Nationally acclaimed roller coaster and amusement park expert Pete Trabucco has released his 2012 list of the world's top 12 amusement parks to visit during the holidays.
The list is topped by perennial favorites Disney World and Disneyland.
2- Silver Dollar City?Branson Missouri, An Old Time Christmas through Dec. 30. Weather permitting; many of the park's rides are open for the event and they are one of the best around when it comes to getting you in the holiday mood. Special for the season, Silver Dollar City features 4 million lights, the Christmas on Main Street tree-lighting presentation, the Gifts of Christmas Holiday Lights parade, musical performances, and a presentation of "A Christmas Carol." New for 2012 is the musical show, "Its A Wonderful Life," based on the classic film. Santa holds court in Kringle's Krossing. Special holiday treats include hot wassail and ginger cookies. as shows such as the Mother Goose Guild and a Nativity Pageant. More information is at http://www.silverdollarcity.com/.
3- Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure ?Orlando, Fla. It's not Christmas until you visit here? The Grinch makes personal appearances throughout the day, and you will love the show in Dr Seuss land. You can also ride 'Cat in the Hat' while you're there and you will truly have a great experience in this park especially for the holidays. More information is at http://www.universalorlando.com/Theme-Parks/Islands-of-Adventure.aspx.
4- Hershey Park Christmas Candylane and Hershey Sweet Lights Hershey, Pa., 2012 is open most days through Dec. 31. The park will scrape off the ice and open some of its rides (weather permitting) for hardy souls to enjoy. Shows include the musical, "A Rockin' Music Box Christmas." Hershey also offers a drive-through holiday light display. Called Hershey Sweet Lights, it features 2 miles of trails with over 1 million lights on more than 500 animated tableaux. Hershey offers hotel packages and other holiday promotions as well. More information is at http://www.hersheypark.com/.
5- Dollywood?Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival Pigeon Forge (near Knoxville) 2012 will be open on select days through Dec. 30. Weather permitting; many of Dollywood's rides will be operating during the festival. If they are running, you could check out the park's 3.5 million twinkling lights from the top of one of the coasters. Lights are synchronized to holiday tunes. The park will also feature an ambitious production of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and other holiday shows" The park also presents The Polar Express 4-D Experience, a ride film based on the popular Christmas film. At Santa's Workshop, children will be able to make their own holiday craft projects. More information is at http://www.dollywood.com/.
6- Busch Gardens Williamsburg?Christmas Town Williamsburg 2012 will be open on select days through Dec. 31. Busch Gardens will transform its European hamlets, including Ireland and England into Old World Christmas villages. New for 2012, the park will present Retro lane, an old-school Christmas light display. Always well regarded for its shows, the Christmas Town productions of "Miracles," "Gloria!," "Deck the Halls," "O Tannenbaum," and "A Sesame Street Christmas," should be top-notch. Weather permitting, the park's rides, including Mach Tower and DaVinci's Cradle, will be operating. Delicious holiday-themed food and a dining experience with Santa there as well. More information is at http://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-williamsburg.
7- Lake Compounce Bristol CT Holiday Lights ?Holiday Lights Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through December 22. Includes North Pole Railway train ride, cookie decorating, storytelling, carolers, a selection of kiddie and family rides (weather permitting), Santa (naturally!), and lots of festive lights of course. More information is at http://www.lakecompounce.com/.
8- Dutch Wonderland?Dutch Winter Wonderland, Lancaster, Pa., 2012 through Dec 30 on select dates. Dutch Wonderland will also have several rides for the holidays. The Princess of Dutch Wonderland will be offering some Christmas stories. Santa will be on hand to see who's been naughty or nice. And the Dutch Winter Wonderland Royal Light Show will feature colorful lights synchronized to holiday music. More information is at http://www.dutchwonderland.com/
9- Kennywood?Holiday Lights West Mifflin PA(near Pittsburgh) 2012 dates: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, through Dec. 30, plus Dec. 26 and 27. For its second holiday celebration, the park will be hanging loads of twinkling lights, offering carolers, and opening some of its rides, weather permitting. Last year, the first year that Kennywood presented Holiday Lights, it is fantastic! For more information, visit www.kennywood.com/.
10- Six Flags over Texas ?Holiday in the Park, Arlington. Texas (near Dallas) Everything you need to get into the holiday spirit can be found at Six Flags Over Texas during Holiday in the Park. From more than a million twinkling lights, holiday shows, toasty campfires, delicious hot cocoa, and roller coasters, to the nearly 60 foot Holiday Tree of Trees, Santa Land and of course Santa Claus. Special moments and thrills await you at North Texas' largest holiday festival. More information is at http://www.sixflags.com/overtexas/index.aspx.
11- Sea World San Antonio?SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration San Antonio 2012 through Dec. 31 on select dates. See official site for details. Shamu Claus, as well as Santa Claus, will be on hand to greet guests. Special shows will include "Clyde & Seamore's Countdown To Christmas," featuring the park's sea lions, as well as "A Sesame Street Christmas." Candy Cane Forest will be decked out with over 100,000 lights. More information is at http://seaworldparks.com/seaworld-sanantonio.
12- Sesame Place?A Very Furry Christmas Langhorne (near Philadelphia) 2012 on select days through Dec. 31. The event will include a parade, shows such as "Elmo's Christmas Wish," loads of decorated trees, and some of the park's rides (if the weather cooperates). More information is at www.sesameplace.com/sesame2/
In his book, "America's Top Roller Coasters and Amusement Parks,"Trabucco teaches people how to overcome their fear of roller coasters and lists the best roller coasters and amusement parks around North America. He is currently on tour promoting his book and has appeared on hundreds of media outlets and National TV. All profits from the book are going to selected charities.