Rollercoaster nuts have long argued amongst themselves about whether it is the United States or Europe has the better amusement parks. While US citizens will proudly boast that the size and scale of their rides far outstrips their European counterparts, Europeans will point out that the originality of their parks and rides set them apart from the rest. The reality, however, is that the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. There comes a time to swallow your pride, stop debating, and grab the friends and family for a wild time at one of the many fantastic amusement parks on both sides of the Atlantic. What follows is a brief analysis of what we feel are the best three from both the United States and Europe.
1. Cedar Point, OH
Our favorite amusement park in the US is definitely Cedar Point in Ohio. Located on a 365-acre plot on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie, Cedar Point leaves no stone untouched when it comes to satisfying your need for thrills. The park is home to a bewildering array of cutting-edge rollercoasters (17 in total!), water rides and old-fashioned rides that you might expect to have seen in a fair from the early part of the twentieth century.
2. Busch Gardens, VA
Located 60 miles north of Virginia Beach, Busch Gardens is an absolute monster of an amusement park. Its 383 acres play host to some of the country’s most impressive rollercoasters, including the double-looping Loch Ness Monster, the hair-raising Tempesto and the new InvadR, the first wooden rollercoaster in the history of the park. There is something for all the family, with a wide range of kids’ shows and top-class eateries also scattered about the park.
3. Six Flag Magic Mountain, CA
For those who like their rollercoasters as big and fast as possible, there is nowhere else like Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. Check out Apocalypse, which carries riders through a post-apocalyptic wasteland at breakneck speed before heading over a precipice and dropping 95 feet. Other notable rides include the heart-stopping Batman-themed coaster and record-breaking CraZanity pendulum ride.
Millions of visitors flood from around the globe every year to visit the incredible diversity of amusement parks in the United States. For thrill-seekers coming to the country from Europe, it is necessary to apply for an ESTA visa online before you travel to gain permission to enter the United States.
1. Europa Park, Germany
Germany is home to a huge number of great amusement parks, but undisputed king when it comes to exhilarating rides is Europa Park in the southwest of the country. Adrenaline junkies will be rubbing their hands with glee when the sight the 13 different rollercoasters in the park, the best of which is perhaps the lightning-fast Blue Fire Megacoaster, which does 0 to 100km/h in a measly 2.5 seconds. The park also features 15 European country-themed zones which offer a taste of the cultures and cuisines of each of the countries it represents.
2. Port Aventura, Spain
Not far from Barcelona is Port Aventura, the amusement park which is home to Europe’s fasted rollercoaster known as the Furious Baco, which accelerates to 135km/h in just 3 seconds. But Port Aventura is not Spain’s most visited amusement park solely for this one horrifyingly rapid ride. Littered throughout the park are a number of other top-class rollercoasters like Shambala and Hurakan Condor which are sure to set the pulse racing of anyone who dares to ride them.
3. Efteling, Netherlands
Popular in the Netherlands but barely known by Europeans from other countries, Efteling is a massive fairy-tale amusement park that houses captivating attractions and some of Europe’s most cutting-edge rides. The different zones within the park have all been designed with people of different ages in mind, but if you head over to the Ruigrijk zone, you will find a selection of the most electrifying rides in Europe with names such as Joris and the Draak, Baron and Vogel Rok.
The pull of Europe has long been strong among US vacationers. Be aware that from January 2021 all US citizens will be required to apply for the EU’s new ETIAS visa waiver scheme before you enjoy any of the amusement parks mentioned above (have a look at this informative ETIAS guide to learn more about how the new scheme will work in practice).
And so we conclude our list of what we believe are the three leading amusements parks in the United States and Europe. We will leave it up to you to decide which one is the best.