Best amusement parks for families in 2017

Family Vacation Critic names the best parks of the year.

ByABC News
June 19, 2017, 5:50 PM

— -- Amusement parks are a staple of summer fun, but some impress families and critics alike.

The experts at Family Vacation Critic have shared with ABC News their top choices for family-friendly amusement parks in 2017. From Ohio to Orlando, Pennsylvania to Pigeon Forge, there are plenty of new attractions across the nation to entice families this summer.

“Amusement parks are one of the most quintessential summertime activities for families,” said Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of Family Vacation Critic. “But for those traveling with family members of various ages – including kids-at-heart – finding a park that caters to thrill-seekers and the younger set isn’t always so easy. This list includes parks that successfully cater to both, and those that also have exciting new features for the 2017 season.”

Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

What’s new: According to Family Vacation Critic, "Cedar Point Shores, an 18-acre water park located along Lake Erie with 17 water attractions for all ages, VIP cabanas, restaurants, shopping and live entertainment."

Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

What’s new: "Drop Line, a 230-foot tall drop tower, with a spinning gondola that offers riders a breathtaking view of the Great Smoky Mountains," noted Family Vacation Critic. "Also joining the park in 2017 is Whistle Punk Chaser, a junior coaster positioned as a great first-coaster for younger park visitors."

Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania

What’s new: "Hershey Triple Tower offers three drop towers for park guests to choose from: Hershey’s Tower, the tallest at 189-feet high; Reese’s Tower, the second tallest at 131-feet high; and Hershey’s Kisses Tower standing at 80-feet tall."

Kings Island, Mason, Ohio

What’s new: "The Mystic Timbers [is] a 3,265-foot long wooden coaster with a 48” height requirement, making it an ideal coaster for riders of various ages."

Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri

What’s new: "New Silver Dollar Food Days run from July 31 – Aug. 20, highlighting favorite festival food like funnel cakes, kettle corn and milkshakes, and taking them to new levels," noted Family Vacation Critic.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

What’s new: "For guests visiting the park, plan a trip to Universal Orlando Resort’s newest water theme park, Volcano Bay – a 25-acre park featuring 18 unique attractions including a wave pool, winding river, raft rides, body slides and more."

Universal Studios, Hollywood, California, and Orlando, Florida

What’s new: "'Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon' brings guests a simulated race through New York City, a history of 'The Tonight Show,' Hashtag the Panda and the Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet also join in the fun," the experts said.

Six Flags, nationwide

What’s new: Family Vacation Critic noted that Six Flags is unveiling new rides at each of its parks across North America, including Warner Brothers and DC Comics-branded rides and attractions.