Top Midwest Amusement Parks

Cedar Point

While some of the most popular theme parks may be in Florida and California, you do not have to head to the coastal states to get your roller coaster fix. In fact, if it's big roller coasters you crave, many of the top amusement parks in the Midwest may be a better choice. Lower ticket prices and shorter lines also make some of these theme parks more appealing. Whether you are visiting a theme park with little kids or want to ride a death-defying roller coaster, there is a theme park in the Midwest just for you.

Cedar Point (Ohio)

If you are a roller coaster enthusiast, you must visit Cedar Point. Known as "America's roller coast," Cedar Point, which is located on the shores of Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio, has 16 different roller coasters for kids and adults. Of course, it also features an array of other traditional amusement park rides and attractions for the faint of heart and those who need a break from death-defying coasters during the day. The park is open May through September and tickets cost around $40 online or $50 at the gate.

Roller Coasters

Cedar Point is known for its roller coasters. While some of the coasters, such as the Blue Streak, are your basic roller coaster, others offer aggressive thrills. Some of the more popular coasters include:

  • Top Thrill Dragster is one of the most popular coasters. Riders go from zero to 120 mph in around 4 seconds. The 17-second ride goes straight up and straight down for a thrilling experience.
  • Millennium Force makes riders feel like they are going to head straight into the ground with the first 80-degree drop. Of course, the track curves before they hit and riders get to enjoy the rest of this 93 mph coaster.
  • Maverick has riders go through all sorts of twists and turns. If you do not get dizzy from the horseshoe roll, you'll be exhilarated as you zoom through the 400-foot long tunnel.
  • Magnum XL-200 threatens to plunge riders into the waters of Lake Erie. Set right on the shores of the water, riders can try to catch a glimpse of Canada before heading through the tunnels and turns that make up this thrilling ride.
  • Gatekeeper, new in the 2013 season, is a steel wing roller coaster. It features the highest inversion, turning roller coaster riders upside down and back up again, in the world and is also the longest wing roller coaster to date.

Other Rides and Attractions

Even though it is known for its roller coasters, Cedar Point has many more rides and attractions for visitors to enjoy. They include:

  • Antique cars
  • Giant Ferris wheel
  • Sky ride
  • Cedar Downs Racing Derby, a fast-paced carousel horse race
  • MaXair, a giant ring that spins riders 140 feet in the air at 70 mph

Kids' Attractions

Cedar Point also caters to its younger visitors, offering multiple kids' rides, including:

  • Bumper boats
  • Flying helicopters
  • Snoopy bounce house
  • Kiddy Kingdom Carousel
  • Snoopy's Express Railroad

Michigan's Adventure

Roller Coaster Philosophy / Jeremy Thompson

Located in Muskegon, Michigan, Michigan's Adventure is the largest amusement park and water park in Michigan. When you buy tickets online, a one-day admission pass is less than $30. Admission to the water park is included in the admission price, although the water park does not operate on the same hours as the amusement park.

Roller Coasters

Michigan's Adventure is home to seven roller coasters, including three with an aggressive thrill rating. Those aggressive coasters include:

  • Shivering Timbers, the longest wooden coaster in Michigan
  • Thunderhawk, a suspended coaster with 90 degree climbs
  • Wolverine Wildcat, a wooden coaster with extremely sharp turns

Other Rides and Attractions

Michigan's Adventure offers a little something for guests of all ages. Included in the rides and attractions are:

  • Four water thrill rides, such as Adventure Falls and the Grand Rapids
  • Ttraditional amusement park rides
  • Calm family attractions, including the Timbertown Railway and Swan Boats
  • WildWater Adventure, a water park with multiple slides, Boogie Beach and a lazy river.

Kids' Attractions

A special kiddie area at Michigan's Adventure offers multiple rides for little kids, including:

  • Flying elephants
  • Kid-sized go-kart track
  • Mini helicopters
  • Beach Party, a special water play structure

Kings Island (Ohio)

Roller Coaster Philosophy / Jeremy Thompson

Known as the "largest amusement park and water park in the Midwest," Kings Island has something to offer everyone in the family. The theme park is located in Kings Island, Ohio, which is just north of Cincinnati and an hour-and-a-half from Columbus. If you live in Kentucky or Indiana, the park is close enough for a day trip or a short weekend getaway. The park is typically open from the beginning of May through Labor Day and also hosts special events for Halloween during the month of October. Tickets cost around $50 at the gate, with significant discounts offered for tickets purchased online.

Roller Coasters

Kings Island has plenty of roller coasters for visitors to enjoy. It's more popular coasters are::

  • Diamondback, a top-ranked steel roller coaster that reaches 80 mph and features over 5,000 feet of drops
  • The Beast, one of the most popular wooden coasters in the world, which reaches 65 mph as it travels through tunnels and surprises twists
  • Flight of Fear, a coaster in complete darkness
  • Invertigo, a face-to-face inverted roller coaster that makes you think you'll crash into other riders
  • The Racer, a twin track coaster that lets you race forwards and backwards with another train

Other Rides and Attractions

If you are not a fan of roller coasters, you will still find plenty to entertain you during your visit to King's Island, including:

  • Soak City Water Park, included with admission and offering over 30 water slides and multiple pools
  • WindSeeker, a swing ride taking riders 30 stories high
  • Eiffel Tower, a giant observation tower with an elevator to the top
  • Multiple classic midway rides

Kids' Attractions

King's Island has a lot to offer kids. A few of the things kids can enjoy, include:

  • Planet Snoopy, a special area with rides just for kids
  • Boo Blaster, a ghost-shooting ride
  • The Grand Carousel
  • K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad, a classic family train ride

Six Flags Great America (Illinois)

A short drive from both Chicago and Milwaukee sits Six Flag's Great America. The park opens in May and offers rides, attractions and multiple entertainment options to entertain guests throughout the summer. At the gate, a ticket will cost you around $60, but discounts and money-saving combination packages can be found online.

Roller Coasters

Six Flags parks are known for having quality roller coasters and Six Flags Great America is no exception. The park advertises that it has over seven miles of roller coaster tracks. Some of the tracks that make up those miles include:

  • The Dark Knight coaster, a roller coaster in complete darkness
  • X-Flight, a newer wing coaster that makes you feel like you are not connected to a track
  • American Eagle, a wooden racing coaster
  • Superman: Ultimate Flight, a coaster that lets you fly like Superman, or feel like it anyway
  • Demon, a classic looping coaster

Other Rides and Attractions

Roller coasters are only a small sampling of what the park has to offer. The park also features:

  • Multiple classic theme park rides, including bumper cars, a scrambler and a carousel
  • Hurricane Harbor, a water park
  • Shows featuring Looney Tunes' characters and cool effects
  • An evening fireworks and light show

Kids' Attractions

Six Flags Great America has three areas designed just for kids:

  • KIDZOPOLIS, offering a collection of classic kids' rides
  • Camp Cartoon, featuring characters such as Yogi the Bear and Scooby Doo
  • Skull Island, an interactive water play structure in Hurricane Harbor

Nickelodeon Universe (Minnesota)

Flickr user jonRaptor

Part of the Mall of America, Nickelodeon Universe is an entirely indoor amusement park. Anyone visiting the Mall of America can access the park, but you must purchase tickets or a wristband to enjoy the rides. While the rides may be consider tame compared to a lot of outdoor amusement parks, they are still a lot of fun and kids will love that they feature some of their favorite Nickelodeon characters.

Roller Coasters

While you will not experience death-defying drop in these coasters, you may feel like you'll burst out of the mall's ceiling. Coasters to enjoy at Nickelodeon Universe include:

  • SpongeBob Square Pants Rock Bottom Plunge, which goes upside down and has 90 degree turns
  • Pepsi Orange Streak, a classic twisting, turning and fast roller coaster that winds throughout the park
  • Fairly Odd Coaster, a tame coaster that kids love

Other Rides and Attractions

At Nickelodeon Universe, you will find your classic midway rides, all with themes based on popular Nickelodeon characters, including:

  • Danny Phantom Ghost Zone, a spooky, ghost-hunting ride
  • Jimmy Neutron's Atomic Collider, a scrambler-type ride
  • El Circuluo Del Cielo, a Dora the Explorer-themed Ferris Wheel
  • A classic log chute ride

Kids' Attractions

While most rides are designed for guests of all ages, a few rides and attractions are designed just for kids. They include:

  • Back at the Barnyard Hayride, a small kids' coaster
  • Blue's Skidoo, a flying ride with Blue and Magenta
  • La Aventura De Azul, a Dora the Explorer train ride
  • Free regular meet-and-greets with popular Nickelodeon characters

Adventureland (Iowa)

East of Des Moines, Iowa, you will find Adventureland. The park first opened in 1973 with under ten rides and attractions and has since expanded to include more than 100. Around the park you will see some of its signature mascots, Bernie Bernard, Toby the Tiger and Heather and Henry, both dogs. A regular ticket is priced around $30, a great deal for a visit to a classic, family-friendly amusement park.

Roller Coasters

Adventureland is home to classic coasters. While they may not offer top thrills they will offer a lot of fun. Some of the coasters at the park include:

  • Tornado, a classic wooden roller coaster
  • Dragon, the only upside-down, looping coaster in Iowa
  • Outlaw, another classic wooden coaster

Other Rides and Attractions

Two of Adventureland's most popular rides and attractions are actually water-based.

  • Gangplank & Pirate's Plummet, 60 foot water slides that launch riders nearly straight down into a pool of water.
  • Splash Over, a thrill ride that raises riders into the air and sprays them with water, just like a human washing machine.

Additional rides and attractions found in the park include:

  • The Sky Ride, which was featured at the Seattle's World Fair before being transported to Iowa
  • Multiple classic midway rides
  • Tons of water slides

Kids' Attractions

For kids, Adventureland's water attractions are the most popular, but there are other attractionsfor younsters to enjoy:

  • Kokomo Kove, a large water play complex for children
  • Lady bug shaped cars
  • Infant Ocean, a child-sized boat ride
  • Flying dragons

Mt. Olympus Water Park and Theme Park (Wisconsin)

Flickr user cursedthing

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin is known for having a ton of water parks, but Mt. Olympus Water Park and Theme Park is one of its best. Guests may choose to purchase discounted tickets by staying at the accompanying resort or purchase all-day passes. During the summer, guests can enjoy both indoor and outdoor parks.

Roller Coasters

All of Mt. Olympus' Roller Coasters are named for Greek Gods and many live up to their namesakes. They include:

  • Hades, a wooden roller coaster named the best new coaster in 2005 and featuring a 65-degree drop
  • Zeus, a classic coaster with an 85-foot drop
  • Cyclops, a fast-paced coaster that ends with a thrilling abrupt stop
  • Pegasus, a tame coaster designed for anyone over 42 inches tall

Other Rides and Attractions

Mt. Olympus features multiple other midway rides and arcade games for guests to enjoy, but it is best known for its indoor an outdoor water parks. At the parks you will find:

  • Poseidon's Rage, a giant surf pool
  • One of the largest wave pools in the world
  • Multiple water slides
  • A giant hot tub

Kids' Attractions

From classic rides to water play, kids will be able to spend multiple days finding ways to entertain themselves at Mt. Olympus. Some attractions designed just for them include:

  • Spinning tea cups
  • Banyon Tree House, an elevated water play area
  • Kiddie City, a splash zone
  • Tiny Hero's Go Karts
  • Little Titans Coaster

Holiday World

Holiday World is a family-owned amusement park located in Santa Claus, Indiana. Tickets to this park are priced at around $30 and also offer access to the accompanying water park, Splashin' Safari.

Roller Coasters

While known more for its holiday theme and other rides, Holiday World is home to four roller coasters, including one of the top wooden coasters in the world. They include:

  • The Voyage, a wooden roller coaster with 90-degree banking
  • The Raven, a coaster featured on Discovery Planet's "Wild Rides"
  • The Legend, a classic wooden roller coaster

Other Rides and Attractions

While not the best park for thrill seekers, Holiday World does offer a lot of fun rides and other attractions for families. It's rides and attractions include:

  • Classic family rides, such as tea cups and antique cars
  • Rides with Halloween, Thanksgiving and other holiday themes.
  • A high-dive show
  • Multiple music shows

Kids' Attractions

Kids will enjoy a visit to Holiday World because it offers multiple rides and attractions designed just for them. Favorites include:

  • Multiple kids' rides named for Santa's favorite reindeer.
  • Santa's Storytime, a special show just for kids

Worlds of Fun (Missouri)

Kansas City, Missouri is home to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, an amusement park and accompanying water park. Owned by the same company as Cedar Point, Kings Island and Michigan Adventure, Worlds of Fun has a similar feel to those well-known amusement parks.

Roller Coasters

World of Fun features six roller coasters, including:

  • Spinning Dragons, a coaster with cars that spin while going along the track
  • Boomerang, which takes riders up 12 stories, then sends them forwards and backwards through twists and turns
  • Two wooden coasters, Timber Wolf and Prowler
  • Patriot, an inverted coaster with four inversions at 65 mph
  • Mamba, a thrilling roller coaster that drops riders 200 feet at 75 mph

Other Rides and Attractions

In addition to roller coasters, Worlds of Fun has plenty or rides to entertain visitors. Some of the options include:

  • Detonater, twin towers that blast riders 200 feet in the air
  • Skyliner, a 60-foot Ferris wheel
  • Multiple classic midway rides, such as a Scrambler and giant boat
  • Oceans of Fun, a water park with a five-acre lake

Kids' Attractions

Many rides at Worlds of Fun are kid-friendly. The park offers Planet Snoopy, an area exclusively for kids with rides such as:

  • Cosmic Coaster, a small roller coasters for kids
  • Peanuts Speedway, a kid-sized go kart ride
  • Peanuts Playhouse, a foam ball shooting area
  • Snoopy's Moon Bounce

Silver Dollar City (Missouri)

Silver Dollar City is located in Branson, Missouri. The park is open from mid-March through December, although it is only open on select days during the colder months, and it offers guests a classic Branson experience. Tickets cost around $60, no matter what time of year you visit.

Roller Coasters

All of the rides at Silver Dollar City have a western theme, including roller coasters, such as:

  • Fire-in-the Hole coaster, which combines a show with classic roller coaster twists and turns
  • Thunderation, a runaway mine train
  • WildFire, which drops riders 15 stories at 66 mph

Other Rides and Attractions

One of the reasons guests visit Silver Dollar City is to take in the shows, visit the shops and tour some of the local attractions. A few of the things you will find at the park include:

  • Marvel Cave, a wet limestone cave you can tour
  • Multiple Christmas shows and holiday light parade in December
  • Typical Branson show-stoppers throughout the year
  • Daily demonstrations from craftsmen, including glass cutters, glass blowers, silversmiths, candy makers and more
  • WhiteWater, a water park attached to Silver Dollar City

Kids' Attractions

Half Dollar Holler is the area of the park designed just for kids. Some of its rides and other entertainment options include:

  • Hugo & Mary's Carousel
  • Sand tables
  • Treetop Trail, a series of elevated tree houses

Make it a Vacation

During the summer months, the Midwest often has the same sun and high temperatures as many beach destinations. Instead of traveling to the coast, try out a Midwest amusement park. Many parks offer discounts for those who choose to spend multiple days exploring all they have to offer. For parks that have both a theme park and a water park, do the water park one day and the theme park the next and turn your trip into a mini vacation.

Top Midwest Amusement Parks