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Search TripSpot or Google |   Great Must-See sites   |   Read Articles and Lists | Find answers | City Guides  

Amusement Parks

Summer may be halfway over, but there's still plenty of time to get your fill of hair-raising thrills and dizzy spells at amusement parks new and old alike.

Pick a park, or at least have fun trying

Find the park nearest you with Theme Parks Online's state-by-state list. While you're there, catch up on amusement park news, look up associations for park enthusiasts or find out what happened on this date in amusement park history. The site's handy reference section has a glossary of industry terms covering everything from airtime and animatronics to vertical loop and wild mouse.'s Theme Parks also lets you search for parks by state or by park name.

Brush up on the industry's history with the erudite fun-lovers at the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Speaking of history, whatever happened to that park you, your parents or your grandparents remember so fondly? Find out its fate at this site dedicated to the many parks that have sadly gone belly-up. Of course, amusement parks would be nothing without the rides. Discover how they work at Amusement Park Physics, a site that's a lot more fun than it sounds.

From old school fun to mouse ears in the sun

Still having trouble deciding? Give these links a try:

  • Step back in time to the days when trolley companies set up amusement parks as an extra source of weekend revenue. Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn., is America's oldest operating amusement park, opened in 1846.

  • Older still, albeit a lot farther away, is Vienna's Prater, founded in 1766. Its nineteenth-century Ferris wheel was immortalized in the film noir classic "The Third Man" starring Orson Welles. The world's oldest park is Copenhagen's Bakken, around since 1583 and famous as much for its bawdry burlesque singers as its rides. The site's in Danish, but there are plenty of pictures.

  • Back stateside, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, has earned the right to call itself the "roller coaster capital of the world." The park has 17 roller coasters, including Skyhawk, the world's tallest ride of its kind, standing at 103 feet above the ground.

  • With 28 parks in the United States, there's bound to be a Six Flags park near you. The world's largest regional theme park company is known both for its turbo-charged coasters and its family-friendly shows and kiddie rides.

  • There’s no need for a water park at the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwal with Monterey Bay right next door. Hang out at the California beach then head over to the Boardwalk, which was built in 1907 and now includes a casino arcade, mini golf, laser tag and bowling. The famous older attractions include The Giant Dipper roller coaster that was built in 1924 and is a National Historic Landmark and The Looff Carousel, a merry-go-round created in 1911 with real pipe organ music.

  • Take a break from the slots and experience The Adventuredome Theme Park in Las Vegas. Located behind the Circus Circus Hotel Casino on the Strip, this five-acre indoor park features thrill rides including the Sling Shot (a tower ride that shoots you up and back down again) and the Rim Runner, a water ride with a 60-foot waterfall. Other attractions include Xtreme Zone (a rock-climbing park) and the Virtual Reality Zone.

  • Finally, no amusement park list would be complete without a mention of those two parks made famous by a man and his mouse. Disneyland, in Anaheim, Calif., and Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Fla., will be covered in an upcoming TripSpot article. These two links should get you started until then.

   --- A. Schreck
   --- ed. A. Karps

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