Theme parks and amusement parks are as popular as never before. Although the US has some of the biggest – there are huge and excellent parks around the world, from Brazil to France and in Japan. Disney and Universal are two of the main operators. The top 10 theme parks operators together count almost 500 million visitors per year.

According to the Global Attractions Attendance Report 2017 published by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and the Economics practice at AECOM, six theme parks In Florida count over 75.6 million visitors alone. In Japan, the four biggest parks count more than 51 million visitors.

There are all kinds of theme parks and amusement parks, targeting different age groups of children, and adults of course. We’ll try to indicate which park fits to which age group. Note – most parks offer something for every age group, and therefore can be visited by all ages, however we just indicate which park seems to be the best fit for each age group – just in case you’re lucky enough to choose.


8. Cedar Point, Ohio, USA – 147 hectares

The “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” is one of the oldest amusement parks of the world (opened in 1870).  It has 16 amazing roller coaster and boasts some of the fastest and highest ones. Coming in 2019: Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island. Age groups: big kids, tweens and teenagers. https://www.cedarpoint.com/

Recommended hotels:

Cedar Point Hotel Breakers – mid-range

Beachfront hotel on Lake Erie with outdoor and indoor swimming pools, hot tubs and on-site dining options. Nice views! Map

Cedar Point Castaway Bay Indoor Water Park – budget

Budget option with access to the on-site indoor water park, the Cedar Point amusement park is about 1.6 miles away. It has a private beach and double rooms that fit a family of four. Map


7. Tokyo Disney Resort, Japan – 250 hectares

First Disney theme park outside of the US with 16 million visitors every year. Opened in 1983, Tokyo Disney Sea was added in 2001 with attractions like Mediterranean Harbor, American Harbor, Toy Story Mania, Aquatopia, Nemo & Friends SeaRider, Indiana Jones Adventure, Arabian Coast, Mermaid Lagoon, Mysterious Island and much more. Age groups: little kids, big kids, tweens and teenagers. https://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp

Recommended hotels:

Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta – luxury

A dream for every child. Right at DisneySea – in the middle of the action. Map

Tokyo Disneyland Hotel – luxury

Also a dream. Huge. Right at the beginning, next to the Tokyo Disneyland Station. Map

Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay – mid-range

An official Disney Resort hotel, but surprisingly well priced, just south of the theme park. Japanese-style rooms with futon beds. Right in front of the Bayside Station on the Disney Resort Line. 5 minutes to DisneySea and 10 minutes to Tokyo Disneyland. Map


6. Universal Orland Resort, Orlando, FL, USA – 278 hectares

One of the favorite theme parks in Orlando, FL. It consists of several parks: Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Island of Adventure, Vulcano Bay (water park), and Universal City Walk (restaurant and shopping area). Opening in 2019: Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (part of the Harry Potter World). Age group: big kids, tweens and teenagers. https://www.universalorlando.com

Recommended hotels:

Note: at the time of writing, they were still building the Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort – luxury

Your luxury option right at the theme park (6 minutes walk). Kids love it. Adults do, too. Offers family rooms and early park admission. Map

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – luxury

Also a favorite close to the park. Also offers early park admission and has an excellent games room and fitness center. Priced slightly below the Royal Pacific Resort. Map

Universal’s Aventura Hotel – mid-range

Great option right next to the Loews Sapphire Falls. Also offers early park admission. Caribbean-inspired resort. Map


5. Alton Towers, Stoke-on-Trent, U.K. – 370 hectares

U.K.’s favorite amusement park, famous for its roller coasters. The newest attraction is the Wicker Man, which was opened in 2018. Alton Towers has almost two million visitors per year. It’s easily accessible in less than 2 hours from Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield or Birmingham. Age groups: big kids, tweens and teenagers. https://www.altontowers.com/

Recommended hotels:

Alton Towers Hotel – mid-range

Right in the middle of the action. A monorail connects you directly with the park (free). Map

CBeebies Land Hotel – mid-range

Recommended especially if you have little children or toddlers. It has family rooms. Map


4. Disneyland, Anaheim, CA, USA – 1270 hectares

Probably the most known theme park in the world, opened in 1955 within the Los Angeles greater area. Although some areas are dated, Disney is extending the park continuously with new attractions. In 2001 Disney’s California Adventure Park was added which offers a mini trip through California. Shop for discounts and plan ahead. Age groups: little kids, big kids, teens and teenagers. https://disneyland.disney.go.com/

Recommended hotels:

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel – luxury

You get it all at this Disney run hotel. Rooftop pools with waterslide, Donald Duck greeting you, fireworks shows, etc. Early admission to the park. Map

Residence Inn by Marriott – mid-range

Great mid-range option for kids with brightly themed kids’ suites. It has a sun deck and is just about a mile away from the Disneyland Adventure Park entrance. Map

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson – mid-range

About a 12 minutes walk to Disneyland. Relaxing, clean hotel with nice outdoor pool, but close to the freeway. Map

Best Western Plus Stovall’s Inn – budget

Budget option, close to the park. Family rooms available. Map


3. Beto Carrero, Santa Catarina State, Brazil – 1350 hectares

South America’s biggest amusement park, opened in 1991. Located right on the Atlantic, halfway between São Paulo and Porto Alegre, but closer to Curitiba, Blumenau and Florianópolis, in the state of Santa Catarina. It consists of 10 different themes like Pirate Island, Triplikland, German Village, Madagascar or Hot Wheels. Age groups: big kids, teens and teenagers. https://www.betocarrero.com.br/en

Recommended hotels:

Pousada Molinha – mid-range

A bit further away from the park, but a beautiful location in case the park is not everything for you, and you’re trying to get some relaxation as well. Very family-friendly. Outdoor pool, hot tub and a terrace with beach views. About an 8 minutes walk to the beach. Good breakfast. Map

Vila Olaria Hotel – budget

Closest to the park, family rooms available. Great option for families if you mainly want to visit the park. Good breakfast. Map


2. Disneyland Paris, France – 2230 hectares

The number one theme park in Europe since about 25 years. Number one tourist attraction in France. The park was extended in 2002 for the Walt Disney Studios and Disney Village. The park has over 50 attractions, live shows, even a golf course. Age groups: big kids, teens and teenagers. https://www.disneylandparis.com

Recommended hotels:

Disneyland Hotel – luxury

The hotel that will make every kid happy. The full Disney immersion. Majestic Victorian-inspired 5-star hotel. Map

Marriott’s Village d’Ile-de-France – luxury

Beautiful property on the Disneyland golf course, offers two- or three-bedroom townhouses, ideal for families. Indoor and outdoor pool, fitness center and on-site restaurants. Map

Radisson Blu Hotel Paris, Marne-la-Vallée – mid-range

It’s your choice if you plan to golf, since it’s right on the golf course. Also otherwise a good option with swimming pool, and nice gardens outside. Family rooms available. Map

Explorers Hotel – mid-range

Family theme hotel that extends the Disney adventure. Free shuttle service to the park, heated swimming pool, and adventure playground. Map

Vienna House Dream Castle – mid-range

Nice castle setting next to a lake and gardens. Heated indoor swimming pool. Good family option – check for special rates. Map


1. Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL, USA – 15,000 hectares

The number one theme park in the world, which actually consists of several parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Just opened: Toy Story Land. You’ll need several days to see it all. There are also two water parks: Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. Age groups: big kids, tweens and teenagers. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com

Recommended hotels:

Disney offers a variety of their own resort hotels. Mostly villas, linked to each theme park, e.g.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – luxury

Close to the Magic Kingdom park and linked by Monorail. It’ll make every kid happy when Mickey Mouse stops by. Map

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek – mid-range

Family-friendly resort hotel with great outdoors. Cheaper than the Disney hotels, still luxurious. Adjacent to Walt Disney World Resort. Free shuttle to the different parks. Children’s club. Map

Margaritaville Resort Orlando – mid-range

About 5 miles from Disney’s Animal Kingdom and 7 miles from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Palm-lined, impressive outdoor pool and waterpark. Map

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