Best Theme Park Vacations for All Ages
If you’re looking for a destination all ages can enjoy, consider a theme park vacation. Many parks have a variety of rides and activities that can entertain a family for the day. Whether you’re traveling with teens or toddlers, these parks are sure to make everyone happy. Here are the best theme park vacations all ages are sure to love.
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Best Theme Parks to Visit with Grandparents
No matter the destination, there’s sure to be a theme park nearby. If you want to make the amusement park your primary focus for a vacation, that won’t be an issue. Here are some of the best amusement parks all ages can enjoy!
Best Theme Parks in the US for Families
Disneyland – Anaheim, California
Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California, and is easily reached by multiple airports. The largest is LAX, but that can lead to a longer drive time to the parks, especially with LA-area traffic.
If possible, I recommend flying into SNA (Orange County) as it’s a smaller airport and very close to Disneyland.
Disneyland has guest services for those with disabilities and wheelchairs. There are also allowances for families with children who have special needs.
Young kids will love seeing their favorite characters around the parks. Preschoolers will especially love the Disney Junior stage show and the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
Older kids and teens will love the thrill rides, and Disneyland is one of the best places to get kids ready for roller coasters.
Once kids are 40” tall they can ride attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Radiator Springs Racers.
Teens will love those and can also enjoy more intense rides like Indiana Jones Adventure and the Incredicoaster.
And if you have kids or adults who aren’t into the rides, there are plenty of shows and entertainment that they’ll enjoy watching around the two theme parks.
Disneyland Resort also has some delicious food!
In regard to where to stay, our family loves staying on property at Disneyland. This is especially useful for families that will want to take a mid-day break. The Disney Grand Californian is the closest hotel to the parks but does come with a high price point.
To save money, you could stay at one of the many hotels on Harbor Street, The Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance is in walking distance and offers nice room accommodations, a small café in the lobby, and a water park perfect for young kids! (Kim Tate from Stuffed Suitcase)
Dollywood Theme Park – Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Dollywood is located near the majestic and beautiful Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, TN. This really means that the park is a destination within a destination, making for a perfect theme park vacation. You can easily access it from Interstate 40. It’s an hour and a half west from Asheville or 3.5 hours east from Nashville.
Families love Dollywood because there really is something for everyone. Older generations love the nostalgia and the shows while younger generations get excited by state of the art thrill rides including the Lightning Rod which is the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster.
Families with toddlers will enjoy the many rides tailored for smaller riders like the busy bees, piggy parade and even an air conditioned indoor play area.
Dollywood prides itself on being accessible for everyone. Those with wheelchairs or scooters will have plenty to do and be comfortable during their visit.
There is even a doggy day care for families who can’t leave their furry friends at home.
Surrounding Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg offer a plethora of condo and cabin options available for rent year round to make extended family gatherings comfortable and pleasurable.
Dollywood’s DreamMore is a beautiful hotel right on property that is a favorite among families with two large pool areas and a splash pad and has nightly bedtime stories and s’mores. (Hilarye from Dotting the Map)
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park – Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Our adventurous multigenerational family’s favorite theme park is an adrenaline rush for all ages. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is an adventure park located above Glenwood Springs, Colorado at an altitude of 7,100 feet. Glenwood Springs is located 3 hours west of Denver just off I-70.
Accessed via a gondola, this unique high altitude park caters to families featuring a range of rides to appeal to all ages. Young families might want to start with the Mine Wheel, a Ferris-Wheel style ride with spectacular views and for a little more excitement the Wild West Express, a mini rollercoaster.
Older and more adventurous multigenerational families like ours will head to the Giant Canyon Swing, and get ready to scream as the pendulum-like rides swings at top speeds of 50mph over the edge of a 1,300 feet cliff above the Colorado River. Other family favorite thrill rides include the Alpine Coaster and Cliffhanger Roller Coaster.
Since 1993 and until 2003, Glenwood Caverns Cave Tours were the only adventure available. These underground cave tours are always popular with families of all ages.
The NEW gondola and park, including Gift Shop and Lookout Grille, are wheelchair accessible. However, wheelchairs and strollers into the caverns are not allowed due to safety of guests.
Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari – Santa Claus, Indiana
Holiday World gets our vote for one of the cleanest theme parks in America. The park is located in southwestern Indiana, with easy access to Kentucky and Illinois. It’s only 2.5 hours from Cincinnati and Nashville if you’re up for a day trip.
Holiday World is divided into four different holidays: Christmas, Halloween, 4th of July, and Thanksgiving. Each area completely sticks with the theme, from food to rides and activities.
Toddlers will love the “Just for Pups” playground with slides and swings. Preschoolers will love Holidogs Treehouse, Comet’s Rockets, Prancer’s Merry-go-round, and other rides made just for them in the Christmas section.
Thrill seekers won’t want to miss Thunderbird Steel roller coaster, the Raven, Mayflower, and the Voyage.
After enjoying the theme park, head to the adjacent waterpark, Splashin’ Safari. Here you’ll find splash pads for the little ones and wild water slides for the kids and teens.
Holiday World really believes in accessibility for everyone. There’s a Calming Room for those who need a break from the sensory stimulation, a ride pass for those whose disability prevents them from waiting in line, and they even allow service animals. They do their best to make sure everyone can enjoy the park.
A couple of bonus items for the park: They offer free parking for guests with disabilities, free sunscreen stations throughout the park, and free refills on fountain drinks.
Speaking of food, the park offers allergy-friendly and gluten free menus, so everyone can have an enjoyable visit.
We would recommend staying in nearby French Lick at the West Baden Springs Hotel or French Lick Springs Hotel. Both share amenities (pools, golf, casino, spa), and they really feel like a world away from the theme parks. (Kirsten at Kids Are A Trip)
Kennywood – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Set your GPS for one of Pittsburgh’s most beloved attractions: Kennywood Amusement Park. This is a local gem and host of some of your soon-to-be favorite memories in the Burgh.
Kennywood is home to water rides, old-school wooden roller coasters, modern thrills, and countless games, restaurants, and attractions. Every member of your family will find something they enjoy, from the million-miles-a-minute daredevils to the slow-rollers.
Even your little ones won’t be left on the sidelines at Kennywood. The park’s dedicated small-children’s area is so vast it’s been given its own name. In the affectionately-named Kiddieland, there’s a spectrum of age-appropriate rides for kids of all ages.
There you’ll find mini thrill rides as well as gentle attractions and games for lower-adrenaline kids. Some of the park’s most popular rides have even been miniaturized in Kiddieland, so no one feels left out of the fun.
It’s conveniently located adjacent to the pavilion area, which is a perfect place to pull out packed lunch, reapply sunscreen, or just rest in the shade.
Kennywood is located just outside of Pittsburgh proper. Grab a signature square ice cream cone from The Golden Nugget on your way out of the park and onto your hotel.
Downtown Pittsburgh, also sometimes referred to as the Central Business District, is a great area to stay on your visit. It’s walkable, vibrant, and close to the fun. (Kayla from Writing From Nowhere)
Kings Island Amusement Park – Cincinnati, Ohio
Kings Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati, Ohio is a great family getaway for all ages and thrill levels.
Younger families will enjoy spending time in the Planet Snoopy section of the park with age appropriate rides for preschoolers and elementary aged kids.
Planet Snoopy has over 20 PEANUTS-themed attractions and has been voted “Best Kids’ Area in the World” 16 consecutive years by Amusement Today. There are also accommodations for guests with special needs.
Older kids will love the thrill rides and roller coasters throughout the park including The Beast, a classic wooden coaster and the newer giga coaster, Orion.
Non-riders can enjoy live entertainment throughout the park at various venues and times during their visit. The food at Kings Island will exceed your expectations when it comes to food at an amusement park. A meal at Coney Bar-B-Que is a must!
If you visit during the summer, admission to Soak City Water Park is included with your admission ticket to Kings Island featuring two wave pools, thrill rides and water features and sections for families with younger kids.
Knott’s Berry Farm – Buena Park, California
Knott’s Berry Farm is California’s oldest theme park! Full of nostalgia, Knott’s began its roots as a berry farm and the origin of the boysenberry.
Located in Buena Park, California, Knott’s is just a few miles from Disneyland Resort. You’ll find everything from thrill rides, toddler rides, family rides, themed shows and entertainment. If you’re planning a trip, don’t miss our favorite tips for Knott’s Berry Farm!
Calico Ghost Town is the oldest original area of Knott’s and hosts an old schoolhouse, Bird Cage Theater, livery stable, saloon, shops and old-time entertainment. The Timber Mountain Log Ride, Calico Mine Ride and Calico Railroad steam engine, are all must-do family attractions.
Camp Snoopy is the kid area of the park! Here you will find Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang themed kiddie rides, character meet and greets, and shows.
If you’re looking for rollercoasters, Knott’s has plenty! Hang Time, Silver Bullet, Xcelerator and Ghost Rider are all guest favorites.
Throughout the year, Knott’s hosts “Seasons of Fun” celebrations for each season! The year begins with the Knott’s Peanuts Celebration, then Knott’s Boysenberry Festival, Knott’s Summer Nights, Knott’s Spooky Farm and finally, Knott’s Merry Farm. All are highly anticipated events and fun for everyone.
Looking for a place to stay? The Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel is located right on the Knott’s property! The hotel has a pool, splash pad, Snoopy themed rooms and a family-friendly restaurant. Plus, don’t forget to visit the famous Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. (Jill of Sandy Toes & Popsicles)
SeaWorld – San Antonio, TX
SeaWorld San Antonio is located on the west side of San Antonio, TX in the Westover Hills District of the city.
This is a great theme park for all ages. Besides offering thrilling rides including five roller coasters and the new giant swing, it offers kid-friendly rides, an area for younger children, spectacular shows, and unforgettable animal encounters.
SESAME STREET BAY OF PLAY is a toddler area with splash grounds, play areas, fun rides, and shows. Kids can take pictures with Sesame Street characters and they also have a parade featuring Elmo, Big Bird, and many other beloved characters.
Most shows, restaurants, and rides are accessible. You can ask for these at guest services located in the park’s main entrance. Oxygen tanks are permitted in most areas but not in rides, except in two attractions over the Sesame Street Bay of Play.
If you are visiting in a large group, Sea World offers special pricing on group tickets of 15 or more. Check out these tips for buying SeaWorld passes!
There are some official Sea World Hotel partners that offer a free shuttle to Sea World like Courtyard SeaWorld/Westover Hills and Fairfield Inn & Suites San Antonio SeaWorld/Westover Hills.
Sea World is a great destination for a fun-filled day for all ages! (Brenda from mejorandomihogar.com)
Silverwood Theme Park – Couer d’Alene, Idaho
Located in the beautiful, north Idaho panhandle near Couer d’Alene, Silverwood Theme Park is the Pacific Northwest’s largest theme park. It’s a short drive off highway I-90, about an hour from Spokane, WA and 5 hours from Seattle, WA.
Silverwood is a combination amusement park and waterpark with over 70 rides, slides, shows and other attractions for all ages.
Toddlers and preschoolers will love Critter Camp with rides just their size and a chance to release some energy exploring the treehouse play area.
Older kids and teens will enjoy thrills such as Thunder Canyon whitewater rapids ride or one of the many coasters at Rollercoaster Alley.
Silverwood is an ideal theme park to bring the grandparents, who will love the 1915 steam engine train with a bit of a Wild West show (one train car is wheelchair accessible too).
The Las Vegas-style magic show will also be a hit with the entire family, with dinner and a show at the Theater of Illusion pizzeria.
With Boulder Beach water park just a few minute’s walk away, it’s a great opportunity to cool off in the heat of the day.
Features such as two wave pools, a 400 ft long slide that’s almost 60 ft high, and the lazy river with a swim up bar make it the perfect place for adventure or relaxing – take your pick!
If you want to stay at the closest destination, the Triple Play Resort is just 20 minutes away and it’s a combination hotel with an indoor water park and family fun center. Or for a more peaceful, relaxing stay, the Couer d’Alene Resort is located right on the beautiful Lake Couer d’Alene, where you can enjoy their lakeside infinity pool or floating island green. (Jen at Thrifty Northwest Mom)
Universal Studios – Hollywood, California
Universal Studios Hollywood is located in Universal City, California, just minutes from the Hollywood Burbank Airport. Unlike its Florida counterpart, Universal Studios Hollywood consists of one large theme park instead of two, making it easy to navigate and an ideal destination for multi-generational families.
While there is a lower and upper “lot” of the park because it is built into the side of the hill, most attractions are on the upper lot. The lots are connected by long escalators, but those who have mobility concerns or have large strollers can opt to take a nearby elevator.
Thrill seekers in the family will love the Jurassic World area and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but there is plenty of fun for the younger crowd.
Head to the interactive DinoPlay for Kids area or the Super Silly Fun Land (warning: you could get wet here.)
No matter how young or old, the entire family will come together to enjoy the World Famous Studio Tour. Hop on a tram for approximately 60 minutes which takes you through famous movie and television sets you’ll recognize, but note, this is an actual working studio and you might come upon filming at any moment or spy a celebrity or two.
Universal Studios – Orlando, Florida
Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, FL, is one of the best theme parks for all ages and is a perfect option for a multigenerational vacation activity. The park itself is primarily themed on movies and television, making sure it has something for everyone.
Potterheads will love a visit to Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, and Hogwarts Castle as part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter–if they’re lucky, maybe a wand will choose them in the ceremony at Olivander’s!
Movie buffs will love themed attractions for franchises such as Jurassic Park, Transformers, Spider-Man, and more. Teens visiting Universal Studios Orlando will love the high speed coasters!
Younger kids will love to visit the wild world of Dr. Seuss with rides like the Cat and the Hat and the Caro-Seuss-ol and then fly high with the Pteranodon Flyers from Jurassic Park.
Universal Orlando Resort comprises 3 separate parks–Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and the water park Volcano Bay.
Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are the most multigenerational-friendly of the 3 and easiest to navigate.
The parks are configured for easy wheelchair and ECV access, as are the ride queues, which are designed wide enough for wheelchairs to access and fitted with elevators.
Universal Orlando Resort has implemented Virtual Lines for some rides to eliminate waiting in a physical line. For full accessibility information related to visiting, see the Guide for Rider Safety and Accessibility for each theme park.
(Jana from Whisky N Sunshine)
Walt Disney World – Orlando, Florida
This classic Disney destination has something for everyone. In Magic Kingdom visit Cinderella’s castle, hit up iconic spots like It’s a Small World, and coordinate Lightning Lane passes for exciting rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Fantasyland is always a hit with all ages, and families with tiny tots should make sure to check out Storybook Circus – a playful area that Disneyland over in Anaheim doesn’t feature.
With such a broad array of attractions, it’s a good idea to ask everyone their must-sees for the trip. This will ensure that grandparents, parents and kids squeeze in all their favorite bites, souvenirs and sights.
Don’t forget to reserve group dining reservations in advance. You may also want to order Memory Maker, which includes access to downloads of all of your ride photos as well as PhotoPass photographers who can capture your family at fun spots all over the park.
Fort Wilderness is the best accommodation for multi-gen travelers, with options including cabins, RVs and even camping at Disney World. Best of all, they have a boat directly to Magic Kingdom! This makes it easily accessible for a mid-day break, and each site comes with a charcoal grill and picnic table for family meals. (Chelsea of Someday I’ll Learn)
Theme Park Vacations in Australia
Luna Park – Melbourne
Opened in 1912, Luna Park Melbourne is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. Located at St Kilda beach, just a few kilometers from the Melbourne CBD.
Luna Park is a mix of old world charm smashing head on with a modern amusement park. Luna Park is home to heritage rides such as the worlds longest running wooden rollercoaster, the scenic railway, or the Heritage listed Carousel made in 1913.
Combine these with modern fast paced thrill rides like the Enterprise and the Powersurge it has something for everyone. Kids can join in the fun with to with the flying elephants and the speedy beatle coaster just for little ones.
The park is readily accessible for prams, and wheelchairs with very few steps except to get onto the rides.
Luna Park is one of the few amusement parks in the world that still allows you to bring your own food into the venue, making it a really affordable option for families.
You can easily access Luna Park from Melbourne CBD by tram. There is parking close by at the Palais Theatre and St Kilda Sea Baths. The nearby Cosmopolitan Hotel has family rooms and studio apartments fitting up to 4 people.
Theme Park Vacations in Canada
Canada’s Wonderland – Toronto
When traveling with kids, parents quickly learn of the irresistible pull presented by an amusement park – the thrill rides, costumed characters, the fried foods. Canada’s Wonderland, located approximately 27 miles north of Toronto, Ontario, in the town of Vaughan, is Canada’s amusement park magnet.
From early May into the fall months, the largest and most exciting amusement park in the country offers thrill rides, water park fun and character experiences for nearly all ages.
Canada’s Wonderland is a 300-acre theme park with more than 200 attractions including 17 roller coasters. The Yukon Striker is the world’s longest, tallest and fastest dive roller coaster with a 90-degree drop. Wonderland is also home to Splash Works, a 20-acre water park.
For the younger set, little thrills can be found at Planet Snoopy and KidZville, where kids can enjoy character meet and greets and gentle rides and the Lakeside Lagoon children’s pool.
In addition to a dizzying array of thrill rides, Wonderland puts on daily musical shows, live entertainment and dance performances. These are included in Park admission.
Occurring several times per day are the aerial acrobatics of the Flying Frontenacs and the Victoria Falls High Divers. On summer holiday weekends, Wonderland hosts spectacular firework displays.
Canada’s Wonderland maintains an Accessibility Policy that supports the full inclusion of persons with disabilities as set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Its website includes tips and planning advice for guests with autism, restricted mobility, and vision and hearing impairments.
For accommodations we would recommend The Homewood Suites by Hilton Toronto Vaughan, located 3 miles from Wonderland. It offers suites, an indoor pool, hot tub and free breakfast, parking and WiFi.
Tip: If you’re not keen on riding all the rides but wish to accompany the kids as they experience the park, bring a book to enjoy on a bench in the shade. (Claudia of Claudia Travels)
Toronto’s Centreville is a charming, small amusement park located on Centre Island, the largest of the Toronto Islands. Just the ferry ride over is an adventure in itself, and the island makes the perfect day trip for families looking to spend time together in nature without really leaving the city.
Most of the rides at Centreville are pretty tame by tween and teen standards, but they are gentle enough for most members of the family to enjoy together and the many toddler rides are where the love of amusement parks are born.
Admission to Centreville is free and ride tickets or day pass wristbands can be purchased individually. Picnics are encouraged, although the on-site food and concessions are pretty reasonable as far as theme park food offerings are concerned. (Corinne of Have Baby Will Travel)
Best Theme Parks in the UK
Alton Towers – Staffordshire, UK
Alton Towers is located in a small village called Alton in Staffordshire, UK. It is a theme park with a great range of rides with something for all ages.
For younger children, there is CBeebies land with a number of themed rides that are aired on the BBC. As well as a good selection of rides this area also has daily shows and playgrounds.
For slightly older kids there is the Runaway mine train, river rapids ride, a pirate-themed ride area and a spooky ghost ride.
The adrenalin junkies are most certainly not forgotten about. Alton Towers has some amazing thrill rides including the Wicker Man which is based on the film of the same name, Nemesis, Oblivion, Rita, Th13teen and at least 5 more.
The park is mostly flat and easily accessible for wheelchair users. It is one of the largest theme parks in the UK, so strollers and wheelchairs are a must for the less able-bodied.
If the older visitors don’t want to go on any of the rides they will love the gardens. There is also a cable car ride and an aquarium.
Alton Towers also has some excellent accommodation. There is the CBeebies Land hotel for younger families, Splash Landings Hotel which has a fantastic waterpark and stargazing pods.
Larger families will love the Luxury Treehouses and the Woodland Lodges. These are also ideal for families that are visiting with multi-generations. The Alton Towers Hotel is also a great option for families of different generations. (Suzy from Yorkshire to do with Kids)
Best Theme Park Vacations in Europe
Disneyland – Paris, France
Disneyland Paris is in Coupvray in France. Some 40 kilometers/25 miles East of Paris.
There are two parks at Disneyland, Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland Park. Both parks have several themed areas.
Disneyland Park has Mainstreet U.S.A., Discoveryland, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland, with 35 attractions. Thrilling rides such as Big Thunder Mountain or family rides such as Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.
Walt Disney Studios has 11 attractions in total, to be found at Toon Studio, Worlds of Pixar, Front Lot and Production Courtyard. They have family rides such as Cars Road Trip and thrilling rides such as RC Racer and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
Both parks have rides for all ages, but if you just want fun rides for the little ones or a more thrilling adventure, it’s all there.
There are also characters you can meet all over the park, from Mickey Mouse to Darth Vader, everyone knows them and has memories from the movies.
The parks can be reached by car or public transport. Gare de Marne la Vallée Chessy is the closest metro station to Disneyland Paris. There are two parking garages available for the parks.
The parks are accessible for people with disabilities. They have a priority card for people with a disability. Wheelchairs are for rent at the parks, making it more accessible.
Plopsaland – De Panne, Belgium
If you want to go to a theme park with the entire family, visiting Plopsaland in De Panne, Belgium is a great choice!
The park is inspired by the Studio 100 figures. Studio 100 is the company behind the most famous Belgian tv shows for children – and includes faces like gnome Plop, superhero Mega Mindy and Marie with her talking dog Samson.
While the park is magnificent for young children – age 3 to 6 – both younger and older will have tons of fun as well! Toddlers will enjoy the beautiful decoration and the playgrounds built at their size. They will also love the Bumba shows as this little clown in the yellow dress mesmerizes little ones.
Bigger kids and teenagers won’t be bored. Plopsaland features no less than eight roller coasters, including Tomorrowland, The Ride, the first extreme spinning coaster (the carts spin on their own) in Europe.
The entire park has walking paths that are wide enough for wheelchairs or walkers. There are plenty of (shaded!) benches at nearly every attraction, so older family members can happily visit as well.
Plopsaland is situated in De Panne, the last town on the Belgian coast before you hop into France. It’s only a 45min drive from Calais which makes it easy for travellers from the UK. But – as Belgium is small in general – you won’t have to drive more than a couple of hours if you’re coming from The Netherlands, Germany or Luxembourg either.
The entire family can stay over at the brand new (opened in 2021!) Plopsa Hotel, which is conveniently located next door to the park. (Babs from Next Stop Belgium)