Amusement parks in Texas give families a Lone Star-sized day of thrills. Everything's bigger in Texas, even the amusement parks. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on family-fun parks, here is our guide to all the key information visitors need to know about Texas amusement parks.
Six Flags Over Texas
The oldest of the Six Flags chain of amusement parks, Six Flags over Texas got its name from the six different national flags that have flown over what is now the state of Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America. According to the company's website, the original park was split into six themed areas that reflected the culture of each of those. Today, Six Flags over Texas offers more than 100 different rides and attractions.
The GiantTexas Giant re-opened in April 2011. The ride was renovated to meld the stomach-churning drops of a classic wooden coaster with the smooth turns of a steel-hydraulic coaster. This ride has a 79-degree drop, the steepest drop of any wooden coaster. During the renovation, the highest point was raised an additional 10 feet. Giant, indeed.
Dizzying HeightsRise more than 32 stories above the park in the Superman Tower of Power, then fall to the earth in a dizzying descent. The whole family can spin on the Six Flags version of the classic teacup ride, La Fiesta de las Tazas. Take a break from all the rides with hot shows and concerts. With five different shows daily and more than 20 concerts over the summer, families have plenty of shows to choose from.
Dinner And DessertWith 23 restaurants scattered throughout the park, Six Flags offers a wide range of dining options. Johnny Rockets serves up burgers, shakes and fries while Panda Express offers Chinese cuisine. An assortment of ice cream, candy and funnel-cake shops are available for those with a sweet tooth.
Safety RecordAccording to the Amusement Safety Organization, two riders blacked out on the Titan coaster in 2011.
Address: 2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington, TX 76010
Hours: From March through the second week in June, hours vary and the park is usually closed during weekdays, check website for details. After June 15, the park is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through the first week in August. From the second week in August through the end of October, the park is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: At the gate, adult tickets are $56.99 and children under 48 inches tall are $36.99. Online advance tickets are $36.99 for both children and adults.
SeaWorld San Antonio
SeaWorld San Antonio is the largest marine-life amusement park in the world. At SeaWorld, visitors can ride roller coasters, watch shows and see ocean animals in tanks that mimic their natural habitats.
Journey to AtlantisJourney to Atlantis takes riders to the top of a 100-foot hill where a turntable rotates the car more than 360 degrees. When released, the ride goes backwards until reaching a second turntable that rotates the car just before it plunges head first into the lake.
See ShamuSeaWorld is synonymous with performing orca whales and dolphins, so don't miss Shamu in the One Ocean Show. The show Azul combines the natural acrobatics of dolphins with highly trained human acrobats. For more action, check out the Steel Eel, the Southwest's first hyper coaster, the Shamu Express, a great first ride for younger roller-coaster enthusiasts, or take the entire family on a wild ride down the Rio Loco, a white-water river ride.
Food For ThoughtTen restaurants offer everything from ice cream to barbecue. The Castaway Cafe and the Seafire Grill offer burgers, hot dogs and pizza.
Safety RecordOur research revealed no notable news reports of accidents or safety issues at SeaWorld San Antonio.
Address: 10500 Sea World Dr., San Antonio, TX 78251
Hours: The park is open daily from 10 a.m to 10 p.m. through the third week in August. The park is then open on weekends, the week of Thanksgiving and during the winter holidays. Times vary week to week.
Price: Adult tickets are $59.99 at the gate and $47.50 online. Children's tickets are $49.99 at the gate and $47.50 online.
Other Noteworthy Parks Near TexasSix Flags Fiesta Texas
Joyland Amusement Park
Sandy Lake Amusement Park
Kiddie Acres Amusement Park
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article included injuries on the Great American Scream Machine as among safety issues at Six Flags Over Texas. The roller coaster was not in Texas but at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.