New England’s Five Best Amusement Parks, Ranked

A highly scientific ranking taking into account rides, food and theme songs.

Photo by kuri2000/Getty Images

What makes a good amusement park experience? It’s the rides, the people, the arcades, the food – I’ll defend the excellence of amusement park fries until the end of time. If you’re a kid, it all boils down to a heady, perfect day, so much so that when you’re an adult, the nostalgia that swells when you think of going back has you racing for the car keys. If you walk up to a New Englander who looks like he’s come of age in his 70s, 80s, or 90s and sings “Whaloooommm Paaaark” and he doesn’t immediately sing “For a time whale!!!”, instantly creating a new friendship, you are legally allowed to fight this person right outside the abandoned building who was once a chess king.

Sure, you remember all the ads that ran to promote the Science Museum or Chow Daddy. But the amusement park commercials have taken it to another level, and even hearing those songs makes me go into “I remember when…”. from the kids of Dorchester to scary ass Auburn, ME and all the Bradlees in between (word to Mrs. B!). The rush of fast, hypnotic visuals of roller coasters, swinging pirate ships and cotton candy, which aired during episodes of gadget and Monkeys would naturally prompt us kids to bombard our parents with a boring, Bart and Lisa Simpson-like “Can we go to Rocky Point? Can we go to Rocky Point? Can we go to Rocky Point? until they give in to our demands or challenge us to a fight in front of a building abandoned that used to be a Skippy White (look, there were a lot of abandoned buildings here in the 80’s).

Begging being ruled out, it was time to choose the park in which to trek. And if you’ve ever ordered lunch with more than five people, you know that human beings agreeing on just one thing in a reasonable amount of time is next to impossible. So I’m here to help you. With a focus on variety, here, in reverse order, are my rankings of the top five New England amusement parks that are sure to help you cure the late summer blues.

5.) York’s Wild Kingdom

If you and your kids have ever wanted to pull a steam locomotive out of a lion’s den, past an enclosure of exotic butterflies, and up a cool rollercoaster that looks like a 1940s Looney Tunes cartoon mouse, then the wild kingdom of York is the perfect place. for you and your family. Located in York, Maine, this park is a fun combination of a traveling Animal Planet show/carnival on Saturday afternoons and a great place to watch bewildered ostriches and shocked-to-see humans. As a child, I would start my day on the Wacky Mouse roller coaster just to prove to myself that I am a man. Then, after leaving terrified, I towered over everyone in the bumper cars while pointing at disappointed kids and shouting “I’m big enough for anything!!!” After that, it’s off to the zoo to have a deep talk with the penguins about everything they got wrong. happy feet before ending the day stoically on mini-golf, hands on hips, pretending to know what I’m doing. Just a 23-hour walk from Boston, it’s a great place for the whole family.

$15.75+, 1 Wildlife Park Road, York ME, www.yorkswildkingdom.com.

4.) Water Country

Granted, I’m not the biggest fan of water parks. The idea of ​​irresponsible human beings being violently pushed around in Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror with a nervous bladder full of Fountain Sprite, coupled with my lack of competent breaststroke in times of danger never appealed to a young LPizzle. Water Country makes this list for 2 reasons. 1. Summer is supposed to be hot but this edition sometimes feels like I owe the Sun money and he’s here to collect. A cold version is needed. 2. This park gave us Boston kids of the 80s and 90s local publicity probably top 3 of all time and that classic jingle you’re all singing in your head right now. So when the sun is shining and the summer gets hot, Water Country is a very cool place.

Ticket prices displayed seasonally, 2300 Lafayette Road, Portsmouth, NH, watercountry.com.

3.) Santa Claus Village

Before we begin, you should all know that I believe Santa Claus does exist. This is not a joke; it exists. I’m a card-carrying holiday nerd. Christmas and Halloween. Until one day Mr. Kringle finally responds to one of my many DMs and invites me to his magical workshop at the North Pole, Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH, with its waterslides, festively named Chimney Drop and a real meister burger food court is the closest thing I have. If I jumped in my Delorean and went back and told an 8 year old that one day he would get paid to write about a Christmas-themed amusement park when it was 198° outside , he would look at me like I was an accused witch in 1692. Fans of Winter Wonderlands and Johnny Mathis should head straight to Santa’s Village.

$43+, 528 Presidential Road, Jefferson, NH, santasvillage.com.

2.) Canobie Lake Park

Some say the scariest ride you can get attached to is a roller coaster, and in many cases that’s true. Six Flags’ Batman roller coaster comes to mind, with its inverted feature that leaves riders’ feet dangling as they travel at lightning speed. It’s terrifying but, for my money, it has nothing on the Turkish Twist. This legendary Canobie Lake Park must-see is like walking into a meeting and the room starts spinning so fast that everyone is glued to the wall…then the floor drops, leaving you floating, confused and questioning. every life decision you’ve ever made that led to this moment. And just when you’ve convinced yourself it’ll be over soon, you realize you’re trapped in that spinning wind tunnel with a kid fresh out of a big cup of those delicious amusement park fries. Sip! Fear aside, the Twist is a glorious race in a park full of it. The mainstay of Salem, NH offers attractions for all ages and thrill-seeking appetites.

$49 Fri/Sun, $59 Sat, 85 N Policy St., Salem, NH, canobie.com.

1. Six Flags of New England

The king. The park that ticks all the boxes for me. Home of the aforementioned Batman Rollercoaster, Six Flags New England has it all. Do you like thrill rides? In addition to the Batman, they have the Harley Quinn Spinsanity and the Joker 4D Free Fly Coaster. Fun for the kids? All aboard the Daffy Duck Express and the Wile E. Coyote Speed ​​Trap. Need to freshen up? Descend the Blizzard River. The Six Flags brand generally dominates all regions in which it resides. But that’s just one of the reasons she tops the list. The other is the nostalgia factor and the name by which it was once known. As a child, a trip to Agawam, MA meant one thing: Riverside Park! As far back as I can remember, it was an end-of-school-year excursion. The school bus ride to the park, with us excited kids coaxing big truck drivers to honk as we rode, our growing frenzy with each sign showing us closer and closer to the park, and our eruption once that we saw the first roller coaster gliding above the trees was almost as thrilling as our time inside the park. The rides were great, the fries were great, and to this day I don’t know if anyone broke my Spy Hunter record at the best amusement park arcade ever. The vast array of attractions coupled with the overwhelming nostalgia makes Six Flags New England, aka The Artist Formerly Known As Riverside, my #1 amusement park recommendation.

$50, 1623 Main Street, Agawam, MA, sixflags.com.