Think “Theme Park” and in all likelihood the first thing that pops into you head is an image of an oversized mouse with red trousers and a beaming grin. Disney is virtually synonymous with theme parks and it is a credit to the marketing machine behind the Disney franchise that so many people associate their brands with amusement parks and attractions.
America is a big place though and to narrow the scope of theme parks purely to Disney attractions would be a crying shame. Here is a rundown of five of the best alternatives to Disney and why I feel they are better than Uncle Walt’s theme parks.
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LEGO building blocks have been keeping kids (and adults) entertained for over 40 years and whilst the Danish home of LEGO in Billund is difficult to beat, LEGOLAND California is still a mighty impressive theme park to visit.
Why it’s better than Disney: Apart from the fact that LEGOLAND California has been voted as America’s best children’s theme park six times in a row, the park is better than Disney because of the sheer variety of amusements. It’s not all about the rides at LEGOLAND and visitors can be just as enchanted wandering around the model villages as they can getting their LEGO Driver’s Licence.
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Ohio’s premier theme park, Cedar Point, calls itself America’s Roller Coast and with good reason. The park holds the record for the most number of roller coasters in a single amusement park.
Why it’s better than Disney: If you are an adrenaline junkie, there really is no other place to go than Cedar Point. Younger kids will certainly get more out of Disney’s rides but for older children and young adults this is the place for thrills and spills. Added to that, Cedar Point is roughly half the price of Disney for admissions.
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Knoebels is firmly rooted in family values and is one of the nicest old-fashioned theme parks you can find probably in the world. Knoebels only charges by the ride, which means that if large families are looking for cheap holidays to the USA, this is an ideal trip out.
Why it’s better than Disney: Much, much cheaper than Disney, especially for parents or grandparents who have no desire to hit the scary rides but still have to pay full whack for entrance to the big theme parks. Free parking is also a real bonus.
Image from RobertCiavarro
Disney’s biggest rival in Orlando, Universal Studios is a must-see attraction for a Florida holiday , especially for film buffs.
Why it’s better than Disney: Universal’s rides have the edge over most of what Disney can offer, with a few exceptions. The live shows and big movie rides are a huge draw for Universal, which is also slightly cheaper than Disney, especially if you take into account the almost compulsory Mickey ears you’ll be forced to buy.
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Texas’ answer to Typhoon Lagoon, Schlitterbahn is a sensational water park. If you like fun in the sun and splashing around in the pool, then a holiday to America would not be complete without taking a trip to Schlitterbahn.
Why it’s better than Disney: The Master Blaster ride blows away anything any other water park has to offer –Schlitterbahn takes precedent over rival parks for that reason alone. Free shuttles and free parking help for a cheaper day out.
Top image from Andrew 94