The Five Best Amusement Parks in New England, Ranked

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

Roller coaster rushes past

Photo by kuri2000/Getty Images

What makes a great experience at a theme park? It’s the rides, the people, the arcades, the food – I will defend the excellence of amusement park fries to the end of time. When you’re a kid, it all adds up to an exhilarating, perfect day, so much so that as an adult, the nostalgia that swells at the thought of going back has you running for the car keys. If you walk up to a New Englander who looks like he grew up in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s and sing “Whaloooommm Paaaark” and he doesn’t immediately sing “For a Whale of Time!!!”, If If you immediately make a new friend, you get to fist-fight that person right in front of the abandoned building that used to be a chess king.

Sure, you can remember every ad ever aired promoting the Museum of Science or Chow Daddy. But amusement park commercials have taken it to another level, and even when I hear these songs, I get into an “I remember when…” from Dorchester kids to spooky Auburn, ME and all the Bradlees in between (word to Mrs B!). The onslaught of fast-paced, hypnotic images of roller coasters, bobbing pirate ships and cotton candy aired during episodes of Gidget and The monkeys would naturally cause us kids to call our parents with an annoying beard and Lisa Simpson-esque “Can we go to Rocky Point?” Can we go to Rocky Point? Can we go to Rocky Point?” until they either gave in to our demands or challenged us to a fistfight in front of an abandoned building that used to be a Skippy White’s (look, there were a lot of abandoned buildings around here in the 80’s).

With the begging done, it was time to choose the park where the hike would take place. And if you’ve ever ordered lunch for more than five people, you know that agreeing on one thing in a reasonable amount of time is virtually impossible. So I’m here to help you. With an emphasis on variety, here’s my ranking, in reverse order, of the top five amusement parks in New England that are sure to help you cure your end-of-summer blues.

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5.) York’s wild kingdom

If you and your kids have always wanted to ride a steam train out of a lions’ den, past an exotic butterfly enclosure and all the way to an awesome roller coaster that looks like a 1940s Looney Tunes cartoon mouse, then Yorks is the place for you Wild Kingdom the right place for you and your family. Located in York, Maine, this park is a fun combination of a breezy Saturday afternoon Animal Planet show/carnival ride and a great place to watch confused ostriches and people shocked to see one another. As a kid, I started my day on the Wacky Mouse roller coaster just to prove to myself that I was a whole man. Then, after leaving scared, I dominated everyone on the bumper cars while pointing at disappointed kids and yelling “I’m big enough for anything!!!” Then it’s off to the zoo to have a deep chat with the penguins to guide everything they have done wrong happy feet before ending the day, stoically standing on the miniature golf course with my hands on my hips and pretending I know what I’m doing. Just a 23-hour walk from Boston, this is an ideal place for the whole family.

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

4.) Waterland

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of water parks. The notion that irresponsible people in Dr. Being violently nudged by Darks Tunnel of Terror with a nervous bubble full of fountains, coupled with my lack of competent breaststroke in times of danger, never pleased a young LPizzle. Water Country makes this list for 2 reasons. 1. Summer is supposed to be hot but this issue sometimes feels like I owe The Sun some money and he’s here to collect it. A cool release is necessary. 2. This park gave us Boston kids of the 80’s and 90’s a possibly top 3 local commercial of all time and that classic jingle you’re all singing in your head right now. So when the sun is beating down and the summer is getting hot, Water Country is a very cool place.

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

3.) Santa’s village

Before I start, you should all know that I believe Santa Claus is real. That’s no joke; he exists. I’m a card-carrying holiday nerd. Both Christmas and Halloween. Until the day comes when Mr. Kringle finally responds to one of my many DMs and invites me to his magic workshop at the North Pole, Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH, which is festively called Chimney Drop with its slides and a real Burger Meister food court is the closest thing I have. If I got on my Delorean and went back and told my 8 year old that one day he would get paid to write about a Christmas theme park while it was 198° outside, he would look at me like I do an accused witch a year 1692. Fans of Winter Wonderlands and Johnny Mathis should head to Santa’s Village.

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

2.) Canobie Lake Park

Some say that the scariest ride to be strapped to is a roller coaster, and in many cases that’s true. The Batman roller coaster at Six Flags comes to mind, with its inverted function that dangles riders’ feet as they go at warp speed. That’s frightening, but for my money it has Nothing on the Turkish twist. This legendary Canobie Lake Park staple is like walking into a meeting and the room starts spinning so fast everyone gets stuck to the wall… and then the floor falls out, leaving you floating, confused and every life decision , who you have met, ever made that led to this moment. And just as you’ve convinced yourself it’s about to be over, you realize you’re trapped in this spinning wind tunnel with a kid who’s just downed a tall cup of those delicious amusement park fries. gulp! Fear aside, the Twist is a glorious rush in a park full of them. The mainstay of Salem, NH has attractions for all ages and thrill seekers.

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$49 Friday/Sunday, $59 Saturday, 85 N Policy St., Salem, NH, canobie.com.

1. Six Flags New England

The king. The park that ticks all the boxes for me. Home of the aforementioned Batman roller coaster, Six Flags New England has it all. Do you like 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 cool off? Whip down the Blizzard River. The Six Flags brand typically dominates each region in which it is based. But that’s just one of the reasons why she’s at the top of my list. The other is the nostalgia factor and the former name. As a kid, a trip to Agawam, MA meant one thing: Riverside Park! For as long as I can remember, this has been a field trip at the end of the school year. The ride on the school bus to the park, with us excited kids coaxing big truck drivers to honk their horns as we drove by, our growing frenzy with each sign showing us closer and closer to the park, and our outburst as we seeing the first roller Gliding the roller coaster above the trees was almost as exciting as our time in the park. The rides were great, the fries were top notch and to this day I don’t know if anyone broke my Spy Hunter record for the best amusement park arcade ever. The wide range of attractions coupled with the overwhelming nostalgia make Six Flags New England, aka The Artist Formerly Known As Riverside, my #1 amusement park recommendation.

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