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World's Best 5 Amusement Theme Parks Featured

04 December 2009
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1. Universal Studio, Orlando

Universal Studio

Universal Studio

Universal Studio

Universal Studio

Universal Studio

Universal Studio

Universal Studio

Universal Studio

Universal Orlando Resort is a theme park resort in Orlando, Florida. It is a joint partnership between NBC Universal and the Blackstone Group. The resort consists of two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure), Universal CityWalk (a night-time entertainment destination), and three Loews Hotels. Universal Orlando Resort is the largest property owned by Universal Studios Theme Parks; it is also the second-largest resort in Greater Orlando, after the Walt Disney World Resort.

Universal Studios has capitalized on its movie inventory to create what most movie-goers want to experience: being a part of the film. Sure, it's hokey and silly, but it's also fun. At both the Orlando and Hollywood locations, guests can relive Men in Black and get attacked by aliens, fight a tornado in Twister, ride bicycles through the air just like in E.T. and battle borgs in Terminator 2.

The park also has attractions based on Animal Planet Live! and Jaws. Younger kids will like the "Day in the Park With Barney" where they can sing and clap along. Universal Studios also has the Islands of Adventure theme park, which opened in 1999. The park has rides based on the Cat in the Hat, Popeye and Spider-Man, as well as roller coasters.

Tickets for Universal Hollywood are $45 for ages 10 and up and $35 for under 10. Universal Orlando (which also includes Islands of Adventure) is $49.95 for ages 10 and up and $40.95 for under 10.

Universal Studios, Orlando

1000 Universal Studios Plaza

Orlando, Fla.

Phone: (407) 63-8000

Universal Studios, Hollywood

100 Universal City Plaza

Universal City, Calif.

Phone: (800) UNIVERSAL

2. Cedar Point, Ohio

Cedar Point

Cedar Point

Cedar Point

Cedar Point

Cedar Point

Cedar Point

Cedar Point

Cedar Point is a 364-acre (1.47 km²) amusement park located in Sandusky, Ohio, United States on a narrow peninsula jutting into Lake Erie. It currently holds the world record for most roller coasters (17), one of which, Top Thrill Dragster, is the world's second tallest and second fastest roller coaster, reaching speeds of 120 mph (190 km/h) and a height of 420 feet (130 m). Cedar Point is also the only amusement park with four roller coasters that are taller than 200 feet (61 m). As of 2008[update], Cedar Point has more rides (75) than any other amusement park.

If you're a roller coaster junkie and love that sinking, lurching feeling in the pit of your stomach, then Cedar Point is the place for you. The park has more roller coasters-15-and rides-68-than any other park in the world. This spring, the park will add the Wicked Twister, which claims to be the world's tallest. Riders will launch out of the station at 50 mph and up a 90-degree twisting tower. As the train slows near the top of the U-shaped track, riders experience "air time," the feeling of floating in air, before zooming up another tower and spiraling down backward.

As if that's not enough, the train will go up and down the towers five times at a maximum speed of 72 mph, and twists 450 degrees. We suggest visiting the snack bar after the rides. Get the credit cards ready after the kids visit the "Peanuts" cartoon-themed rides and attractions, including the "Snoopy Rocks! On Ice" show and Camp Snoopy Theatre. There is also an 18-acre water park area, called Soak City (admission is extra).

Prices vary depending on the day and time (discounts are given after 5 P.M.), but tickets to Cedar Point are $42 for ages 4-59 and those 48 inches or taller, and $20 for people under 48 inches. Admission to both parks is $59 and $39, respectively; for Soak City only, $23 and $13.

Cedar Point: Cedar Point Drive

Sandusky, Ohio

Phone: (419) 627-2350

3. Busch Gardens, Virginia

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens in Williamsburg combines 17th-century charm with 21st-century. Busch Gardens boasts more than 50 thrilling rides and attractions, several live stage shows, a wide variety of award-winning cuisine and world-class shops.

With locations in Williamsburg, Va., and Tampa, Fla., Busch Gardens is ideal for people who prefer real animals to people dressed up as them. Both parks have plenty of rides and attractions for white-knuckle thrill seekers, but with an emphasis on nature.

Busch Gardens in Tampa has a heavy Africa theme with its Serengeti Plain wildlife area, where elephants, rhinos, zebras and antelope roam over 29 acres. (It's also the largest zoo in Florida, with over 2,700 animals.) Vistors can zoom around the Serengeti on the Serengeti Express Railway or head to Rhino Rally, where you can go off-roading in an open-air Land Rover and see you know what. Busch Gardens also has several roller coasters, including the Gwazi, which is a wooden, double twist coaster whose trains whiz past each other at 100 mph.

The Williamsburg park is known for its nausea-inducing roller coasters. The Apollo's Chariot ride has nine drops, the first plunging 210 feet (or 21 stories.) The park is divided into nine European "hamlets" that celebrate English, Scottish, German and Italian culture. Since Virginia is too cold for zebras and elephants, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has Jack Hann's Wild Reserve, where guests can spot wolves and lorikeets. Animals aside, parents will appreciate that the parent company is beer conglomerate Anheuser-Busch.

A one-day pass at Busch Gardens Tampa is $49.95 for adults and $40.95 for children ages 3 to 6, but the best option is to combine it with a pass for Sea World or Adventure Island. Or buy a one-year pass ($84.95 for adults and $74.95 for kids).

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is $42.99 for adults and $35.99 for kids; unlimited summer passes are $59.99 for all ages.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

1 Busch Gardens Blvd.

Williamsburg, Va.

Phone: (800) 343-7946

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Boulevard and 40th Street

Tampa, Fla.

Phone: (813) 987-5082

4. Blackpool, London

Blackpool

Blackpool

Blackpool

Blackpool

Blackpool

Blackpool

Pleasure Beach in Blackpool is the UK's top theme park attracting over 5 million visitors a year.

Entrance to the park is free although in 2009 there will be a charge. Once inside the park you can purchase a wristband for unlimited access to over 125 rides. In 2007 Pleasure Beach was ranked the 14th most popular theme park in the world with its combination of thrill rides, rollercoasters, water rides, amusements and shows. There is something for everyone from the fast thrillers like Pepsi Max Big One and Revolution to the family orientated Alice ride or Lunar carousel.

One of the most famous rides at 235ft is "The Big One", Europe’s tallest roller coaster. The latest coaster addition is Infusion, a suspended coaster that takes you through five incredible loops plus a double line twist.

There are height restrictions on the bigger rides but there are plenty of rides and amusement for small children so they won't feel left out.

There is no shortage of places to eat and drink with over 35 restaurants and cafes, as well as a pub and a hotel.

Entry to the park is free. Wristbands available for rides and prices vary according to days and seasons. Highest price is at weekends during summer holidays but you can get cheaper prices if you book online in advance.

Adults - £20.00 to £30.00

call 0871 222 1234 for pricing details and up-to-date information as theme park opening and closing times vary according to the time of year. Calls to 0871 numbers cost 10 pence per minute on the BT network, calls from other networks and mobiles may vary.

5. Parc Asterix, France

Parc Asterix

Parc Asterix

Parc Asterix

Parc Asterix

Parc Asterix

Parc Asterix

Parc Astérix is a theme amusement park in France, based on the stories of Asterix (by Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny). Situated approximately 35 km (22 miles) north of Paris and 32 km (20 miles) from Disneyland Resort Paris, in Plailly in the département of Oise, it opened in 1989. The park is operated by Compagnie des Alpes. It is especially well known for its large variety of roller coasters, and has begun incorporating rides and themes from historic cultures such as the Romans and the ancient Greeks.

Francophiles, fans of the popular French cartoon character Asterix or families seeking a theme park experience sans mouse ears should head to Parc Asterix, just north of Paris. The park features all the characters from the comic books and their playful twist on Gallic history and mythology. Likewise, the rides have names that are far more sophisticated than what you'd find in an American theme park. Rides are named Flight of Icarus, Caesar's Spies, and Descent Along the Styx. The latest attraction is the La Trace du Hourra, which is a bobsled-type ride that races down a tube of metal sheeting at 54 kph.

In addition to the rides, there are shows such as the "Theft of Mona Lisa" and a Musketeers show. The park also has a hotel, the Three Owls, located in the forest that borders the park; 40 candy stores; and six restaurants, from a grill to a pizzeria.

A one-day adult pass is 30 euros ($26); kids age 11 and up are 22 euros ($19.) Two-day passes for adults are 56 euros ($49); kids are 40 euros ($35). Season passes are 65 euros ($57) for adults and 45 euros ($41) for kids.

Parc Asterix

Plailly, France

Phone: (33) 03 44 62 34 04

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