Forget Disney: 7 Under-the-Radar Amusement Parks NOT to Overlook

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Tampa, FL


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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Tampa, FL

The Other Guys

West Coast or East Coast, there are few things more expensive than a day at the biggest amusement parks in the country. Disney has a Land and a World, both of which you already know about. Universal Studios has locations in both the San Fernando Valley and Orlando, Florida, but you know about those too. And we obviously don't need to tell you about Six Flags.

Looking for something more unique? Skip the big ones and try one of these seven other parks.

Related: The World's Oddest Theme Parks 

Aligator at Gatorland
Gatorland Orlando

1. Gatorland

Orlando, Florida

You'll never guess the focus of this park, so I'll tell you. It's gators. Surprise! This is about as Florida as it gets, with live shows and demonstrations, including a gator wrestling show. Oh, and they have a zip line that shoots you above the gator enclosures.  

Related: Amusement Parks: Then and Now

California's Great America
California's Great America by Oleg Alexandrov (CC BY-SA)

2. California's Great America

Santa Clara, California

Great America is a big deal in the Bay Area, boasting thrilling roller coasters and even South Bay Shores, a full-on water park. Lazy river, anybody?

Icon Park
Icon Park by (CC BY-SA)

3. ICON Park

Orlando, Florida

Dining, shopping, and attractions like Madame Tussauds await you at ICON Park, just 15 minutes down the road from Disney World. The big draw? The 400-foot observation wheel that soars above it all. 

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Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park
Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park by Jeremy Thompson (CC BY)

4. Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park

Gilroy, California

Nestled into the garlic lands of Gilroy is Gilroy Gardens, an extremely family-friendly park with a load of horticultural displays. Rides are more chill than your typical coaster, so bring the kids, take a walk through the gardens, and enjoy. Plus, there's this scary horse.

Related: 25 Places to Take the Family Now That Disney Is So Expensive

Fun Spot America
Fun Spot America

5. Fun Spot America

Orlando, Florida

Known for its carnival-esque atmosphere, Fun Spot has all the attractions you could need, with unlimited rides for $60. Coasters, arcade games, and even a little splash pad area await your kids of all ages.  

Adventure City
Adventure City

6. Adventure City

Anaheim, California

If your child isn't too hell-bent on seeing Mickey or Minnie, hit Adventure City about 10 minutes east. Child-friendly roller coasters, interactive exhibits, and $30 admission are all major pluses.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa, Florida

7. Busch Gardens

Tampa, Florida

Busch Gardens (as in Anheuser-Busch) is known for its rides, coasters, and live shows, but you're really going for the animal habitats. You personally couldn't pay me enough to get on a coaster with as many loops as the one pictured here.

Florida too far? There's another one in Williamsburg, Virginia.