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April 25, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

Thrills & Chills of Summer

From nearby (like SoundWaves in Nashville pictured above) to farther away, here’s your go-to guide for the thrill seekers in your family.


2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd., Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 | 800-365-5996 |

  • Opening Date: Theme park is now open; Splash Country opens Saturday, May 18.
  • Tickets: Theme park admission is $74 ages 10+, $61 ages 4 – 9; water park admission is $49.95 ages 10+, $4.95 ages 4 – 9; combo deals are $84 ages 10+, $71 ages 4 – 9. Season passes are $124 for the theme park, $174 for both.
  • New this year: The big news for 2019 is the opening of the Wildwood Grove village on Saturday, May 11. It features new family rides for little kids like the Treetop Tower, Giant Tree Swing, Dragonflier suspended roller coaster and more. Hidden Hollow is an indoor, climate-controlled play zone for toddlers and kids. They can climb ropes, zip down hollow log-theme slides and explore other structures. There’s also a soft-play space for your littlest ones. The 50-foot Wildwood Tree in the center of the village is home to 640 magical wildwood butterflies. Wait ‘til you see what it does at night!
  • More family fun: The most popular rides for older kids and adults are the roller coasters, including the Lightning Rod, Wild Eagle and the Mystery Mine. Little kids enjoy all the pint-sized rides like the Busy Bees. The River Rush water coaster in Splash Country is a favorite with families, too.


2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214 | 866-972-6779 |

  • Opening Date: Indoor experience is open now; the outdoor side opens Friday, May 24.
  • Tickets: The only way to access SoundWaves is with an overnight package or through a party room rental. Party rooms are available for 10, 16 & 30 guests. The rate for the 10-person party room is $500 rental plus a $200 food/beverage minimum. You get the room for four hours with all-day access to SoundWaves.
  • New this year: While the indoor attractions have been open since Dec. 2018, the outdoor attractions open this month for the first time.
  • More Family Fun: Don’t call it a water park! It’s a sophisticated, upscale water attraction fusing water and music. It features 111,000 square feet of fun inside,and another 106,000 square feet outside. There are nine indoor attractions and six outdoor ones with dedicated recreation zones for adults, young children and families.


4001 Bell Road, Hermitage, TN 37076 | 615-889-7050 |

  • Opening Date: Saturday, May 4
  • Tickets: $36.99 – $39.99 those 48 inches & taller, $28.99 those 47 inches & shorter, free ages 2 & younger; season passes are $59.99 thru May 14; $69.99 thereafter
  • New this year: No new attractions, but Nashville Shores now offers an EZ-Band season pass — a wearable wristband that lets you load money onto it from your mobile device or at stations in the park.
  • More family fun: The Big Kahuna Family Raft Slide is the most popular attraction for older kids. Barefootin’ Bay is the hot spot for littles. This colorful water play structure features more than 35 interactive features.


1730 Lakeview Drive, Rossville, GA 30741 | 706-866-5681 |

  • Opening Date: Theme park opens Thursday, May 2; SOAKya opens Monday, May 27
  • Tickets: Theme park admission is $18 (includes 14 ride tickets); $27 for unlimited rides ($19 for ages 1 – 2); combo deals are $34.95 ($24.95 ages 1 – 2) for unlimited rides
  • New this year: The Winnie 500 racing slides is the newest attraction in the water park. The Fire Ball is the newest in the theme park. This thrill ride flips you upside down over and over, forward and backward.
  • More family fun: The most popular rides for little kids are the Kiddie Swings and the Frog Hopper. Older kids and adults enjoy the the Cannonball wooden coaster. The other big hit with the older set is the OH-Zone!, which drops riders down 14 stories on a 50-mile-per-hour free fall. SOAKya features a Crazy River, two body slides, two tube slides, an interactive water play area for little kids and more.


798 Beech Bend Park Road, Bowling Green, KY 42101 | 270-781-7634 |

  • Opening Date: Beech Bend Park opens Saturday, May 4 and Splash Lagoon opens Saturday, May 25
  • Tickets: $37.99 those 48 inches & taller, $31.99 those 47 inches & shorter, free ages 2 & younger; season passes are $159.99
  • New this year: For an extra $6 ticket, take a ride on Lazer Fury 360, a unique attraction that combines bumper cars with laser tag. Every time you get laser tagged, your bumper car seat turns upside down and all the way around. An all day unlimited armband is also available for $19.99.
  • More family fun: Thrillists love the Vortex and Air Race while younger kids love Kiddy Whip and Crazy Bus. Splash Lagoon Water Park, which is included with park admission, opens for the season in May, too. Relax on the Lazy River, splash in Surf’s Up Wave Pool or get soaked by the giant Tiki bucket at Tiki Island.


275 Riverside Pkwy. S.W., Austell, GA 30168 | 770-739-3400 |

  • Opening Date: Saturday, May 4
  • Tickets: Gate admission is $71.99 those 48 inches & taller, $51.99 those 47 inches & shorter, free ages 2 & younger; $25 parking; season passes are $179.99 (sale prices online)
  • New this year: Towering 147 feet in the air, Pandemonium is the newest thrill ride. It reaches speeds up to 70 mph, as it swings back and forth — higher and higher. This exhilarating ride takes you high above the Atlanta city skyline. Find it in the newly themed ScreamPunk area.
  • More family fun: Other rides thrill seekers love include Superman: Ultimate Flight, Arcophobia and more. Little kids tend to like the The Joker Fun House Coaster and the Log Jamboree. Of course, there’s Hurricane Harbor, which is included with your park admission. This tropically-themed water park opens in May as well and offers slides, rides and more fun for all ages. The interactive children’s playground features three drenching towers, slides, climbing nets, bridges and water cannons. Big kids will love to get soaked in Bonzai Pipelines and Tsunami Surge water rides.


452 E. Christmas Blvd., Santa Claus, IN 47579 | 812-937-4401 |

  • Opening Date: Saturday, May 4
  • Tickets: $49.99 general admission, $39.99 for seniors and those shorter than 54 inches, free ages 2 and younger; season passes are $109.99 through Friday, May 3 and go up thereafter
  • New this year: Santa’s Merry Marketplace is a brand-new area. It includes five serving stations of varying holiday-themed menus. Starting a new tradition, Santa Claus will greet park guests every morning from the Marketplace tower balcony, too.
  • More family fun: The most popular attractions for little kids include the Lewis & Clark trail antique cars and the interactive Gobbler Getaway dark ride. For older kids, the roller coasters and water coasters top the fun — the Mammoth water coaster is certified by Guinness World Records as the longest water coaster in the world. Inside tip: purchase a “pick your price” ticket online for discounts.


937 Phillips Lane, Louisville, KY 40209 | 502-813-8200 |

  • Opening Date: Kentucky Kingdom’s 30th season opened April 28. Hurricane Bay opens Saturday, May 25
  • Tickets: General admission is $39.95 through May 19 ($49.95 thereafter); $39.95 for those 36” – 48” tall; season passes are $64.95
  • New this year: Kentucky Kingdom opens it’s sixth roller coaster this year, the Kentucky Flyer. Engineered with thrill-seeking families in mind, the coaster’s minimum height requirement to ride with a supervising companion is 40”. Most other thrill rides require height to be 48”. The Kentucky Flyer — built by The Gravity Group — is wooden and boasts 12 airtime elements on 1,280 feet of track. It reaches speeds of 35 mph, has 54-degree banked turns and is 47 feet tall.
  • More family fun: King Louie’s Playland is one of the largest children’s areas in the region including the Flutter Fly ride and two dedicated swim areas — Buccaneer Beach and Splash Zone. Families can enjoy the Family Wave Lagoon. Popular rides and attractions include Lightning Run; Storm Chaser’ T3; and Thunder Run. Plenty of thrills can be had on Eye of the Storm; Fear Fall; Scream Extreme and Cyclos.

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