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10 of the Best Children's Theme Parks in the U.S | Explained

In this page, we'll go over the best children's theme park in the United States, why they're the best, along with our best tips to use when theme-parking with children.

Table of Contents

  1. Magic Kingdom
  2. Disney's Animal Kingdom
  3. Disneyland
  4. Disney's California Adventure
  5. SeaWorld Orlando
  6. Universal Orlando Resort
  7. Knott's Berry Farm
  8. Six Flags Magic Mountain
  9. San Diego Zoo
  10. Legoland Florida Resort

1. Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is the winner for children, and it's not even close.


They'll be able to meet their favorite Disney characters through meet-and-greet and enjoy the different scenery and sounds as they travel around the park.

character disney world

Some characters that they'll be able to meet include Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and many more. 

Everything in this park is tailored for families and kids.

Attraction for Children

Dumbo the Flying Elephant®

First thing you'll notice when talking about this ride is that this was the 'first ride' ever for a lot of people.

dumbo the flying elephant disney world

You and your kiddos will be able to hop inside the Dumbo themed cart and enjoy a relaxing ride that goes in circles, but up and down as well while going in that circle.

It's a very relaxing ride and a great way to introduce children to rides in general.

Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid

This is one of the most popular rides as parents can sit with their children as they navigate 'under water'.

They will be able to see little mermaid and friends along with some very cool different features from the movie. The ride lasts for approximately 7 minutes.

Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Kids will be able to see Winnie the pooh and friends throughout this interactive ride as they make their way through all of pooh's adventures.

There is also an interactive play area where kids will be able to play with different Winnie the pooh themed toys while they wait in line.

Another cool feature (more for parents), as you're waiting in line for this ride there are paintings of pages from the actual book where you learn more about the ride as you move along.

Peter Pan’s Flight

One of the all time classics.

You'll be able to fly with Peter Pan over cities and explore different locations while (as a parent) reminiscing, or (as a child) being introduced to one of the best stories in the world.

You'll also be able to see the different rooms from the Peter Pan movie while you are in line.

Walt Disney World Railroad

Jump into the real steam trains that take you all the way around the Magic Kingdom with stops at Main Street USA, Frontierland, and Fantasyland. 

This is also an all time classic and relaxing must-ride, ride.

Mad Tea Party

Walk into your own tea cup as you navigate in circles and the tea cup that you're in will spin in different directions as well.

If your child is a little more on the adventurous side, we'd recommend this.

Swiss Family Treehouse

Walk through this giant tree house as you make your way through deep in the trees and see different scenery.

Parents be aware that there are a lot of steps, so you'll be in for some exercise!

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

Do you like birds? Well, you'll be seeing a plethora of them here! 

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

This classic attraction is a fun show, where you can relax in air conditioning while eating a Dole Whip.

You'll want to be familiar with our best tips for Magic Kingdom to spend less time waiting in lines and to maximize your time and money.

2. Disney's Animal Kingdom

Are you an animal lover? This park is for you.

You'll be able to get up close and personal as well as take part of a safari adventure. 

disneys animal kingdom

Animals such as giraffes, lions, zebras, elephants, tigers and hippos are some of the beautiful wild animals you can encounter.

This fun and educational environment is perfect for kids.

Kilimanjaro Safaris 

A slow ride, where kids of any height and for all ages can ride on this open air vehicle for a guided tour of the African Savanna where they will be able to watch animals roam free.


Animal Encounters - Winged Encounters

The ultimate bird watching experience. You'll be able to see birds of all shapes and colors flying, standing, and the bird experts even answer questions from the audience.

A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King

The most popular show in Animal Kingdom showcases the circle of life, live on stage.

This show tailors to audiences of all ages as the spectacular theatrics include classic songs such as "Hakuna Matata" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight".

Disney's Animal Kingdom Entertainment

Watch as your favorite Disney characters set sail through the river. They sail through the Discovery River and perform live.

You'll want to be familiar with our best tips for Animal Kingdom to spend less time waiting in lines and to maximize your time and money.

3. Disneyland

Disneyland is the winner for children in California, and it's not even close.

toddler with stuffed animal at disneyland

Meeting Characters

They'll be able to meet their favorite Disney characters through meet-and-greet and enjoy the different scenery and sounds as they travel around the park.

Some characters that they'll be able to meet include Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and many more. 

toddler with disney princess

Attractions For Children

Dumbo the Flying Elephant®

The first thing that you'll notice when talking about this ride is that this was the 'first ride' ever for a lot of people.

You and your kiddos will be able to hop inside the Dumbo themed cart and enjoy a relaxing ride that goes in circles, but up and down as well while going in that circle.

It's a very relaxing ride and a great way to introduce children to rides in general.

Disneyland Railroad

One of the oldest rides at the Disneyland park, also happens to be one of the best for kiddos.

The 18 minute Disneyland Railroad is the perfect ride for children to sightsee the park, and even see Dinosaurs as you pass Tomorrowland.

It's a great change of pace for both parents and children to get off of their feet, and feel a great cold breeze, while still being adventurous.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Not many rides in the world can consistently get children to smile more than this Winnie the Pooh ride.

Children will see some of their favorite characters including:

  • Eeyore
  • Piglet
  • and Tigger

Walking Around the Park

Besides the shows and rides available, there's just so much to see, hear, and experience.

Disneyland is one of the most beautiful parks in the world, and they ensure that guests (especially children) have plenty to see in every inch of the park.

Additionally, Star Wars Galaxy's Edge is another area that at minimum you must walk around to immerse yourself and the kiddos in the different planet.

You'll want to make sure that you're familiar with our Best Disneyland Tips For Toddlers, to ensure that you arrive to the park extremely prepared, and maximize your time.

4. Disney's California Adventure

Conveniently located across from Disneyland, California Adventure is another fantastic park for children.

Pixar Pier

Pixar Pier has a boardwalk feel to it and contains some of the most popular areas in the park including :

Toy Story Boardwalk, Pixar Promenade, Inside Out Headquarters, and Incredibles Park.

pixar pier california adventure

If your kids love any type of Pixar movie, they're in luck.

Not only is the area themed after the ultra-popular movies such as Toy Story & Cars, but your favorite characters will be walking around the park.

Some of these characters include:

  • Buzz Lightyear
  • Woody
  • Rex


Similarly to Disneyland, there's so much to see at every part of the park, but perhaps none more famous than the giant ferris wheel.

This famous ferris wheel's official name is Mickey's Fun Wheel Ride.

california adventure ferris wheel

This 160 ft tall ferris wheel ride resembles a carnival ride from a distance away, but the closer to the ride that you get, the more you realize it's much more than that, as  

Cars Land

Visitors will find themselves near the famous Route 66, and the can't-miss Radiator Springs Racer ride.

Soarin' Around the World

If your kiddo is at least 40" tall, they'll be able to experience one of the coolest rides at the park.

This flight motion simulator will take riders high into the air showcasing the beauties of the world.

Guests will begin in the Swiss Alps, travel above the Pyramids of Egypt, and even see the Wall of China!

This ride is so impressive due to the fact that it actually feels as if you're traveling the different parts of the world, while seeing it with an unreal view.

5. SeaWorld Orlando

Similarly to Disney's Animal Kingdom, the animals are the main focus of the park.

You and your kiddos will be able to see animals, even feed them, and walk through the park and see an aquarium.

seaworld kid shows

Sesame Street Land

Bring your family to the neighborhood your favorite furry friends call home.

One of the newest areas in the park, SeaWorld has actually recreated Sesame Street.

The 6 acre land has several rides, interactive play areas, and even a water playground. 

sesame street seaworld orlando


Spin around in colorful flower pots in Abby's Flower Tower.

Hop aboard Elmo's Choo Choo train as he takes you on a ride and shows you his pals.

There are many more rides than these but these are just some of our favorites.

Play Areas

There are several interactive play areas which you'll want to stop and spend some time at to ensure maximum fun. 

Water Park

Ernie's Rubber Duckie Water playground has water coming out of every direction.

A family favorite, you'll be able to play in the playground with your kids as water is even coming out from the ground!

Make sure that you're prepared and bring a bathing suit and a towel!


Characters such as Elmo and Big Bird are expecting you, as they are the ones that want to take a picture with you!

The best news is that these characters are here all day so there's no need to rush through the park to make sure that you were able to see them.

There are meet and greet opportunities inside of the theater as well.


Two food trucks are available to grab a bite to eat and each offers a different menu.

One specializes in chicken tender plates, while the other one offers grilled cheese. 

Other Offerings

There are many more rides and shows that are available in SeaWorld but these are what we recommend for children in particular.

seaworld kid shows

You'll want to be familiar with our best tips for SeaWorld Orlando to spend less time waiting in lines and to maximize your time and money.

6. Universal Orlando Resort

universal orlando resort

Universal Orlando is one of the most unique parks in the world, as there are so many different areas, attractions, shows for families, and they even have a water park.

Some of our favorites experiences include:

Curious George Goes to Town

A large and beautiful water playground that has several levels that your children can explore.

The adored monkey Curious George is featured throughout this entire park and is of course a fan favorite.

Fievel's Playland

The easiest way to describe this area is giant props! Kids and parents will be able to walk around and touch, climb (if old enough) through these larger than life props.

Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster

Woody's famous goofy sound will always stick with you whether you're a child or 100 years old! 

This 1 minute ride takes you through the factory as Woody leads the adventure.

Seuss Landing

This attraction features several shows and scenery from the Dr. Seuss books.

Children will come face to face with the different unique characters from the books.

Rides such as One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish & Caro-Seuss-El are can't miss rides.

And of course, make sure you get a picture with the Cat in the Hat!

Volcano Bay

Universal also offers its own waterpark where kids are able to play and have the time of their lives in the pool, sand area, or the mini water park, while the parents are able to relax.

universals volcano bay

7. Knott's Berry Farm

Although Knott's is notorious for their thrilling rides for teenagers and adults, Knott's actually has many rides for toddlers as well.


Some of the best rides at the park include Flying Ace and Camp Bus.

Flying Ace

Kids will be able to sit inside of a quality airplane and 'take-off' up and down in circular motions.

This is one the most popular attractions for kids.


Jump in the mini school bus that moves both circular clockwise and counter-clockwise motions, as your kids have the time of their lives.

Camp Snoopy

Camp Snoopy is an area specifically designed for kids and families to have maximum fun.

knotts camp snoopy

Featuring 40 total attractions including 10 roller coasters and 2 water slides, kids that aren't tall enough for the 'normal' rides at Knott's can have their own fun in their own area.

This is an extremely popular area with kids and families and you'll even catch Snoopy and friends walking around the area to say hi.

8. Six Flags Magic Mountain

Similarly to Knott's, Six Flags Magic Mountain also has amazing rides for toddlers that allow them to feel included and have a thrill of their own.

Bugs Bunny World

They also have their own play area specifically designed for kids to have maximum fun, known as Bugs Bunny World.

If you arrive at the park early, the first place that you should take them is Bugs Bunny World. 

This children's play area that features 12 rides specifically tailored for kids and families, a theater, shops, and even a restaurant.



A true mini-roller coaster ride that features a climb, a (small) drop, 180 degree turns, and even a sudden stop before making the second lap.

This mini coaster is perfect for future thrill-seekers, who are not tall enough to ride the real coasters yet.

Riders will pass by a gas station, and a desert area full of cactuses as they speed their way through the track.

Two riders can fit in each car, and there are 6 cars per ride.


This is easily one of the most popular rides for kids, as it brings along tons of joy and laughter.

sylvesters bounce and pounce

This 20 foot tower ride only goes up and down, but while going up/down kids will feel Sylvester pouncing above them, which will cause them to immediately bounce.

This is a little on the 'rougher' side of kid rides, so if your child is the adventurous type, this is a must-do.

Kids are able to hold on to the lap bar, or if they're feeling courageous they can put their hands straight up into the air!

9. San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is one of the best places to take the kids during your visit in Southern California.

rhino san diego zoo

It's a large & clean zoo with more types of animals than we can count.

In a span of over several hours, you'll be able to walk around the park, get on a safari tour, and the best part of all of this is that it is all educational.

The kids will quickly begin asking a million questions as they learn more about the animals, as well as their environments.


A little known fact about the San Diego Zoo is that it has rides and a 4D movie theater as well.

Balboa Park Miniature Train

This miniature train is an all time classic and perfect for families to ride together.

Built in 1948, this 4 minute ride takes visitors through 4 acres of Balboa Park.

This train ride is located just outside of the exit of the zoo.

Something else that makes it a unique ride is that there are less than 50 operating ones of this kind remaining.

It's just an overall great ride that kids and parents can enjoy together.

10. Legoland Florida Resort

This resort is specifically made for kids, and if you have a little lego fan in your household... well, their day is about to be made.

legoland florida resort

It features rides, activities and a bunch of play areas for kids.

The DUPLO valley section was designed for the smallest of the kids to also have fun.

legoland florida resort duplo

LEGO Kingdoms - The Forestman’s Hideout allows kids of all ages to crawl, climb, slide and even swing for a great adventure. 

Everything is of course lego-themed and below we list our favorite must-see attractions.

DUPLO Splash Safari

DUPLO Tractor


DUPLO Tot Spot


DUPLO Splash & Play

You'll want to be familiar with our best tips for Legoland Florida to spend less time waiting in lines and to maximize your time and money.

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