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Looking for a fun day out with your toddler? Something exciting as well as thoroughly enticing? A special day that will forever be etched into your child’s mind? Amusement parks for toddlers are a one-stop answer to all these questions.
Boasting an array of nearly 475 amusement parks of varying sizes, from mega theme parks to small regional ones, the US has one to satisfy everyone’s palate.
It can be pretty tough to find a suitable amusement park for kids since most of them cater to the thrill-seekers of the family. They need to be kid-safe with rides that appeal to even the wariest riders.
Smaller parks that are easy to maneuver are a must. They need to be attention-grabbing to keep even the most wandering minds satisfied.
Theme parks check all these boxes. Both adventure and theme parks share most characteristics like rides and shows. However, the one key difference is that theme parks have exactly a theme to the entire setup.
With the summer fast approaching, this is the time to take your whole family out for a treat and visit some of the ones mentioned on our list.
1. Legoland Park, Florida
Starting with a bang, first up on the list is Legoland, a dreamscape for every Lego enthusiast. Located in Winter Haven, Florida, it was built on the site previously housing the Cypress Garden theme park.
Preserving the botanical gardens and teeming with greenery, the land offers the Legoland Theme Park, the Legoland Water Park, three on-site resorts, and a separate theme park based on the famous British animated series, Peppa Pig.
Though not as vast spanning as its Florida counterparts-Disneyland or Universal Orlando, here it works in its favor as it is accessible to the parents to get around with the toddlers and preschoolers.
Most amusement parks and water park rides have a low thrill factor. It is easy on novice riders scared of the typical roller coasters and is highly kid-friendly.
There is also free parking, which is always a bonus! The entire park can be done in a single day with some time to spare to repeat the favorites.
A popular attraction is the Joker Soaker, which dumps 500 gallons of water every 5 minutes. There are large play areas for young children scattered throughout the park, particularly in the Duplo Valley.
Miniland is a utopia for Lego lovers displaying real-life local and national landmarks made purely of Legos. Imagination Zone is where you want to experience hands-on Lego activities and take a break from the sun.
The previously mentioned botanical gardens give a respite from the rides and thrills. Some of its best features are the less waiting time for the rides and plenty of shaded areas protecting us from the sun.
The resort offers three well-established and beautiful types of accommodation, just a mere distance from the theme park.
You can take your pick from Pirate Island Hotel, LEGOLAND Hotel, and Beach Retreat which have themed rooms and offer a complimentary breakfast buffet.
Booking is highly advised as Legoland Water Park is available to guests of Legoland Resort only.
2. Story Land, New Hampshire
A truly mystical place, Story Land brings fairy tales to life. Glen, New Hampshire, is a magical kingdom that allows you to meet and greet your favorite characters from children’s stories. It has over 30 rides that will appeal to younger kids and toddlers.
Story Land provides the chance to delve into the mesmerizing world of make-believe, where you can take pictures with Humpty Dumpty, talk to Cinderella, ride her pumpkin coach, and play in the grandmother’s house from Little Red Riding Hood.
Along with the fairy tale elements, the park offers traditional amusement park rides like Dr. Geyser’s Remarkable Raft Ride, the classic log flume called Bamboo Chutes, and the Polar Coaster, which, as the name suggests, is the roller coaster. Loopy Lab allows you to manipulate gravity and take a break from the heat.
The exhibit with the interactive nursery rhymes and tales is alive with every character you could think of. From The Old Woman in the Shoe, Heidi and Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes to The Schoolhouse from Mary Had a Little Lamb all await to enamor the younger kids.
There is a petting zoo with animals that appear in fairy tales, like goats, sheep, etc. You can feed them by hand, which will win over all the little kids.
Usually, the place is spilling with parents and small children, with everyone waiting to interact with their favorite characters and pet the animals when the park opens.
A good piece of advice would be to visit later in the day when things quiet down, giving more time to play.
The park has kennels for the dogs, meaning no family member has to be left behind. They also offer free parking.
Multiple family restrooms and leisure spots are available where parents can take a breather from all the hustle and bustle with their babies, change diapers, and feed them.
Story Land is also known to host Sensory Sensitive Weekends on chosen weekends during the year when music and announcements are lowered in volume and some loud water features are turned off.
This would be the perfect time to visit the amusement park with someone overwhelmed by too many things happening at once.
3. Diggerland, New Jersey
Does your kid love building houses? Play-act as constructors? This is the perfect place for every Wanna-Be builder. Located in Berlin Township, New Jersey, this amusement park is filled with construction-themed thrill rides and attractions.
The place allows people to operate heavy construction machinery like excavators designed to give you a feel of the actual machines. The entire amusement park is decorated like a construction site allowing a glimpse into the real deal.
The instruments and machines slowly move to deem them highly safe for all toddlers and preschoolers.
The biggest attractions are the cranes: the big ones are stationed in a pit of soil enabling you to dig, lift, and drop it as well as miniature cranes in which little games are played like scooping up ducks from the water, knocking over bowling pens and digging up the soil for treasure.
Apart from the machines, other attractions like the barrel train ride, lemon cannons, exciting rides with utility themes operated by a worker like Greased Beast, Elevation Shuttle, Spin Dizzy, etc., and play areas with kiddie rides for the little kids.
For the particularly daring of hearts, there is a four-story tall rope course, a 32-foot-high rock wall, and a zip-line course offering a splendid view of the whole area.
The recently established Water Main is joined to the theme park, the perfect place to cool down in the blazing summer heat. The water park hosts a wave pool, slide towers, and leisure swim areas with family-friendly rides.
This is one of the unique amusement parks and is the perfect pit stop for the whole family when visiting a nearby area.
4. Knott’s Berry Farm, California
It is a near guarantee that the oldest and one of the best theme parks in California will be on the list. What started as a roadside berry stand in the 1920s is now a full-fledged theme park with up to 40 rides and an imitation of the famous Ghost Town.
The main attraction is the Ghost Town with cowboys, gunfights, steam trains, and a search for gold. The Wild West Stunt Show is a must-watch, highlighting rival gunslingers’ showdown and enthralling the crowd with the sound and effects.
Camp Snoopy reflects a perfect day in a summer camp, full of interactive activities. Fiesta Village is a tribute to the Mexican and Hispanic roots in the area, showcasing their beautiful architecture, mouthwatering food, and alluring art.
There are several rides for all, from the most thrilling ones to the faint of hearts. Xcelerator, Hang Time, and Ghost Rider (the wooden roller coaster) are the epitome of a thrill ride sure to satisfy the daredevil in one’s heart. At the same time, Pony Express and Sierra Sidewinder are perfect family-friendly rides.
The theme park also offers an app that makes it easy to get around with simple layouts and multiple filters to find rides and dining places.
A specialty of the theme park, as its name suggests, is the Boysenberry Festival. The entire place is decorated in berry themes- from hanging on the balconies to winding up the pillars. Eating contests, as well as multiple berry-related activities, are organized.
Local people set up Stalls boasting various fruit-related artifacts and souvenirs. This year’s festival will be held until the 24th of April.
5. Hersheypark, Pennsylvania
A chocolate lover? Hersheypark is the place to be. A theme park entirely based on chocolates is possibly every child’s dream- big or small. It is a land even Willi Wonka would love to visit, from fun rides based on candies and chocolates to making one of your own.
Originally started as a relaxing park for the Hershey Chocolate Company employees, Hersheypark is now a well-established family theme park.
You are thrown into the chocolate world right from the entrance, with different Hershey candies, including Twizzlers, used to determine the height and determine who can ride each attraction.
Along with every classic ride imaginable is Hershey’s Chocolate World: its kind of place inspired by its name.
The food court has every possible chocolate-themed dish to satisfy all the sweet teeth, including the world’s largest Hershey’s chocolate store. (The pretzels made from a classic Pennsylvania recipe are to die for).
People are also given a tour through their testing labs to glimpse behind the scenes of their favorite chocolate, taste new recipes, and design their own Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Taking a break from everything chocolate, young children and parents can wander amongst animals in Zoo America, home to nearly 75 species and 200 individual animals from North America. Spanning 11 acres, it is a welcome addition to the theme park and highly popular amongst families.
A popular year-end event is Hersheypark’s Christmas Candy Lane when the entire park is decked out. It is a fantastic way to spend Christmas and experience family fun.
6. Sesame Place, Langhorne
Do you have small children who are fans of Elmo and friends? Do they know every sing-along by heart? Then Sesame Place, Langhorne in Philadelphia will be the perfect theme park.
It is the only theme park in the US based entirely on Sesame Street’s children’s television show. It is also the first-ever theme park to become a certified autism center globally.
This magic kingdom hosts a variety of kid-friendly attractions, from Elmo’s Flying Fish and Mix n’ Match Twiddle Tracks (a children’s train ride) to The Count’s Splash Castle- a multiple-tier water park attraction with numerous water slides and a 1000-gallon dumping bucket. Slimey’s Square also has play areas designated for young kids 5 and under.
Not everything is catered towards younger kids only. The big kids can enjoy rides like the Vapor Plaza and Oscar’s Wacky Taxi (a wooden coaster with a sharp first drop). Big kids can also head to Twiddle Bug Land, a water park area with exciting water rides and adventures.
The Sesame Neighborhood is a real-life replica of Sesame Street with all the storefronts and shops. The characters pop in for pictures and put up small performances. Breakfast with Elmo is a hit among young kids where they can dine and interact with Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby.
There are also multiple live shows throughout the day, which is a perfect way to cool down after the rides. Try to sneak in early to sit near the front as the characters keep interacting with kids through little waves or gestures. The younger children are sure to love it.
The best way to wrap up the day would be to head for the evening parade. Nearly all Sesame Street Bay characters appear with favorite sing-alongs playing in the background and splendid lighting.
Sesame Place is one of the best theme parks to visit, offering something for both little kids and older children.
7. Gilroy Garden Family Theme Park, California
With their motto stating ‘where fun grows on trees,‘ Gilroy Garden is a perfect mixture between an amusement park and a botanical garden.
The park offers over 40 rides and attractions and is most famously known for its ‘Circus Trees‘ planted by Axel Erlandson.
Most of the rides in the park have a low thrill factor, perfect for elementary-aged kids. They have classical kid-friendly rides like the merry-go-round, teacup rides, a rattlesnake-themed roller coaster, mini-Ferris wheels, and themed train rides.
Bonfante’s Falls provides a water play area where kids can splish and splash. Water Oasis is more geared towards more minor children. Young kids can run around all they want in the Oak Park Playground.
The theme park offers multiple discounts on tickets, especially while buying online. Since the park is not big like Disney Resort or Universal, a general rule would be to check before going.
Springtime is a perfect sweet spot to visit the park when you can enjoy all the greenery and shade. Circus Trees, made by intricate grafting procedures, are as much art as natural wonders and a must-see when visiting the park.
After all, who doesn’t love more options? These are other amusement parks that did not make a list but are a treat to visit regardless.
- Edaville Family Theme Park, Massachusetts
- Seaworld San Diego
- Busch Gardens, Williamsburg
- Dutch Wonderland, Pennsylvania
- Holiday World, Indiana
Finding an entertaining and kid-friendly is a hard task.
These are a few hidden gems perfect for a family outing in a world full of Disneylands and other big-name theme parks. They are sure to become one of your favorite theme parks.
Well connected to multiple resorts and dining areas offering a variety of cuisines, theme parks are a comprehensive package promising fun and memorable times.
Some of your most fond memories will be made in amusement parks while riding on roller coasters that nearly make you faint and splash away in the water till your fingers turn to prunes.
Comment down below your favorite amusement parks or a fond memory from there that you deeply cherish. Also, mention any other theme park that should have made a list.