In the past, theme parks were designed mostly for adults and older kids. There weren’t that many rides for young children. As they realized that many families visiting the park had little children as well, most theme parks started to create different rides and other attractions to accommodate even the youngest guests. Today, it may be hard to find a theme park that would not provide any rides for little children.
If you are taking your children to a theme park for the first time, they may be overwhelmed with so many different attractions and so many people in one place. They may even get upset. You may need to take it easy on them and try to introduce them to all the rides gradually. Have them try slow and mild rides first and see how they react. If they like it and want more, take your kids to some faster and more exciting rides.
Before you go on an expensive out-of-state trip to a theme park you do not know, visit a smaller amusement park in your area. County or State Fairs also provide many rides for young children and they are usually less expensive than theme parks. However, even if you are planning to take your child to a large theme park without previously visiting a smaller one, be assured that there will be at least a couple of rides that your child will be able to take.
Here are some of the best family oriented theme parks in the United States with plenty of rides for young children:
Legoland in California
The whole park is decorated with sculptures made out of Lego blocks. There are over 50 rides and activities for all ages. For older kids that are at least 40 inches tall there are: Knight’s Kingdom Robo Coaster, a six-arm coaster that looks like a robot, Dragon Coaster, where you ride through a medieval castle and Technic Coaster, full of sharp twists and turns.
For younger children (need to be accompanied by an adult) there are: Safari Trek Ride, a slow automated car ride that travels through “jungle,” Sky Cruiser, a monorail powered by your own legs (it has pedals) and it goes about 10 feet in the air, and Spellbreaker, a kid-sized roller coaster that looks like a complicated ski lift.
Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA
Here is a park just for Sesame Street fans. Here are some of the best rides and for little children: Vapor Coaster, a kids size roller coaster for kids ages 3 and up, Sunny Day Carousel with Muppet-like horses, Grover’s World Twirl, a tea-cup-like ride, Big Birds Balloon Race, a balloon basket that goes up a 40-foot-high tower.
Story Land in Glen, NH
The park has 21 rides for parents and children to enjoy together. Children must be at least 36 inches tall to ride most rides (under parental supervision), but there are also a few for smaller children: Polar Coaster, a great first-time coaster for young children, Crazy Barn, a big barn that goes up and down in the air and spins, and Dr. Geyser’s Remarkable Raft Ride, Bamboo Chutes, oriental-themed flume ride with dragons and singing bamboo people.
Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH
Here is one of the best Christmas-themed park in the county. From a toddler to an adult, everyone will find a fun ride. For kids ages two and up there are: Rudy’s Rapid Transit Roller Coaster, Christmas Carousel, kids 42 inches or taller can ride alone, The Pixie Mix, a coaster ride for children only (at least 2 years old), and the Great Humbug Adventure, a ride through Scrooge’s house where you tickle humbugs with your JOY stick and make them giggle. This is a dark ride with a slope. If your children aren’t afraid of the dark, they will want to ride this one over and over again!
North pole Santa’s Workshop in Cascade, CO
A Christmas-themed park located in Colorado. Rides for the youngest children are grouped in Santa’s
Enchanted Forest. The best ones are: Candy Cane Coaster, a kids-sized roller coaster, Christmas Tree, where children sit in cars that go up and down around the giant Christmas tree, and a carousel, a vintage ride dated since 1919, still operating.
For older family members the best are: Ferris Wheel, world’s highest (altitude) wheel and Skyride, a ski-lift-like ride that allows you to enjoy the view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
IdleWild in Ligonier, PA
The park is divided into seven different zones, but only three of them offer rides: Olde Idlewild, Raccoon Lagoon, and Hooting Holler. Olde Idlewild offers rides for the whole family. Although, on most of them children have to be at least 36 inches high, it is worth mentioning, because many of the rides have been operating since the 1930s. The best ones are: Caterpilar, a roller coaster that resembles a caterpillar and Rolo Coaster, a wooden coaster that was opened in 1938 and Wild Mouse, a modern roller coaster where mouse-shaped cars, with four guests in each car, follow the steel rack full of twists, dips and hills.
Hootin’ Holler zone is full of live entertainment, games, shops and a few rides. The best ride is Loggin Toboggan, where you ride log boats in a fast flowing river to the top of a 30-foot tower. From there you come down a chute with a big splash.
From the Hootin’ Holler a train called Loyalhanna Limited Railroad takes the whole family to the Raccoon Lagoon. Raccoon Lagoon is a 9-acre Kiddie Land, one of the largest in the United States. There are at least 12 different rides, where riders cannot be taller than 56 inches. It also offers pony rides. Some of the rides include: Cattail Derby, miniature bumper cars, Rainbow Wheel, a kids-size Ferris Wheel, Dino Soars, where each child rides their own dinosaur-shaped car and Ricky’s Racers, a miniature-car ride through the “forest.”
Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA
This theme park offers 30 rides which include two child-friendly coasters: Kingdom Roller Coaster for kids at least 42 inches tall and Joust Family Coaster, for everyone that is minimum 36 inches tall.
There are also many rides for children smaller than 36 inches. Here are some of the most fun ones: Dragon’s Lair, a log boat ride that goes through dragon’s lair, Wonder Whip, a miniature version of the whip and Off-Road Rally, an electric “monster truck” ride, perfect for the youngest drivers.
Dutch Wonderland has also a Nursing Mothers Station located near the train station at the front of the park. It has a rocking chair for the mom, a kid-sized chair for older brothers or sister and, of course a changing station.
Theme parks strive to accommodate guests of all ages. There are parks that are specifically designed for younger children throughout the United States. It is impossible to list them all. When you plan a trip to an unfamiliar area, call the local Chamber of Commerce or the city’s visitor’s center to find out what kind of attractions are available. Keep in mind that your children’s perception of the park as well as of each ride may depend on many factors, such as rest, food, length of stay, etc. To maximize the benefits of the visit let your children choose their rides and let them rest when they need it. It doesn’t matter how many rides your children experience, but how much fun they have riding the ones they do.