New Study Reveals America’s Best Value Amusement Parks

There is no shortage of amusement parks full of delight from coast to coast. But if you're an enthusiast for coasters and gravity-defying rides – the kind that make your heart skip a beat and leave you breathless with anticipation – finding high-intensity thrills can be challenging without breaking the bank.

A new study by family vacation experts FamilyDestinationsGuide.com has revealed the most affordable amusement parks in America. The study evaluated amusement parks based on ticket prices, restaurant and food costs, attractions, hotels, and transport to determine which ones offer the best bang for your buck.

The study results are based on a family of two adults and two children under nine.

Kings Island Takes The Crown

The results show that Kings Island is the cheapest day out for a family of four compared to other US amusement parks. A family's average daily spend is $368.20. Kings Island had the lowest daily food spend at $26.32 and the lowest average cost for park tickets at $159.96 per day.

For fifty years, Kings Island has served as the ultimate entertainment destination for millions of families in the Midwest who wish to experience all this enchanting amusement park has to offer: exhilarating rides, exceptional live shows and performances, scrumptious food options, and unforgettable Cincinnati events.

Kings Island has gone above and beyond since it opened in 1972 to ensure your family's visit is the most memorable day of the year. As soon as you step foot into this 364-acre amusement park, one thing becomes clear – Kings Island isn't just one of Cincinnati's top attractions. It's a must-see destination.

Silver for Silver Dollar City

Coming in as the second cheapest US amusement park is Silver Dollar City in Missouri, with a combined daily total of $578.01. It had a daily hotel spend of only $93.13, which is 44.8% less than the $168.75 average of all other hotels on the list.

“Erin Wilson, the owner of ChaChingQueen, shares one of her tips to save even more at Silver Dollar City. “After 3 pm, visitors to Silver Dollar City who purchased one-day passes can return for free the next day. It's a nice way to get a few extra hours of fun in.”

America's Roller Coast

Cedar Point, Ohio, came third overall with a daily total of $585.27 and had the second-lowest daily ticket price at $179.96 – a whopping $223.69 lower than the average price of all other parks.

Cedar Point, located on the picturesque shores of Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio, is a 364-acre thrill oasis. Known as “America's Roller Coast,” with 18 coasters, it boasts one of the world's largest collections. Cedar Point is an American classic – the country's second-oldest amusement park. Trying not to be afraid of heights and adrenaline-pumping rides is a life skill many of us wish we possessed and Cedar Point certainly puts that to the test.

The Happiest Place on Earth

Fourth place goes to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, with a daily total of $603.32. Daily park tickets cost an average of $319.78, and the cost of lunch was $11.73 cheaper than the average price of $57.57.

To save even more money during your Disney World vacation, travel writer Monica Fish from Planner at Heart suggests bringing your own lunches and only visiting the parks with your favorite attractions.

“We took our family to Walt Disney World for the first time last year, and due to the ever-increasing cost of park tickets, our week-long Orlando vacation only included two Disney park days. We took into account everyone's must-do park rides and didn't go to all the Disney parks due to the cost.

“We also saved money by packing lunch, snacks, and drinks and bringing it into the park, which many don't know you can do. In addition, we bought light-up toys and wands at the Dollar Store and brought dress-up costumes and outfits from home versus buying high-priced items within the park to cut down spending even more.”

UpgradedPoints recently conducted a study that revealed Space Mountain, the thrilling dark roller coaster, is regarded as the most popular ride at Disney World. So if the Magic Kingdom park is your destination, getting in line for Space Mountain early in the day is recommended. 

Movie Magic

Fifth place was given to Universal Studios Orlando with a total daily total of $608.62, ticket spend of $388.56, and an Uber spend of $28.33 lower than the average of $94.29.

Comparing Disney World with Universal Studios is a frequent debate amongst travelers. While Universal Studios does cost more, it's worth noting that the park is home to some of the most well-known film franchises in the world – Harry Potter, Marvel, and Jurassic Park.

Rounding Out The Top Ten

Universal's Islands of Adventure ranks sixth with a daily total of $619.54 and takes the title for the lowest-cost hotel at $65.78 and $102.98 lower than the average cost of all other parks.

Busch Gardens, Tampa, comes in seventh place with a daily total of $628.96, $52.01 lower than the average cost of $682.96. Busch Gardens beat the average price for park tickets, daily hotel stays, water bottles, and daily lunch for a family of four.

Eighth place was awarded to Six Flags, Magic Mountain, which had a daily total of $632.63. Not only did it beat the average price of park tickets by $103.69 and the return cost of an Uber to the hotel, but it also beat the $73.27 average price of water bottles set by all the other parks by $23.31.

Coming in ninth place, Hersheypark had an overall daily spend of $648.65. It beat the average ticket cost by $95.85, the average daily hotel cost by $12.58, and the price of an Uber from the local airport to the hotel by $32.49.

Disneyland Park & Disney California Adventure Park claim the 10th place with an average daily spend of $681.83. These parks also beat the average cost of park tickets, hotel stays, and Uber. It also had a lower-than-average cost of reusable water bottles by $4.60.

“With an inflation rate higher than last year, Americans may be debating whether they can even afford to visit amusement parks this year. Having this report available will no doubt be very useful in helping families to create new cherished memories,” comments FamilyDestinationsGuide.com.

“This report displays exciting information, and families should use it to consider what they want from a vacation. For example, park tickets for Disney World Resort cost double that of Kings Island, but they give access to 173 rides (126 more than Kings Island).”

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


Casandra is the founder of Karpiak Caravan Adventure Family Travel and a mother to two adventurous young boys. Casandra is a family-focused, adventure travel advocate.

A Toronto native with Danish roots, she became an avid traveler after her first trip to Europe as a college student. Casandra's goal is to provide an educational experience for her family when she travels. When visiting historic sites like D-Day landing beaches in Normandy, or learning about ranch life at a dude ranch on horseback, it’s always a priority to provide an educational experience and to learn about the culture and history of each destination.

You can follow her adventures at karpiakcaravan or get in touch via her social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.