These Are The 10 Best Amusement Parks And Water Parks In Pennsylvania For 2018

We used science and data to determine which amusement parks and water parks in Pennsylvania are the best to spend a day or weekend with the family.

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Just imagine:

You get off your favorite ride, jazzed up by the excitement, and on your way to get a uniquely American snack at your favorite amusement park.

Alright, now, open your eyes and come back to me for a moment as we go into where best to have that same experience in Pennsylvania. These are the water parks and amusement parks in {state} that have everything you could hope for in a day out with the family.

Using data from The Park DB, we were able to take a look at over 250 amusement and water parks across America, which includes Pennsylvania of course. After pouring over reams of data, Hersheypark emerged as the best park in the Keystone State by a hefty margin.

Here’s a look at the best amusement parks and water parks in Pennsylvania for 2018:

  1. Hersheypark
  2. Camelbeach
  3. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
  4. Dutch Wonderland
  5. Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort
  6. Waldameer Park & Water World
  7. Conneaut Lake Park
  8. DelGrosso’s Amusement Park
  9. Idlewild & SoakZone
  10. Kennywood

There are a whole lot of smiles and good memories wrapped up in those parks. Not to mention corn dogs, popcorn, roller coasters, and water slides.

Before you go out and buy your ticket to {first}, let’s take a look at how we ranked the parks on this list and what each of the top dogs has to offer.

If you’re looking for other family friendly things to do, check out the best farmers markets in Pennsylvania or the best cities for families in Pennsylvania.

How We Ranked The Best Amusement Parks And Water Parks In Pennsylvania

If you haven’t check out The Park DB, we recommend it. It has all kinds of data on amusement parks big and small throughout the world.

Fortunately for us, they opened up their data set and let us take a look. So how do you rank the best amusement park in Pennsylvania? We looked at the following criteria:

  1. Size (How big is the park and how many rides are there)
  2. Price (Perhaps counter-intuitively initially, we did the higher the price the better. More on that)
  3. Age of the park (The newer the better)

We know your probably thinking ‘why is more expensive better?!’

Well, we believe in supply and demand and a higher price means that people must really want to go to the amusement park. It normally also means there’s either a strong brand associated with the park and/or plenty of things to do.

We also recognize that many water parks and amusement parks get renovations and additions throughout the years, but we still think newer is generally better.

If you disagree with our criteria, no offense taken. We are just trying to get the ball rolling on great places to spend a day or weekend in the Keystone State.

So, with that out of the way, we ranked each park from best to worst for each of these criteria with one being the best. (If a park was missing criteria, it got the lowest score for that criteria).

We then averaged the rankings of each criteria to create an amusement park score and normalized it to 100.

For Pennsylvania, Hersheypark took the top spot with a score of 77.4.

Here’s a bit more on what the top parks have to offer.

1. Hersheypark


Score: 77.4

Hersheypark (known as Hershey Park until 1970) is a family theme park situated in Hershey, Derry Township, Pennsylvania, United States, about 15 miles (24 km) east of Harrisburg, and 95 miles (153 km) west of Philadelphia. Founded in 1906 by Milton S. Hershey, as a leisure park for the employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company, the park is wholly and privately owned by Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company as of 2016. The park has won several awards, including the IAAPA Applause Award.

The park opened its first roller coaster in 1923, the Wild Cat, an early Philadelphia Toboggan Company coaster. In 1970, it began redevelopment plan, which led to new rides, an expansion of the park, and the park’s renaming. The 1970s brought the first looping roller coaster on the East Coast, as well as a 330-foot-tall (100 m) observation tower, the Kissing Tower. Beginning in the mid-1980s, the park rapidly expanded. Between 1991 and 2008, the park added eight roller coasters and the Boardwalk at Hersheypark water park. As of 2016, the park’s area covers over 110 acres (45 ha), containing 70 rides and attractions, as well as a zoo called ZooAmerica \xc2\x96 North American Wildlife Park. Adjacent is Hershey’s Chocolate World, a visitors’ center that is open to the public and that contains shops, restaurants, and a chocolate factory-themed tour ride.

2. Camelbeach

Score: 69.8

Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark is a water park located in the Pocono Mountains, in Tannersville, Pennsylvania at Big Pocono State Park. Opened in 1998, it is the summer operation for Camelback Mountain Resort which operates Camelback Ski and Snowboard Area during the winter.

3. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom

Score: 58.5

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is an amusement and water park owned and operated by Cedar Fair and located in between Allentown, Pennsylvania and Emmaus, Pennsylvania. The park features seven roller coasters, other adult and children’s rides, and a waterpark, Wildwater Kingdom.

It features some of the world’s most prominent roller coasters, including Steel Force, the ninth longest steel roller coaster in the world and the second longest on the U.S. East Coast.

The park is accessible from Interstate 78, U.S. Route 222 (Hamilton Blvd.) and Cedar Crest Boulevard. The region is served by Lehigh Valley International Airport, about 10 miles (16 km) east of Dorney Park. Bieber Tourways has a nearby bus terminal at the former Charcoal Drive-In (at junction of U.S. Route 222 and Hamilton Boulevard), with daily service to and from New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, Philadelphia Greyhound Terminal and other regional locations.

4. Dutch Wonderland

Dutch Wonderland

Score: 47.2

Dutch Wonderland is a 48-acre (19 ha) amusement park just east of Lancaster, Pennsylvania in East Lampeter Township, appealing primarily to families with small children. The park\’s theme is a ‘Kingdom for Kids. The entrance to the park has a stone imitation castle fa\xc3\xa7ade, which was built by Earl Clark, a potato farmer, before he opened the park in 1963.

The Clark family sold Dutch Wonderland in 2001 to Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company. They also operate Wonderland Mini-Golf, and Old Mill Stream Campground at the same location and the Gift Shop at Kitchen Kettle Village, in nearby Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

On November 12, 2010, Hershey Entertainment announced that they sold Dutch Wonderland to Palace Entertainment.

Today, the park has 32 rides, plus a tropical-themed interactive water play area called Duke\’s Lagoon. The park also has an extended season, open for ‘Happy Hauntings’ and ‘Dutch Winter Wonderland’ events for Halloween and Christmas.

The park is part of a larger area in Lancaster zoned for entertainment, dining, lodging, and conferences.

5. Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort

Score: 47.2

Splash Lagoon Indoor Waterpark Resort is a Polynesian-themed large indoor waterpark located in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The park is approximately 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2). It features seven water slides, two hot tubs, one large activity pool, and a children’s area. The tiki tree house is four stories high and offers many activities. It is located on sprawling Upper Peach Street with many restaurants and retailers nearby. Connected to a Holiday Inn, Residence Inn, and a Comfort Inn; with many other hotels within a few miles. Splash Lagoon features a 6,500-square-foot (600 m2) arcade and a large Laser Tag area. The water park opened in 2003 and has one addition. Scott Enterprises, a local franchising company, built Splash Lagoon. Water slides swerve in and out of the building, giving it a distinct look.

In 2008, Water Parks Resorts Today named Splash Lagoon as sixth largest water parks hotels in North America. In 2004, Splash Lagoon prepared to expand the waterpark with two new slides. One to be called Python Plunge, a tube slide, and a body slide called Shark Attack. The slides opened in 2005 along with Boston’s Restaurant and Sports Bar. On February 25, 2008, it was announced that Splash Lagoon would be adding a wave pool by spring 2009. On September 17, 2011, after years in the planning, the 30,000 square foot wave pool opened to the public, making Splash Lagoon the third largest indoor water park in the country. The same year, Treetops Indoor Rope Course opened where people can climb 30 feet above the area near Shark Attack and Python Plunge.

Slides at Splash Lagoon Indoor Waterpark Resort

Big Kahuna

Black Hole


Hurricane Hole

Maui Waui

Slides in Monkey Shines Island (5)

Python Plunge

Shark Attack

Pools and other water attractions.

Tiki Tipping Bucket

The Tiki Treehouse

Monkey Shines Island

Lazy and Crazy River

Paradise Cove Hot Tub

Lava Pool Hot Tub

The Frog Pond

Wild Waters Wave Pool

Aqua Tumbler

Other attractions at Splash Lagoon Indoor Waterpark Resort.

Treetops Indoor Rope Course

Tresaure Island Family Arcade

Lazer Tag

Surf Shop

Mini Bowling @ Hooch & Blottos

Former attractions

Hula Hopper

Boston’s Restaurant and Sports Bar

Sweet Shop’

6. Waldameer Park & Water World

Waldameer Park & Water World

Score: 17.0

Waldameer Park and Water World is an amusement / water park in Erie, Pennsylvania located at the base of Presque Isle. Waldameer is the fourth oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania, and the tenth oldest in the United States. The park is admission-free, with a midway, and covered picnic facilities. The roller coasters and other major rides require either the display of a paid wristband scanned upon riding, or the use of ‘Wally Points’ on their ‘Wally Card’ system. A gift shop is located in the park selling Waldameer souvenirs. The water park operates an assortment of water slides and raft rides and is admission by fee only. The name ‘Waldameer’ can be translated literally as ‘Woods by the Sea’ in German. Waldameer\’s operating season runs from May through September.

7. Conneaut Lake Park

Conneaut Lake Park

Score: 15.3

Conneaut Lake Park is a summer resort and amusement park, located in Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania, United States. It has long served as a regional tourist destination, and is noted by roller coaster enthusiasts for its classic Blue Streak coaster, which was recently classified as ‘historic’ by the American Coaster Enthusiasts group. Conneaut Lake is Pennsylvania\’s largest natural (glacier) lake and is a popular summer resort for recreational boaters due to there being no horsepower limit on the lake.

8. DelGrosso’s Amusement Park

Score: 15.3

DelGrosso\’s Park is a family-oriented amusement park located in Tipton, Pennsylvania, a northern suburb of Altoona, Pennsylvania. The park was purchased by the DelGrosso family in 1946 and was named ‘Bland\’s Park’ until 2000. In 2000, the DelGrosso family decided to change its name to ‘DelGrosso\’s Amusement Park. The park is known for its family-friendly ride line-up, food, and games as well as free parking. The park hosts picnics and special music events in its pavilion/picnic area.

9. Idlewild & SoakZone

Idlewild & SoakZone

Score: 15.3

Idlewild and Soak Zone, commonly known as Idlewild Park or simply Idlewild, is a children’s amusement park situated in the Laurel Highlands near Ligonier, Pennsylvania, United States, about 50 miles (80 km) east of Pittsburgh, along US Route 30. Founded in 1878 as a campground along the Ligonier Valley Railroad by Thomas Mellon, Idlewild is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and the third oldest operating amusement park in the United States behind Lake Compounce and Cedar Point. The park has won several awards, including from industry publication Amusement Today as the best children’s park in the world.

The park was established by the prominent Mellon family in 1878, and remained family-owned for over 100 years. It expanded greatly throughout the first half of the 20th century, adding rides including a Philadelphia Toboggan Company Rollo Coaster in 1938, one of the company’s earliest. The park is home to the Ligonier Highland Games, a Scottish athletic and cultural festival that has annually drawn over 10,000 spectators. In 1983, the park was purchased by Kennywood Entertainment Company, which oversaw additional expansion, including an attraction designed and voiced by Fred Rogers based on his television show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Since 2008, the park, as well as others formerly under Kennywood Entertainment, have been owned by Spanish company Parques Reunidos and operated by their American subsidiary Palace Entertainment.

10. Kennywood


Score: 15.3

Kennywood is an amusement park located in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. The park first opened as a ‘trolley park’ attraction at the end of the Mellon family\’s Monongahela Street Railway on May 30, 1899. It was purchased in 1906 by F. W. Henninger and Andrew McSwigan who later formed the Kennywood Entertainment Company, which owned and operated the park as a closely held family business for over 100 years. Kennywood was purchased by California-based Palace Entertainment in 2007. The amusement park features various structures and rides dating back to the early 1900s. Along with Rye Playland Park, it is one of only two amusement parks designated a National Historic Landmark for its history and historic rides.

Closing Out The Souvenir Shops In Pennsylvania

There you have it — a look at some of the best amusement parks and water parks that Pennsylvania has to offer. The Park DB constantly updates their data, so we’ll update the data as they update theirs.

Now go out there and have as much fun as humanly possible — your favorite ride is always waiting for you.

For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.