40. Six Flags Great Adventure

Image: Six Flags

2018: 3,400,000
Change: +21.4%

Certainly Six Flags' east coast flagship park, Great Adventure lives up to its name. Fusing a theme park and safari park, the massive property is one of the largest theme parks on Earth, with more and better theming than the Six Flags name might cause you to expect. Certainly there are standards – like a Batman: The Ride clone, a third indoor Dark Knight Coaster on this list, and the flying Superman: Ultimate Flight – but the park's two most iconic attractions are considered two of the world's most well-known.

Don't miss: In one corner is El Toro, another of Intamin's plug-and-play, unexpectedly-smooth, surprisingly-wild wooden coasters. In the other is Kingda Ka, the world's tallest roller coaster. One of two Intamin stratacoasters in existence, Kingda Ka rockets riders from 0 to 128 miles per hour in just over four seconds, blasting them up a vertical top hat to a height of 456 feet before spiraling back down and cruising over a 129 foot hill (taller than most coasters, mind you) as a respite.

39. Kings Island

Image: Kings Island

2018: 3,486,000
Change: +7.7%

Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kings Island has one of the most fascinating histories on the planet. Opened in 1972 (the year after Magic Kingdom, and certainly inspired by it), Kings Island was one of the early parks to follow in Disney's modern-built, master-planned park footsteps, with a "Main Street" (the fountain-lined International Street), a park icon (a 1/3 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower), and a hub-and-spokes layout diverging into themed lands. Owned by Paramount Pictures in the '90s and sold to Cedar Fair in the 2000s, the park has a compelling mix of themed lands, hints of cinematic ingredients, and bare steel coasters that somehow mix cohesively.

Don't miss: While the park's impressive 14-coaster count is world class, the highlight must be The Beast. Opened in 1979, the four-and-a-half minute wooden coaster is sprawled around dozens of acres of Ohio woodland, with a 7,359 foot layout that makes it the longest wooden roller coaster on Earth even to this day! Famously, you can't see any of the track of The Beast until you're on it, as it's all set down below the tree line, darting through the woods and into tunnels and caves. Perhaps the only thing more famous than The Beast is its ill-begotten offspring and subject of an in-depth Lost Legend: Son of Beast – the world's tallest, fastest, second-longest, and only looping wooden roller coaster... and now, the world's biggest source of scrap wood.

38. Six Flags Magic Mountain

Image: Six Flags

2018: 3,592,000
Change: +26.1%

Perhaps the most iconic and well-known of Six Flags' park arsenal is Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita, California just outside of Los Angeles. Despite technically competing with Disneyland, Magic Mountain is content being a coaster capital – famously besting Cedar Point for most coasters in a single park with 18 (and a 19th opening this year). The park's lineup is so varied, we can't even begin to explain the unique kinds of coasters it features. But we'll point out one...

Don't miss: The current anchor of Magic Mountain is Twisted Colossus, a steel-tracked, RMC remake of the park's 1978 classic racing wooden coaster. When the ride was "RMC'ed" in 2015, it became an extreme ride in the way most RMCs are – twisting, convoluted, wild, and unpredictable. But what's especially cool is that the ride was modified into a mobius racing coaster, meaning technically, both sides are made of one continuous track, so riders go through the course twice – once on the green side, then on the purple side. 

37. PortAventura (Spain)

Image: PortAventura World

2018: 3,650,000
Change: +7.4%

Opened in 1995 through a unique co-ownership agreement with today's Merlin Entertainment and Anheuser-Busch (now SeaWorld Parks), PortAventura has to be one of the most unique parks in the world right out of the gate. What's even more unusual in that, in 1998, Merlin's 40% ownership was sold to Universal, which briefly rebranded the park Universal's PortAventura – Universal's first and only park in Europe. They sold their interests in 2004 (when many companies were off-loading non-core assets in the lead-up to the financial crisis) and today the park operates independently as part of PortAventura World (which also includes a Ferrari Land mini-park).

Don't miss: PortAventura Park is divided into Mediterrània, the Far West, México, China and Polynesia lands, packed with surprisingly intense thrills and better-than-average theming. Shambhala: Expedición al Himalaya – a towering white B&M hypercoaster – opened as the tallest and fastest coaster in Europe. Meanwhile, a new interactive Sesame Street dark ride is the envy of regional-park dark-ride-enthusiast circles.

36. Cedar Point

Image: Cedar Point

2018: 3,676,000
Change: +13%

The long-standing "Coaster Capital" of the world is Cedar Point, and though the Ohio theme park may have lost the crown to Six Flags Magic Mountain, the park's coaster collection is – perhaps literally – unbeatable. A bucket list park for thrillseekers, Cedar Point famously broke the 100, 200, 300, and 400-foot tall coaster barriers with Gemini, Magnum, Millennium Force, and Top Thrill Dragster, respectively. How do you beat Top Thrill Dragster's 128 mile per hour launch and 420-foot tall apex? You don't. Which is why the follow-up, 2007's Maverick, left fans scratching their heads. It turns out that the 100-foot tall, multi-launch, more-than-vertical roller coaster is one of the park's finest, bucking and twisting through canyons and becoming a world class favorite.

Don't miss: Can anything beat the super-smooth Millennium Force, the iconic Top Thrill Dragster, or the wild Maverick, each of which stands among the best coasters on Earth? If you ask some fans, Steel Vengeance did it. The 2018 ride – another RMC conversion of a painful wooden coaster, in this case the park's Mean Streak – is perhaps the most extreme coaster on Earth. Since words can't do it justice, we'll just implore you to tackle Steel Vengeance yourself. 

35. SeaWorld San Diego

Image: SeaWorld Parks

2018: 3,723,000
Change: –2%

SeaWorld San Diego is perhaps the least thrill-focused of SeaWorld's parks, in part because of its picturesque location on Mission Bay that prevents it from building rides above a given height. Limited in just how wild it can get, the park has resorted to some clever solutions, like their Manta (unlike Orlando's, a traditional sitting coaster with launches through tunnels and grottos). The focus here is on the sealife – appropriate for the seaside park.

34. Canada's Wonderland

Image: Canada's Wonderland

2018: 3,798,000
Change: +7%

Though Cedar Point may be recognized as Cedar Fair's flagship park, it's not the most well-attended seasonal park in the chain! That honor goes to Canada's Wonderland. Following the same trajectory as Kings Island (a modern park, previously owned by Paramount), Wonderland has similarly made the transition into a thrill park. Cedar Fair has super-stuffed the property with big time thrills like the 200-foot Behemoth, the 300-foot Leviathan, and the most massive B&M dive coaster yet, Yukon Striker.

33 - 31. Happy Valley Parks (China)

Image: SoCal Attractions 360

2018: 3,592,000

Opening between 1998 and 2020, there are no less than eight Happy Valley parks across mainland China – and doubtlessly plenty more on the way. Calling them "the Six Flags of China" is an apt comparison, if an oversimplified one. After all, Happy Valley Parks also borrow heavily from Disney's influence, melding a few signature coasters into highly themed spaces... some of which resemble Disney's parks a little too much.

The recent rise in Chinese parks is no coincidence. In the last two decades, the country's population (about four times that of the U.S.) has exploded with a post-industrial "middle class" as never before. Back in the 1950s, the never-before-imagined mix of "leisure time," expendable surplus income, and the family car and interstate system literally created Disneyland and its contemporaries in the U.S. That same growth is happening now in China (hence Disney's big push for parks in the country). If we listed each Happy Valley individually, three – Beijing, Shenzhen, and Chengou – would all land here on the list. Which also leads to our next park...


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