Travel's Best Amusement Parks and Water Parks 2014

From Tokyo’s DisneySea to Tennessee’s Dollywood, our advisors handpicked the most thrilling theme parks for our family fun list, Travel's Best Amusement and Water Parks 2014.

Photos

Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

"For great package deals, check out the website HolidayPirates.com. They find incredible deals for packages, flights and more departing to and from Europe. I've found some incredible, hard-to-find offers on that website, like $500-roundtrip flights to Europe or $50 flights from Europe to Turkey." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

"US Airways offers economy round-trip tickets to Europe from North America for just 35,000 miles from Jan. 15 to Feb. 28. If you have their co-branded credit card, that price drops to 30,000 miles roundtrip. American Airlines also offers off-peak discounted award tickets to Europe from Oct. 15 to May 15 for 40,000 miles, down from the usual 60,000. If you have their co-branded credit card, you can even get 10% of those redeemed miles back, up to an annual cap." -- Summer Hull, Mommy Points 960 1280

Thinkstock   

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

"Starwood Preferred Guest is a great hotel program, with a vast portfolio of hotels throughout the world. Redemptions start at just 2,000 points and members have the option to transfer points to dozens of airlines at a 1-to-1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus on every 20,000 points transferred." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

"Calling, texting and emailing while abroad can rack up thousands of dollars in fees. However, there are great apps like Viber that you can use for free with an internet connection. Viber users can send free text messages, photo messages, video messages and more with other users, and it’s compatible with iPhone, Android, and other major mobile and desktop devices." -- Brian Kelly, The Points Guy 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

"For a great-value trip, head to Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine) for very cheap destinations, great food, friendly people and few tourists. It's the medieval Europe you want without the crowds in Prague or Tallinn." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

"If you have a Costco membership, you can get good deals from Costco Travel such as no additional driver fees with certain rental companies. If booking abroad, AutoEurope.com gives good rates in Europe. I used it to book a wagon for a trip to Paris which saved me about 40% off booking directly with the rental company." -- Arthur Hsu, Mileage Runner 960 1280

iStock  

Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

"United MileagePlus is a great program, as it offers access to an extensive route network and award inventory. In short, they make it easy to redeem your miles. United miles are also easy to earn, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offering instant 1-to-1 transfer of points to United." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Getty Images   

Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

"If you don’t want to constantly check and recheck websites for the best fares, then sign up for Yapta’s fare alerts. They will automatically keep you updated on the fares you are interested in. All you have to do is set the date(s), city pairs and the price point, and they will alert you via email." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

"When I shop around for hotels and car rentals, I don't think there is any better place than Priceline. But keep in mind when you use their Name Your Own Price feature, you can't cancel. Before I make a blind bid, I always log on to BiddingForTravel.com to see what other people's luck was with their bids. It shows how much people paid for which dates and will give you a pretty good idea of which hotel you will end up with." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

Getty Images   

Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

"The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers generous sign-up bonuses and flexible points that can be transferred to both airline and hotel partners. The Sapphire Preferred makes it easy to amass points quickly, with 2x points on travel and dining. The original signup bonuses can be worth over $500 in travel after you meet the required minimum spend, within the first 3 months typically." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Dyker Heights Lights, Brooklyn, NY

Dyker Heights Lights, Brooklyn, NY

What’s Travel Channel host Samantha Brown’s favorite hometown holiday tradition? Taking in "the most delightful, delirious and over-the-top Christmas decorations" with her family in the Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. 960 1280

Michael Heiman/Getty Images  

Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg, Germany

Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg, Germany

Samantha Brown has always wanted to visit this world-famous Christmas market filled with decorations and treats galore, including Nuremberg bratwurst, gingerbread and mulled wine. Yum. 960 1280

Sean Nel/Getty Images/Hemera  

Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi, Finland

Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi, Finland

Want to visit Santa Claus on his own turf? Meet Santa in his office in the Arctic Circle. Families can send letters with the assistance of Santa's official postal elves.  960 1280

shashinkoubou/Getty Images  

Skating by the Sea, San Diego

Skating by the Sea, San Diego

San Diego’s landmark Hotel del Coronado offers an ice rink on the lawn with breathtaking ocean views. Travel blogger Amie O’Shaughnessy, founder of Ciao Bambino!, thinks skating by the Pacific Ocean makes for the best family holiday card photo.   960 1280

Sam Antonio/Getty Images/Flickr Vision  

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, New York

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, New York

One of the most treasured holiday traditions in New York City  is seeing the spectacular dancers of the New York City Ballet perform George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. Mickela Mallozzi, host of the travel dance series Bare Feet, says it's a must-see for any dance lover. 960 1280

Paul Kolnik  

12 Pubs of Christmas, Dublin

12 Pubs of Christmas, Dublin

A recent tradition in Dublin includes the 12 Pubs of Christmas, where revelers will don tacky sweaters and then make their rounds to 12 different pubs, swigging a pint at each one.  960 1280

Getty Images  

Sponza Palace, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sponza Palace, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Mickela Mallozzi, host of the travel dance series Bare Feet, suggests visiting the Christmas fair in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. This 1-000-year-old city turns into a Christmas mecca right out of a storybook, hosting local artisans and musical performances. 960 1280

Jean-Pierre Lescourret/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images  

Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa Claus, Indiana

One of the festive towns featured on ChristmastownUSA, Santa Claus, IN, celebrates Christmas 365 days of the year. Family-owned since 1946, the town’s popular amusement park, Holiday World, boasts 3 of the world’s top 10 wooden roller coasters. 960 1280

Spencer County Visitors Bureau   

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

You couldn't dream up a more magical place to spend the holidays than Reykjavik, with its vivid winter wonderland landscape and unique traditions. Visit the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjordur or Reykjavik's main Christmas market in Ingólfstorg Square for traditional Nordic holiday gifts, mulled wine and Yuletide music.  960 1280

Getty Images/Arctic-Images  

North Pole, Alaska

North Pole, Alaska

Yes, there really is a North Pole, and believe it or not, 3 men named Santa Claus live there.  Opened in 1952, Santa Claus House, the town’s biggest attraction, is a Christmas-themed gift shop with oodles of ornaments, a 42-foot Santa statue and real reindeer you can visit. 960 1280

Davidd/flickr  

13th Gate (Baton Rouge, LA)

13th Gate (Baton Rouge, LA)

Located in downtown Baton Rouge, 13th Gate has been used as a film location for photo shoots and movies, such as The Reaping, because of its realistic and detailed rooms. This creepy attraction keeps haunted revelers frightened by revamping its 13 different themes each year. New haunts this year include Possession, an old cabin infested with demonic entities; and Scary Tales, a new feature that pays homage to the famous Grimm Fairy Tales, but it has a 13th Gate twist. “This haunted house is so realistic that you will scream for mercy. It will give you one of the best Halloween experiences in the industry,” says Larry Kirchner, owner and publisher of Hauntworld.com and HauntWorld Magazine. 960 1280

13th Gate  

The Corn Maze at Oakes Farm (Knoxville, TN)

The Corn Maze at Oakes Farm (Knoxville, TN)

The Corn Maze at Oakes Farm is a less scary, kid-friendly attraction for families who live near Knoxville, TN. Children will enjoy the new Fairy Tale Trail, where kids follow 12 storybook pages as their guide through the kid’s corn maze. This year, the owners have also doubled the size of the corn pit, a huge box packed corn kernels for kids and adults to play. And after 15 years, this Halloween may mark the last time locals and tourists will be able to take the creepy journey along the Trail of Doom. “After several hours in the corn maze, if you happen to find yourself lost -- you may find the sound corn beneath your feet creepy rather than comforting,” says Daniel Schwartz, executive producer of Travel Channel’s TV show Ghost Adventures. 960 1280

Oakes Farm  

The Darkness (St. Louis)

The Darkness (St. Louis)

The Darkness is one of the oldest running haunted houses in St. Louis. This haunted attraction has been updated with new features, including a haunted library filled with evil spirits. The owners have also created the new Scream Zone -- equipped with a mega-scream movie wall and roaming zombies, monsters and demons -- to keep the crowd waiting outside preoccupied. And inside, it’s 2 floors of special effects and more! “The Darkness is considered America’s most detailed and technologically-advanced haunted house in America with over 200 animations, 75 CGI effects, hundreds of zombies, monsters, man-eating puppets and animated effects that grab and bite customers,” says Larry Kirchner. 960 1280

Scarefest.com  

Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind The Walls (Philadelphia)

Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind The Walls (Philadelphia)

It made our list, Travel’s Best Halloween Attractions 2013, and we decided to add it again this year. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind The Walls was once home to imprisoned bank robber Willie Sutton and mob boss Al Capone. Today, this penitentiary utilizes its spooky surroundings to create 6 different scare zones, including Quarantine 4D and Breakout, 2 groundbreaking attractions this year. “I’m excited about Breakout, which is a prison break area where inmates – and visitors – attempt to gain their freedom, using barrels, ropes, tunnels and ladders,” says Aaron Sagers, geek culture and paranormal culture expert. 960 1280

Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind The Walls   

Fear Factory (Salt Lake City, UT)

Fear Factory (Salt Lake City, UT)

Located on 2.5 acres or a full-city block in Salt Lake City, UT, the Fear Factory features a post-apocalyptic setting with underground tunnels, towers, mazes and “2 of the largest indoor slides in North America,” according to the owners. For extreme thrills, we suggest the controlled free fall from the factory’s tower or ride the Last Ride zip line to witness the terror from above. Fear Factory, formerly a cement factory built in the late 1800s, is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of former workers who died here. “People should check out the Fear Factory because this site is one of the rare locations in the US where the history is even more terrifying than that depicted in the haunted house,” says Daniel Schwartz.   960 1280

Breck Gonzales  

The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park (San Diego)

The Haunted Trail of Balboa Park (San Diego)

Set in the middle of San Diego is Balboa Park, an idyllic escape from life in the city, but when the sun goes down the monsters emerge on the mile-long Haunted Trail. Beware of creepy characters and horror movie legends such as Freddy Kruger, Michael Meyers and Jason Voorhees.  “But, there’s more than just monsters that will spook you, the psychological terrors to make you want to flee the darkness,” says Arthur Hsu, producer of America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions. Visitors can also experience the Experiment, a horrifying maze with more than 3,500 square feet of freak-infested terror. We recommend wearing good running shoes. 960 1280

Mike Rollerson  

Hundred Acres Manor (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hundred Acres Manor (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hundred Acres Manor offers 6 haunted houses in one location and has been terrifying the victims for over a decade. “With nearly 200 actors you never know when the next scare is going to jump out at you,” says Arthur Hsu. The Vodou Bayou is the new attraction this year. Visitors can take a tour through the Deep South, where the spirits of the bayou beckon, the stitchers want your body, the priestess wants your soul. Dead Lift, Damnation, Torture Bank, The Maze and the Brine Slaughterhouse are the other scary highlights of this bone-chilling haunt. But, there’s a glimmer of light in the darkness, this is a charity scary attraction that donates to Homeless Children’s Education Fund and Animal Friends 960 1280

Hundred Acres Manor Haunted House  

Lord Chaz Ghost & Vampire Tours (New Orleans, LA)

Lord Chaz Ghost & Vampire Tours (New Orleans, LA)

“I like my Halloween scares dished out with a serving of history and a helping of theater,” says Aaron Sagers. “Add in a dash of jazz spirit, and you have the spooky gumbo of Lord Chaz’ Ghost & Vampire Tour in New Orleans.” Lord Chaz – actor, author, musician and street performer – provides guided tours of the French Quarter year round, but his tours are best experienced in October. His Ghost & Vampire Tour starts at Johnny White’s Hole in the Wall on Bourbon Street. On this walking tour, Lord Chaz guides haunted history aficionados through the streets and talks about the infamous murders, suicides and tragedies that have inspired well-renowned authors such as Anne Rice. 960 1280

Lord Chaz  

Netherworld (Atlanta)

Netherworld (Atlanta)

Netherworld received our stamp of approval and made our Travel’s Best Halloween Attractions last year, and again this year. It has 2 new features, including the Toxic Foam Room, where patrons step into this one-of-a-kind decontamination chamber after exiting Vault 13. Try the new Elevator of Death, where up to 20 people can ride the elevator down to Vault 13, but be prepared for the flickering lights and bumpy descent. “Netherworld is one of Hauntworld’s scariest haunted houses because they spend a long time developing one-of-a-kind costumes, masks, animation and set design that can only be experienced in Atlanta,” Larry Kirchner.  960 1280

Netherworld Haunted House  

Robert Kurtzman’s Mad FX Lab (Crestline, OH)

Robert Kurtzman’s Mad FX Lab (Crestline, OH)

You may know makeup-effects master Robert Kurtzman’s work – co founder of KNB and owner of Robert Kurtzman's Creature Corps. Kurtzman is known for his work in blockbuster movies such as From Dusk Till Dawn, Army of Darkness, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and John Carpenter's Vampires. Every year, fans converge on the Mad FX Lab in Crestline, OH, to walk through the alien lab, Freddy’s Tunnel, the home of Leatherface and the Butcher’s Room. “Robert Kurtzman and his associates apply their creative skills and imagination to this unique haunt, bringing Hollywood-caliber frights to the locals of this small town,” says Aaron Sager. 960 1280

Robert Kurtzman's Mad FX Lab  

The Hot List

Explore America’s most stunning scenery.
Join the conversation on Social Media!
Stay updated on the latest travel tips and trends.
Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss Travel Channel in your favorite social media feeds.