With major theme parks now charging over $100 per adult, this summer is the perfect time to consider the array of smaller (but awesome), regional theme parks where you can get your adrenaline fix for less. Here are five parks around the country where the daily price of adult admission is under $50.
Luna Park, Coney Island, NY.
Luna Park's prices correspond with the number of credits each game or ride is worth, so how much you spend to enjoy the park really depends on which rides you choose to go on. For anyone as indecisive as I am, stick with the $35 four–hour Luna Park Ride Wristband or the $45 Ride and Play package, a four-hour unlimited ride wristband that comes with a 20 credit game card (both are valid daily before May 23rd and after September 7th, 2015, but only during weekdays between the two summer holidays). Blackout dates include May 25, July 3 and July 4. Please note that the wristband is only valid on Luna Park attractions, not valid on Deno's Wonder Wheel or on rides at nearby 12th Street Amusements.
Dorney Park, Allentown, PA.
Dorney Park is a popular theme park located about an hour outside of Philadelphia. Kids love Planet Snoopy, a fun area with attractions centered around the lovable pooch and his cartoon friends. Adult tickets are available online for $44 (or for a limited time, $39.99 if you buy them online before June 28th) while tickets for kids and seniors are $34 online. You can also purchase an 'After 4PM Admission' ticket ($29.99 online), good for visits after 4 p.m. during the summer months when the park is open late.
Knotts Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA.
Home to some of the country's craziest thrill rides (take one look at La Revolucion, or Rip Tide and try to argue otherwise!), Knotts Berry Farm also has calmer, more family-friendly rides. Ages 12–61 get in for $43 when purchased online, while children ages 3–11 and seniors over 62 pay $37. Check their website all summer long for additional specials like the 3-Day Advance promotion, where you can pay $40 for tickets ordered online at least three days before you go.
Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, CA.
Nestled on the warm beaches of Santa Cruz—about 90 minutes south of San Francisco—this awesome American Boardwalk is home to giant roller coasters, mini–golf, laser tag and enough food and games to keep people of all ages busy. The best part? An all–day unlimited rides wristband is only $32.95 plus tax, or you can pay $40.95 for the same wristband, plus your choice of two of the following attractions: Mini Golf, Laser Tag, Fright Walk, Lazer Maze, Boardwalk Bowl, Climb 'N Conquer, and you'll get three bonus points for arcades and games. Take that, Disney!
Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH.
Probably the theme park most displayed on The Travel Channel, Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, has earned its popularity. Home to the scariest roller coasters in the states, like Millennium Force and Mean Streak just to name a few, this is definitely one for the adrenaline junkie's bucket list. You'll get in for $49.99 when tickets are purchased online, or $45.99 when you visit the park on weekdays this summer ($49.99 otherwise). Pay $44.99 per person when tickets are purchased by June 19th, or score an 'After 4PM' ticket for $37.99 per person for late-day visits to the park.
I say, the more rides for less money, the better. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from family vacations we took to California—spending the day at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, or riding the "GhostRider" for the first time at Knotts Berry Farm (very scary at age 9!). Are there other small, regional theme parks you love that we haven't mentioned here?