When you think of amusement parks, it may bring to mind adrenaline-pumping roller coasters and other gravity-defying rides. However, attractions like that are more terrifying than fun for younger children and toddlers. In fact, smaller children aren’t permitted on many of those rides, so families must seek out other options.
Fortunately, there are plenty of amusement parks designed for young kids that have fun, age-appropriate rides they can enjoy with parents. These parks also have play areas for babies and toddlers, so kids of all ages can spend a day of fun and get their first taste of an amusement park.
Our favorite posts about Amusement and Theme Parks
Amusement Parks in New Hampshire
This magical amusement park is based on classic children’s fairy tales and has many rides for younger children. Kids ages nine and under will particularly enjoy it, although those 10-15 will still find plenty to enjoy.
With more than 30 attractions that allow parents and kids to enjoy the rides together, there is so much to see here. Take a ride in Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach, a giant pumpkin pulled by a mechanical horse, or go for a spin in the Crazy Barn that raises off the ground and spins.
Smaller roller coasters like the Roar-O-Saurus and Polar Coaster won’t terrify young ones but are still exciting enough for parents. Driving antique cars, riding the antique German carousel, floating in a swan boat, or spinning through teacups are all geared toward toddlers.
In addition to the rides and other attractions, there are live shows, games, dinners with favorite characters, tea time, and a fairy tale training class. The Storybook Animals section features animals from favorite stories like pigs and sheep.
Other family-friendly services include free parking, reserved stroller parking, and nursing and baby changing rooms. There’s also a gift shop and plenty of food options available to keep kids from getting hungry and grumpy. If you have time, take a trip to Santa’s Village, which isn’t too far away from Story Land.
Amusement Parks in Pennsylvania
This old-fashioned amusement park is a “Kingdom for Kids” and features 35 attractions, rides, and shows. It’s easy to navigate the smaller property without wearing out children or spending all day walking from place to place.
All the rides and attractions are labeled by height, so you can quickly determine if it’s worth waiting in line to go on a ride. Almost all the attractions can be enjoyed by young children under the age of 8. Tour the park on the Wonderland Special train and cool off in the summer at the Duke’s Lagoon water area with water-spilling coconuts and geysers.
Children can have breakfast with Merlin and his friends at the buffet that features kid-friendly foods and create your own omelet station. Families can also camp at the nearby Old Mill Stream Campground, which has family cabins, tent sites, a playground, and discounted tickets to the amusement park.
Those visiting during the holidays can enjoy the Happy Hauntings around Halloween, which feature themed rides and a Trick-or-Treat Trail. Closer to Christmas, you can experience Dutch Winter Wonderland with more rides, entertainment, warm drinks, and The Royal Lights Show.
Stop for lunch at some of the themed restaurants such as the Castle Cafe, Potato Patch, Bean Sprouts, and many more. Although the park doesn’t allow outside food, you can bring snacks and water or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the picnic pavilion just outside the park. Make sure to get your hands stamped if you want to re-enter after leaving for lunch.
Harvest Moon Bed & Breakfast, mid-range
311 East Main Street
New Holland, PA 17557
Harvest Drive Family Inn Intercourse – Amish Country, budget
3368 Harvest Drive
Gordonville, PA 17529
If your kids love all things Sesame Street, they will enjoy this park based around all the cute puppet characters from the show. There is both a theme and water park with different rides and attractions with two roller coasters and nine water rides open in the summer.
Conveniently located about 30 minutes from Philadelphia, the park is perfect for kids seven and under with many toddler-friendly rides. Kids as young as three can ride one of the roller coasters while the family-friendly wooden coaster has a 40-inch height requirement.
The Mini Monster Clubhouse is a soft play area for kids five and under, and the carousel and teacup ride are also geared to younger ones. In the summer, enjoy the 10,000-square-foot wave pool, lazy river, body slides, a water raft slide, and more.
An indoor and outdoor theater has live shows, and there are also parades, costumed characters, and special holiday attractions at Christmas and Halloween. Some other family-friendly touches include low sinks in most of the restrooms to make it easy for kids to wash their hands, bottle warmers, changing stations, and a private nursing room.
Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia NE – Langhorne, mid-range
3101 West Cabot Boulevard
Langhorne, PA 19047
Homewood Suites by Hilton Newtown – Langhorne, PA, mid-range
110 Pheasant Run
Newtown, PA 18940
Legoland in Florida and California
Winter Haven, FL or Carlsbad, CA
The Legoland chain of family theme parks has locations all over the world, and families can visit either of their US locations in Florida or California. Both of these parks are ideal because they are designed for kids ages 2 to 12.
Legoland California has many rides with a minimum height requirement of 34 inches, while many will allow smaller children to ride as long as they are accompanied by an adult. The park is split into different sections with over 60 rides, including four roller coasters and eight water rides.
There is a Sea Life Aquarium and Lego-themed water park as well as a castle hotel and resort hotel, which makes it easy to stay nearby. The Legoland Florida Resort is the second-largest park in the chain and has 13 different areas along with a botanical garden and water park.
Some areas are similar in both parks, including Miniland USA, which is full of miniature buildings built out of Lego blocks, and the DUPLO areas, which are perfect play areas for small kids. In addition to fun and entertainment, the parks also put an emphasis on learning and allow kids to build, interact with musical instruments, drive, and more.
Recommended Hotels in Winter Haven, FL
Courtyard by Marriott Winter Haven, mid-range
6225 Cypress Gardens Boulevard SE
Winter Haven, 33884
Econo Lodge Winter Haven, budget
5665 Cypress Gardens Boulevard Building B
Winter Haven, FL 33884
Recommended Hotels in Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad by the Sea Resort, budget
850 Palomar Airport Road
Carlsbad, CA 92011
Welk Resorts San Diego, mid-range
8860 Lawrence Welk Drive
Escondido, CA 92026
Ocean Palms Beach Resort, luxury
2950 Ocean Street
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Amusement Parks in Indiana
Santa Claus, IN
Holiday World is located in the uniquely named city of Santa Claus, Indiana, and is both a theme park and water park combined. The four sections of the park celebrate different holidays: Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July.
There are many children’s rides and activities, such as a toddler’s pool and shallow pool with gentle waves. The treehouse playground has three-stories and will keep kids occupied while those who are still too young for that can try the Just for Pups playground for smaller children.
Splashin’ Safari is a safari-themed water park with the world’s two longest water coasters, Wildebeest and Mammoth. It also has water slides, family raft rides, two wave pools, two water slide areas that are child-sized, a lazy river, and a tipping bucket.
Food options are also themed, and you can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner at Plymouth Rock Cafe or grab some dessert at the Candy Cane Confectionery. There are free unlimited soft drinks with drink stations scattered around the park.
Complimentary sunscreen is also available from kiosks, parking is included with your tickets, there is free WiFi, and you don’t have to pay to rent inner tubes so families can save some money. Children two and under are free, and little guests who are under 54-inches tall are discounted.
Amusement Parks in Massachusetts
This amusement park is perfect for parents and kids to enjoy rides together, and there are over 30 amusement rides to choose from. There’s a carousel, Ferris wheels, tilt-a-whirl, flying elephants, bumper cars, scrambler, a monorail inspired ride, and a smaller drop zone.
Tamer activities include an arcade, shooting gallery, splash pad, and ball pit. The park is also home to Thomas Land, a smaller park within Edaville that covers 11 acres and is based on the children’s television show Thomas & Friends.
Thomas Land features a 20-minute Thomas the Tank Engine train ride that takes you around the park and gives unlimited rides. Other train-themed rides include a runaway roller coaster, carousel, tilting tracks, and diesel derby. Another section called Dino Land has life-size animatronic dinosaurs and a seasonal walking trail.
Guests can bring in outside food and drink to enjoy in one of the outdoor picnic areas. Food is also available for purchase, and there are plenty of places to go shopping too. Kids will love the Sodor Sweet Shoppe with candy from all over the world, Candy Depot, and antique Popcorn Wagon.
For Halloween, families can attend in costume and enjoy trick-or-treating and other spooky activities. Parking is free, and baby strollers are allowed in the park along with stroller parking, which is required for the train ride.
Seaworld in Florida
Seaworld Orlando is one of the most visited theme parks in the world and is a favorite among families. In addition to the marine zoological park, it also has many rides and attractions, including five roller coasters.
The themed areas are referred to as “seas” and each one has a unique element such as shallow water exhibits, sharks, killer whales, and Antarctica. There is also a children’s area in Sesame Street Land, a junior rollercoaster, and a water play area.
Although some of the roller coasters are quite extreme, many other attractions are perfect for younger children. Elmo’s Choo Choo Train is a short train ride while the Big Bird Twirl ‘N Whirl ride, Flamingo Paddle Boats, and Sea Carousel are all milder rides.
Seaworld is particularly known for their live entertainment shows and animal presentations which take place in their several theaters and Shamu Stadium. Several killer whales called the park home along with sea lions and dolphins.
Children of all ages will enjoy watching the trainers interact with the animals and seeing them perform incredible tricks. You can also book a behind-the-scenes tour, visit a dolphin nursery, see the manatee rehabilitation area, explore the 360-degree manta aquarium, or have a shark encounter through a large underwater tunnel.
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Orlando at SeaWorld, budget
10801 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32821
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Orlando at SeaWorld, mid-range
10731 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32821
Hilton Grand Vacations at SeaWorld, luxury
6924 Grand Vacations Way
Orlando, FL 32821