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Weird Amusement Parks in America

I grew up in Florida so it’s only natural that I was born with an innate love of bone-chilling, heart-pounding, hair-raising amusement-park thrills. But like most junkies, I eventually tired of the same old thing and went in search of new kicks. This is how I became obsessed with America’s weirdest theme parks. Check out my top five picks below.

5) The Holy Land Experience - This theme park is a Vegas-style miniature version of certain sights in Israel. It boasts Judeo-Christian “thrills” such as the world’s largest indoor model of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea Scrolls cave, and a faux-Jerusalem street market. But there are no rides, making this park lower on my list.

4) Dollywood – America’s favorite buxom blonde has her own amusement park and it’s a knee-slappin’, foot stompin’ good time. Only at Dollywood could you enjoy a sawmill-themed roller coaster, watch an “artisan” make soap, and then top off the day with some delicious meat on a stick. Dollywood is jolly good, y’all.

3) Coney Island - Long on “carnie” fun and short on high-tech rides, Coney Island has been beckoning East Coasters for generations. During my visit a friend emerged from the infamous wooden roller coaster, the Cyclone, bleeding from a small flesh wound. Don’t miss the old-fashioned circus sideshow or the Mermaid Parade. Family fun, indeed.

2) Schlitterbahn - This wet-and-weird water park’s name means “slippery road” in German and the original location is smack-dab in the heart of Texas on the banks of the Comal River. Considered America’s first water park, Sclitterbahn has two sections, the old and the new. Skip the new section and head straight for the old, where the rides are low-tech, trippy, 70s-themed adventures still fed by the river’s brownish cool waters.

1) Hard Rock Park - What do you get when you mix two parts electric guitar with three parts theme-park thrills? Rock-n-roller coaster, baby. Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is wild, wacky, and brand-new. The park is currently performing its “Sound Check,” but I’m already shopping for a Last Minute Package to try out rides like: Eagles Life in the Fast Lane Coaster and The Nights in White Satin – The Trip (the Moody Blues ride).

Have any offbeat amusement parks to add to my list?


My name: Alison Presley

Nickname: Presbo, because I'm good police.

How I earn my keep: I'm the manager of Travelocity's Travel for Good program. Visit Travel for Good to learn more about our green travel and voluntourism initiatives!

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It’s more of a fair than an amusement park, but the Prune Festival in Northern California is a rocking good time. Eddie Money played there once.


I’m actually a little afraid of most theme parks, but I had a soft spot for the country-tinged (and now-defunct) Opryland in Nashville. I guess I should check out Dollyland?

And I’ve heard that Illinois’ Rockome Gardens, an Amish theme park (“preserving a simpler time”), is pretty interesting.

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