2023’s best theme parks and water parks, as voted by readers
With summer just around the corner, we wanted to find the best amusement parks and water parks, as well as the best theme park hotels, restaurants and entertainment. So, we invited theme park experts and travel writers to join our editors in selecting the nominees for the 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards. For four weeks, readers voted for their favorites, and the results are in.
Click on each category below to see the full winners list:
Best Indoor Water Park: Kalahari Resorts
Splash around indoors at Kalahari Resorts — Photo courtesy of Kalahari Resorts & Conventions
Kalahari Resorts is an African-themed water park resort chain with four locations throughout the United States. The resorts’ water parks include uphill water coasters, surfing simulators, waterslides, seasonal outdoor water features and an underwater virtual reality attraction.
Full list of winners: Best Indoor Water Park »
Best Non-Roller Coaster Ride: Tidal Surge at SeaWorld San Antonio
Tidal Surge brings the thrills sans tracks — Photo courtesy of @QuirkyCoasterCouple
Tidal Surge is a swing on steroids, with 40 riders swaying back and forth at speeds of up to 68 mph to reach heights of 135 feet while rotating a max of 230 degrees. That’s enough angle, height and speed to give riders the sensation of seat-leaving negative G forces just like a thrilling high-speed roller coaster.
Full list of winners: Best Non-Roller Coaster Ride »
Best Outdoor Water Park: Aquatica Orlando in Orlando, Florida
Aquatica Orlando wins Best Outdoor Water Park for third year in a row — Photo courtesy of Aquatica Orlando
SeaWorld’s first and most popular water park, Aquatica Orlando, draws 1.5 million visitors per year while seamlessly integrating sea life into rides. Its signature attraction, Dolphin Plunge, is an enclosed tube slide that passes through a pool of playful, black-and-white Commerson’s dolphins.
Guests can also take a leisurely raft ride down Loggerhead Lane, through colorful exotic fish. Aquatica’s South Seas theme is further enhanced by 60,000 lush, tropical plants covering its 60 acres.
Full list of winners: Best Outdoor Water Park »
Best Roller Coaster: Mako at SeaWorld Orlando
Mako takes top honors for Best Roller Coaster of 2023 — Photo courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando
Guests looking for thrills at SeaWorld Orlando will find them aboard one of the park’s roller coasters, Mako. Orlando’s tallest and fastest coaster gets its name from one of the world’s fastest sharks – appropriate for a thrill ride reaching speeds of 73 miles per hour.
Full list of winners: Best Roller Coaster »
Best Theme Park: Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri
Bring the family to Silver Dollar City, the best theme park in the US for 2023 — Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City, with its 1880s mining town theme, attracts some two million visitors annually with its combination of entertainment, festivals, 100 resident craftsmen and more than 40 rides and attractions. The park is also home to Time Traveler, the world’s fastest, steepest and tallest spinning coaster.
Full list of winners: Best Theme Park »
Best Theme Park Entertainment: Celtic Fyre: Live Irish Step Dancing at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Celtic Fyre: Live Irish Step Dancing wins Best Theme Park Entertainment for sixth year in a row — Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Celebrate the Celtic tradition of storytelling through dance at this incredibly popular, high-energy show at Busch Gardens Williamsburg that will have you laughing and clapping to the beat of festive music. Guests leave the show with a newfound or rekindled love for all things Irish.
Full list of winners: Best Theme Park Entertainment »
Best Theme Park Hotel: The Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Enjoy a sweet stay at The Hotel Hershey — Photo courtesy of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts
The Hotel Hershey is a sweet spot to lay your head, whether you’re in town to take the Hershey’s Chocolate factory tour, check out Hersheypark or you’re just in the mood for a little pampering with a cocoa-infused spa treatment. A member of Historic Hotels of America, the four-star Hotel Hershey is an elegant retreat that references its chocolate town roots without drowning guests in cloying fudge.
Best of all, the hotel has a wide range of sports and recreation facilities where you can work off all those tasty treats, including a fitness center, golf, tennis, hiking trails and a pool with waterslides.
Full list of winners: Best Theme Park Hotel »
Best Theme Park Restaurant: Alamo Restaurant at Knoebels
Alamo Restaurant offers tasty and affordable treats — Photo courtesy of Knoebels Amusement Resort
While some parks jack up food prices and treat their captive audience as a big profit center, the Alamo is as friendly to the pocketbook as it is to families, with burgers and hot dogs still priced under $5. The menu at this eatery located on the park’s main boulevard also includes a few fun treats, like a pickle on a stick and apple dumpling served with ice cream.
Full list of winners: Best Theme Park Restaurant »
Congratulations to all these winning nominees! Remember to visit 10Best.com daily to vote in our Readers’ Choice contests.