Theme parks are a favorite American past time. We are lucky to have some awesome amusement parks in Georgia. It’s time for the thrill of the roller coasters, flying in the swings, losing your stomach on the drops, and everything that goes with a great theme park. There are several amusement parks in Georgia to choose from, some well known, others hidden gems. Here’s your guide.
A Guide to the Best Amusement Parks in Georgia
You don’t have to go all the way to Orlando to find a great theme park. There are a variety of amusement parks in Georgia that offer similar thrills, if not the over-the-top theming you’ll find at Disney World or Universal Studios. In many ways, Georgia’s theme parks are preferred because they are a manageable size. In the Atlanta area is Stone Mountain Park, and Six Flags Over Georgia. In South Georgia is Wild Adventures, and in Northwest Georgia you’ll find Lake Winnie. Then you have the water parks in Georgia – White Water in Atlanta, Summer Waves in Jekyll and Wild Adventures in Valdosta are the biggest. Here’s the low-down on what you’ll find at the amusements parks in Georgia.
Stone Mountain Park | Six Flags Over Georgia | Wild Adventures | Lake Winnie | Legoland Discovery Center |What’s New at Amusement Parks in Georgia | Ways to Save at Amusement Parks in Georgia | Tips to Beat the Lines
Stone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, Georgia
Stone Mountain is more than just a theme park. Located in Stone Mountain, Ga., near the Stone Mountain Village, the park is best known for the world’s largest exposed granite monolith with a relief carving of Confederate notables, President Jefferson Davis, and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.
Crossroads at Stone Mountain Park
The themed part of Stone Mountain Park is called Crossroads, and it’s not so much rides as experiences, shows and activities. Crossroads is similar to Main Street at Walt Disney World. It is set up to look like an 1800’s southern town and includes a 4-D movie theater, a mini-golf course, a duck tour, Great Barn indoor playground, Sky Hike outdoor adventure course, Geyser Towers water playground, the scenic railroad, as well as craft demonstrations like glass blowing, stores and restaurants.
The mini-golf course offers a lesson in history. The course is themed for the great locomotive chase that happened during the Civil War. Union hijackers stole the General locomotive in Big Shanty, Georgia (now Kennesaw). They were pursued by Confederates for 87 miles and eventually caught. Mini-golfers follow the chase.
The Crossroads section of the park also hosts special events such as Stone Mountain Christmas, the annual Pumpkin Festival, and the Highland Games to mention a few. During the winter months, the lawn in front of the stone carving is transformed into Snow Mountain, Ga. with tubing, sledding, snowmen and marshmallow roasting. Check the website for Stone Mountain Park hours, they do change based on the season.
More attractions at Stone Mountain Park
In addition to Crossroads, there are lots of other attractions at Stone Mountain. A community favorite is the seasonal Stone Mountain Laser Show Spectacular. A laser show is projected on the Stone Mountain carving and is accompanied by a lights and fireworks.
No matter what time of year, you’ll find tourists and locals hiking the stone outcropping to the top of the mountain, or walking around the park to the Grist Mill, over the covered bridge or into the outdoor granite museum. For those that do not wish to hike, there is a Swiss-built cable car called the Skyride that takes people to the top of the mountain. Also on property is a collection of Antebellum homes that include plantation manor houses, as well as slave quarters and out buildings. A farmyard includes a petting zoo. If you come looking for Tara, you’ll find it at the Antebellum Plantation. For museum types, Memorial Hall is the place for the history of the area. For sports enthusiast, there are two championship golf courses, and fishing permitted in Stone Mountain Lake.
What’s New at Stone Mountain Park
Extinct from Earth for millions of years, 15 species of prehistoric dinosaurs are making their way to Stone Mountain Park in 2017. “Dinosaur Explore” is a prehistoric creature collection that features more than 20 life-size dinosaurs with special effects allowing them to move and roar just like their ancient ancestors. Among the dinosaurs, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a brachiosaurus over 20 feet tall and 33 feet long, a three-horned triceratops, a ferocious allosaurus, and a winged pteranodon among others
Lodging at Stone Mountain
StoneMountain Park has three lodging options. The AAA four diamond Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort is perfect for groups or families. There is an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as large chess and checker boards, and lots of seating to relax in the evening. The Stone Mountain Inn is also run by Marriott and is like staying in a Southern Plantation house. Guests can walk to the Crossroads attractions. Stone Mountain camping sites, RVs and yurts are also available at the Stone Mountain Campground.
Six Flags over Georgia, Atlanta
This is probably the most well known theme park in the state and a traditional amusement park with lots of rides. Six Flags Over Georgia rides include thrill rides, family rides, and kids rides. Hurricane Harbor is located in Six Flags and is one of the best water parks in Georgia that is inside a theme park. There are also lots of entertainment options such as shows, street performers and characters. Least you think that Six Flags Over Ga is just for tweens and teens, they have more than 15 family and young kid friendly rides. And for those who are thrill seekers, there are 15 thrill rides too, including the new Revolution Virtual Reality Coaster which we’ll talk about below. Six Flags Over Georgia has lots of special events throughout the year, including the popular Six Flags Over Georgia Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park.
Beat the Lines at Six Flags Georgia
Six Flags is a manageable park size and allows guests to leave and come back on the same day. Parking is conveniently located outside the gates. To get your bearings and be ready to go when the gates open, go online for Six Flags Over Georgia hours and download the park map before you arrive. This way you can plan out your day beforehand.
While you are online, purchase your Six Flags Over Georgia tickets at a discount over walk up admission. If you specify the date you want to go, you’ll save even more. To get the most from your day, see our post with tips on how to beat the lines at Six Flags Over Georgia, for more ideas. Six Flags does offer a flash pass, which gets you to the front of the lines, but if you use the tips in our post, you shouldn’t need to spend the extra money.
What’s New at Six Flags, Ga.
Six Flags Over Georgia is in the midst of a multi-year renovation and each year they introduce bigger and better projects. In 2015, they opened Hurricane Harbor, which renovated the former Skull Island water park, but also added several water coasters. See our post on Hurricane Harbor for more information.
In 2016 Six Flags introduced virtual reality on the Dare Devil Dive roller coaster. For 2017, Dare Devil Dive returns to it’s roots as one of my favorite Six Flags roller coasters, and the VR goggles are moving to Acrophobia or Drop of Doom in VR.
Drop of Doom. The ride formerly known as Acrophobia has been reinvented as the Drop of Doom in VR (or more like Aracnaphobia with all the spiders).
My son rode the ride (I couldn’t bring myself to drop 100 stories) and felt the VR really added to the experience. Normally the only thrill is the big drop. With the VR, he was playing a game as soon as he sat down, shooting spiders left and right.
I asked him about the spiders. He said they crawled around, but he never felt as if they were crawling on him. The video below shows you a little of what to expect and my son’s reaction.
Hotels Near Six Flags Over Georgia
The Six Flags website suggested the Six Flags Atlanta Wingate by Wyndham, the Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta West/Lithia Springs and the Six Flags Atlanta Hampton Inn Suites. Hotels.com notes the Wingate is the most booked hotel. In addition to these suggested hotels, there are several others including some low cost hotels, like the Econo Lodge at Six Flags Over Georgia and the Howard Johnson Six Flags Atlanta. Some people wonder where is Six Flags? Well it’s about 15 minutes from Downtown Atlanta, so your hotel options are truly endless. Just remember, Six Flags is along I-20, which is a busy highway into and out of Atlanta. If you are traveling during rush hour, you might get stuck in traffic, although you should be going against the traffic.
Wild Adventures, Valdosta, Ga.
For thrills in South Georgia, check out Wild Adventures. Valdosta is the home to this park that is similar to Six Flags with its thrilling roller coasters, kid-friendly area and the Wild Adventures Water Park, Splash Island. However, it’s a bit smaller than Six Flags, which makes it super easy to navigate. In addition to the Wild Adventure theme park, there is an animal park too. One of the most popular Wild Adventure rides is the Boomerang, a roller coaster that twists and inverts riders not just once, but twice, forward and backwards. My son loved it, I was good for two times through and then had to wait at the fence. Check out our review of Wild Adventures for more information.
What’s New at Wild Adventures
Dinosaurs are coming to Wild Adventures Valdosta, Ga. this summer. A new Dinosaur land includes 20 life-sized dinos that move roar and in some instances interact. Wild Adventure has also added nine play spots. These spots offer family challenges and fun. You can participate in the limbo, form a family band with the percussion instruments or play a game of giant checkers. In the animal kingdom, they’ve added a South American exhibit with among other animals, the capybara, one of the weirdest giant rodents I’ve ever seen.
Hotels Near Wild Adventures
The Hampton Inn Valdosta, Ga. is a good choice nearby. The Quality Inn Valdosta Ga is and inexpensive option. Wild Adventures also has official partner hotels that include the Comfort Suites, Drury Inn & Suite and Holiday Inn and Conference Center. If you contact these hotels, be sure to ask about their Wild Adventures Package.
Lake Winnepesaukah, Rossville, Ga.
An afternoon here is a trip down memory lane. This is small town American theme park is affectionately called Lake Winnie. Chattanooga, TN is the closest city, but Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park is actually in Georgia. The parking lot, located immediately outside the gates is a dirt field, and we did not pay for parking.
Rides at Lake Winnie
Once you get inside however, there are plenty of thrills like the Cannonball roller coaster, as well as calmer rides like the Carousel. My son and I enjoyed the vintage attractions like the Fly-O-Plane, and I reminisced with him about attractions I remember from my youth like the Genie. There is a lot of history at Lake Winnie too. The Boat Chute was the first ride in the park, and one of the most popular rides even today. It was designed and constructed by the founder Carl Dixon and built in the winter of 1926. It’s the oldest mill chute water ride in the United States. When things get hot, there is the Lake Winnie Water Park called SoakYa. In addition to the slides and lazy river, my son really enjoyed the Challenge Course. See our post on Lake Winnie for more information.
Hotels Near Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park
There are three hotels near Lake Winnie that offer discount park pricing. Two are in Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Country Inn & Suites. We’ve stayed at the Chattanoogan in Chattanooga, which would be very convenient as well (but to my knowledge does not offer Lake Winnie coupons.) If you’d rather stay in Georgia, the Battlefield Inn in Fort Oglethorpe is a partner and offers discount pricing to the park.
Legoland Discovery Center, Phipps Plaza, Atlanta, Ga.
Legoland Discovery Center isn’t so much an amusement park as an attraction, but it does have some theme parkesque rides, so I’m including it here. Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta has the Kingdom Quest, a ride very similar to Buzz Lightyear at Walt Disney World and Merlin’s Apprentice, a high-flying ride you pedal to make go up and down.
There is also a 4-D theatre, LEGO Miniland, Pirates Adventure Island play area, and my children’s favorite, the LEGO Racers Build and Test tracks. See our post on LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta for more information.
Where to Stay Near LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Since this is in the heart of Atlanta, there are any number of hotels. If you want to stay close, be sure to stay in the Buckhead/Phipps Plaza area of the city. There are several hotels that offer LEGOLAND packages and some will even provide transportation to and from the attraction.
Ways to Save at Amusement Parks in Georgia
Spending the day at amusement parks in Georgia can be expensive. There are a few ways you can save.
- Plan Ahead. All the theme parks offer a discount if you purchase your tickets online. Wild Adventure tickets can be purchased online at a discount, but make sure you do it at least two days in advance, seven for an even deeper discount. While you are there, check their sites for special offers. Most sites have an actual tab labeled ‘special offers’.
- Become a Season Pass Holder. If you plan to visit an amusement park in Georgia more than once, become a season pass holder. A Six Flags season pass also includes White Water, Water Park. In some instances, like Stone Mountain Park and Six Flags, you can get added benefits by ordering your season pass the year before.
- Look for Coupons. Many theme parks partner with local grocery stores or fast food outlets. Six Flags Over Georgia coupons are often found on the side of Coke cans. It’s not just Six Flags coupons, Stone Mountain often partners with Kroger grocery stores.
- Get Social. Follow and keep your eye on the theme parks social media outlets. Often they’ll have one day or flash sales, or host giveaways for tickets.
- Travel Light. Don’t bring a purse or other lose items. Many thrill rides, like roller coasters will require you to put your items in a locker before riding. Purchasing a locker all around the park can get expensive. Instead, purchase a pack you can wear over your shoulder or on your waist. Collect those small sunscreen packets so you don’t have to haul around a large container of sunscreen. Make sure you wear something with a secure pocket to put your phone in so it’s out of sight and won’t fall out when you go upside down.
- Pack a Picnic. All of Georgia’s theme parks (with the exception of LEGOLAND Discovery Center) allow you to exit the park, get your hand stamped and return. Bringing a picnic lunch you can eat outside the park is a no brainer way to save money. We normally bring lunch and save a little for a treat inside.
- Consider a Photo Pass. If you simply MUST get the photos of your clan screaming on the roller coaster, consider the cost of a photo pass that will allow you to get ALL the photos. We did this at Walt Disney World and had a blast just making faces for the camera. The photos didn’t just capture our fun, we had fun because of the photos. Not only did we get the photos on the rides, but we also received all the photos with the characters. The Digital Photo Pass at Six Flags Over Georgia is pretty inexpensive for what you can get.
What’s New at Amusement Parks in Georgia
There’s a lot going on at Georgia’s theme Parks. Here’s the lowdown on what’s new in 2017.
Stone Mountain Park
- Dinosaur Explore. 15 species of prehistoric dinosaurs are making their way to Stone Mountain Park.
Six Flags Over Georgia
- Drop of Doom. The ride formerly known as Acrophobia has been reinvented as the Drop of Doom in VR (virtual reality)
- Justice League Battle for Metropolis. The 4D, interactive indoor thrill ride, featuring virtual loops, fire elements and more by joining the JUSTICE LEAGUE to battle the evil Super-Villains.
- Ohana Bay. The splashiest addition to Splash Island – Ohana Bay! Seven new slides, additional seating and more shade, making a Hawaiian Heaven on the Bay!
- New Animal Friends. Pixie and Fernando, two Fennec Foxes. The Wild Adventure Capybara had some little babies of her own and a new burrowing friend the Prairie Dog. There are also two baby Marmosets and a toucan named Rita.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
- Space Mission. Space Mission is an intergalactic building experience where guests explore alien worlds built entirely out of LEGO® bricks. Visitors will be able to build their own spaceship, explore the mission control center and watch a LEGO® rocket blast off into outer space!
How to Beat the Lines at Amusement Parks in Georgia
The only problem with visiting an amusement park in Georgia during the summer heat is the long lines. Here are some tried and true tips that will help you stay out of long wait lines and spend more time enjoying your day. These tips work for pretty much any theme park you visit.
1. Arrive Early.This is probably the most important tip of all. Most people run late, so although they may try to get to the park when it opens, few people do. Find out where the parking lot is in relation to the park and factor in time to walk, or get a tram from your parking spot to the front of the park. Remember, you want to be ready to walk into the park at opening, which means your tickets are purchased, bathroom breaks are finished and sunscreen is on.
2. Be there 30 minutes before opening. Several larger theme parks like Six Flags Over Georgia will open the main gates 30 minutes prior to the scheduled opening of the park and allow guests to move into the main area. At Six Flags, this can mean the Cyclone and Georgia Scorcher rides are open early, making it a great time ride again and again.
3. Head to the Back of the Park. Most people meander to the right when they tour an amusement park. Those in the know may head straight to the most popular attractions at the park that tend to form long lines later. Those with the inside scoop head to the back of the park and work their way to the front.
4. Go Mid-Week or Shoulder Season. Mid-week is the least crowded time to visit most theme parks. If you must come on the weekend, Sunday is a better day than Saturday. Shoulder Season, April, May, Sept. and Oct. aren’t as crowded either. Stay until closing if you can, lines will think out after dinner. You may also want to call before you go to determine if they have any large groups coming on the day of your visit. We had a great time at Lake Winnie mid-week, but an operator told us the day before (Tuesday) should have been a quiet day, but was crazy with several large groups.
5. Visit Water Rides in the Morning. Water rides and Water parks have long lines in the afternoon once folks get hot and are looking to cool off. Folks generally wait until the afternoon to get wet, so out smart them by visiting these attractions in the morning instead.
6. Map Out Your Day. The best way to avoid lines is to map out the day prior to your visit. Get a show schedule before heading out and determine what shows you want to see and when. Inside venues are great for mid-day when it’s hot and you need a break.
7. Eat at Off-Times. To avoid long lines at the concessions, and to enjoy the shorter lunch time ride lines, plan to eat a bit early or late. Either eat no later than 11:30 or after 2 pm. You’ll skip the food lines and enjoy slightly shorter ride lines during peak dining hours. If you want to save a little money, bring picnic. Many parks allow you to exit the park (make sure to get a hand stamp for re-entry), have a healthy lunch and return.