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Five of the best amusement parks in Maryland and Virginia


Five of the best amusement parks in Maryland and Virginia

There is nothing like the anticipation of waiting in line for the biggest roller coaster at an amusement park.

The screams. The smell of fried food. The rumble of a coaster carts careening down the tracks. All of it comes together in a harmony that so many love.

There are plenty of amusement parks near D.C. that can fill your empty summer days. We have five of the best ones here:

Six Flags America (Upper Marlboro, MD):

This Six Flags amusement park has 'America' tacked onto its name due to its proximity to the nation's capital, situated less than 20 miles east of D.C. The park boasts 54 attractions, including nine roller coasters and 15 kiddie rides. You will also find six themed sections, such as Looney Toons Movie Town for children under six. The newest coaster, the Ragin' Cajun, which opened in 2014, can be found in the Mardi Gras section. The ride is a unique approach to modern coastering, according to the park's website, and its 1,378 feet of track features 360 degree spins.

Park goers also have access to Hurricane Harbor, a water park within the grounds, for no additional charge. If it happens to be a hot day, you can take advantage of numerous slides and other water attractions, including Wahoo River which debuted last summer.

If you want to take a break from all the rides and high-paced action, Six Flags America offers plenty of shows and musical acts too. The park also hosts seasonal events, including Spring Break, Fourth of July and Halloween.

Kings Dominion (Doswell, VA):

If you don't mind traveling further out of town, about 75 miles south of D.C., this 400-acre park might be the place for you. With its 60 shows, rides and attractions, including 12 rollercoasters, there might be even more to fill your time than Six Flags America. The park's name comes from the combination of its sister park 'King Island' and the nickname of Virginia 'Old Dominion.'

Kings Dominion boasts one of the tallest and fastest coasters on the east coast, according to its website, as the Intimidator 305 takes you up 305 feet before it plummets you to earth at an 80-degree angle at 90 miles per hour. If roller coasters are not your thing or you have children with you, Planet Snoopy is where you will want to aim for. The rides are not too fast and do not go upside down, and there will be plenty of Peanuts characters to snag a photo with.

Like the previous park, Kings Dominion has its own water park. Soak City spans 20 acres and features plenty of slides, splash pads, wave pools and a lazy river.

Adventure Park USA (Monrovia, MD):

Situated about 40 miles north of D.C., this western theme park is smaller and newer than the previous two amusement parks. Opened in 2005, it features both indoor and outdoor activities, including 21 rides and attractions. Indoor activities are open year-round and include laser tag, arcade games, rockwall climbing, bumper cars and a ropes course. Outdoor activities are open during the summer and include mini golf, go-karts and several rides. One of the park's three roller coasters the Wild West Express is 53 feet tall and features tight turns and drops.

Fun Land of Fredricksburg (Fredricksburg, VA):

Going in the opposite direction, Fun Land is situated about 50 miles south of D.C. The biggest attraction that sets this place apart is its brand new multi-level go-kart track. Thunder Speedway is the first of its kind in Virginia, according to Fun Land's website. Due to the attraction's novelty, the park warns of long wait times on the weekends, so plan accordingly if you can not make it during the week. The park does offer a virtual line system that will page you when your turn is coming up so that you can enjoy the rest of the park while you wait.

Like Adventure Park USA, Fun Land features both indoor and outdoor activities. Attractions include a mini Ferris-wheel and rides, laser tag, go-karts, mini-golf, batting cages, mini bowling, rockwall climbing and bumper cars. The arcade also features over 100 video games.

SplashDown Waterpark (Manassas, VA):

Situated about 35 miles southwest of D.C., this place is all about water and is a great place to hang out on a hot summer day. Across its 13 acres, there are two pools and eight water slides, including the four-story-tall Pipeline Tower and 770-foot lazy river. There is also plenty for younger park goers. The zero-depth childrens area features bubblers, fountains and four smaller water slides. The park also hosts events like 'Mommy Mondays', where one parent gets in for half price with the purchase of a full price child ticket.


Virginia's first LLWS appearance in 25 years rests on defense, luck and pitching depth

Virginia's first LLWS appearance in 25 years rests on defense, luck and pitching depth

The last time a Virginia team qualified for a spot at the Little League World Series was 1994. This was also the year Disney released the original Lion King and Forrest Gump made his monumental run around the United States. 

Twenty-five years later, the Loudon South Little League team will be making their run (or hopefully, runs) around the bases. 

It all started back in South Riding, Va., where the team won 16 consecutive games to take the Southeast Region tournament title. Pitcher Justin Lee fell to his knees after the final out of game 16, where Loudoun South dominated Peachtree City, Ga. 12-2, and advanced themselves to the Little League World Series. 

Led by head coach Alan Bowden, this experience had been a dream for both the players and the coach. Bowden's father played in the Little League World Series 65 years ago, he's told reporters, and he told PennLive that now coaching his son in the tournament is a dream.

“I know I talk with my dad about his experience a couple times a year,” Bowden told PennLive. “Just being here and meeting all these international teams and other teams from around the country is really special.”

The team entered their first LLWS game against New England's Barrington Little League team on Friday, August 16th. With tenacity and what appeared to be just sheer coolness, the Southeast regional champions completed the 52nd no-hitter in LLWS history, crushing the Rhode Island team 3-0

Bowden credited the team's defense and depth according to LittleLeague.org.

“We pride ourselves in defense,” he said. “We practice, practice, practice defense and we feel like the real staple of our team is defense.”

Loudoun South didn't stop there. Lee returned to the mound and completed the 53rd no-hitter in LLWS history, striking out six and walking only two. The game ended shortly after as Lee and the team reached the Little League's margin-of-victory rule. 

“I have no words. It’s just, I guess sometimes you get lucky, and this week has been very fortunate for me,” Lee said according to the Washington Post after the victory. “I’ve been getting to meet a lot of cool people. This whole thing, being here is all great, and getting to throw two no-hitters feels amazing.”

The Virginia team's next matchup will be against West champions Hawaii. Central East Maui baseball team most recently completed a 6-0 victory over Elizabeth, N.J. on Monday.

"I'm really really proud of the kids. The way they've executed and the way they've pushed down the media and the big crowd and just gone out and done their job," Bowden told reporters after their last win. "I have told them, you know look around enjoy the moment this is the biggest game of your life but it's still the same game you play back at home ... and they've done a fantastic job of staying focused. And I've never been prouder of a group of kids."


Justin Lee throws no-hitter to lead Loudoun South in dominant Little League World Series win

Justin Lee throws no-hitter to lead Loudoun South in dominant Little League World Series win

The first team from Virginia to make the Little League World Series in 25 years is certainly making the most of its opportunity. Loudoun South threw its second no-hitter in as many games in a dominant 11-0 win over the Midwest Region champion out of Minnesota on Sunday.

Justin Lee enjoyed another dominant start. In the team’s first win on Friday, Lee pitched 2.2 innings in the combined no-hitter. On Sunday, he was able to go the distance. Lee pitched the full four innings with six strikeouts and two walks in 54 pitches.

As dominant as the pitching was, however, the bats were there to match.

Loudoun South did not wait long to take control. A double by Liam Thyen in the first inning brought in three runs giving the team a 3-0 lead they would never relinquish. A five-run second inning further cemented the dominant lead.

The bats were hot all day for Loudoun South who finished with nine total hits in just four innings. Thyien finished the game with five RBIs.

With the win, Loudoun South advances to within one game of the United States Championship. They will play the winner of the West and Mid-Atlantic champs on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.