Top 10 New York Amusement Parks

Top 10 Amusement Parks in New York

Feature Photo: Belikova Oksana / Shutterstock.com

Listed in the  Top 10 New York Amusement Parks are a collection of fan favorites based on popularity ratings and rave reviews. For the average tourist, when the state of New York is brought up in a conversation, usually it’s the Big Apple that gets the first mention. With the number of top attractions and events in New York City, it can serve as an amusement park in its own right. Speaking as someone who is a bit of a history buff, when New York City and amusement parks are mentioned in the same breath, Coney Island pops into my mind. Does it cut our top ten amusement parks in New York? From a historical point of view, yes. However, today’s Coney Island is very different from the one that was first built going into the late nineteenth century.

Top 10 New York Amusement Parks

#10 – Niagara Amusement Park & Splash World (Grand Island)

We open up our New York Amusement Parks list with one way way up North. Sitting on eighty-five acres of land, Niagara Amusement Park & Splash World is an amusement park belonging to Grand Island, New York. This is a theme park and water park rolled into one entity that’s been welcoming visitors since 1961. At first, it was founded as Fantasy Island by a real estate developer known as Lawrence Grant.

Over time, the name of the park and its ownership changed hands until it officially became Niagara Amusement Park & Splash World that’s now owned by STORE Capital. One of this amusement park’s highlights includes Silver Comet, a wooden roller coaster that has repeatedly been voted by visitors as one of the best thrill rides of its kind. As it stands, Niagara Amusement Park & Splash World have embarked on a series of new features that will help make this favorite destination even more appealing than it is now.

#9 – Adventureland (East Farmingdale)

Continuing with our New York Amusement Parks we turn to one right in the heart of Long Island. In 1962, Adventureland opened up its doors to the public as an amusement park for the first time. Parking and admission to the park are free while single tickets and unlimited ride bracelets can be purchased at the park’s entrance. From March until May, the park is available for public access on the weekends. This is also the case in September and October. During the summer months, the park is open daily. Adventureland is Long Island’s pride and joy as an amusement park that draws in thousands of local and out-of-town visitors each year.

This is one of Long Island’s favorite amusement parks for families and schools to visit, year after year. One of the park’s top draws for thrillseekers is Turbulence, a steel coaster that spins about that tests a rider’s ability to hang onto their lunch. For something less extreme, there are seven other thrill rides to enjoy, as well as eight family-friendly rides, and nine kiddie rides. In 1991, Adventureland added three water rides to the site, adding even more appeal to an already incredibly popular park.

#8 – Legoland New York Resort (Goshen)

As an amusement park, Legoland New York Resort has been a top draw for locals and tourists as one of the best family-friendly destinations in the state. With over fifty rides, attractions, and shows to choose from, children of all ages spend a good chunk of their day together in an environment that was specifically designed with fun in mind. Located in Goshen, New York, this is a Lego-themed park that’s been designed to resemble one of the favorite toys ever made. This is the newest amusement park featured in this top-ten list as it opened up for the first time on May 20, 2021. This was the state of New York’s first theme park addition in the northeast since 1974. Originally, this new amusement park was set to open on July 4, 2020, but due to the ongoing complications of COVID-19, this was held off until 2021.

Even though this park is new, it already has a list of positives working in its favor. There are seven themed areas within the park, as well as a themed hotel for guests. It is the largest Legoland in the world with over 150 acres already taken up on five hundred acres of land. There is intent for expansion, including a water park, which was slated to open in 2022 but met with a few delays that have pushed this back. However, the growing interest in this amusement park has already brought in New Yorkers and out-of-state visitors to check out the United States of America’s third Legoland-themed amusement park. It is also the ninth member of the Legoland family.

The first was built in Billund, Denmark, in 1968. It was here Ole Kirk Christiansen introduced the world to the plastic brick-building toy known as Lego. The toy earned its name from the Danish phrase “leg godt,” which means “play well” in English. Lego’s popularity became so immense that Lego spawned its first amusement park almost twenty years after its creation. As of 2021, New Yorkers join Lego’s legacy in what may be destined as the most impressive Legoland yet.

https://www.legoland.com/new-york/

#7 – Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark (Queensbury)

Located in Queensbury, Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark operates as a resort that has its own indoor water park. Called White Water Bay, it first opened to the public on February 7, 2006, and it was the first of its kind in New York. It didn’t take long for this edition of the Six Flags family to become incredibly popular for New Yorkers and tourists alike. The strategic layout of the water park with its collection of rides and attractions was nothing short of genius as this site is more than just entertaining. It is incredibly scenic. Adding to its amusement level as a park is a classic wooden coaster that’s been a top draw.

Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark makes good use of its Darien Lake location with a theme park that lures in-state and out-of-state visitors as an ideal vacation destination. Its White Water Bay has no trouble keeping guests entertained for hours at a world-class level. As a company, Six Flags has leased, owned, and managed themed amusement park facilities since 1961.

#6 – Enchanted Forest Water Safari (Old Forge)

Originally known as The Enchanted Forest of the Adirondacks, this amusement park is also referred to as a water park. Sitting in Old Forge of the Adirondack region, The Enchanted Forest Water Safari first opened its doors in 1956. Over time, the appeal of this amusement park brought in a surge of adjoining campgrounds and other lodging facilities. One of the amusement park’s highlights includes a pond with peddle boats and row boats. Enchanted Forest is regarded as New York’s largest water park and is often rated as one of the best parks of its kind in the United States. In addition to over thirty water slides, there are twelve adventure rides completely on land visitors have access to enjoy. What makes Enchanted Forst Water Safari so appealing is the fairytale-like presence it has as a themed amusement park.

#5 – Six Flags Darien Lake (Corfu)

Operating amusement parks is nothing new for Six Flags as this is their niche as a corporation. Six Flags Darien Lake sits in Corfu, New York, on over one thousand acres of land. This is run as a themed amusement park that also comes with its own water park. For guests wishing to stay in Darien, this Six Flags destination has its own campground and lodging facilities. Visitors of the park may be drawn to the Vekoma-built Giant Ferris Wheel that was showcased in 1982 at the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. At the time, it was the largest ride of its kind in the United States. This now permanently stands at Darien Lake, at the park’s center. Six Flags Darien Lake isn’t simply an amusement park. It is a resort. As a destination, Corfu’s manmade Darien Lake was a major draw for swimmers and watersport enthusiasts since it was excavated and filled in 1954.

The popularity prompted the design of an amusement park, campgrounds, and lodging facilities that would lead to the presence of Six Flags Darien Lake. Some of the park’s biggest highlights include Boomerang: Coast to Coaster, a shuttle roller coaster that sits on the edge of Darien Square’s Fun Lake as a ride that features backward and forward inversion elements. There is also Predator, New York’s largest wooden roller coaster since it was first built in 1990. In total, there are seven thrilling roller coaster rides ideal for the big kids and one for the smaller kids. Add a long list of thrill rides, easy-going rides, and kiddie rides, Six Flags Darien Lake easily makes the grade one of New York’s best amusement parks to visit.

https://www.sixflags.com/darienlake

#4 – Playland (Rye)

Also known as Rye Playland, this amusement park sits along the Long Island Sound. This 280-acre site was built in 1928 with an Art Deco design that would earn its place as a National Historic Landmark in 1987. There are three zones that make up this amusement park what it is. There is a swimming park that features an arcade, beach, and boardwalk that comprise one component while the second is a full-scale amusement park with its own shopping mall. The third zone sits beyond the tower and serves as a boating lake.

Playland was built with pure intent as an amusement park. It also served as a prototype for theme parks that would become a top draw for tourists. Situated in Westchester County, Playland’s development began to make its mark after the regional government purchased two theme parks that were in operation during the 1920s. Rye Beach and Palisades Park became the property of Westchester County’s government, enabling them to develop Playland. During its first year of operation, the amusement park featured well-known rides such as Airplane Coaster, Derby Racers, Dragon Coaster, and the Grand Carousel. In 1929, it opened up its first casino.

Today, Playland is an amusement park that has done more than survive the test of time, environmental disasters, and Hurricane Sandy. It has thrived with a series of renovation projects that continues to draw visitors to Playland year after year. While the locals get a free pass to view the park, out-of-towners need to pay for an admission wristband. The top draw to Playland is the Dragon Coaster. It also serves as the park’s mascot as part of its brand logo. The ride was designed to resemble a dragon. The start of this tunnel ride enters the mouth of a dragon that has eyes that light up and blows off steam from its nostrils. If this ride seems a bit too extreme, what makes Playland so popular is variety. There’s something for everyone at the park for all age groups and ride intensity levels.

https://playland.com/

#3  – Seabreeze Amusement Park (Rochester)

The pride and joy of Seabreeze Amusement Park would be the Jack Rabbit, an iconic roller coaster that boarded its first set of passengers in 1920. It is the fourth oldest roller coaster in the world still in operation. In the United States, it is the oldest overall. Located in Rochester, New York, Seabreeze first opened up its doors on August 5, 1879. According to the National Amusement Park Historical Association, it is the twelfth-oldest amusement park still catering to the public. This is one of thirteen trolley parks still operational in the US. The historical value alone makes visiting Seabreeze worth it. As for entertainment value, this only sweetens the experience as a visitor. Coming from the numerous visitors who’ve shared their experience as park visitors, Seabreeze Amusement Park has encountered one rave review after another.

Since the 1870s, Rochester, New York has been a popular destination for tourists as a community along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. Today, Seabreeze Amusement Park has over twenty-five amusement park rides, as well as a water park, that draws in thousands of visitors each year. One of the most popular rides at Seabreeze is Jack Rabbit, an out-and-back wooden roller-coaster that was first built in 1920. This roller coaster boasts a century’s worth of history that includes serving as America’s oldest continuously operating roller coaster today.

https://seabreeze.com/

# 2 – Splish Splash Amusement Park (Riverhead)

One of the top New York Water Parks also stands as one of the best overall New York Amusement Parks. Designed on ninety-six acres of land, Splish Splash Amusement Park is technically a water park. However, it still counts as an amusement park with a collection of rides and attractions to keep visitors entertained for hours. Located in Riverhead, New York, Splish Splash opened up for the first time in 1991. Today, the park features eighteen water slides to choose from, as well as a pair of wave pools, and a lazy river. Adding to the appeal of Splish Splash is a pirate-themed attraction, as well as a variety of kid-friendly amusements. This is a world-class park that has everything going for it as a favorite attraction that is just as scenic as it is entertaining.

Among the highlights of Splish Splash are Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror, Kahuna Bay, and Bootlegger’s Run. Owned by Palace Entertainment, this company has in its possession a list of amusement parks, animal parks, family entertainment centers, and water parks. Splish Splash, as a water park that doubles as an amusement park, has been long established as a top-notch park that has kept up with popular trends and safety protocols at a level that many parks tend to struggle with.

#1 – Coney Island (Brooklyn)

We close out our top 10 New York Amusement Parks with the most legendary of them all. Belonging to Brooklyn Community District 13, Coney Island is more than the home of one of the most iconic amusement parks in the world. It is also a neighborhood. This peninsula features Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to the east. To the southwest, it’s Lower New York Bay. The northwest borders Gravesend and a section of Sea Gate.

Once upon a time, Coney Island was part of the Outer Barrier Islands on the southern shore of Long Island. This changed after the city added a landfill to turn the island into a peninsula. Disputedly, Coney Island belonged to the colonial town known as Gravesend. It later became a seaside resort before an amusement park was built at the site. From 1880 until World War II, Coney Island was the largest amusement park in the United States. Millions of people would visit this popular tourist attraction each year. After WWII, the park experienced years of neglect that turned it into a shadow of its former self.

What used to be a top tourist attraction became an infestation of high crime before efforts were brought forth to return Coney Island to its former glory. Going into the twenty-first century, Coney Island now has two amusement parks on its peninsula. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and Luna Park belong to Coney Island, as well as a collection of amusement sites that entertain both local and out-of-town visitors. There are three rides belonging to Coney Island that have reached landmark status. 1920’s Wonder Wheel was a steel Ferris wheel that featured stationary cars and rocking cars that slide along a track. Standing at 150 feet tall, it can accommodate up to 144 passengers. This one is located at Deno’s. It became a New York City-designated landmark in 1989.

In 2016, the National Register of Historic Places recognized Coney Island’s B&B Carousell as a landmark. Built shortly after the dawn of the twentieth century, this was a traditional carousel that was built near the old entrance to Luna Park. Since then, it has been relocated several times and it still plays the fairground organ each time it’s in operation. The third recognized landmark is Coney Island Cyclone. In 1927, it opened up as a wooden roller coaster for the public to enjoy.

It remains the oldest roller coaster of its kind still operating in the United States of America. This iconic amusement park ride also belongs to Luna Park under a franchise agreement arranged with the City of New York. This ride became a city landmark in 1988, then a national landmark in 1991. The Cyclone still stands as the city’s only operational wooden coaster and is considered irreplaceable due to the city’s current building codes.

Coney Island has its own unique identity that sets it apart from the rest of the amusement parks that sit in the state of New York. This is more than simply an amusement park with a rich history. This is a community. Coney Island is simply incomparable. Its world-class Luna Park has thirty-six attractions that include Coney Island Cyclone for thrillseekers and B&B Carousell that’s ideal for the little ones. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park is a family-owned and operated amusement park that features a collection of rides, including the iconic Wonder Wheel. This park overlooks the Riegelmann Boardwalk along Coney Island’s beach, as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

Aside from the rides and the attractions, Coney Island is also home to the first Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs location before it became a restaurant chain. Amusement parks and hot dogs share the closest thing to a matrimonial experience as it gets. What puts Coney Island at the very top of the top-ten amusement parks in New York list is the impact it made with its rich history. Over time, Coney Island faced several obstacles that could have turned the peninsula into something entirely different. Several politicians and real estate developers attempted to wipe out remnants of Coney Island as a once proud amusement site. However, it prevailed, thanks to the spirit of New Yorkers who refused to let one of their most popular icons die.

A top-rated amusement park isn’t always about what’s new and trending. It’s about what keeps its spirit alive as a favorite go-to destination for children of all ages. For some, visiting Coney Island carries on a family tradition that has spanned from one generation to another. While Luna Park is clearly Coney Island’s pride and joy, no visit to the peninsula would be complete without visiting Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, as well as The Coney Island Boardwalk. Be sure while at Coney Island you chomp down at least one hot dog from Nathan’s Famous.

https://www.coneyisland.com/

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