Forget Disney: 11 Amusing Theme Park Alternatives To Avoid Blowing Your Travel Budget

While Disney World is undoubtedly the happiest place on Earth, it can also be one of the most expensive. A family of four can easily spend around $4,000 for a three-day trip. If you’re looking for an equally fun and entertaining theme park experience that won’t break the bank, these 11 alternatives are definitely worth considering:

1. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio

Ohio’s Cedar Point
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Located in northern Ohio, near Lake Erie, Cedar Point is home to one of the tallest roller coasters: the Millennium Force. Other coasters at this theme park have broken world records for speed and height. Although ticket prices will vary depending on the number of guests and when you visit, your entire family will likely be able to visit for less than a trip to Disney. 

2. Legoland (Multiple Locations – Winter Haven, Florida) 

ORLANDO, FL -20 JUN 2020- View of an on-site hotel at the Legoland Florida Resort theme park in Orlando, Florida, shaped with Lego minifigures.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/EQRoy

While there are many Legoland locations, Legoland Florida Result is an excellent choice if your family wants to take a trip to Florida without the Disney price tag. The interactive theme park will make you feel truly immersed in a world built tiny brick by brick.  

3. Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennesee

PIGEON FORGE, TN, USA - MARCH 27, 2022: The entrance to Dollywood with the amusement park logo. Dollywood is Dolly Parton's famous amusement park located in the Smoky Mountains.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Hendrickson Photography

Found in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains, Dollypark offers multiple resorts, including a theme park and a water park, with reasonable rates available for the whole family. Guests come from across the country to ride the Amazing Flying Elephants, the Brainstormer, and Daredevil Falls, among other rides and attractions. 

4. Busch Gardens (Multiple Locations)  

Tampa, FL USA - 03 20 2021 : Tampa Busch Garden entrance in Tampa
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Feng Cheng

Busch Gardens is an excellent choice for a family vacation because you can simultaneously enjoy seeing a variety of animals, as well as take advantage of all the amusement park rides. There’s plenty to do for children of all ages, but there are also rides for adult thrill-seekers, don’t worry. The Busch Gardens in Tampa is African-themed, and the Busch Gardens in Williamsburg has a European theme.  

5. Hershey Park 

Hershey, PA, USA - September 4, 2020: Visitors stand in line at the entrance of Hersheypark, a popular attraction in Chocolatetown USA.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/George Sheldon

These rides are not only named after chocolate (Cocoa Cruiser, Candymonium, and the Reese Cupfusion), but they’re also a whole lot of fun for the whole family. This chocolate-related park is also home to a water park, zoo, and a bunch of dining options. 

6. Kings Island in Mason, Ohio

Kings Island
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Located near Cincinnati, Kings Island is known for many of its exciting rollercoasters, including The Beast and Diamondback. There’s also a waterpark attached to Kings Island (Soak City) for those members of your family who would prefer to cool off in a lazy river than ride a rollercoaster. You can also enjoy beautiful views of the park from the Eiffel Tower (a one-third-scale replica). 

7. Adventureland in Long Island, New York

Giant Wheel at Adventureland Park
Image Credit: Adventureland Park.

Want a New York adventure that doesn’t take you to the hustle and bustle of New York City? Check out Long Island’s Adventureland, an amusement park that’s home to activities for kids, water rides, and much more. 

8. Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California 

Buena Park, California - November 15 2018: The Silver Bullet chain lift at Knott's Berry Farm.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Logan Bush

Another amusement park in Southern California (close to Disneyland) has rides suitable for all ages, in addition to Soak City water park, where you can go to cool down after a long day of adventure. Don’t forget to check out Ghost Rider and the Timber Mountain Log Ride during your visit. 

9. Six Flags (Multiple Locations)  

NEW JERSEY USA - JUNE 20 2016: Superman The Ultimate Flight is one of the most creative and insanely designed roller coaster ever made. Six Flags Great Adventure - New Jersey.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Pit Stock

There are multiple Six Flags theme parks throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Depending on where you live and how far you’d like to get away from home, you can find a location with rollercoasters, activities, and dining options to meet your needs. For example, Six Flags in Southern California is known for Tatsu, one of the longest, tallest, fastest roller coasters with a zero-gravity roll, and Six Flags in Maryland is home to The Joker’s Jinx, a steel coaster that reaches 60 MPH in approximately 3 seconds.  

10. Nickelodeon Universe in Bloomington, Minnesota 

Bloomington, MN, USA May 14 Multiple rollercoasters vie for space and thrills at the Nickelodeon Universe, the largest indoor Amusement Park, at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota
Image Credit: Shutterstock/James Kirkikis

The Spongebob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge ride is one of many exciting, Nickelodeon-themed rides at Nickelodeon Universe. Plus, the theme park is located at the Mall of America in Minnesota, so you can visit it regardless of the weather, AND you can check out the rest of the mall while you’re there. 

11. Universal Orlando Resort, Florida

Orlando,Florida / United State - December 25 2018 : Universal Studios globe located at the entrance to the theme park.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

If you’ve already booked your flights and accommodations in Orlando and decided that a visit to Disney is way out of budget, then Universal Orlando Resort should be at the top of your list. It features three theme parks—Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay—which all offer world-class rides, attractions, and shows, such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic World VelociCoaster.

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