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Guide: Local & Regional Amusement Parks

Very few things say summer like the sound of laughs and screams echoing through the air, the smell of funnel cakes tempting your stomach, and the feeling of your heart pounding as you creep closer in line to that huge roller coaster! Amusement parks are a summer tradition and a part of childhood memories for so many. Fortunately, this area is privileged to have several great options to choose from!

Six Flags America | Upper Marlboro, MD

About 50-miles from Dulles International Airport

A quick 15-minutes from our nation’s capital, Six Flags America is a perfect escape from the bustle of this area. Don’t be intimidated with popular roller coasters such as Superman: Ride of Steel and Batwing: Six Flags America is still a family theme park with tons of amusements for your whole family to enjoy.

Kid-Friendly: Six Flags has a wide-variety of family and kids rides while at the same time offering roller coasters to thrill the older daredevils in your family. If you want to know ahead of time which rides your little guys are allowed on, a comprehensive list of height requirements is located online. Once you arrive, head to the Main Street Service Center where you will receive wristbands based on your children’s heights to guide you through the rides.

Water Park: Hurricane Harbor, Maryland’s largest water park, is part of your Six Flags America admission and includes water rides and activities for your younger water-lovers.

Special Events: In addition to the live entertainment and shows performed in the park, there are many events throughout the season, such as Fright Fest scaring its way through the fall.

Parking: For a fee, you can purchase seasonal parking passes, one-day parking, or one-day preferred parking. Parking is free with Gold Passes only.

Tickets: Single day admission tickets can be purchased for one-time visitors. Season Passes (Gold or Regular) can be purchased through monthly memberships or up front payments each season.

Discounts: Group discounts are available, as well as are certain promotions throughout the year. Children under 2 are free but will need a ticket as soon as they turn 3 (applicable to season pass holders as well). Discounts are also available for AAA members.

Open Season: Open dates and weekends vary throughout the year from April through October, but their main season is late May to early September. Hurricane Harbor is open late May to early September only.

Why Visit? For those families with some adventurous members, Six Flags America is a great option to meet everyone’s thrill-levels! During the hottest summer days, Hurricane Harbor is an excellent way to get everyone cooled off in the largest water park in the area.

Adventure Park USA | New Market, MD

About 51-miles from Dulles International Airport

Set in a Wild West atmosphere, this former Putt-Putt course has been elaborately expanded into a family entertainment destination as Adventure Park USA. A roller coaster, go-karts, rock climbing, laser tag, miniature golf: the list goes on and on for how your day will be filled with both outdoor and indoor fun for the whole family!

Kid-Friendly: Based on specific height restrictions, your littlest children will enjoy such rides as Teacups and Helicopters. Your older adventurers will get to experience more thrilling rides such as Tilt-A-Whirl, Scrambler, and the Wild Cat Roller Coaster. A detailed listing of ride restrictions is available on their website.

Water Park: There is no water park, but there are Bumper Boats that will get you wet to cool you down!

Special Events: Birthday parties and group events are a specialty of Adventure Park. Special park-sponsored events occur throughout the year, as well, including Easter Egg Hunts and Halloween “Not So Scary” parties.

Parking: Parking is free for everyone.

Tickets: Entry into the park is free, but being able to participate in the attractions is based on Fun Pass credits. You can purchase all-day passes that enable all-day rides in the categories of Extreme Rides, Adventurer Rides, and Lil’ Tykes Rides.

Discounts: Military and group discounts are available.

Open Season: While Adventure Park is open year-round, there are certain outdoor attractions that are only open varying dates throughout the year.

Why Visit? Adventure Park USA is a much more affordable alternative to some of the larger theme parks and also offers a wide variety of activities. Even a rainy day can be fun!

Central Park Funland | Fredericksburg, VA

About 60-miles from Dulles International Airport

If you’re looking for a day of fun without having to worry about the weather or the time of year, consider Central Park Funland! Open all year, your family will enjoy the variety of indoor and outdoor rides, games, and attractions.

Kid-Friendly: As with all amusement parks, the rides and attractions are designed with certain height restrictions for safety purposes. Funland offers rides mostly requiring a minimum height requirement of 36” to participate. The attractions offer a few more options for the smallest members of your family with Mini Golf, Mini Bowling, and the Play Zone.

Water Park: There is not a water park, but Bumper Boats will get you wet since they upgraded their boats to J&J Waterblasters™, so dress appropriately.

Special Events: Funland offers options and packages for group gatherings, youth events, and birthday parties.

Parking: There is no fee for parking.

Tickets: While there is no fee for entry, you will need a Play Card to join in the indoor and outdoor fun. Add Play Value to your Play Card for all games, rides, and attractions; when you run out of Play Value, simply recharge your Play Card. Everyday Value Deals are money-saving options while combining Play Value with food and drinks.

Open Season: Funland is open year-round, with certain outdoor attractions seasonally closed.

Why Visit? Getting a family to agree on what to do for the day can sometimes be an impossible task. With miniature golf, laser tag, go-karts, rock climbing, a Ferris wheel, and even spinning tea cups — how can you not find something to agree on?

Kings Dominion | Doswell, VA

About 91-miles from Dulles International Airport

If you’ve traveled on Interstate 95 near Richmond, VA, you’ve no doubt seen Kings Dominion‘s monumental Eiffel Tower rising above the treetops. This signals your arrival at Kings Dominion, a family vacation destination featuring roller coasters, rides, and live entertainment.

Kid-Friendly: Kings Dominion offers rides and thrills for all ages, and an online guide will help you determine what specific park areas and rides will be best for your family. Your smaller adventurers will need supervision on select certain rides. You can also plan ahead and view ride descriptions and height requirements for designated family rides throughout the park and at Planet Snoopy.

Water Park: Soak City is included as part of the price of admission to Kings Dominion and features fun for all ages.

Special Events: Live entertainment and shows are held throughout the season, but be sure to plan your visit around their special events, including annual music festivals.

Parking: If you are not a season pass holder, parking is an additional fee (choose from preferred or regular).

Tickets: You can purchase daily tickets in a variety of ways and combinations. Season passes are also available as Silver, Gold, or Platinum with varying levels of benefits and discounts.

Discounts: Senior citizens (ages 62+), military, and youth under 48-inches are all eligible for discounts on general admission tickets. Plus, children age 2 and under are free, as well as military on select weekends. Every day public discounts can be obtained by buying tickets online in advance rather than at the gate.

Season: Open dates and hours vary throughout the year, but their main season is late May to early September.

Why Visit: Beyond the typical thrills of a theme park, Kings Dominion also offers an animatronic prehistoric experience with Dinosaurs Alive — free for Gold or Platinum season pass holders!

Updated 12/2016

Hersheypark | Hershey, PA

About 126-miles from Dulles International Airport

How can you not love the idea of a theme park centered around chocolate and candy? Hersheypark offers an abundance of fun for all ages while creatively branding all the Hershey products you know and love.

Kid-Friendly: There are rides for everyone, categorized by height “brands” starting with the smallest “Miniatures” all the way up to the tallest “Jolly Ranchers.” Their website has a complete listing of these candy categories and the rides allowed for each. Hersheypark is designed for all ages, with over 20 kiddie rides and 13 thrilling roller coasters.

Water Park: Hersheypark features The Boardwalk, which has water slides, rides, and a wave pool. The Boardwalk is included as part of your Hersheypark ticket.

Special Events: In addition to events featured in the four seasons of Hersheypark, you will find live shows and entertainment, concert series, and character appearances to make your visit even more memorable.

Parking: There is a daily parking fee unless you are a season pass holder or a guest of Hershey Lodge, The Hotel Hershey, or Hersheypark Camping Resort (shuttle service provided from those locations).

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased in several combinations, including multiple-day admission. Season passes are also available and will get you many benefits including free parking and admittance to ZooAmerica.

Discounts: Ticket discounts are awarded for military, seniors, seniors 70 and older, and children ages 3-8. Children 2 and under are free. Discounts are also available through packages and offers throughout the year, so check the website to see which ones work best for you.

Open Season: There are fun seasonal events at Hersheypark: Springtime in the Park (select days in April), In the Dark (select days in October), and Christmas Candylane (November-December).

Why Visit? In addition to Hersheypark, Hershey’s Chocolate World is an interactive introduction to the world of all things chocolate. You and your family can participate in hands-on learning, including creating your own candy bar and taking a ride on the Great American Chocolate Tour. Hersheypark also offers two different hotel options, as well as a campsite for those preferring a more natural accommodation.

Dutch Wonderland | Lancaster, PA

About 140-miles from Dulles International Airport

Beautiful Lancaster, PA, offers so many great spots for families, and Dutch Wonderland is certainly one of them, particularly for those families with young children. Plan to visit Dutch Wonderland on its own or get a combo ticket and experience neighboring Hersheypark, as well!

Kid-Friendly: Dutch Wonderland is designed to provide a fun amusement park experience for the younger members of your family. It offers over 30 rides, a water area, and live entertainment and shows. Using color coded gems, you will find a list of rides on their website based on different height categories for your kids.

Water Park: Enjoy cooling down and splashing around at Duke’s Lagoon or take the Pipeline Plunge, both included in your admission ticket.

Special Events: There are a few special events throughout the open season, including Happy Hauntings in the fall and Dutch Winter Wonderland in the winter.

Parking: Parking is paid as either General Parking or Preferred Parking. Gold and Platinum season pass members receive free parking.

Tickets: Single-day tickets can be purchased or a variety of season pass options are available, including a combination pass with Hersheypark.

Discounts: Ages 2 and under are free, and seniors and military will receive discounts. Look online for other seasonal promotions to get the best deals on your tickets.

Open Season: Open dates and weekends vary throughout the year from May through December, but their main season is late May to early September. Wet Fun is open late May to early September only.

Why Visit?: For those loving the outdoors, Old Mill Stream Campground is located right next to Dutch Wonderland and provides cabins, hook-ups, and tent sites. This can be a fun alternative to make your trip extra special!

Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA

About 162-miles from Dulles International Airport

In the heart of historic Williamsburg, VA, Busch Gardens takes you on a thrilling modern adventure, well beyond the colonial constructs of the surrounding area. With something for every age in every season, Busch Garden is not to be missed as a destination of its own or as a stop along your Colonial Williamsburg vacation!

Kid-Friendly: Busch Gardens prides itself on offering Kidsiderate rides for the littlest thrill seekers in its Land of the Dragons and Sesame Street Forest of Fun areas of the park. After parents and children check-in, they are given colored wristbands and information about the rides and attractions appropriate for your child’s height.

Water Park: Busch Gardens has a sister park, Water Country USA, three miles away. Additional entry fees apply.

Special Events: Live shows and entertainment vary throughout the year, but of particular attraction is the Food and Wine Festival in the summer, Howl-O-Scream in the fall, and Christmas Town in the winter.

Parking: Onsite parking is available for an additional fee or comes free as part of the package deal with an extended membership pass.

Tickets: If you’re a one-time visitor, you may purchase individual entry tickets for Busch Gardens and/or Water Country USA. If you anticipate repeated visits, membership pass options are available for only Busch Gardens or Water Country USA, as a combination of both parks, or as a Platinum member with access to up to 11 other SeaWorld parks across the country. Learn more here on how to get a free preschool pass.

Discounts: Through their Waves of Honor program, active-duty military and up to 3 dependents get a free single-day pass once a year. Children 3 and under are always free. Also, be sure to check their website for other limited time offers that appear throughout the year.

Open Season: Open dates and weekends vary throughout the year from March through December, but their main season is late May to early September. Water Country USA is open late May to early September only.

Why Visit? Distinguishing itself as an award-winning park, including “World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park,” Busch Gardens is an experience beyond the customary theme park. They boast world-class roller coasters, include live animal experiences, and walk you through classic Europe in their nine villages representing six countries.

Updated 12/2016

Diggerland USA | West Berlin, NJ

About 170-miles from Dulles International Airport

Digging up an adventure for adults and children of all ages (literally!), families will absolutely love Diggerland USA, North America’s only construction-themed adventure park. Located in West Berlin, NJ, this worth the drive destination (about 170- miles from DIA) lets guests, including children at least 36” tall, drive and operate real, full-sized construction equipment! Dig big holes with an excavator, traverse Diggerland’s course on a JCB Skidsteer Loader 135, and slide into the driver’s seat of an 8-wheeled all-terrain ARGO! Plan a full day of adventure and climb the rock wall or one of the world’s tallest ropes courses, enjoy a heavy machinery stunt show, and check out the video arcade! For more information, including hours of operation, admission prices, and special events such as Special Abilities Nights, click here and start planning your family’s construction getaway! 

Sesame Place | Langhorne, PA

About 186-miles from Dulles International Airport

Often, our littlest thrill-seekers get overwhelmed and frustrated when they can’t participate in some of the rides of the larger theme parks. Sesame Place gives these little guys a chance at a park designed just for them!

Kid-Friendly: Sesame Place is obviously designed for younger children, as the theme of the park centers around Sesame Street. You will find plenty to do with your munchkins, some will require you to be with them and some they can do on their own, and you can check out each ride’s height requirements on their website to plan ahead.

Water Park: Wet Fun is included as part of Sesame Place, with water slides, rivers, and wave pools.

Special Events: The many monthly events throughout the open season will leave you coming back again and again. Your little goblin will love The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular where they come dressed-up in costumes and enjoy parades, shows, hayrides, and mazes. During the holiday season, A Very Furry Christmas will take your child to a winter wonderland and create special Christmas memories for years to come.

Parking: Parking is an additional fee dependent on Regular, Preferred, or VIP. Regular parking is free with Big Bird Passes and Preferred is free with Super Grover Passes.

Tickets: Daily tickets are available with options, or you can purchase varying levels of season passes: Sesame, Big Bird, and Super Grover. Big Bird will get you free regular parking and other benefits such as character meet-and-greets. Super Grover will grant you even more benefits and unlimited access to 11 other SeaWorld parks.

Discounts: AAA Members, pregnant moms, and guests over age 55 receive discounts on admission tickets. Best ticket prices are available online with special offers throughout the year. Children 23-months and younger are free. Active duty military receive free tickets once a year for themselves and up to 3 dependents through the Waves of Honor program.

Open Season: Open dates and weekends vary throughout the year from May through December, but their main season is late May to early September. Wet Fun is open late May to early September only.

Why Visit? If your little ones are fans of Sesame Street, you will be hard-pressed to find a theme park better suited for them. Unlike some of the big kid parks, these rides, shows, and parades are focused more towards the younger crowd. The great thing, too, is if you’re a Platinum Pass holder with Busch Gardens already, you have unlimited access to this park!

Disclaimer/Terms: These opportunities are subject to last minute cancellations and changes that might not be reflected in this post. Please, always confirm by calling/clicking.

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