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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, ahead of Summer travel plans, we check out research into the top 10 most popular theme parks in America.

Summer Holidays

The sun is getting warmer, the days are stretching longer, and the travel bug is definitely buzzing! With summer on the horizon, many of us are already dreaming of thrilling rides, captivating shows, and unforgettable memories. For adventure seekers and families alike, theme parks offer the perfect blend of excitement, entertainment, and a chance to create lasting memories.

But with so many fantastic theme parks across the United States, choosing the right one for your summer vacation can feel overwhelming. To help you navigate this exciting decision, we’ve delved into the latest research to reveal the top 10 most popular theme parks in America. From heart-pounding rollercoasters to enchanting character encounters, this diverse list caters to a variety of interests and age groups. So, buckle up and get ready to discover the theme park that will be the star of your summer adventure!

The research conducted by Westgate Palace Hotel at Universal analysed every amusement park located in the United States based on three key factors: Instagram hashtags, monthly Google search volume and the percentage of ‘excellent’ reviews on TripAdvisor. These factors were then combined in an index to give each amusement park a total score to discover the most popular in the United States. The factors were also weighted in favour of customer experiences, so TripAdvisor reviews were given a higher weighting due to them directly reflecting park-goers satisfaction.

Top 10 Most Popular Theme Parks In America

     Rank     Amusement park     Location     Final score out of 100 
     1.     Universal’s Islands of Adventure     Orlando, Florida     91.1 
     2.     Magic Kingdom      Orlando, Florida     90.4 
     3.     Disney California Adventure      Anaheim, California     84.2 
     4.     Cedar Point     Sandusky, Ohio     81.7 
     5.     Silver Dollar City     Stone County, Missouri     81.1 
     6.     Animal Kingdom     Orlando, Florida     80.7 
     7.     Universal Studios Hollywood     Los Angeles, California     79.4 
     8.     Disneyland Park     Anaheim, California     78.1 
     9.     Dollywood     Pigeon Forge, Tennessee     77.9 
     10.     Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park     Orlando, Florida     77.7 

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Universal’s Islands of Adventure takes the crown as the most popular theme park in the United States, according to the research.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure is a thrill-seeker’s paradise, transporting you to iconic worlds through themed islands. Get tangled with superheroes in Marvel Super Hero Island, soar through the skies with mythical creatures in Skull Island, or brave the velociraptors in Jurassic Park.

For a touch of whimsy, explore Seuss Landing with its fantastical rides, or venture into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can sip Butterbeer and explore the shops of Hogsmeade. With a mix of heart-pounding coasters, family-friendly attractions, and captivating shows, Universal’s Islands of Adventure offers an unforgettable adventure for all ages.

The Universal park claimed the top spot due to its impressive total index score of 91.1 out of 100. Boasting 52,310 reviews from park-goers, 74% fall under the ‘excellent’ rating, the highest rating in not only Florida, but the entire United States. TripAdvisor ratings, alongside 854,821 Instagram hashtags, place Islands of Adventure firmly in the top spot. 

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Disney’s Magic Kingdom narrowly misses out on the top spot, placing second behind Universal, scoring 90.4. Home to the iconic Cinderella’s Castle, Magic Kingdom is the most visited vacation resort in Florida, amassing more than 17 million visitors in 2022 alone, but only the second highest-rated. Magic Kingdom also ranks as the most Instagrammable theme park in the United States, holding the highest number of Instagram hashtags of any theme park worldwide, with a whopping 8,012,859 posts. 

Step into a world of pure enchantment at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the crown jewel of Walt Disney World Resort. This iconic theme park is where childhood dreams come true. Cinderella Castle stands as the centerpiece, surrounded by captivating lands brimming with beloved Disney characters and stories. Explore the bustling Main Street, U.S.A., travel under the sea with Ariel in Fantasyland, or blast off on a thrilling space adventure in Tomorrowland.

Meet iconic characters like Mickey Mouse and princesses, sing along to classic tunes at live shows, and hop on exhilarating rides that bring Disney stories to life. From classic attractions like Peter Pan’s Flight to the heart-stopping Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Disney’s Magic Kingdom offers a sprinkle of pixie dust and a day filled with unforgettable memories for the entire family.

Disney California Adventure Park

Disney California Adventure Park places next in the ranking, in third place. Disney California Adventure is one of the two parks at Disneyland Resort, located in Anaheim, California, the other being Disneyland Park, which ranks in eighth place. The park is the third highest-rated park in America on TripAdvisor, with 67% of its reviews labelled ‘excellent’ out of 15,724 total reviews, contributing to its final index score of 84.2 

Disney California Adventure Park throws a California twist on the Disney magic! This park celebrates the Golden State’s sunshine, history, and pop culture through immersive lands. Gear up for Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land, a thrilling race through the world of Cars. Explore the bustling Hollywood Land, where you can soar through the air with Mickey on Mickey’s PhilharMagic or experience the heart-stopping Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

For Pixar fans, Pixar Pier offers a vibrant carnival atmosphere with thrilling rides like the Incredicoaster and the chance to meet beloved Pixar pals. Paradise Gardens Park provides a more relaxed setting with its classic Ferris wheel and live entertainment.

Whether you crave high-octane thrills, character encounters, or a taste of California magic, Disney California Adventure Park offers a fun-filled adventure for the whole family.

Cedar Point

Cedar Point ranks as the fourth most acclaimed theme park in the US, according to the findings. Often referred to as the ‘rollercoaster capital of the world’ due its impressive selection of rollercoasters, Cedar Point receives the third highest number of Google searches in the study, with 355,000 average monthly searches. Located in Sandusky, Ohio, the park opened in 1870, making it one of the oldest amusement parks in the United States. 

This historic amusement park boasts a staggering 18 roller coasters, catering to every level of daring. Steel Vengeance, known for its record-breaking drops and inversions, will leave adrenaline pumping. For a family-friendly adventure, don’t miss the classic wooden coaster, the Blue Streak. Cedar Point offers more than just coasters, though.

Challenge yourself with go-karts and mini golf, cool off in the Cedar Point Shores Waterpark, or catch a live show. With a mile-long beach and on-site accommodations, Cedar Point offers a thrilling and relaxing summer escape for coaster enthusiasts and families alike.

Silver Dollar City

The study revealed that Silver Dollar City is the fifth best-rated amusement park in the US, based on park-goers experience. Located in Stone County, Missouri, Silver Dollar City features a variety of entertainment, including live shows, festivals, and demonstrations of traditional crafts. The park is the fourth highest-rated theme park on TripAdvisor, with 66% of all visitor reviews falling under the ‘excellent’ category.  

Silver Dollar City caters to all ages. For little ones, there’s a charming Fireman’s Fury water play area and whimsical rides like the Fire Engine Frenzy. The whole family can enjoy live shows featuring bluegrass music, comedy acts, and stunning acrobatics.

During specific seasons, the park transforms into a wonderland, with millions of twinkling lights adorning the park for the renowned “An Old Time Christmas” celebration or a harvest festival brimming with seasonal treats. So, come hungry – Silver Dollar City offers mouthwatering cuisine reflecting the Ozarks’ culinary heritage.

Whether you crave a taste of history, an adrenaline rush, or a delightful family adventure, Silver Dollar City offers a unique escape nestled amidst the beauty of the Ozarks.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The research revealed that Disney’s Animal Kingdom ranks as the sixth best-rated theme park nationwide. Animal Kingdom is the second most Googled theme park nationwide, receiving 379,000 average monthly searches, and has the third-highest number of hashtags in the ranking, with 4,752,545 hashtags. Opening in 1998, Animal Kingdom is the largest of the four Disney theme parks in terms of land area and features as the second Walt Disney World park to feature on the list, with a total score of 80.7.

This theme park isn’t just about rides – it’s a celebration of the wonders of the animal kingdom and a commitment to conservation. Journey through the majestic African savanna on Kilimanjaro Safaris, spotting lions, giraffes, and zebras in their natural habitat. Explore the rainforests of Asia in search of colorful birds and playful orangutans.

Travel back in time to the dinosaur era in DinoLand U.S.A., where towering animatronic dinosaurs come alive. Thrill-seekers can brave the thrilling Expedition Everest roller coaster, while families can enjoy the heartwarming musical Festival of the Lion King.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers a unique blend of animal encounters, educational experiences, and exciting rides, making it a perfect choice for nature lovers and families seeking a dose of adventure and wonder.

Popular Theme Parks

It comes as no surprise that theme parks operated by Walt Disney and Universal Studios have dominated the list. What may be surprising, however, is that the research crowns Universal as the best-rated theme park, beating all four major Disney parks.

Universal Studios Orlando stands out as the premier theme park destination in America due to its unrivalled customer experience and unwavering commitment to visitor satisfaction. With a recorded 37.9 million tourists in the first three months of 2023 alone, Florida continues to be a major vacation hotspot in the United States.

From the enchanting world of Walt Disney World to the exhilarating experiences at Universal Orlando, Florida’s theme parks add a touch of magic to any vacation. There’s only so much fun you can fit in during a single day in a park, so naturally guests will extend their stay to visit as many of Florida’s major theme parks as possible. Our family-friendly hotel suites are strategically located on I-Drive for easy access to these attractions and offer a welcoming retreat after a day of park exploration.

-A spokesperson from Westgate Palace Hotel at Universal
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