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.

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Island Princess
Best Alaskan Cruise, Princess Cruises, Island Princess

Best Alaskan Cruise, Princess Cruises, Island Princess

Only in Alaska can you take a breath of crisp air while gazing upon the pristine greenery of spruce trees that line the mountains of the Inside Passage. Princess Cruises features its own lodges along this route and is the finest cruise line to offer such multi-day shore excursions. “The Island Princess, in particular, is sized to fit through the Panama Canal, she’s more intimate in scale and more manageable to navigate once onboard," says Jason Leppert, editor-in-chief of PopularCruising.com. The Bayou Café & Steakhouse serves Cajun cuisine, and fleet-wide, Princess bakes some of the best pizza pies at sea. 960 1280

Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.  

Best Caribbean Cruise, Star Clippers, Royal Clipper

Best Caribbean Cruise, Star Clippers, Royal Clipper

You'll find a very different tropical seagoing experience aboard Star Clippers' 227-passenger Royal Clipper, the world's largest and only 5-mast, full-rigged sailing ship. The elegant tall ship frequents small exclusive ports like Bequia, Tobago Cays and Iles des Saintes. “Attracting sophisticated travelers (roughly half are European), Royal Clipper offers open-seating, dining on sumptuous fare and fine wine. After dinner, guests gather around the grand piano or on deck to watch the enormous sails unfurl in the wind,” adds Anne Campbell. Don’t miss the beach-side barbecue on a deserted beach. 960 1280

Star Clippers  

Best European River Cruise, Viking River Cruises, Viking Longships

Best European River Cruise, Viking River Cruises, Viking Longships

The popularity of river cruising has exploded in recent years and for good reason. There’s no other way to conveniently unpack one time and then leisurely visit a string of legendary European cities. At the forefront of such travel is Viking River Cruises and the line’s innovative new Viking Longships. “These intimate vessels feature a clever offset cabin configuration that provides more spacious accommodations closer in size to those found on larger seafaring ships,” says Jason Leppert. Meals feature destination-inspired cuisine and include house wines and beers. And couples can take a romantic cruise on the appropriately titled Romantic Danube itinerary. 960 1280

Viking Cruises  

Best Family Cruise, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Fantasy

Best Family Cruise, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Fantasy

Get the best family cruising experience onboard the newest Disney Fantasy. Watch Aladdin take flight on his magic carpet or meet Mickey Mouse and the gang dressed in nautical attire. Live out your fantasy of being a Disney animator at Animator’s Palate. “At the end of the meal, you get the thrill of watching the artwork you created (before dinner) come to life,” says Samantha Brown. “I watched as my drawing danced with Jungle Book characters Mowgli and Baloo. Let’s just say I felt 8 years old again.” Regardless of your age, there’s something to keep everyone engaged with amenities like the full-service spa, 2 large theaters, 3 freshwater pools, 6 adults-only nightclubs/lounges and 9 clubs to keep the kids, tweens and teens happy. 960 1280

Disney  

Best Hawaiian Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

Best Hawaiian Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

Many cruise lines set sail in the Pacific to tour the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. “Norwegian’s Pride of America is the only US-flagged major cruise line ship, which means maximum port time of 85 hours for a 7-night cruise,” says Stewart Chiron. Enjoy 2 days in Maui and Kauai as well as stops at Kona and Hilo. In addition to great food and entertainment, this ship has more balconies than any ship that cruises Hawaii, making it perfect for whale watching, viewing the glow of Kilauea Volcano or witnessing the awe-inspiring views of the Napali Coast. Spend a few days in Honolulu before and after the cruise to experience the sights or to just relax. 960 1280

Norwegian Cruise Line  

Best LGBT Cruise, Atlantis Events, Celebrity Equinox

Best LGBT Cruise, Atlantis Events, Celebrity Equinox

As summer starts to wind down, cruisers begin packing their suitcases for Atlantis Events’ annual and largest gay European cruise on the Celebrity Equinox. “This year’s new route takes passengers to 4 countries and 8 cities, including Barcelona, Ibiza, Rome, Florence and Monte Carlo,” says Kwin Mosby. While at sea, this ship has plenty of amazing amenities to keep everyone occupied including sipping on a frozen cocktail at Slush, rejuvenating at Canyon Ranch SpaClub and dining at one of the seven restaurants on board – including the Italian steakhouse, Tuscan Grille. Passengers can dance into the wee hours of the morning thanks to organized, themed parties every night. 960 1280

Celebrity Cruises Inc.  

Best Luxury Cruise, Silversea Expeditions, Silver Discoverer

Best Luxury Cruise, Silversea Expeditions, Silver Discoverer

Embark on an exciting adventure on Silversea Expeditions’ newest ship, Silver Discoverer. In March, this small cruise ship became the third member of the fleet, and its inaugural expeditions allow guest to encounter Stone Age cultures in Melanesia, spot the rare yellow-eyed penguin in New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands and more. “Led by expert guides, you can’t beat the intimate shore experiences of hiking, snorkeling and diving in some of the most remote parts of the world,” says Kwin Mosby. Follow the routes of ancient seafarers to some of the most isolated ecosystems of Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, Melanesia and the Russian Far East. All you need to pack is your sense of adventure. 960 1280

Silversea Cruises  

Best Mediterranean Cruise, Windstar Cruises, Wind Surf

Best Mediterranean Cruise, Windstar Cruises, Wind Surf

The Greek Islands and the coastline of Turkey may be unrivaled for world-famous antiquities and spectacular beauty. These locales are best visited aboard Windstar Cruises' intimate 148-passenger Wind Surf. “The motorized sail vessel boasts refined dining and spacious staterooms for pampering the body after a day exploring ports like trendy Mykonos, Santorini and Kusadasi, which is a hopping-off point to see the ruins of Ephesus, where Cleopatra and Marc Antony began their fabled romance,” says Anne Campbell. Passengers get the extra special treat of an after-hours tour of Ephesus and 5-course banquet in the ruins' library courtyard serenaded by a string quartet. 960 1280

Windstar Cruises/Moment/Getty Images  

Best Mexican Cruise, Holland America, ms Veendam

Best Mexican Cruise, Holland America, ms Veendam

Experience the best of the Mexican Riviera on Holland America's ms Veendam. This 7-day cruise whisks passengers off to the Mexican Riviera to experience horseback riding along the beach in Cabo San Lucas; watch traditional Hispanic dance in Mazatlan and swim with the dolphins in Puerto Vallarta. “This is a nice option for seasoned cruisers or first timers looking for traditional cruise experience on a medium-sized ship,” says Stewart Chiron. New staterooms offer special spa amenities and a private resort-style pool. The ‘Showroom at Sea’ and ‘Mix’ are just 2 places where passengers can mingle and meet new friends while sipping on a microbrew, mimosa or martini. 960 1280

Holland America Line Inc.  

Best Unexpected Cruise for Food, Carnival Cruise Lines, Carnival Dream

Best Unexpected Cruise for Food, Carnival Cruise Lines, Carnival Dream

The Carnival Dream offers some of the best food in cruising with the Chef’s Table experience, which allows passengers to tour the gallery that includes an amazing full-service dinner of tasty appetizers, entrees and desserts not found on regular menus. The ship's restaurants and buffets have left lasting impressions on those who have traveled the world including Samantha Brown. “The best food I’ve ever had on a cruise was on Carnival,” says the Travel Channel host. “They have an excellent chef and kitchen staff from India and Bangladesh. I found a small buffet off the side of the pool area, where they served wonderful curries, cumin-spiced vegetables, freshly-made naan and even a refreshing mango lassi.” Other must-try restaurants on this ship include The Taste Bar, Steakhouse and Mongolian Wok. 960 1280

Carnival Cruise Lines  

londolozi private granite suites, dinner, romantic, south africa
Lodge in Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Lodge in Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Wedding Salon founder Tatiana Byron’s favorite honeymoon spot is Londolozi's Granite Suites in South Africa. This uber-exclusive lodge in one of the original private game reserves consists of just 3 incredibly spacious, stand-alone suites. 960 1280

Londolozi  

Cultural and Culinary Tour of Spain

Cultural and Culinary Tour of Spain

For 2015, the luxury travel group Black Tomato's co-founder Tom Marchant believes Spain in particular is emerging as a perfect honeymoon destination. With its incredible gastronomic experiences, amazing art and architecture, and luxurious properties this is the ideal spot for a luxurious and culturally immersive honeymoon. 960 1280

Black Tomato  

Spice Up the Romance in Zanzibar

Spice Up the Romance in Zanzibar

Dubbed the “Spice Islands,” Zanzibar was the hub of both the spice and slave trades, and its capital city, Stone Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jenna Mahoney, Bridal Guide's travel editor, recommends staying at Kilindi Zanzibar, an intimate beachside retreat of 15 individually appointed, villa-like accommodations. Mahoney says to savor not only the scenery and impeccable service here, but also the literal melting pot of Zanzibar via the hotel’s fantastic cuisine. 960 1280

Elewana Collection  

A Private Villa in St. Barts

A Private Villa in St. Barts

The best way to honeymoon in St. Barts? Rent a villa with a pool and hot tub says Wedding Salon founder Tatiana Byron. Be sure to select a villa rental agency with a permanent presence on the island, so it will be able to assist you in booking everything from a sunset cruise to a private chef and spa services.     960 1280

Don Hebert/The Image Bank/Getty Images  

Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands

Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands

Tom Marchant, co-founder of bespoke luxury travel group Black Tomato, suggests that couples maximize their time away post-nuptials by combining different destinations and experiences. His pick for intrepid honeymooners? An action-packed adventure in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.  960 1280

Black Tomato  

Mini-Moon in a Private Cabin in Pennsylvania

Mini-Moon in a Private Cabin in Pennsylvania

A perfect spot for a “mini-moon” (a 2-4 night getaway)? Bridal Guide travel editor Jenna Mahoney suggests Relais & Chateaux Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, PA. This sprawling resort in the Allegheny Mountains is driving distance from Pittsburgh, NYC and Columbus, Ohio. 960 1280

The Lodge at Glendorn  

Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Katie Frederick, founder of the honeymoon planning service Ever After Honeymoons, recommends the Great Barrier Reef for an unforgettable romantic getaway. Another can’t-miss activity for honeymoon couples Down Under? “Taking a helicopter ride over the Whitsundays, where you can see the famous heart-shaped reef!” Katie says. 960 1280

One&Only Resorts  

Stargazing in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Stargazing in the Atacama Desert, Chile

The reason that Bridal Guide travel editor Jenna Mahoney picks the Atacama Desert as a top honeymoon destination? Stargazing. “Hands down, there is no other place on the planet where the night skies are so spectacularly clear — a reason why the international space station ALMA is here.”  960 1280

Tierra Atacama Hotel Boutique & Spa  

Overwater Bungalow in Cambodia

Overwater Bungalow in Cambodia

Staying in an overwater bungalow is a dream for many honeymooning couples, as Katie Frederick, founder of honeymoon planning agency Ever After Honeymoons, very well knows. Honeymoon in your own intimate paradise at the stunning Song Saa Private Island, a pair of islands set off the coast of Cambodia with just 27 villas, either overwater or in the jungle, all featuring private pools. 960 1280

Song Saa Hotels & Resorts  

Mediterranean Cruise

Mediterranean Cruise

For those who want more than just a beach or a quiet hideaway, Shane Green, host of Resort Rescue and veteran hospitality consultant, suggests a Mediterranean cruise to take in the romance, culture and indulgences of the region. If you want something a little more exclusive and private, he recommends the small-ship, yacht-style Windstar Cruises.  960 1280

Windstar Cruises  

Photos

Best Alaskan Cruise, Princess Cruises, Island Princess

Best Alaskan Cruise, Princess Cruises, Island Princess

Only in Alaska can you take a breath of crisp air while gazing upon the pristine greenery of spruce trees that line the mountains of the Inside Passage. Princess Cruises features its own lodges along this route and is the finest cruise line to offer such multi-day shore excursions. “The Island Princess, in particular, is sized to fit through the Panama Canal, she’s more intimate in scale and more manageable to navigate once onboard," says Jason Leppert, editor-in-chief of PopularCruising.com. The Bayou Café & Steakhouse serves Cajun cuisine, and fleet-wide, Princess bakes some of the best pizza pies at sea. 960 1280

Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.  

Best Caribbean Cruise, Star Clippers, Royal Clipper

Best Caribbean Cruise, Star Clippers, Royal Clipper

You'll find a very different tropical seagoing experience aboard Star Clippers' 227-passenger Royal Clipper, the world's largest and only 5-mast, full-rigged sailing ship. The elegant tall ship frequents small exclusive ports like Bequia, Tobago Cays and Iles des Saintes. “Attracting sophisticated travelers (roughly half are European), Royal Clipper offers open-seating, dining on sumptuous fare and fine wine. After dinner, guests gather around the grand piano or on deck to watch the enormous sails unfurl in the wind,” adds Anne Campbell. Don’t miss the beach-side barbecue on a deserted beach. 960 1280

Star Clippers  

Best European River Cruise, Viking River Cruises, Viking Longships

Best European River Cruise, Viking River Cruises, Viking Longships

The popularity of river cruising has exploded in recent years and for good reason. There’s no other way to conveniently unpack one time and then leisurely visit a string of legendary European cities. At the forefront of such travel is Viking River Cruises and the line’s innovative new Viking Longships. “These intimate vessels feature a clever offset cabin configuration that provides more spacious accommodations closer in size to those found on larger seafaring ships,” says Jason Leppert. Meals feature destination-inspired cuisine and include house wines and beers. And couples can take a romantic cruise on the appropriately titled Romantic Danube itinerary. 960 1280

Viking Cruises  

Best Family Cruise, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Fantasy

Best Family Cruise, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Fantasy

Get the best family cruising experience onboard the newest Disney Fantasy. Watch Aladdin take flight on his magic carpet or meet Mickey Mouse and the gang dressed in nautical attire. Live out your fantasy of being a Disney animator at Animator’s Palate. “At the end of the meal, you get the thrill of watching the artwork you created (before dinner) come to life,” says Samantha Brown. “I watched as my drawing danced with Jungle Book characters Mowgli and Baloo. Let’s just say I felt 8 years old again.” Regardless of your age, there’s something to keep everyone engaged with amenities like the full-service spa, 2 large theaters, 3 freshwater pools, 6 adults-only nightclubs/lounges and 9 clubs to keep the kids, tweens and teens happy. 960 1280

Disney  

Best Hawaiian Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

Best Hawaiian Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

Many cruise lines set sail in the Pacific to tour the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. “Norwegian’s Pride of America is the only US-flagged major cruise line ship, which means maximum port time of 85 hours for a 7-night cruise,” says Stewart Chiron. Enjoy 2 days in Maui and Kauai as well as stops at Kona and Hilo. In addition to great food and entertainment, this ship has more balconies than any ship that cruises Hawaii, making it perfect for whale watching, viewing the glow of Kilauea Volcano or witnessing the awe-inspiring views of the Napali Coast. Spend a few days in Honolulu before and after the cruise to experience the sights or to just relax. 960 1280

Norwegian Cruise Line  

Best LGBT Cruise, Atlantis Events, Celebrity Equinox

Best LGBT Cruise, Atlantis Events, Celebrity Equinox

As summer starts to wind down, cruisers begin packing their suitcases for Atlantis Events’ annual and largest gay European cruise on the Celebrity Equinox. “This year’s new route takes passengers to 4 countries and 8 cities, including Barcelona, Ibiza, Rome, Florence and Monte Carlo,” says Kwin Mosby. While at sea, this ship has plenty of amazing amenities to keep everyone occupied including sipping on a frozen cocktail at Slush, rejuvenating at Canyon Ranch SpaClub and dining at one of the seven restaurants on board – including the Italian steakhouse, Tuscan Grille. Passengers can dance into the wee hours of the morning thanks to organized, themed parties every night. 960 1280

Celebrity Cruises Inc.  

Best Luxury Cruise, Silversea Expeditions, Silver Discoverer

Best Luxury Cruise, Silversea Expeditions, Silver Discoverer

Embark on an exciting adventure on Silversea Expeditions’ newest ship, Silver Discoverer. In March, this small cruise ship became the third member of the fleet, and its inaugural expeditions allow guest to encounter Stone Age cultures in Melanesia, spot the rare yellow-eyed penguin in New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands and more. “Led by expert guides, you can’t beat the intimate shore experiences of hiking, snorkeling and diving in some of the most remote parts of the world,” says Kwin Mosby. Follow the routes of ancient seafarers to some of the most isolated ecosystems of Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, Melanesia and the Russian Far East. All you need to pack is your sense of adventure. 960 1280

Silversea Cruises  

Best Mediterranean Cruise, Windstar Cruises, Wind Surf

Best Mediterranean Cruise, Windstar Cruises, Wind Surf

The Greek Islands and the coastline of Turkey may be unrivaled for world-famous antiquities and spectacular beauty. These locales are best visited aboard Windstar Cruises' intimate 148-passenger Wind Surf. “The motorized sail vessel boasts refined dining and spacious staterooms for pampering the body after a day exploring ports like trendy Mykonos, Santorini and Kusadasi, which is a hopping-off point to see the ruins of Ephesus, where Cleopatra and Marc Antony began their fabled romance,” says Anne Campbell. Passengers get the extra special treat of an after-hours tour of Ephesus and 5-course banquet in the ruins' library courtyard serenaded by a string quartet. 960 1280

Windstar Cruises/Moment/Getty Images  

Best Mexican Cruise, Holland America, ms Veendam

Best Mexican Cruise, Holland America, ms Veendam

Experience the best of the Mexican Riviera on Holland America's ms Veendam. This 7-day cruise whisks passengers off to the Mexican Riviera to experience horseback riding along the beach in Cabo San Lucas; watch traditional Hispanic dance in Mazatlan and swim with the dolphins in Puerto Vallarta. “This is a nice option for seasoned cruisers or first timers looking for traditional cruise experience on a medium-sized ship,” says Stewart Chiron. New staterooms offer special spa amenities and a private resort-style pool. The ‘Showroom at Sea’ and ‘Mix’ are just 2 places where passengers can mingle and meet new friends while sipping on a microbrew, mimosa or martini. 960 1280

Holland America Line Inc.  

Best Unexpected Cruise for Food, Carnival Cruise Lines, Carnival Dream

Best Unexpected Cruise for Food, Carnival Cruise Lines, Carnival Dream

The Carnival Dream offers some of the best food in cruising with the Chef’s Table experience, which allows passengers to tour the gallery that includes an amazing full-service dinner of tasty appetizers, entrees and desserts not found on regular menus. The ship's restaurants and buffets have left lasting impressions on those who have traveled the world including Samantha Brown. “The best food I’ve ever had on a cruise was on Carnival,” says the Travel Channel host. “They have an excellent chef and kitchen staff from India and Bangladesh. I found a small buffet off the side of the pool area, where they served wonderful curries, cumin-spiced vegetables, freshly-made naan and even a refreshing mango lassi.” Other must-try restaurants on this ship include The Taste Bar, Steakhouse and Mongolian Wok. 960 1280

Carnival Cruise Lines  

Lodge in Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Lodge in Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Wedding Salon founder Tatiana Byron’s favorite honeymoon spot is Londolozi's Granite Suites in South Africa. This uber-exclusive lodge in one of the original private game reserves consists of just 3 incredibly spacious, stand-alone suites. 960 1280

Londolozi  

Cultural and Culinary Tour of Spain

Cultural and Culinary Tour of Spain

For 2015, the luxury travel group Black Tomato's co-founder Tom Marchant believes Spain in particular is emerging as a perfect honeymoon destination. With its incredible gastronomic experiences, amazing art and architecture, and luxurious properties this is the ideal spot for a luxurious and culturally immersive honeymoon. 960 1280

Black Tomato  

Spice Up the Romance in Zanzibar

Spice Up the Romance in Zanzibar

Dubbed the “Spice Islands,” Zanzibar was the hub of both the spice and slave trades, and its capital city, Stone Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jenna Mahoney, Bridal Guide's travel editor, recommends staying at Kilindi Zanzibar, an intimate beachside retreat of 15 individually appointed, villa-like accommodations. Mahoney says to savor not only the scenery and impeccable service here, but also the literal melting pot of Zanzibar via the hotel’s fantastic cuisine. 960 1280

Elewana Collection  

A Private Villa in St. Barts

A Private Villa in St. Barts

The best way to honeymoon in St. Barts? Rent a villa with a pool and hot tub says Wedding Salon founder Tatiana Byron. Be sure to select a villa rental agency with a permanent presence on the island, so it will be able to assist you in booking everything from a sunset cruise to a private chef and spa services.     960 1280

Don Hebert/The Image Bank/Getty Images  

Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands

Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands

Tom Marchant, co-founder of bespoke luxury travel group Black Tomato, suggests that couples maximize their time away post-nuptials by combining different destinations and experiences. His pick for intrepid honeymooners? An action-packed adventure in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.  960 1280

Black Tomato  

Mini-Moon in a Private Cabin in Pennsylvania

Mini-Moon in a Private Cabin in Pennsylvania

A perfect spot for a “mini-moon” (a 2-4 night getaway)? Bridal Guide travel editor Jenna Mahoney suggests Relais & Chateaux Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, PA. This sprawling resort in the Allegheny Mountains is driving distance from Pittsburgh, NYC and Columbus, Ohio. 960 1280

The Lodge at Glendorn  

Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Katie Frederick, founder of the honeymoon planning service Ever After Honeymoons, recommends the Great Barrier Reef for an unforgettable romantic getaway. Another can’t-miss activity for honeymoon couples Down Under? “Taking a helicopter ride over the Whitsundays, where you can see the famous heart-shaped reef!” Katie says. 960 1280

One&Only Resorts  

Stargazing in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Stargazing in the Atacama Desert, Chile

The reason that Bridal Guide travel editor Jenna Mahoney picks the Atacama Desert as a top honeymoon destination? Stargazing. “Hands down, there is no other place on the planet where the night skies are so spectacularly clear — a reason why the international space station ALMA is here.”  960 1280

Tierra Atacama Hotel Boutique & Spa  

Overwater Bungalow in Cambodia

Overwater Bungalow in Cambodia

Staying in an overwater bungalow is a dream for many honeymooning couples, as Katie Frederick, founder of honeymoon planning agency Ever After Honeymoons, very well knows. Honeymoon in your own intimate paradise at the stunning Song Saa Private Island, a pair of islands set off the coast of Cambodia with just 27 villas, either overwater or in the jungle, all featuring private pools. 960 1280

Song Saa Hotels & Resorts  

Mediterranean Cruise

Mediterranean Cruise

For those who want more than just a beach or a quiet hideaway, Shane Green, host of Resort Rescue and veteran hospitality consultant, suggests a Mediterranean cruise to take in the romance, culture and indulgences of the region. If you want something a little more exclusive and private, he recommends the small-ship, yacht-style Windstar Cruises.  960 1280

Windstar Cruises  

Aquatica, SeaWorld's Waterpark, Orlando

Aquatica, SeaWorld's Waterpark, Orlando

Ihu's Breakaway Falls at SeaWorld's Aquatica is billed as the tallest and steepest waterslide in Orlando, sending thrill-seekers 40 feet straight down before they twist and turn their way through the colorful slides. Race headfirst against 7 other guests on Taumata Racer, a high-speed racing slide, or wind down at the park’s lazy river. The popular wave pool and the splash fortress with a 500-gallon dumping water bucket will please even the smallest park guests. 960 1280

SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando  

Carowinds, Charlotte, NC

Carowinds, Charlotte, NC

Standing 325 feet high, the new Fury 325 roller coaster at Carowinds is among the 5 tallest coasters in the world. Taller than the Statue of Liberty (305 feet), it sends riders racing up, down and around turns at 95 miles per hour. If you want even more heart-pumping action, Carowinds has 9 other roller coasters that offer drops, loops, turns and spins — both forward and backward. 960 1280

Carowinds  

Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

2015 marks the 60th anniversary of “the happiest place on Earth.” Disneyland will have its Diamond Celebration with a spectacular new nighttime parade and fireworks show. Along with mainstay attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (which was upgraded last year), they will deftly stir emotions with eye-popping technology and huge doses of nostalgia, where the Mouse House excels. 960 1280

Disney  

Knoebels Amusement Park, Elysburg, PA

Knoebels Amusement Park, Elysburg, PA

Plan to stay all day at Knoebels Amusement Resort, which is about 2 1/2 hours outside Philadelphia. Admission is free, and guests pay per ride. The newest attraction to grace the amusement park, Impulse, is a hair-raising roller coaster with a 90-degree vertical drop. There are also historic rides such as the 1948 classic wooden roller coaster Phoenix and a brass ring carousel, which is a rare find in the United States. And if you like camping, Knoebels features one of the largest campgrounds at any traditional amusement park. 960 1280

Joel Styer/Knoebels  

Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA

Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA

For small-town charm and fantastic roller coasters, pay a visit to Knott’s Berry Farm (and save $25 per ticket if you purchase online in advance). This year, Voyage to the Iron Reef, a new 4-D interactive experience, has riders battle against the Queen of the Kraken and her army to save the park’s iconic attractions before they become scrap metal. Knott’s other thrills include the speedy Montezooma’s Revenge and the looping Boomerang, as well as various offerings for small screamers and kids just getting started on coasters. 960 1280

Knott’s Berry Farm  

Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, TX

Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, TX

Stuffed to the gills with water fun, Schlitterbahn is an enormous, unique and innovative water park. Among its notable attractions are 2 of the world's firsts: the wavemaking Boogie Bahn Surfing Ride and the Master Blaster uphill water coaster, which sends passengers racing in the dark for a face-to-face encounter with a dragon. Thanks to the industry pioneers behind the circa-1979 Texas landmark, both attractions have become staples at many other parks. 960 1280

Schlitterbahn Waterparks & Resorts  

Six Flags Magic Mountain, Los Angeles

Six Flags Magic Mountain, Los Angeles

For a twisted new ride this summer, hop on the Twisted Colossus. According to Six Flags Magic Mountain, it has 5,000 feet of wood and steel track, making it the longest and most innovative hybrid coaster in the world. But Trip Flip host Bert Kreischer’s favorite ride in the world is Magic Mountain’s Superman: Escape From Krypton. “I spent the entire summer shooting a series for Travel Channel at this park, and every single day at sunset, the entire crew and I would meet at the 415-foot tower for 1 last ride before the park closed,” he says. 960 1280

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images  

Six Flags White Water, Atlanta

Six Flags White Water, Atlanta

Six Flags White Water offers fun for all ages, with rapids, twisters, free falls and tube rides, plus 3 kid-friendly zones — Captain Kid’s Cove, Lilypad Crossing and Tree House Island — with the oh-so-fun water-dumping buckets and splash play areas. This summer, the park is unleashing Dive Bomber, which drops brave riders through a trapdoor for a zero-gravity, 10-story, heart-stopping fall. If guests prefer more chill than thrill, White Water offers cabanas for families to relax and escape from the sun. 960 1280

Six Flags  

Splashin’ Safari Water Park, Santa Claus, IN

Splashin’ Safari Water Park, Santa Claus, IN

After taking a ride on the new $22 million Thunderbird roller coaster, cool down at Splashin’ Safari Water Park, part of the Holiday World theme park. Splashin’ Safari features 2 of the largest hydromagnetic water coasters in the world — the Mammoth and the Wildebeest, which are consistently ranked among the best water-park rides in the country. There’s also a variety of fun family attractions, including Monsoon Lagoon, the Bahari Wave Pool and Hyena Falls. Other great guest perks include free parking, soda, Wi-Fi and sunscreen. There’s never a dull — or dry! — moment at Splashin' Safari. 960 1280

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari  

Wet ’n’ Wild Hawaii, Kapolei, HI

Wet ’n’ Wild Hawaii, Kapolei, HI

A trip to Oahu must always be accompanied by a visit to what might be one of the best water parks in the country, Wet ’n’ Wild Hawaii. The new Waimea Whirl, set to open this summer, is among several water thrills packed into the 29-acre park, which competes with some of the world’s best beaches. Shaka — a favorite ride of Bert Kreischer, host of Travel Channel’s Trip Flip and Bert the Conqueror — has a 2-person inner tube plummeting down more than 4 stories, and the ride doesn’t end until gravity and inertia are done with you. 960 1280

Wet ’N’ Wild Hawaii  


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