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New Study Reveals the Best American Theme Parks to Visit in 2024 (and the Top Spot isn’t Taken by a Disney Park)

In a recent study conducted by Westgate Palace Hotel at Universal, the most sought-after theme parks in the United States have been unveiled, with Universal’s Islands of Adventure securing the coveted top spot. Surprisingly, the renowned Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida falls just short, taking second place in the rankings. Other notable entries in the top five include Disney California Adventure, Cedar Point in Ohio, and Silver Dollar City in Missouri.

The comprehensive research, conducted by Westgate Palace Hotel at Universal, meticulously evaluated every amusement park across the nation based on three crucial factors: Instagram hashtags, monthly Google search volume, and the percentage of ‘excellent’ reviews on TripAdvisor. These factors were then amalgamated into an index, assigning each amusement park a total score to determine the most popular in the United States. Customer experiences were given precedence, with TripAdvisor reviews carrying extra weight due to their direct reflection of visitor satisfaction.

The top 10 best-rated amusement parks in the US 
Rank Amusement park Location Final score out of 100 
1. Universal’s Islands of Adventure Orlando, Florida 91.1 
2. Magic Kingdom  Orlando, Florida 90.4 
3. Disney California Adventure  Anaheim, California 84.2 
4. Cedar Point Sandusky, Ohio 81.7 
5. Silver Dollar City Stone County, Missouri 81.1 
6. Animal Kingdom Orlando, Florida 80.7 
7. Universal Studios Hollywood Los Angeles, California 79.4 
8. Disneyland Park Anaheim, California 78.1 
9. Dollywood Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 77.9 
10. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park Orlando, Florida 77.7 

Islands of Adventure Claims the Crown

Universal’s Islands of Adventure emerged as the frontrunner, boasting an impressive total index score of 91.1 out of 100. Renowned for its thrilling rides and experiences, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the park garnered 52,310 reviews, with an impressive 74% falling under the ‘excellent’ rating. TripAdvisor ratings, combined with 854,821 Instagram hashtags, solidified Islands of Adventure’s position as the most popular theme park in the United States.

Magic Kingdom and Disney California Adventure Follow Closely

Disney’s Magic Kingdom, home to the iconic Cinderella’s Castle, narrowly missed the top spot but secured a strong second place with a score of 90.4. Meanwhile, Disney California Adventure Park claimed the third spot with an index score of 84.2, making it the third highest-rated park in the country on TripAdvisor.

Cedar Point and Silver Dollar City Shine

Cedar Point, often hailed as the ‘rollercoaster capital of the world,’ earned the fourth position, while Silver Dollar City in Missouri rounded out the top five. Cedar Point’s impressive array of roller coasters and Silver Dollar City’s diverse entertainment offerings contributed to their high rankings

Additional Highlights from the Study

The study also revealed Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the sixth best-rated theme park, with Universal Studios Hollywood, California’s Disneyland Park, Dollywood, and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park securing positions seven through ten.

Insights from Westgate Palace Hotel at Universal

A spokesperson from Westgate Palace Hotel at Universal said, “It comes as no surprise that theme parks operated by Walt Disney and Universal Studios have dominated the list. What may be surprising, however, is that the research crowns Universal as the best-rated theme park, beating all four major Disney parks.”

They further added, “Universal Studios Orlando stands out as the premier theme park destination in America due to its unrivalled customer experience and unwavering commitment to visitor satisfaction.”

“In Florida, where we recorded 37.9 million tourists in the first three months of 2023 alone, the appeal of these theme parks is undeniable. From the enchanting world of Walt Disney World to the exhilarating experiences at Universal Orlando, Florida’s theme parks add a touch of magic to any vacation. Our family-friendly hotel suites, strategically located on I-Drive, offer a welcoming retreat after a day of park exploration,” the spokesperson concluded.

Credit to Spacious Family Suites in Orlando for Unforgettable Vacations | Westgate Palace (westgateresorts.com) for this data.

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