USA Today recently published their list of the 10 best theme parks in the United States and this Missouri theme park found itself at number one.

What's great about this list, and a feather in this Missouri theme park's cap is that it's not some panel of experts that generated the list, it's USA Today's readers. Ok, experts had something to do with the results. USA Today asked a panel of experts to nominate their top 20 parks across the country. Then USA Today had their readers vote for their favorites.

Coming in at number one? Silver Dollar City in Branson. USA Today says Silver Dollar City attracts some 2 million visitors annually with its combination of entertainment, festivals, 100 resident craftsmen, and more than 40 rides and attractions. The park is also home to Time Traveler, which USA Today says is the world's fastest, steepest, and tallest spinning coaster.

Let's take a wider look at the parks that made USA Today's list and see what we can discern from it.

At number 10 is Cedar Fair's flagship park Cedar Point, followed by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Kennywood in Pennsylvania, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Legoland in Carlsbad, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Hersheypark in Hershey, SeaWorld in Orlando, and finally at number 2, Knoebels in Pennsylvania.

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First, the parent company of Busch Gardens, United Parks & Resorts, placed both Busch Gardens on the list as well as SeaWorld Orlando. Cedar Fair got its flagship on the list, however, the rest of Cedar Fair's parks are conspicuously absent. As is any park from the Six Flags chain.

It seems as far as USA Today's experts and readers decided that smaller parks, owned by smaller companies, that provide more unique experiences, and perhaps have their own vibe are preferred by folks over the more corporate experience provided by Six Flags and Cedar Fair.

I'm not saying Six Flags St. Louis, Six Flags Great America in Chicago, or Worlds of Fun in Kansas City are bad parks or aren't worth visiting. It's just that as times have changed, these parks have changed. Worlds of Fun or either of the Six Flags parks I mentioned here, just aren't the same as they were 25 years ago when we were kids.

The theming isn't as good. There's an over-reliance right now on superhero-themed rides and experiences. And perhaps, there's less kitschy stuff to see and experience than there was back in the day.

As for Silver Dollar City, I want to check the park out. As someone solidly middle-aged, I'm not sure how many rides I'd go on. Yet, I'm sure I'd enjoy the entertainment, the festivals, and watching the craftsmen do their thing. And yeah, I still love a good roller coaster or two, so I got that going for me!

The Abandoned Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City

Schlitterbahn's fourth waterpark, Schlitterbahn Kansas City, opened on July 15, 2009, on land that originally was home to the Wyandotte County Fairgrounds near Interstate 434. Grand plans for the waterpark included a resort with 1,000 hotel rooms, a sporting goods store, and an area of shops and restaurants.

Between the economy, a child's death on the Verrückt waterslide, and the coronavirus pandemic the waterpark never matched the success of Schlitterbahn's other waterparks in Texas. After the 2018 season, the park was never re-opened and was demolished for redevelopment about two years later.

Exploring the Abandoned visited the still-standing park in November 2020 and shot a video which you can see on Youtube.

Gallery Credit: Rob Creighton

Take A Look At These Very Classic Missouri State Fair Photos

The Missouri State Fair was established in 1901 and has called Sedalia its home ever since. In 2024 the Fair's theme is Summer's Best Story. Here's proof that the Missouri State Fair is Summer's Best Story every summer for many people. Enjoy these pictures and postcards from the Missouri State Fair from The State Historical Society of Missouri, including one of our state's most favorite sons.

Gallery Credit: Rob Creighton

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