amusement parks in the northeast

Iconic Northeast Amusement Parks, Past and Present

With high-intensity rides, popular attractions and powerfully nostalgic memories, these iconic amusement parks in the Northeast have truly mastered the art of terrifying and entertaining visitors.


Many beloved Northeast amusement parks are still standing today, and visiting them can feel almost like walking into your sweetest childhood memories. Here are the amusement parks where you can take a stroll down memory lane (while also enjoying some classic thrills).

Farmingdale, N.Y.

Adventureland has been thrilling Long Island kids since 1962. Here, visitors can enjoy a selection of arcade games, rides and attractions that are geared to a range of ages. Along with refreshing water rides and thrill rides such as the spinning Turbulence Coaster and Mystery Mansion, you can also find nostalgic amusement park rides like the ornate merry-go-round and Wave Swing. Long Islanders will remember field trips for physics class, cuddling in the haunted house and getting drenched on the long flume ride. This Long Island fixture will instantly bring you back to the rush of a roller coaster on a hot summer day.

Luna Park
Coney Island, N.Y.

Luna Park is one of the most nostalgic amusement parks around. Coney Island has been a hot spot for theme park attractions and innovations since the 1800s. Today, Luna Park features head-spinning rides, optical illusions and vibrantly colored embellishments. Among the many rides at this grand beachside playground are the 150-foot-tall Sling Shot, the Soarin’ Eagle roller coaster, and the longstanding Wonder Wheel and historic Cyclone wooden roller coaster. Complete the trip with a hot dog from the original Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand.

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Six Flags Great Adventure
Jackson, N.J.

First opened in 1974, Six Flags Great Adventure includes 11 themed areas and a variety of scream-inducing rides. Those who can handle the 70 mph blast and 76-degree drop of the wooden coaster El Toro can also attempt Nitro – one of the top steel roller coasters in the country. If you’re feeling brave enough, try conquering Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest roller coaster. While you’re there, try their Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure, which features 1,200 animals. AAA members can save up to 60% on admission to Six Flags Great Adventure.

amusement parks
An overhead view of a crazy slide at Hurricane Harbor Water Park. (Photo: Six Flags New England)

Six Flags New England
Agawam, Mass.

For coaster enthusiasts in the Rhode Island and Massachusetts area, Six Flags New England is home. This “coaster capital of New England” includes rides like the 400 foot-tall New England SkyScreamer swing, the Joker 4D Free Fly Coaster, Wicked Cyclone and Superman The Ride (featuring a 221 foot drop!). Want to cool off? Head over to their water park, Hurricane Harbor. AAA members can save up to 50% on admission.

Carver, Mass.

It’s too soon to sort Edaville as an amusement park of the past, but its gates have only been opened for select special events since the beginning of the pandemic. This heritage railroad and amusement park first opened over 75 years ago, and has since become a beloved staple of the community. It’s even rumored that Walt Disney, a train fanatic himself, was inspired by Edaville when he visited in the 1940s.

Hershey, Pa.

Ever since it opened in 1906, Hersheypark has been a sweet destination. This chocolate-themed site uses exhilarating rides and tasty indulgences to delight all who visit. While you’re in the area, take the short drive to Hershey’s Chocolate World to indulge in even more delicious fun, including the classic factory tour ride. AAA members can save up to 30% on Hersheypark admission.

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
Allentown, Pa.

People have been coming to Dorney Park in Allentown, Pa., since 1884 – and it’s still a destination to write home about today. This Pennsylvania theme park is equipped with both acclaimed roller coasters and award-winning water attractions. Take a ride on the 5,600-foot-long Steel Force roller coaster to drop 205 feet in the air, or battle the waves in the 590,000-gallon wave pool. The many themed rides, restaurants and activities are ideal for a day of fun family bonding. AAA members can save over 50% on admission.

Canobie Lake Park
Salem, N.H.

Canobie Lake Park has been bringing family fun to New Hampshire since 1902. Live shows, games, rides for all ages and even puzzle rooms are guaranteed to deliver smiles all day. The bravest thrill-seekers in your group can enjoy the Yankee Cannonball wooden coaster, or take on Untamed, where grizzly bear-shaped cars take riders through a series of loops, turns, banks, rolls and a stomach-dropping 72 foot fall.

Lake Compounce
Bristol, Conn.

Claiming to be the oldest continuously operating amusement park in North America, Lake Compounce has over 170 years of experience in family-friendly attractions and entertainment. From classics like bumper cars and a carousel to shows, roller coasters, adventure rides and Crocodile Cove – the largest waterpark in Connecticut, there’s fun around every turn.


While we can no longer visit these iconic amusement parks, generations of fans and guests still have nostalgia for all the thrills they once offered.

Baldwin, N.Y.

Nunley’s was a carousel pavilion and amusement park situated on Sunrise Highway in Baldwin from 1940-1995. It was a popular attraction, featuring a restaurant, rides, games and Nunley’s Carousel. This beautiful and ornate carousel actually began life as Murphy’s Carousel in 1912, at Golden City Park in Brooklyn. When Golden City Park closed, the carousel was renamed and relocated to Baldwin, where it became the crown jewel of Nunley’s Carousel and Amusements. The park featured attractions like a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, pedal cars, a miniature golf course and more. When Nunley’s closed in 1995, the carousel was purchased by Nassau County for preservation. However, it sat untouched for years. From 2007 to 2009, the carousel underwent a complete refurbishment to restore it to its former glory. While the park is gone, you can still ride Nunley’s Carousel on Museum Row in Nassau County today.

Action Park 
Vernon, N.J. 

Action Park is widely regarded as one of the most dangerous theme parks of all time – but people still have nostalgia for it. Why? Action Park skinned knees, left bruises and broke bones. But for many Jersey residents, it was simply a weekend getaway or summer job. It was a lawless land where kids could prove how tough they were by surviving dangerous, poorly-designed rides (including a water slide that featured an upside-down loop). It was for the best that Action Park was closed, but generations of guests still remember rides like the concrete Alpine Slide, the gasoline-leaking bumper boats and the freezing waters of the Tarzan Swing.

Rocky Point Amusement Park
Warwick, R.I. 

From 1847 to 1995, Rocky Point Amusement Park was the place to be for Rhode Islanders. In its heyday, it featured rides and attractions like the Corkscrew Loop Roller Coaster, the Freefall, the Castle of Terror and even a ballroom that hosted popular bands and musicians. Today, Rocky Point is a state park. Guests can still see the remnants of amusements past, like the skeleton of the Skyliner gondolas, the Circle Swing ride tower and a large archway that Rocky Point Amusement Park had acquired from the 1964 World’s Fair.

Crescent Park
Riverside, R.I. 

Known as “the Coney Island of New England” Crescent Park was open from 1886-1979. It became famous for attractions like its bandstands, haunted houses, midway games, roller coasters and boat rides. One of the most beautiful and beloved features of the park, however, was the Crescent Park Looff Carousel. It was handcarved by master woodcarver Charles I.D. Looff in 1895 and it is one of the only surviving parts of Crescent Park today. The City of East Providence acquired the carousel after Crescent Park closed, and it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Currently, the carousel is undergoing a massive restoration to ensure people can continue to enjoy it for generations to come.

Tell us your favorite amusement park memories in the comments below.

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24 Thoughts on “Iconic Northeast Amusement Parks, Past and Present

    1. I agree. While in college, I spent my summers working in the Funhouse at Playland and sometimes helped with the Octopus as well. Working there gave me insights into human behavior I might not have gained otherwise. The rides were diverse and interesting, and the atmosphere enjoyable. Freshly made frozen custard was the best you could buy anywhere. Playland should be at the top of the list.

  1. My parents took us to Rocky Point as our summer treat for working the whole year long. We were able to bring one friend with us which was great fun. Always loved the food at the chowder hall which was family style. Clam cakes were the best part. One year we actually were able to go in the pool which was the first thing that we saw at the entrance to the park. So many fond memories that have lasted to this day.

  2. I am surprised that Bergen Point Amusement in Bayonne, New Jersey and The Olympic Amusement Park in Irvington, New Jersey were not mentioned in your article. These two parks in my opinion were icon. The Olympic Amusement Park was one of the largest parks in New Jersey stretching from the City of Irvington into the City of Maplewood, NJ along the Chancellor and Springfield Avenue corridor. The famous carousel was transported to another state when the Olympic Amusement Park was demolished.

    Thank goodness for the wonderful memories of these two “gems” even when others tend to forget those “good old days.”

  3. Palisades and Freedomland amusement parks were the best in the NY-NJ area, as well as Rye Playland. I spent many happy hours at these 3 parks in my youth.

  4. We took our two children to Lincoln Park in North Dartmouth MA. It was not huge but had a covered eating area with picnic tables end to end and often had live music entertainment. Now the area is covered with homes.

  5. I remember Paragon Park on Nantasket Beach in Hull, MA. At the time they supposedly had the largest wooden roller coaster in New England in their heyday.

  6. Palisades Amusement Park was located in Fort Lee and Cliffside Park, NJ. A treat for those looking for summer fun. It offered shows, a salt water- pool with waves, attractions, and of course rides. AM radio and TV Advertising, along with the back pages of comic books, coupons, and rock and roll shows enhanced the park’s reputation and popularity. It didn’t hurt that Chuck Barris wrote the popular “Palisades Park’ (performed by Freddy Cannon and covered by others). In the end the limited parking, the value of the real estate, and an increase of negative incidents led to the park’s closure.

    1. I am glad to see someone mentioned Palisades Amusement Park. I can’t imagine how you overlooked it. I can still sing the jingle from the commercial!! Also Freedom Land, which I believe was in Westchester County in NY.

      1. Yes! Palisades Park and Freedomland in Bronx NY were both part of my childhood memories and were overlooked in this article. Who can forget Freedomland’s re- creations of Little Old New York, the Wild West and the Chicago Fire which was staged ( literally set ablaze!) several times throughout the day. I’m certain that the latter could never be done today due to safety regulations!

  7. What about Whalen Park. You should have mention under the Six Flags New England, it was first called Riverside. I also remember Mt. Park in Holyoke. Growing up as a kid in western Mass that was the easiest place to get to.

  8. Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, PA, is a throwback amusement park that dates from 1926. It’s also the largest free amusement park in the country. A great destination, it’s definitely worth a road trip.

  9. Rockaways Playland. Only two blocks long, but it was fun! It had two roller coasters. One was a kiddie coaster. A funhouse, an arcade, a merry-go-round, bumper cars, ferris wheel, miniature golf, skeeball, poker, bing-o-rino and every Wednesday, fireworks from the boardwalk. However, due to the rise of insurance , Playland was torn down and condominiums were built there.

    1. Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA was where the high school kids from surrounding towns worked over the summer months. Six Flags in Agawam was Riverside Park before Six Flags got involved. The wooden roller coaster (can’t remember the name) still stands, I believe. There was a large picnic area where companies used to throw their summer family get-togethers.

    2. Yes, Rockaways Playland had the Cinerama Rollercoaster. The one that was filmed on the first Cinerama movie. I worked at the park weekends and summers for 7 years in the 60’s. At the beginning of each season, in April, when the park opened ONLY on weekends, we’d ride the rollercoaster for hours on Saturday mornings with the safety bar UP, so we could jump out when the train slowed down coming up the second hill, when momentum was insufficient to keep it rolling, to push the train up to the flat curve, then jump back on for the rest of the ride. Then the rust was worn off until the next Saturday. All for minimum wage!!

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