Looking for new spills and thrills? Consider one of these amusement parks in the South, from big-name establishments like Six Flags to small venues for families with young children.
Written by Amanda Geronikos
Dollywood is a must-visit amusement park for any family. The charming property, situated in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and owned by Dolly Parton, comprises a theme park -- where Lightning Rod recently debuted -- in addition to a water park and accommodations, including DreamMore Resort, which opened in 2015. It"s also home to Dolly Parton"s Dixie Stampede, a popular dinner show the whole family will love.
In 2016, Six Flags Over Georgia opened up a new area just for kids: DC Super Friends, with a whopping 12 new rides and attractions! The fun includes an interactive water ride, mirror maze and bouncing drop tower. Teens can head to Acrophobia, Batman: The Ride and Goliath for their own kicks -- and screams.
Located near Dallas/Fort Worth, Six Flags Over Texas features rides and shows to fill up an entire day -- or several. In 2016, it expanded with not one but three new rides in the section of Gotham City: Harley Quinn Spinsanity, a classic coaster with thrilling twists and turns; The Riddler Revenge, a pendulum ride; and Catwoman Whip, which whisks guests in a circular motion and then literally whips them around.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas also debuted three new rides in 2016. Hurricane Force 5, Spinsanity and Fireball -- which takes riders up 72 feet in the air and then suspend them upside down -- were added to the park"s Fiesta Bay Boardwalk. Of course, the Southern amusement park isn"t just for daredevils. Little ones will enjoy rides and shows of their own, and the whole family can get in on the water park fun at Hurricane Harbor.
Themed roller coasters at SeaWorld San Antonio in Texas include the Great White and Steel Eel, and youngsters enjoy pint-sized fun on Shamu Express and at Sesame Street Bay of Play, where tame water attractions await families. Families also enjoy the park"s shows, animal tours and interactions with penguins, beluga whales and sea lions.
ZDT"s Amusement Park is located in Seguin, Texas, about an hour outside of San Antonio. The small, family-owned park is perfect for families with young kids, making it one of the best theme parks in the South.
ZDT offers classic attractions, an arcade and water rides. Highlights include a flight simulator and Switchback, the world"s first and only wooden shuttle roller coaster.
This is surely one of the best amusement parks in the South, and one of the most -- if not the most -- unique amusement parks in the world. Morgan"s Wonderland in San Antonio is designed for children with special needs, and features The Sensory Village, Music Garden, Wonderland Express and Depot and Carousel, to name a few. In 2016, the park expanded with a water park, Inspiration Island.
Located in Santa Claus, Indiana (yes, that's the name of the town!), Holiday World & Splashin' Safari is a small family-owned Southern amusement park that packs major thrills. Rides include five roller coasters, a plethora of attractions for tiny tykes, a water park, and seasonal shows and events.
In 2015, Carowinds released Fury 325, the world"s tallest and fastest giga coaster. In 2016, it launched Plants vs. Zombies, a digital attraction in 3D, in addition to Carolina Harbor Waterpark, the largest water complex in the Carolinas. The amusement park, located in Greensboro, North Carolina, has long been a family favorite, with thrill rides, family-friendly rides, kiddie rides at Planet Snoopy and animatronic creatures at Dinosaurs Alive.
Another one of our favorite Southern amusement parks, Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia has several roller coasters, plus attractions just for kiddies, and families also enjoy animal tours and special shows. Perhaps one of the park"s best features, however, is Christmas Town, offered in November and December. The event provides themed rides and shows, plus light displays and the opportunity to eat dinner with Santa (Santa"s Fireside Feast).