Non-Disney Theme Parks for Kids

When you plan a fun vacation for the family, you will likely be pretty tempted to book a trip to Disney Land, World or other property and forget it. But, there are many excellent theme parks for young children that don’t involve the mouse; here are just a few.

For families with much younger kids, Sesame Place should definitely be on the radar. Sesame Place is a full theme park administrated by the people behind Busch Gardens and SeaWorld.

Located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia, Sesame Place is the premier destination for Sesame Street tourism. The park is half water park, half standard theme park. It contains two rollercoasters and several water slides, all appropriate for the entire family. There are many character meet-and-greets, dining options and shows. In a lot of ways, Sesame Place feels like Disney Land.

Sesame Place Parade © Zhi Qi |

Sesame Place Parade © Zhi Qi |

A bit to the north, but still in Pennsylvania, there is Hershey Park. Hershey Park is, surprise, dedicated to the town and man who built a chocolate empire. For families with sweet teeth, Hershey Park is a great getaway.

Hershey Park is a little more geared toward rides and, as a result, there are a few rides that might not be totally appropriate for kids. Character meet-and-greets, chocolate-making tours and more, however, are kid-friendly. The area is also home to a few Hershey Park-themed resorts, making travel to the park convenient and worthwhile.

Toward the middle of Pennsylvania, we come to Dutch Wonderland. Commonly touted as one of Pennsylvania’s best theme parks for kids, Dutch Wonderland hosts many family-friendly attractions, including rollercoasters, bumper cars, train rides and many more.  If you’re looking for a more traditional theme park that has attractions for kids, this is a great way to go.

On the West Coast, Legoland California Resort is a great getaway for families with kids. The biggest draw at Legoland, aside from the wondrous hotels, will be Legoland Water Park, where the standard family-friendly waterpark is replaced with thematically-friendly Legos.

Also in California, Knotts Berry Farm is a local favorite. The park has rides for the whole family, ranging from slower, kid-friendly rides to more intense rides for mom, dad and bigger siblings.

The holidays are the perfect time to visit many of these parks. At Sesame Place and Legoland, there are Christmas-themed events going on, complete with lights, color and visits from Santa Claus.