PARK GUIDE: 2018 Unofficial Guide to Northeastern Theme Parks

If you’re from the Northeast, you’re familiar with snow storms, Yankee Candle, and large cites. You also may or may not know about the many, many theme parks in the region. This is a Northeast Theme Park guide that I have created to help you decide what theme parks you should or shouldn’t visit. It covers every major theme park (except boardwalk parks) in all states located in New England and the Mid Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia). Let’s start things off with Six Flags.

This post has been updated on September 13th 2018. since Darien Lake was intergrated with the Six Flags branding.

AK – Hey everyone, Andrew here. I’m going to intrude on Logan’s post here for a second to let you know that I’m going to help explain the Six Flags America part of this guide. I was there about a year ago, so I figured I could help a little bit without his permission. Anyways, sorry for bothering you reader. Please continue enjoying the post. 🙂

Six Flags

  • Six Flags New England, Agawam, MA (Boston/Hartford/Providence)

Six Flags New England the best theme park in Massachusetts. It contains world class coasters like Wicked Cyclone (RMC, 2015) and Superman: The Ride (Intamin, 2000), and it is all set in a picturesque location on the Connecticut River. It also has a large water park and nice kids areas. For more information, see my Guide to Six Flags New England.

  • Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ (New York/Philidelphia)

Although I’ve only been to this park once (until August 2018), I do remember it as a great experience. It has a safari, which I personally think is better than Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As for coasters, the park has Kingda Ka (Intamin 2005), El Toro (Intamin 2006), and Nitro (B&M 2001). In all honestly, the children’s area could be better. That said, I still recommend this park wholeheartedly. Some people even go as far to say it’s the best Six Flags park.

  •  Six Flags America, Prince George’s County, MD (DC/Baltimore)

AK – I visited Six Flags America about a year ago, and it was much better than I expected. The best coasters at the park, in my opinion, are Superman: Ride of Steel (Intamin, 2000), Wild One (PTC, 1986), and Batwing (Vekoma, 2001). They also have a good amount of flat rides (including their new for 2017 Wonder Woman Golden Lasso sky-screamer), and a decent looking water park (with a new lazy river for 2018). Sure, the landscaping could be better, and the operations could be a bit quicker, but it really isn’t as terrible as most people say.

  • Great Escape, Queensbury, NY (Eastern New York)

Great Escape is the red-headed stepchild of Six Flags. It was acquired through the Premier Parks deal and not much happened since. They added some relocated coasters and then just let it sit. A resort hotel was added across the street, but that was to capitalize on its tourist location. They have good rides like The Comet (PTC 1927) and….they have a water park? There isn’t that much going for this park, and it’s only worth it if you’re on vacation in the area or live nearby. Definitely do not drive miles upon miles to Great Escape unless you’re passing by it on your way to Adirondack State Park or Saratoga Springs.

  • Six Flags Darien Lake, Darien Center, NY (Buffalo/Rochester/Niagra)

Disclaimer: Darien Lake and four other parks were purchased in May 2018 by the Six Flags corporation. This park, as of the 2018 Operating Season, is in a transition phase. Some of this section may change by 2019 when Darien Lake is fully integrated with Six Flags standards and branding. This was written before the deal was made. For more information on the acquisition, click here.

Darien Lake was one of those parks Six Flags spun off in 2006 when it was restructuring from bankruptcy. Not too much has changed since then. But in 2018 Six Flags bought them back. All the Six Flags IP’s were dropped from the park, but they can be coming back. they changed up a few restaurants, and removed some slides from their waterpark. Darien Lake has been in the spotlight lately due to Tantrum, a Gerstlauer Euro Fighter that opened this year, which the 11-year roller coaster “drought” at the park since they opened Motocoaster (Zamperla 2008). In 2019 a starflyer will be opening under the name Six Flags Sky Screamer to not cause confusion with Marine Land’s sky screamer in Niagra Falls, Canada. I will be making a trip out here in the summer of 2019.

Cedar Fair

  • Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Allentown, PA (Philadelphia/New York)

Dorney Park is weird. It’s in a major market near some important cities, yet Cedar Fair doesn’t pour any effort into it. A new coaster hasn’t arrived here since 2008 with Possessed, an Intamin Impulse coaster. They have quality coasters like Steel Force (Morgan 1997), Hydra: The Revenge (B&M 2005), and Talon (B&M 2001). They also have a pretty nice water park that 8-year-old Logan remembers as a place where he inhaled and choked on water. That said, present-day Logan recommends it.

  • Kings Dominion, Doswell, VA (Richmond/Washington D.C.)

As the main neighbor to Six Flags America, Kings Dominion is leagues and bounds ahead of its competition. Home to Intimidator 305 (Intamin 2010), Dominator (B&M 2008), and Volcano, The Blast Coaster (Intamin 1998). This year, the park also received Twisted Timbers, an RMC hybrid that the public and coaster enthusiasts have been loving recently. Finally, they also have a Soak City Waterpark that is great to visit.

Other Parks 

  • Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA (Williamsburg/Richmond/Virginia Beach)

Busch Gardens is a SeaWorld park. Known for their immersive theming and amazing rides, I don’t have much negative to say. Great coasters such as Apollos Chariot (B&M 1999), Alpengeist (B&M 1997), and Griffon (B&M 2007) top off the park’s exceptional lineup. They also have a good amount of flat rides including a fun Pompeii-themed flume ride. This park is definitely major coaster and entertainment spot for those living in Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic.

  • Edaville USACarver, MA (Boston/Plymouth/Cape & Islands)

Edaville USA is a nice, small family park. Mainly known for their Thomas Land, which is based on the Thomas the Tank Engine IP that Edaville picked up from Six Flags in 2011, the park doesn’t have much to offer for older audiences. They do have two smaller family coasters, but nothing bigger than that in the thrills department. If you have small children, or need some extra coaster credits, a trip to this park might be worth it.

  • Lake Compounce, Bristol, CT (Hartford/New Haven)

Lake Compounce, home to famous coasters such as Boulder Dash (CCI 2000) and Phobia Phear Coaster (Premier 2016), is a small, scenic park located outside of Hartford, CT. It is about a half hour away from Six Flags New England. The closeness of these two parks make for a great 2 parks in 1 day trip if you’re running short on time or want to hit up a good amount of coasters in one day.

  • Quassy Amusement Park. Middlebury, CT

Quassy is another one of those family parks that hasn’t really been on the map until recently. For a long time, the park only had a kiddie coaster called Little Dipper. In 2011, the park added Wooden Warrior, a small but strong family wooden coaster, and instantly gained more attention. There are a few other family rides to do here, as well as a lake that you can take paddle boats out on, so it’s a great place to go if you have an hour or two to kill. Don’t plan on spending the entire day here though.

  • Canobie Lake Park, Salem, NH (Boston)

Canobie Lake Park is located about 45 minutes Northeast of Boston, MA. Canobie Lake is one of those small, picturesque New England parks. Their coaster collection includes the eurofighter Untamed (Gerstlauer 2011), an old woodie named Yankee Canonball (PTC 1936), and the corkscrew coaster so cleverly named Canobie Corkscrew (Arrow 1987). If you’re on a trip to Boston and want to ride some coasters, but don’t want to drive 2 hours west to Six Flags New England or Lake Compounce, you should definitely hit this park up.

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