by Danny Miller
Now that mid-term exams are over and I have mildly less work to do here at school (for now anyway), I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the United States as a whole. In general, most major cities in this country have at least one major theme/amusement park that appeals to that market. We think about Los Angeles and the vast number of options its residents have in the Disney complex, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Six Flags Magic Mountain. New York residents typically visit either Six Flags Great Adventure, Dorney Park, and even Hersheypark. Some cities however, don’t have a major park nearby that is focused specifically on that market. Today I point out five major U.S. cities that don’t have a major park nearby.
HOUSTON, TEXAS – I apologize in advance if I offend or upset any fans of the now defunct AstroWorld by bringing this up, but the 2005 closing of Six Flags AstroWorld left the fourth-largest city in the United States without a park to call its own. Despite AstroWorld being loved by Houstonians, over the years, new rides failed to appear and park performance declined. Several rides took part in Six Flags’ ride rotation program (Texas Tornado), while others were planned to, but never moved (XLR-. The demolition occurred less than 2 months after the announcement that the park would close, and Six Flags received less than half the dollar amount they anticipated for the land. The bright side for Houston natives is that Grand Texas, a new theme park is planned to be open in 2015, so Houston may finally be able to have a park experience all their own once again.
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – While many parks are within driving distance of Beantown, Boston does not have a park that focuses specifically on what is the tenth-largest metropolitan area in the country. Six Flags New England offers a major park about two hours away, but the main focus of that park is Springfield and Hartford. Canobie Lake Park lies just a half-hour north in Salem, New Hampshire, but it is a small park that falls well short of the “major” park definition. Boston could focus on a colonial theme for their park if they wish, capitalizing on their rich revolutionary history. If not, maybe an Irish-themed park could capitalize on the heavy Irish population and once and for all come up with a competitor to Universal’s butterbeer at Islands of Adventure.
MIAMI, FLORIDA – A surprise to me, South Beach has no major theme park nearby. In fact, the only major coaster nearby, the Dania Beach Hurricane, is now closed and all signs point to the scrap pile for what is Florida’s largest wooden coaster. Aside from this experience that is no longer available, South Florida’s best option for thrills and theme is north quite a ways in the Tampa and Orlando areas. Miami is a fairly large vacation destination, and the entire metropolitan area ranks eighth in the United States. Miami itself is not very large, but the favorable weather for year-round operation and heavily populated surrounding area makes this area prime for at the very least, a major combination theme/water park.
PHOENIX/TUCSON, ARIZONA – Castles N’ Coasters sits almost right in Phoenix actually, but I don’t know anyone who would be willing to call a park with one looping coaster and a starter coaster “major.” Come to think of it, Arizona as a state lacks any major theme park nearby. The surrounding experiences are limited to Castles N’ Coasters, Cliff’s Amusement Park near Albuquerque in New Mexico, and the parks in Southern California. While Tucson is much smaller than Phoenix, it is located just an hour from the U.S./Mexico border, and Phoenix, located just 100 miles northwest of Tucson, is the sixth most-populous city and most-populous state capital in the United States. The hot, dry climate makes this another place primed for a major theme/water park combination resort.
DETROIT/LANSING, MICHIGAN – We all know that Detroit hasn’t exactly been on the good side of the recession the last several years, but it still remains in the top 20 on the U.S. largest cities list. Detroit also serves as a link to Canada via the Great Lakes. What some may not take into account however, are the nearby cities of Ann Arbor (5th largest in the state) and Lansing (6th largest in the state), both home to major universities (Michigan and Michigan State respectively) and less than 100 miles away. A park constructed in the middle of the three cities could easily draw from all three areas and Canada, as well as from the nearby areas of Ohio and Indiana. Despite being the largest city in the state, Detroit theme park goers are forced to travel at least two hours to Cedar Point, or over three to the opposite side of the state the Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon (which comes close to not really being a major park anyway). Being farther north, the season would be shorter, but it would not be very different from Michigan’s Adventure or Cedar Point anyway. Six Flags hasn’t got much going in this area of the country, surrounded by Cedar Fair parks in Cedar Point, Michigan’s Adventure, and Kings Island, so would it be worth their while to give it a shot?
There are other cities in the U.S. that don’t have a major park, but these are five of the most notable in my opinion. What do you think? Would theme parks work in any of these locations? Head here and vote on which city you think a theme park would work best in.