Are you looking for the best Hawaii amusement parks? This guide from a Hawaii local has everything you need to know!
Hawaii is known for its sunny beaches and thriving hikes. That said, sometimes visitors want to spend a day at a Hawaii theme park. Luckily, there are a few wonderful attractions that fit the bill.
Depending on which Hawaii amusement park you decide to visit, you can race down thrilling water slides, meet your favorite Disney characters, or watch an island-inspired show! Now the question is, which of these amazing Hawaii amusement parks will you choose to visit during your Hawaii getaway?
Are There Amusement Parks in Hawaii?
If I’m being honest, we stretch the definition of “amusement park” and “theme park” in Hawaii. None of these amusement parks have rollercoasters. As a matter of fact, there aren’t any rollercoasters in Hawaii. Although, fun fact, there was one in the 1920s at Waikiki Park. But sadly, that theme park closed in 1930.
That said, the best Hawaii amusement parks still have some resemblance to other theme parks around the world. So while there may not be Disneyland Hawaii, SeaWorld Hawaii, Universal Studios Hawaii, or Six Flags Hawaii, there are other alternatives that are worth a visit.
Where Are the Hawaii Amusement Parks?
Why Are There No Major Amusement Parks in Hawaii?
To clarify, Hawaii does have a Wet ‘n’ Wild waterpark, so we’re not completely without major theme park companies in Hawaii. But there are still a couple of ways to answer this question.
First, there’s the practical cost of building an amusement park in Hawaii. The cost of land, materials, and labor is exponentially more expensive in Hawaii than it is anywhere else in the U.S. For that reason, it would be difficult for these major amusement park companies to guarantee that they’ll get a worthwhile return on their investment.
Second, most visitors to Hawaii aren’t coming for amusement parks. They’re coming to enjoy sunny beaches and beautiful hikes. In other words, major theme parks simply aren’t needed in Hawaii.
While the lack of major amusement parks in Hawaii may seem like a bummer at first, that just gives more opportunities for the smaller Hawaii amusement parks to fill the gap!
Best Hawaii Amusement Parks
Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii
The closest thing to a traditional amusement park in Hawaii is actually a waterpark: Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii. For a long time, this wonderful water park in Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii was locally owned. It actually had the fun name of Hawaiian Waters! Eventually, it was bought up by the large water park chain, Wet ‘n’ Wild.
Ride all of the Rides
Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii is a fantastic place to cool off from the Hawaiian sunshine. With 13 rides, a thrilling wave pool, and a splash area for small kids, it’s a great family-friendly attraction. My personal favorite ride is the Tornado, but the Volcano Express is a close second.
It is important to note that most of Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii’s rides have height limits. Be sure to keep this in mind if you have a little thrill seeker who is shorter than 42”, 48”, or 52” inches.
Grab a Snack
Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii enforces a no outside food policy. This means that you can either buy food from inside this Hawaii waterpark or visit one of the nearby restaurants. (If you get a stamp on your hand, you can re-enter this Kapolei waterpark.)
I’d opt for the second option, since you only have a limited number of meals in Hawaii, after all! A couple of casual nearby restaurants include Island Vintage Coffee and La Tour Café. Once you’re done, you can head back to the waterpark.
*Pro Tip: Every August, Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii offers an annual pass (as in, for the remainder of the year, not for another 12 months) for the price of one day! If you’re a visitor, this can still be quite a deal if you plan on visiting this Hawaii waterpark for multiple days.
Book Here: Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii Tickets
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
When most people are searching for “Disneyland Hawaii” or the “Disney theme park in Hawaii,” they’re often looking for the Aulani in Ko Olina. However, the Aulani isn’t an amusement park. It’s a resort. But it does have many amusement park-like and water park-like qualities.
Splash Around in the Pool
First, there’s the pool – which is WAY more than just a pool. With a few waterslides, a lazy river, and a splash zone, it’s basically a condensed version of a waterpark. You can easily spend a day or two just enjoying this exciting part of the resort.
That said, it is important to note that in order to enjoy the pool and its fun accompanying features, you have to book a room at the Aulani. (Side note: If you think you can sneak in, think again. You’ll probably get caught.)
Meet the Characters
If you don’t want to pay for a room at the Aulani, that’s okay! There are still lots of fun Hawaii amusement park-like activities that you can participate in at the resort. For example, you can meet the characters! There are two ways to do this: character dining or just wandering around the premises.
You can enjoy character dining at the Aulani’s Makahiki restaurant. In addition to tasty breakfast dishes, many of Disney’s classic characters, like Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy will stop by.
If you’re not planning on doing a sit-down meal at the Aulani, you can find a character or two hanging out on the premises instead. In addition to the classic Disney characters, you might also see some island-themed ones, like Moana, Lilo, and Stitch.
Do a Little Pin Trading
The third Disney theme park-like activity you can do at the Aulani is trade pins! Most people don’t take advantage of this fun activity, but there are loads of hidden pin trading spots all throughout the Aulani. So keep an eye out or ask a cast member for help.
Participate in a Luau
Last but certainly not least, you can watch a show! The Aulani’s Ka Wa’a Luau is one of the best on the island. As expected, this does require an extra fee, but it’s totally worth it. Between the island-inspired food, cultural Hawaiian activities, and the luau show, you’ll stay entertained the entire time!
With all of these things to do, it’s no question of why the Aulani is considered one of the best Hawaii amusement parks.
Book Here: Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center also has a Disney-esque vibe. This popular Hawaii attraction is sort of like Epcot, but for Polynesian islands, rather than the entire world.
Get Educated About Polynesia
There are actually six different Polynesian villages that you can visit at the Polynesian cultural center. Learn about the beautiful islands of Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa, Aoteroa, Fiji, and of course Hawaii.
Enjoy Sports and Shopping
Once you’ve filled your brain with all of this new knowledge about the islands, you can explore more of what the Polynesian Cultural Center has to offer. If you love sports, you can head to the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. And if you love shopping, you can pop into the adorable shops at the Hukilau Marketplace
Watch an Evening Show
Arguably the most famous thing to do at the Polynesian Cultural Center is watch the “Ha: Breath of Life” evening show. This nightly performance is absolutely captivating. It tells the story of a Polynesian island filled with both tragedy and triumph.
Take Part in a Luau
The most astonishing part of the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center is the detail. Each and every aspect of the luau is infused with Hawaiian culture – from the patterns on the decorations to the specific style of hula. And we certainly can’t forget the food, which includes local favorites like kalua pig, fried saimin (noodle dish), pipikaula (Hawaiian-style beef jerky).
When booking your tickets for the Polynesian Cultural Center, you’ll have the option to choose which of the above activities to include in your fun-filled day.
Book Here: Polynesian Cultural Center Tickets
Sea Life Park Hawaii
If you’re looking for the equivalent of SeaWorld in Hawaii, look no further than Sea Life Park Hawaii.
Say Hello to the Animals
Sea Life Park Hawaii is home to loads of marine animals – from dolphins to sea lions to penguins to whitetip reef sharks. While you do have to keep your distance from most of the animals, the Discovery Reef Touch Pool and the education programs allow guests to get a little closer to some of these magnificent creatures.
The coolest surprise of this Hawaii amusement park is the fact that it’s home to the only wholphin – a cross between a whale and a dolphin – born in captivity. In other words, you won’t be able to see this unique creature anywhere else.
Learn About Conservation During the Animal Trek Park Tour
Conservation is an important part of Sea Life Park Hawaii’s mission. After all, with so many amazing animals enjoying the waters around Oahu, a few will inevitably need a bit of help. Sea Life Park Hawaii is happy to provide that assistance.
To understand more about what this Hawaii theme park does to care for these animals, you can take the Animal Trek Park Tour. This tour takes place daily at 10:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
Watch a Show
Sea Life Park Hawaii also offers a couple of shows featuring these friendly animals. First, there’s Aloha Nai’a, a dolphin show that tells stories of the islands. And second, there’s Splashing with Sea Lions, a fun-filled show filled with laughs and acrobatics.
Take Part in the Ka Moana Luau
Technically, there’s also a third show at Sea Life Park Hawaii: The Ka Moana Luau. This luau does require an additional fee, and it does not showcase any animals. Instead, you’ll be able to participate in loads of Hawaiian cultural activities, including ukulele lessons, lei making, and hula lessons.
And I certainly can’t forget to mention the food, which is one of the most important parts of a luau. Try the traditional Hawaiian dishes, like kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, and poi.
Book Here: Sea Life Park Ka Moana Luau Ticket
So there you have it! The best Hawaii amusement parks! Which ones you will visit during your trip?
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