For families, amusement parks and theme parks are the go-to destination for a day full of fun and adventure. From thrilling rides to family-friendly attractions, these parks offer an array of activities that cater to people of all ages.
However, not all parks are created equal, with some standing out more than others for their exceptional ambiance, attractions, and world-class customer service. That is why we have compiled a list of the top family-owned theme parks and amusement parks in the United States that are sure to provide you and your loved ones with an unforgettable experience.
The United States is home to some of the most incredible family-owned theme parks and amusement parks in the world. From classic properties like Disneyland and the Cedar Point to smaller, local parks like Dutch Wonderland and Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, there is a wide range of options for families to choose from. These theme parks and amusement parks not only offer thrilling rides and attractions but also provide entertainment, education, and an opportunity to create lasting memories with loved ones. With so many fantastic choices, families are sure to find the perfect park for their next adventure.
Family-Owned Theme Parks and Amusement Parks
We will take you on a tour of the best family-owned theme parks and amusement parks in the US, highlighting the features that make each park unique. We’ll explore the historic Knoebels Amusement Resort in Pennsylvania to the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, and many others. Additionally, we’ll highlight the perks of being family-owned, including a special attention to detail and a unique Guest service they provide.
Hersheypark – Hershey, Pennsylvania
Hersheypark located in Hershey, Pennsylvania is a highly respected and beloved family-owned theme park in the United States. Established in 1907, Hersheypark has been a sought-after destination for families, thrill-seekers, and candy lovers alike for more than a century.
With over 70 attractions, including 14 thrilling roller coasters, a water park, and live entertainment throughout the park, Hersheypark offers something for everyone and tops the list as the largest theme park in Pennsylvania. Visitors can indulge in delicious candy-themed treats, and even get a behind-the-scenes look at the chocolate-making process at the Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction.
The park’s commitment to cleanliness and safety measures, coupled with its dedication to customer service, has made it a top family-owned theme park and a must-visit attraction for families and adventure enthusiasts.
Dollywood – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is one of the top family-owned theme parks and amusement parks in the United States. Owned by country music superstar Dolly Parton, this park offers more than 40 rides, attractions, and shows that highlight the southern charm and hospitality that the region is known for.
One of its most popular attractions is the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, a 200-foot-tall observation wheel that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. In 2022, Dollywood won the title of Best Theme Park in the U.S. by TripAdvisor! In May of 2023, Dollywood will open their new $500 million expansion, Wildwood Grove, featuring a new roller coaster and much more!
Check out what’s new at Dollywood for 2023!
Families can also enjoy thrill rides like the Lightning Rod, a wooden roller coaster that is the fastest in the world or have a more relaxed experience on rides like the Dollywood Express, a steam-powered train that tours the park. With its combination of music, food, and culture, Dollywood has become a must-visit destination for families vacationing in Tennessee.
Silver Dollar City – Branson, Missouri
Silver Dollar City is a family-owned theme park located in Branson, Missouri. Originally opened in 1960, this 1880s-themed park features over 40 rides and attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, and live shows.
One of the most popular attractions is the Time Traveler, the world’s fastest, steepest, and tallest spinning coaster. Beyond the exciting rides, Silver Dollar City also offers a variety of dining and shopping options, such as traditional Ozark cuisine and handmade crafts.
The park is committed to preserving and showcasing the heritage of the Ozark Mountains region, with demonstrations of blacksmithing, glass blowing, and other crafts. Overall, Silver Dollar City is a must-visit destination for families seeking an adventure-filled and cultural experience.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari – Santa Claus, Indiana
Located in Santa Claus, Indiana, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is one of the top family-owned theme parks and amusement parks in the United States. This family-friendly destination offers a variety of attractions, including roller coasters, water slides, and other thrilling rides.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari also boasts several kid-friendly attractions, including a play area for the little ones and a special section of water rides designed for children. In addition to its thrilling rides and attractions, the park also offers a variety of entertainment options, from live shows to special events held throughout the season.
With its warm and friendly atmosphere and its commitment to providing an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is a must-visit destination for families looking for a fun and exciting adventure.
Knoebels Amusement Resort – Elysburg, Pennsylvania
If you’re looking for old-school amusement park fun, Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania should be on your list. Knoebels is a family owned and operated park that has been around since the early 20th century. Admission to the park is free, and visitors can purchase ride tickets or pay one price for unlimited access to most of the park’s attractions.
Knoebels is famous for preserving classic rides, like its wooden roller coasters, while also adding modern attractions like a water park and a haunted house. Families will appreciate the park’s family-friendly atmosphere and the variety of rides and attractions suitable for all ages.
The resort also provides a wide range of dining options, from classic fair food to full-service restaurants. All in all, Knoebels Amusement Resort is a must-visit for those seeking a traditional amusement park experience.
Lake Compounce – Bristol, Connecticut
Lake Compounce is a premier theme park and water park located in Bristol, Connecticut. It is considered one of the top family-owned theme parks in the United States, with over 170 years of history and a variety of thrilling rides and attractions.
Visitors can enjoy the park’s signature wooden roller coaster, Boulder Dash, which has been named the #1 Wooden Coaster in the World by Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards multiple times. In addition to roller coasters, Lake Compounce offers a wide range of family-friendly rides and attractions, including a water park, a carousel, and a train. The park also features live entertainment, games, and delicious dining options, making it a perfect destination for families looking for a fun day out.
Kennywood – West Mifflin, Pennsylvania
Kennywood, located in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, is one of the top family-owned theme parks and amusement parks in the United States. Founded in 1898, the park has a rich history and offers something for guests of all ages.
The park has consistently been rated as one of the best amusement parks in the world by industry experts. Kennywood is home to over 40 rides and attractions, including 5 roller coasters and a variety of family-friendly rides.
Kennywood park also features unique entertainment options, including live music and stage shows, as well as a variety of dining options. With a commitment to guest satisfaction and safety, Kennywood continues to be a must-visit destination for families and thrill-seekers alike.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, located in Santa Cruz, California, is one of the top family-owned theme parks and amusement parks in the United States. Established in 1907, it is the oldest surviving amusement park in California and an important historical and cultural landmark in the region.
The beachside park covers 31 acres and features more than 40 rides and attractions, including classic wooden roller coasters, thrill rides, family attractions, and a renowned Ferris wheel. In addition to the rides, the park also offers midway games, arcades, and a variety of food vendors serving traditional boardwalk fare.
Operating seasonally, it typically opens in March and closes in October, and offers special events and promotions throughout the year. Families can enjoy the park’s lively atmosphere and retro vibe, which harkens back to the golden age of California’s beach culture. With its oceanfront location, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk provides stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and is an ideal destination for fun, sun, and family entertainment.
Story Land – Glen, New Hampshire
Story Land, located in Glen, New Hampshire, is a top-rated family-owned theme park and amusement park in the United States. Originally opened in 1954, Story Land has grown and evolved over the years to provide a unique and magical experience for families with young children.
The park features over 20 different rides and attractions, as well as live shows and character meet-and-greets. Popular attractions include the Roar-o-Saurus wooden coaster, the Teacups ride, and the Cinderella Castle where visitors can meet the beloved princess.
Story Land also offers a variety of dining options and features beautiful gardens and landscaping throughout. With a family-focused atmosphere and a commitment to safety, Story Land is a must-visit destination for families seeking a memorable and enjoyable theme park experience.