Amusement parks in Tennessee offer year-round fun for children and families. From hair-raising coasters to toddler-friendly attractions, these amusement parks offer something for family members young and old. 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 Tennessee amusement parks.
Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement ParkIn operation for over 85 years, Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park has been recognized by Travel and Leisure Magazine as one of America’s Greatest (old-fashioned) Amusement Parks, and it offers fun for all ages at reasonable prices. With 35 family-friendly rides and small-park charm, it is easy to see why the park claims the unofficial title of the South’s favorite family amusement park.
Cannon Ball Roller CoasterThe world-famous Cannon Ball Roller Coaster is a classic wooden coaster built for thrills. As a lovely bonus, the Cannon Ball takes its riders on a nostalgic trip into the past of amusement parks.
Classics and ThrillsFrom the classic Boat Chute to the thrills of Wild Lightnin’, the park's second coaster, and the high-adrenaline OH-ZONE!, a 14-story free fall ride, Lake Winnepesaukah will captivate all of its guests. With fun kiddie rides like the Bumble Bees and the Frog Hopper, as well as the Stay and Play Hideaway interactive play area, the park truly offers something for everyone.
Dining OptionsThe park offers basic amusement park food. In addition, it has a picnic area and offers catering for large groups.
Safety RecordOur research revealed no notable news reports of accidents or safety issues at this park.
Address: 1730 Lakeview Dr., Rossville, GA 30741
Phone: 877-LAKEWIN (525-3946)
Hours: Hours vary depending on the day and time of year, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the park's longest days, to 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on its shortest days of operation. Call or consult the park's website, www.lakewinnie.com, for information regarding specific dates.
Price: Gate Admission is $5, an Unlimited Ride Pass is $21, Individual Ride Tickets are $1 each (rides range from 2 to 5 tickets each), and a Value Strip of 14 Tickets is $13. Children under 2 are admitted free with a paying adult, but must pay to ride on the rides. Children under 2 may ride the Tour Train and the Carousel free of charge while riding on an adult's lap.
Dollywood is conveniently located just 35 miles southeast of Knoxville, Tennessee, off I-40 at Exit 407. The park offers a wide variety of elaborate musical stage shows, as well as water activities ranging from pop-up waterjet fun in Granny's Garden for the little ones, to the scream-inducing Daredevil Falls and Mountain Slidewinder for older visitors. In addition, roller coasters like the Thunderhead and the Tennessee Tornado, and the park's newest attraction, the high-flying Barnstormer, offer adrenaline rushes for even the bravest of thrill seekers.
BarnstormerThe Barnstormer is the newest and most exciting ride at Dollywood. Based on the daring exploits of 1920s era stunt pilots, the Barnstormer features two pendulum arms with seating for 32 riders, seated back to back, who travel progressively higher on each swing of the Barnstormer’s massive arms. The ride reaches a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour, 230 degrees of rotation, and, at its peak, a staggering -- and stomach-dropping -- 81 feet in the air.
Music And EntertainmentMore than a family amusement park, Dollywood is a venue for first class, live musical entertainment. In addition to the thrills and chills of rides like Mystery Mine and Daredevil Falls, Dollywood offers numerous areas, such as the Lil' Pilots Playground and Granny's Garden and the Pig Pen, to entertain your little ones until the cows come home. Strolling KidsFest characters, an ever-changing lineup of festivals, and exhibits by master craftsmen and artisans round out a seemingly endless variety of entertainment options.
Dining OptionsFrom full-service dining to food for those on the go, Dollywood offers more than 30 options for park visitors to satisfy their food cravings. Many of the options focus on Dollywood's prized Southern cuisine, but with everything from funnel cakes to a strawberry spinach salad spotlighted at the Backstage Cafe, there's something for every appetite.
Safety RecordAs with most reputable amusement parks, reports of accidents involving injuries at Dollywood are rare, but occasionally, they do occur. According to WATE.com in Knoxville, the most serious injury reported occurred in 2004, when a woman fell from the Dollywood Express, a coal-fired steam engine ride, after losing her balance when a drink was spilled on her. Officials allegedly determined that the train had no mechanical failures and the park was not at fault.
Address: 1198 McCarter Hollow Road, Pigeon Forge, TN 37862
Hours: The park is open daily early January through early February, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the rest of the year from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.
Price: Single-day, one-park tickets: Adults and children 12 to 59, $57; children 4 to 11, $45.80; seniors 60 and over, $53.65. Single-park, Dollywood season passes: Adults, $91; children, $78. Single-park, Dollywood Gold Season Pass, $124.
Other Noteworthy Parks Near TennesseeNASCAR Speedpark Smoky Mountains Fun Mountain Ober Gatlinburg Golf and Games Family Park Sir Goony's Fun Zone
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Photo: Edward Beavers; Flickr