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Amusement Parks Thrill Groups

Survey the winding lines inside America’s theme parks, and you’ll find roller coaster enthusiasts from ages 8 to 80. But theme parks aren’t just for thrill rides. Those meccas of fun, food and entertainment offer a variety of experiences that have distinctive appeal for traveling groups.

The rides are still there, of course, and reaching higher heights and faster speeds than ever before. But groups that visit America’s amusement parks today will also find musical entertainment, arts and crafts, seasonal festivals, signature food and immersive fantasy environments.

Plan a visit to one of these theme parks to add a dose of vigor to your next group vacation.


— Cedar Point —

Sandusky, Ohio

Cedar Point is famous nationwide for its Lake Erie location and abundance of roller coasters.

“We’ve been voted the best amusement park in the world for 16 years in a row,” said Bryan Edwards, the park’s public relations manager. “We have 72 rides, 17 of which are roller coasters. We have some of the tallest and fastest in the world.”

Four of the roller coasters in the park have set world records for height or speed. Cedar Point was the first park to build coasters over 200 feet, 300 feet and 400 feet tall. Perhaps its most famous coaster is Top Thrill Dragster, which catapults riders from zero to 120 miles per hour in less than four seconds and then sends them to breathtaking heights of 420 feet before plummeting back to solid ground.

If coasters aren’t your thing, you can recruit some of your travelers to join you for a quieter day at the Cedar Point beach. The park has a milelong stretch of Lake Erie beachfront with two resort hotels and a selection of cottage cabins that can serve as group accommodations.


— Dollywood —

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Though it has plenty of typical amusement park fare, including thrill rides and midway games, Dollywood also has a number of signature features with multigenerational and educational appeal.

“You can come to Dollywood and not ride a ride, and feel like you’ve had a very full day because of the shows and the crafts and the shopping,” said director of sales Lynn Webb. “A lot of groups use it like a show park: They see three shows, have lunch and then get back on the bus, and that’s their day.”

Dollywood invests a lot into its shows, which range from 45 minutes to an hour long. Guests can see longtime favorite shows such as “Great American Country,” the nostalgic “Dreamland Drive-In” or Dolly Parton’s autobiographical “My Family” anytime they visit.

Special shows and musical performances are planned to coordinate with the park’s annual series of festivals. The Festival of Nations features cuisine and music from around the world, while Barbecue and Bluegrass highlights regional bluegrass musicians. Old-time gospel tunes fill the air during the fall National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration.

Many groups visiting the park also enjoy spending time in Craftsman’s Alley, where artisans demonstrate traditional Tennessee crafts.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.