orca shows to an aerial tram. The San Diego attraction full of things that will fascinate and thrill kids, including feeding Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins, riding roller coasters, and seeing penguins up close.

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Six Flags Over Georgia

People from all over come to Six Flags Over Georgia to excite, energize, and in the end, exhaust themselves on more than 100 thrilling rides, shows, and attractions.At this Atlanta theme park, your post-stroller-age kids will get the most bang for their buck. For scare-lovers, the Cyclone has its own brand of chills, with rattling wooden girders that tremble as you race along at top speeds — while water babies will enjoy the nearby Six Flags White Water.

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Universal Studios Hollywood

Every attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood bursts with spirit of Tinseltown. Kids that thrive on thrills will love the Revenge of the Mummy indoor rollercoaster and "The Simpsons" Ride. Don't miss the famous Backlot Tour and see the sets of hundreds of movies and TV shows, including "The Grinch" and "Back to the Future." And good news: King Kong is back with an all new 3-D experience based on the Peter Jackson movie (something your teens will love; your little ones not so much). But tell them to keep their eyes open anyway, they might spot a celebrity. It is Los Angeles, after all.

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Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World packs a lot of magic into an area almost twice the size of Manhattan. Whether you family is into visiting different countries or traveling to the future at Epcot, making friends with the animals at Disney's Animal Kingdom, seeing movies come to life at Disney's Hollywood Studios, splashing down an enormous waterslide at Blizzard Beach or living a fairy tale at the Magic Kingdom, you'll find it here.

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