The Best Amusement Parks In The Midwest USA

It’s summer! And that means that the theme parks in the Midwest once again open their gates for thrill seekers to get their adrenaline fixes!  I think the Midwest gets a little overlooked when it comes to USA theme parks, with the masses flocking to the likes of Orlando or California (Disney, I’m looking at you…) but do you know what, the Midwest has some beasts for rollercoasters with the added benefit of reasonably priced tickets and line wait times being shorter!  Win win! I teamed up with some fellow travel bloggers to share with you some of the best amusement parks in the Midwest!

Lost Island Water Park Waterloo Iowa

Waterparks in the Midwest

I’m not forgetting waterparks either!  With summer temperatures in the Midwest often feeling like you’re standing on the sun, an unheated waterpark can be a bit of a welcome relief!  The Midwest has some amazing water rides (with one being so extreme it literally destroyed my bikini bottoms), so you’ll find some of the best waterparks in the Midwest in this post too!

Amusement Parks in the Midwest

ILLINOIS: Six Flags Great America | Raging Waves Waterpark | Magic Waters Waterpark

IOWA: Adventureland | Lost Island Waterpark

MINNESOTA: Nickelodeon Universe

MISSOURI: Silver Dollar City | Worlds of Fun | Six Flags St Louis

OHIO: Cedar Point | Kings Island

WISCONSIN: Mount Olympus

Theme Parks in the Midwest

The Best Amusement Parks in the Midwest


Six Flags Great America

(By me)

Location: 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, IL 60031

Six Flags Great America is a huge Midwest theme park located just outside of Chicago (just 30 minutes from Chicago O’Hare airport!).  The park is an absolute beast with 12 major rollercoasters and heaps of other thrill rides and ‘family’ rides!

Vertical Velocity Six Flags Illinois

Vertical Velocity Roller Coaster at Six Flags Illinois

A few of my favourite rollercoasters are: Vertical Velocity (0-70mph in 4 seconds, an inverted rollercoaster with two 185ft vertical tracks), X Flight (if there’s one roller coaster that you want to ride in the front seat for, this is it! X Flight is a winged coaster so you sit either side of the track), Goliath (I’ve never experienced a roller coaster like Goliath, it’s a wooden rollercoaster…that goes upside down and all you have is a lap bar! When it opened it held 3 ‘wooden rollercoaster’ World Records for being the fastest at 72mph and having the tallest and steepest drop at 180ft high and 85 degrees. It’s a bit of a brain shaker though!) and Raging Bull (the longest ride in the park with a track length of nearly a mile!)

Midwest Amusement Parks


A good money saving tip is to buy an unlimited free refill cup for $20.  If there are a couple of you sharing the same cup, you soon make your money back with just 3 refills  (Regular bottles or cups of drink are between $5 – $7)!  It’s a great way to stay hydrated and the rollercoasters all have cup holders in the stations too!

American Eagle, another wooden roller coaster, but a racing one, was the tallest, fastest and longest of its kind when first opened back in 1976.  I didn’t have time to ride it though as there was so much to do in the park!

Adult Day Pass Tickets from: $59.99

Raging Waves Waterpark

By Julie at Open Wide The World

Location: 4000 N Bridge St, Yorkville, IL 60560

Thrill seekers who live in or are traveling through the Chicago area during summer should not miss Raging Waves Waterpark!  About 45 minutes west of downtown Chicago, Raging Waves is the largest waterpark in Illinois.

Themed as an Australian watering hole, it is home to some amazing thrill slides, like The Boomerang (our favorite, with twists, turns and a 40-foot drop), as well as some comfortably thrilling slides, like the newest addition, Wild Wallabies (open-air body slides).

Raging Waves Waterpark Illinois
Photo Credit: Julie at Open Wide The World

Raging Waves also has a 1/4-mile lazy river and a wave pool that alternates between calm waters and bobbing waves. And families with younger kiddos will appreciate acres of sand, and three kiddie areas.

For an attraction in the waterpark/theme park space, Raging Waves has surprisingly affordable meal options. And a tip for the even more food-budget-minded: they welcome parking lot picnics! Pack a lunch cooler and leave it in your car. Then get your hand stamped as you zip out to the parking lot when you get hungry. Have lunch tailgate-style before heading back in for the rest of the day.

Admission prices are on par or better than most waterparks. Coupon sites occasionally offer discounted admission after 3pm. Coupons have also been noted in nearby Chili’s, Culver’s and Dunkin’ Donuts locations.

Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $32.99

Magic Waters Waterpark

Location: 7820 Cherryvale N Blvd, Cherry Valley, IL 61016

Magic Waters Waterpark is located in Rockford, around an hour away from Chicago.  It’s home to the largest wave pool in Illinois and my personal favourite (and bikini destroyer…), the Screaming Lizard, a LOOPING water slide, which if that wasn’t enough for you, you start by STANDING up in an enclosed capsule which counts down to the moment when the floor suddenly disappears and drops you into a tube feet first!

Magic Waters Waterpark Rockford Illinois

Screaming Lizard at Magic Waters Waterpark in the Midwest

It’s not the biggest waterpark in the Midwest when it comes to thrill rides, it’s more suited towards families.  But on Tuesday’s they have a special deal where you can save $12 per person on the gate price, if booked in advanced.  We took advantage of the extra discount day which made it better value for money in my opinion!  There’s also a $10 parking fee which is worth keeping in mind.

It has since combined forces with Six Flags and season pass holders get unlimited admission to both Six Flags Great America and Magic Waters.

Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $17.99



By Lindsay at Siouxland Families

Location: 3200 Adventureland Dr, Altoona, IA 50009

Adventureland Theme Park Iowa
Photo Credit: Lindsay at Siouxland Families

Adventureland Theme Park in Altoona, Iowa (near Des Moines) is Iowa’s biggest and most fun amusement park and water park, and is Iowa’s only “theme park.” There are a variety of rides and attractions for all ages, from toddler friendly rides like the classic carousel and adorable LadyBugs to big-kid favorites like the Red Baron and the spooky Underground, to a classic wooden coaster (my personal fave), two raft rides, high-flying modern coasters, and plunging water slides in Adventure Bay that will delight even picky teens and adults. Adventureland is also unveiling a brand new roller coaster, the Phoenix, later in summer 2019!

For more info on Adventureland and other family friendly fun in Iowa and beyond, check out the Siouxland Families Blog

Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $45

Lost Island Waterpark

Location: 2225 E Shaulis Rd, Waterloo, IA 50701

(Disclosure – I received complimentary tickets to Lost Island Waterpark while collaborating with Experience Waterloo but all opinions are 100% my own!)

I absolutely LOVED Lost Island Waterpark…not only is it one of the best waterparks in the Midwest, but TripAdvisor and USA Today had named it one of the top 15 waterparks in America!  It has 11 ‘thrill ride’ water slides, giving adults and ultimate adrenaline seekers plenty to keep them occupied!

Lost Island Water Park Waterloo Iowa

Molokini Crater at Lost Island Waterpark

My favourite ride in the park is ‘Wailua Kupua‘ one of only a handful of water coasters like it in the whole world!  It works using hydromagnetic energy which has the power to push rafts UP hill at great speeds!  Now I don’t usually scream on rides but this one had me hanging on for dear life and I loved every second!  My tip is to sit at the BACK of the boat…riding at the front gives you a constant face full of spray!

The Jade Rapids waterslide allows you to choose a soundtrack and light show to make each ride down it unique!  For those that don’t feel like getting wet, Lost Island also has a mini golf course and go karts for an extra fee (however if you show your waterpark ticket, you can get a discount).

Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $26.40


Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America

By Kristie at World is Wide

Location: 5000 Center Ct, Bloomington, MN 55425

Most people, at least in the US, have heard of the Mall of America (MOA). In the center of this massive shopping center you’ll find Nickelodeon Universe, one of the largest indoor theme parks in North America, with honest-to-goodness roller coasters and rides, and a glass ceiling that lets in tons of natural light. 

Nickelodeon Universe Mall of America Minnesota
Photo Credit: Kristie at World Is Wide

In our opinion, the most exhilarating ride at Nick Universe is SpongeBob SquarePants’ Rock Bottom Plunge. The ride starts right off with the treacherous hill in this photo (from left to right). From here there are numerous cork screws and twists. Needless to say, this ride is not for the faint of heart. 

Being located within a major shopping area means that there are dozens of food options, from food courts to fine dining. Take your pick! And if you need a break from the rides (yeah, right), there is also plenty of shopping. 

One Day Unlimited Ride Wristband: $36.99 (individual tickets available)

Related ReadingThings To Do At Mall of America That Don’t Involve Shopping (& My Favourite Mall of America Rides)!


Silver Dollar City

By Stacey from Love, Laughter, and Luggage

Location: 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy, Branson, MO 65616

If you’re looking for thrills, look no further than Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.  This park boasts the world’s steepest, tallest, and fastest spinning coaster–Time Traveller. With three inversions and a top speed of 50 miles per hour, you’re in for the ride of your life.  But Time Traveller isn’t the only coaster that holds records in the park. Outlaw Run is the only wooden coaster in the world that takes its riders on a double barrel roll. Two more coasters in the park are probably tied as my favorites, though.  Wildfire and Powder Keg pack their own thrills and have become park classics. Wildfire has five inversions and remains a smooth-riding coaster while Powder Keg is a fun launch coaster. Both give you fabulous views of the Ozark hills at their highest points.

Silver Dollar City Branson MO
Photo Credit: Stacey at Love, Laughter and Luggage

Besides the coasters, you can find plenty of family rides and kids’ classics including the carousel, a steam train, and even a cave tour.  Fire-in-the-Hole and the Flooded Mine are also great dark rides that aren’t too intense for the less adventurous.

If rides aren’t your favorite past time, this park truly has something for everyone–craft demonstrations, live shows, unique shopping, and down-home dining.  Throughout the year, the park offers festivals and special events to get you in the spirit of every season. Ultimately, Silver Dollar City aims to show visitors a glimpse of Ozark life in the 1880s, and you don’t have to ride Time Traveller to feel that you have stepped back in time.  Walking through the gate, smelling the fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, and marveling at the beautiful hills and trees around you does the trick.

Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $68

Worlds of Fun

By Kim at Oh My! Omaha

Location: 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave, Kansas City, MO 64161

Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri, is a theme park inspired by the classic novel “Around the World in 80 Days.” Each section of the park carries the theme through decorations, ride names and dining options. A fairly recent addition, Planet Snoopy, doesn’t fit the theme, but it’s forgivable since it’s a very fun area for kids with about two-dozen rides. The roller coasters at Worlds of Fun are the big draw, so don’t skip rides like the Mamba, Patriot and Prowler.

Worlds of Fun by
Photo Credit: Kim at Oh My! Omaha

Admission to Worlds of Fun gets you into the neighboring water park, Oceans of Fun. A good tip is to visit a few rides in the morning at Worlds of Fun, then head to Oceans of Fun to cool off, and then end the day back at Worlds of Fun after some of the crowds have left.

Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $39.99

Six Flags St Louis

By Tiffany at Mommy and Me Travels

Location: 4900 Six Flags Rd, Eureka, MO 63025

Six Flags St. Louis is located just outside of the city to the southwest off of I44. The theme park is both a thrill park and water park that you can visit all in the same day. The theme park portion is opening a new attraction this year (2019) called the SUPERGIRL. It is a thrill seekers paradise with spin, tilt, and suspension, all while at high speeds. This is surely not a ride you will want to miss on your visit.

After you have quenched your thriller side on the numerous rollercoasters, head over to the waterpark for even more thrills or to relax. Hurricane Harbor is an amazing way to wrap up your family’s adventure to Six Flags. While you are at the waterpark make sure you ride the Typhoon Twister, it is one of our favorite rides at the park.

Traveling on a budget? Save money by stopping at a local gas station and picking up a discounted coke can or if you are military affiliated, don’t forget to get your military discount. Also, save time and money by bringing a cooler with your pre-made lunch. Just get your hand stamped for re-entry and relax with your meal before heading back to all the fun. Most important thing to remember when visiting Six Flags St Louis is to enjoy yourself and your family. These are the memories that last a lifetime. Looking for more family friendly fun in St Louis? Visit Mommy And Me Travels as we continue to discover family fun adventures in the area.

Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $48.99


Cedar Point

By Flo at Flo’s Favorites

Location: 1 Cedar Point Dr, Sandusky, OH 44870

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Cedar Point Amusement Park is more than a fantastic Midwest destination; the amusement park’s ranked as one of the best on the planet!

Not for the faint of heart, this thrilling, record-breaking amusement park is home to 70 rides, including 18 roller coasters.   The latest record-breaking roller coaster, Steel Vengeance made its debut in 2018.  It’s the tallest, fastest, longest, and steepest hybrid roller coaster on Earth!

Cedar Point Ohio Flo
Photo Credit: Flo at Flo’s Favorites

Cedar Point offers much more than thrill-rides though, there’s also, shopping, a boardwalk, beaches, a 164-acre water park, numerous great dining options, live shows, and lots of entertainment for young kids.

Want to make your visit an extended giveaway?  Cedar Point resorts offer many deals with lodging and park packages, including dining plans.

My family and I usually visit during the off-peak season to avoid long lines and get the most bang for our buck with one of their resort packages.  Some of our can’t-miss rides include the Maverick, Millenium Force, and Magnum XL200!

Don’t sleep on this Midwest destination; plan your unforgettable experience today!

Adult Day Pass ticket from: $49.99

Kings Island

By Nedra at Adventure Mom Blog

Location: 6300 Kings Island Dr, Mason, OH 45040

Kings Island Amusement Park by Nedra
Photo Credit: Nedra at Adventure Mom Blog

Kings Island Amusement Park is located 30 minutes from downtown Cincinnati. The park has something for everyone including several roller coasters and attractions for thrill seekers. My favorite roller coaster in the park is Diamondback with the Beast as a second. Diamondback is a steel coaster that rides really smooth and is ranked in the top 10 steel coasters in the world reaching speeds up to 80 mph. The Beast was the tallest, fastest, and longest wooden roller coaster in the world when it opened in 1979 and a night ride is one of my favorite ways to experience it. The ride has steep hills and travels back through the woods in the dark through several tunnels.

Admission to the park also includes Soak City waterpark. For a great overview of the park take a ride up the Eiffel tower which is a 1/3 replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Stay until closing for a nightly firework show set to music.

Non Rider? Check out Nedra’s post: 10 Fun Things For Non Riders To Do At Kings Island

Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $47.99


Mount Olympus

By Megan at Red Around The World

Location: 1881 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy B, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, USA

Wisconsin Dells, about an hour from Madison, is the waterpark capital of the world and a rite of passage for anyone growing up in the state.  I went quite a few times growing up, it’s been years since my last visit, but I always loved Mount Olympus.  They are home to an indoor and outdoor theme park as well as an indoor and outdoor waterpark so there is no bad time to visit.  My favorite attractions were always Triton’s Fury and Triton’s Rage, two neighboring raft style waterslides.  I would spend hours at a time climbing back to the top after going down.  Mount Olympus is home to the world’s longest underground tunnel on the Hades rollercoaster if that’s more your speed.

There is plenty of lodging at the park with tons of different style rooms for all budgets, so you won’t have to travel far for your fun.  If you don’t want to stay at the park, my personal favorite hotel in the Dells is the Kalahari Resort.

Adult Day Pass Ticket: $40

Related Reading: Tips And Things To Do In Wisconsin Dells For Adults!

Thank you to all my contributors for sharing their awesome tips and tricks!

Will you be visiting any of these Midwest theme parks and waterparks this summer?

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The Best Theme Parks in the Midwest USA

11 thoughts on “The Best Amusement Parks In The Midwest USA

  1. Thanks for including me! There are several on this list I’ve never heard of before and I’m definitely adding them to my bucket list. They all sound so fun!!

    1. Yeah I had heard of some but I discovered a whole bunch more! I didn’t realise there were so many with high thrill rides!

  2. I’m not an amusement park go-er (motion sick), but this is a great compilation for those that are! I know Silver Dollar City in Branson is huge although we’ve never been there during any of our visits!

    1. That’s a good reason to not go to a theme park! One of the submissions, the link is to a guide on things to do for non riders at the park they wrote about if I remember rightly! I’ll have to dig it out of the text so it’s more obvious for the non riders!

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