coney island roller coaster vintage
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

25 Amusement Parks: Then and Now

View Slideshow
coney island roller coaster vintage
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty
coney island roller coaster
ericsphotography/istockphoto

Coney Island

Brooklyn, New York

1895

For a place so iconic for its amusement rides, it's bittersweet that so few remain. Sea Lion Park was the first amusement park to open on Coney Island, and it was indoors. The Shoot the Chutes was Sea Lion's calling card, and the park also boasted the first looping roller coaster in the U.S. True to its name, trained sea lions performed for awestruck families. 


Related: 40 Iconic and Beautiful Boardwalks in the Country

Coney Island 2019
LeoPatrizi/istockphoto

Coney Island

2021
Steeplechase, Dreamland, and Astroland have come and gone during the 20th century. Even Luna Park is not the same park that burned down in 1944. The current Luna Park opened in 2010 and pays homage with rides like the aptly named Steeplechase horse-themed roller coaster and the iconic Cyclone roller coaster. In 2019, it opened two new rides: Clockworkz and Atlantic Aviator. Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, which turned 100 last year, still offers a few rides a la carte including its famous Ferris wheel.

Universal Studios
Harvey Meston/Getty

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal City, California
1915
Studio chief Carl Laemmle originally opened the back lot to the public for just 25 cents apiece. Only 18 years into the film industry, observing production was a real attraction. This only worked during the silent era. Once sound had to be recorded, they had to keep noisy tourists out. The studio tour went dark until 1961.


For more articles like this,
please sign up for our free newsletters.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Wizarding World of Harry Potter by Eric Garcetti (CC BY-NC-ND)

Universal Studios Hollywood

2021
Universal — including CityWalk shopping and food venues — is open this season with face coverings required for non-vaccinated guests.  Social distancing is recommended and hand sanitizer stations are scattered throughout the park. Universal lets visitors be in the movies. The tram tour drives through active productions plus immersive King Kong and The Fast and the Furious experiences. You're only as good as your last hit, so rides based on Back to the Future and Terminator 2 have given way to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Despicable Me, Transformers, The Simpsons, and, in 2019, Jurassic World-The Ride opened. It's also worth noting that Universal went bicoastal with a Florida park in 1990.

Cedar Point
Cedar Point by Cedar Point Collection (None)

Cedar Point

Sandusky, Ohio
1870
Cedar Point calls 1870 their first season, when it was just a beer garden, bath house, and dance floor on the Lake Erie peninsula. The first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway, wasn't opened until 1892. Many of the 19th century buildings are still part of the architecture of the modern Cedar Point.

Photo of the Gemini roller coaster taken at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio
Photo of the Gemini roller coaster taken at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio by Stratosphere (CC BY-SA)

Cedar Point

2021
Since 1978, Cedar Point coasters have set height and speed records, from the race-themed Gemini to the Top Thrill Dragster, which drops from 420 feet in the air reaching 120 mph in 3.8 seconds. The relatively new Steel Vengeance coaster set new records for its intimidating drop. Peanuts characters welcome kids to Camp Snoopy with easy rides for the little tykes. And, most recently, it's branched out beyond coasters with Forbidden Frontier, a "choose your own adventure" interactive-type attraction. This summer, Cedar Point is open with face coverings required for non-vaccinated visitors. Health and temperature screenings and face coverings have been discontinued but reservations are still required.  


Related: 18 Roller Coaster Facts for Restless Thrill Seekers

Six Flags Over Texas logo
Six Flags Over Texas logo by Six Flags over Texas (None)

Six Flags Over Texas

Arlington, Texas
1961
Six Flags opened its first park in Arlington, Texas. The six flags represented the countries that had a historical presence in Texas: Spain, Mexico, France, Texas, the Old South, and the U.S.A. Opening with 46 rides and attractions including a log flume and mine train, admission was only $2.75 for adults and 50 cents less for kids.

 Batman: The Ride
Batman: The Ride by BrandonR (CC BY-SA)

Six Flags Over Texas

2021
Since 2017, all six flags are now the United States flag and its six themed areas have merged or been replaced by the likes of modern superheroes. The gyroscope-like Harley Quinn Spinsanity has joined the park's Batman-themed Gotham City section. The original steam train still rides, but it's now called the Boomtown Depot. There's also a Bugs Bunny section for kids. New in 2019 was the park's 14th roller coaster, the El Diablo. The park is open for 2021 guests with masks recommended for those without Covid-19 vaccinations.

disneyland 1955
Hulton Archive/Getty
Disneyland
FrozenShutter/istockphoto

Disneyland

2021
Over the years, rides like the Pirates of the Caribbean cruise, The Haunted Mansion ride, and Space Mountain roller coaster became Disneyland staples. The 21st century saw the addition of California Adventure Park. Now rides based on famous movies like "Indiana Jones," "Star Wars," "Guardians of the Galaxy," and Pixar films let fans enter their favorite movies. Most recently, the park welcomed Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. The park has resumed those highlights this summer with some limitations and reservations required.



Hershey Park Swimming Pool
Hershey Park Swimming Pool by We hope (None)

Hershey Park

Hershey, Pennsylvania
1907-1923
After Milton S. Hershey founded Hershey, Pennsylvania, in 1903, he opened a baseball stadium in 1907. That technically constituted the beginning of Hershey Park, but if you want to talk rides, 1908-1923 saw a merry-go-round, scenic train, Wild Cat roller coaster, Ferris wheel, aeroplane swing, and Skooter. Back then, you could tour the actual chocolate factory where Hershey made the sweets.


Related: 17 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Hershey Kisses

Hersheypark Ferris Wheel
Hersheypark Ferris Wheel by Paulo Ordoveza (CC BY)

Hershey Park

2021
Except for the Kissing Tower, which offers an amazing 360-degree view of the surrounding area, and the recently opened interactive gaming ride Reese's Cupfusion, there are relatively few chocolate-themed rides. Hersheypark is all about thrills with new additions like Skyrush, its 12th roller coaster, and the bouncy Hershey Triple Tower. Classic coasters like the 1940s Comet and the '70s-era SooperDooperLooper remain linchpins of the park. By the '70s, tourist capacity far outgrew the actual chocolate factory, so now Hershey's Chocolate World recreates the factory animatronically, with free samples, too. 2020 saw the debut of Hershey's Chocolatetown.  The park relaxed last year's COVID-19-related health and safety guidelines but still require non-vaccinated visitors to wear masks.

Knott's Berry Farm
Knott's Berry Farm by Karppinen (None)

Knott's Berry Farm

Buena Park, California1940
1969
Walter Knott had a vision bigger than his family berry, jelly, and pie business. In 1940, Knott built a ghost town attraction next to his shops and restaurants. In the '50s and '60s, he added rides like the Calico Railroad and Calico Mine Ride. It was only in 1968 that Knott charged admission ($1 according to Knott's website) and one year later added the Calico log ride.

Views of Knott's Berry Farm from Sky Cabin
Views of Knott's Berry Farm from Sky Cabin by Loren Javier (CC BY-NC)

Knott's Berry Farm

2021
The Knott's tract has expanded to include Knott's Soak City water park and a hotel, but the berry farm and Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner restaurant are still there. In the theme park, the GhostRider is the longest, fastest and tallest West Coast wooden roller coaster at 118 feet overlooking the classic Ghost Town. Knott's got more intense with thrilling drops but still has rides for the whole family. Every fall, Knott's turns into Knott's Scary Farm, a Halloween themed scare-a-thon. Their newsest attraction is "Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair," a 4-D interactive dark ride that reimagines  scenes from the original dark ride from 34 years ago. Knott's Berry Farm is now open with reservations required. 

Lake Compounce 1914
Lake Compounce 1914 by Freddo (None)

Lake Compounce

Bristol, Connecticut
1846
Lake Compounce may not have been the first amusement park ever built, but it is the oldest one still operating. Back in 1846, Gad Norton opened the park with science experiments performed for crowds by Samuel Botsford, picnic areas, swimming in the lake, and just a handful of rides.

  

Related: The Oldest Building in Major Cities Across America

Lake Compounce 2019
Lake Compounce Amusement Park/Yelp

Lake Compounce

2021
Today Lake Compounce has some 50 rides, including the Wildcat roller coaster since 1927 and 2000s Boulder Dash. Lake Compounce is perhaps most noted as a haunted amusement park. From the Native American heritage and failed science experiments to famous performers in the Starlight Ballroom (including Cab Calloway and Frank Sinatra), visitors claim they still hear the music and see the dancers. This year the park is celebrating their 175th anniversary with updated park facilities and a new six-story waterslide called the Venus Vortex. The park is open without last's year's reservation requirement, though basic COVID-19 protocols are in place. 

Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Rhine River Cruise
Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Rhine River Cruise by Brian Holland (CC BY)

Busch Gardens

Williamsburg, Virginia
1975
In 1975, Anheuser-Busch opened The Old Country, a European-themed park near its Virginia brewing plant. It offers quite a juxtaposition from Colonial Williamsburg, the American Revolution-era city that lets modern visitors interact with the past. "Tonight Show" personality Ed McMahon and Virginia Gov. Mill E. Goodwin Jr. welcomed more than 6,000 visitors to The Old Country.

Loch Ness Monster, Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Loch Ness Monster, Busch Gardens Williamsburg by Martin Lewison (CC BY-SA)

Busch Gardens

2021
Like many modern theme parks, Busch Gardens now has an adjoining water park. In 2019, the amusement park added an Irish-themed swinging ride called Finnegan's Flyer. Around 10 years ago, Sesame Street joined the European villas with rides like Grover's Alpine Express coaster and Prince Elmo's Spire drop tower. The 21st century has seen five innovative new coasters from the floorless Griffon to the seven-story InvadR, somehow the park's first wooden roller coaster. The twisting Loch Ness Monster from 1978 still stands. The park is open this year with relaxed Covid-19 measures.

Disney World Magic Kingdom
Disney World Magic Kingdom by Rstoplabe14 (CC BY-SA)

Disney World Magic Kingdom

Orlando, Florida
1971
The word "World" accurately describes this bigger, more elaborate Disney park that has become an international destination for millions of families a year. Initially, they actually charged for separate tickets to additional rides after entry. The Magic Kingdom opened with such famous rides as The Haunted Mansion, Hall of Presidents, Mad Tea Party, Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan's Flight, Tomorrowland Speedway, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the Magic Kingdom
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the Magic Kingdom by AmaryllisGardener (CC BY-SA)

Disney World Magic Kingdom

2021
Always evolving, the last decade or so saw new attractions based on Disney animated classics like "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Families can still take an It's A Small World boat tour as well as rides on the Big Thunder Mountain train and Splash Mountain water flume. Children's greatest joys often come from meeting Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and the rest. The park has reopened this year with some Covid-19 restrictions in place.  Their 18-month long 50th anniversary celebration begins on Oct. 4.


Related: 26 Ways to Do Disney on a Budget

Six Flags New England
Six Flags New England by Junkyardsparkle (None)

Six Flags New England

Agawam, Massachusetts
1870
When Six Flags took over the old Gallup's Grove, it became the oldest park in the Six Flags chain. Gallup's Grove opened as a picnic area on the Connecticut River, which visitors sailed by steamship. The name was changed to Riverside Grove and then Riverside Park when rides were installed.


Related: The Best Picnic Blankets for Enjoying the Backyard or the Beach

Six Flags New England waterpark
Six Flags New England waterpark by ReneS (CC BY)

Six Flags New England

2021
Once Six Flags took over in 2000, they moved the parking lot to make room for new rides. Six Flags added superhero rides and even imported some rides from other Six Flags like the Flashback roller coaster from Kentucky Kingdom and Goliath roller coaster from Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. The New England Screamer is the tallest swing ride in the world. Its water park also took the Six Flags name Hurricane Harbor. A recently debuted dark ride, CYBORG Hyper Drive, features a superhero storyline, special effects, and — motion sickness sufferers take note — lots of spinning. This Six Flags location is open with relaxed protocols.

 Klondike Katie coal train
Klondike Katie coal train by Mike Burton (CC BY-ND)

Dollywood

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
1986
In 1986, Dolly Parton partnered with the owners of the history-focused Silver Dollar City site to turn it into Tennessee's most visited attraction. The Klondike Katie coal train and Robert F. Thomas Chapel still remain in Dollywood from the Silver Dollar days, although the Klondike Katie is now called the Dollywood Express. Long gone 1986 rides include the Flooded Mine and Smoky Mountain River Rampage.

Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
©TripAdvisor

Dollywood

2021
Now Dollywood has a water park, and thrill rides like the Lightning Rod and Tennessee Tornado coasters. The indoor Blazing Fury ride is still there and the Fun Country Log Flume has become Daredevil Falls. But you want to see Dolly-themed attractions, so take a tour of Dolly's Home-on-Wheels and see how the country icon lives while she's touring. New last summer was Wildwood Grove — a new section of the park meant for families with young kids that features a massive tree sculpture and plenty of other diversions. Dollywood is open for the 2021 season, with a new reservation system in place to manage social distancing as well as additional sanitation measures.

Gold Rusher is Six Flags Magic Mountain's first roller coaster.
Gold Rusher is Six Flags Magic Mountain's first roller coaster. by METRO96 (CC BY-SA)

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Valencia, California
1971
Magic Mountain was not a Six Flags property when it opened in 1971; Six Flags bought it in 1979. Opening rides like the 35 mph Gold Rusher roller coaster, El Bumpo bumper boats, the Galaxy exponential Ferris wheel, and the short-lived Billy the Squid and Log Jammer flume ride offered stiff competition to nearby Disneyland. Only the Gold Rusher remains.

Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain by Jeremy Thompson (CC BY)

Six Flags Magic Mountain

2020
While Six Flags Magic Mountain is still closed for the 2020 season — with no firm reopening date in the works — when open, the park provides a Justice League-focused experience with plenty of DC Superhero rides. Batman the Ride makes you feel like Batman. Let Lex Luthor drop you from a tower; take a whirling spin on Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth; travel like The Flash on the Speed Force track; or fly like Superman with the Escape from Krypton ride. Once you've had enough superhero action, you can check out the park's relatively new racing launch coaster. Or slow down with all the Looney Tunes rides for the kids. 


Related: The Best of California For Budget Vacations

 Aerial view of Lakeside Amusement Park
Aerial view of Lakeside Amusement Park by Robert J. Boser (CC BY-SA)

Lakeside Amusement Park

Lakeside, Colorado
1908
Denver Mayor Robert Speer and brewer Adolph Zang opened the park in Lakeside to sell alcohol all week (Denver had blue laws on Sundays). 1908 featured the boat splasher Shoot the Chutes, Lakeshore Railway train, star-shaped Ferris wheel Staride, shake 'em up Tickler ride, two roller coasters, Circle Swing, and Merry-Go-Round. You could see its 100,000 white lights and Tower of Jewels entrance from the outside.


Related: Once Popular Tourist Hotspots That Are Now Totally Abandoned

Amusement Park Accidents
PKM1/istockphoto

Lakeside Amusement Park

2021
The Lakeshore Railway still rides. The Tower of Jewels needs some new bulbs after more than a century. The Cyclone coaster has been there since 1940, but visitors grow wary of hopping aboard now. In 2018, Lakeside Amusement imported the Zyklon coaster to give visitors a new ride after 30 years. It will reportedly open this year if the park opens. On its website, Lakeside notes that it "is monitoring the local situation and plans to open, when possible, in an appropriate and responsible fashion." but as of now it remains shuttered.

Legoland Carlsbad
Legoland Carlsbad by Jim Moore (CC BY)

Legoland

Carlsbad, California
1999
After creating two European parks, the Lego company brought the joy of their brick parks to the U.S. Legoland opened with 40 rides to compete with the Disneys and Six Flags, but only Legoland has intricate brick towns over which kids can tower (or build their own with loose bricks). The inaugural Miniland took three years and 16 million bricks to build miniature scenes of New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, and rural New England.

Legoland Carlsbad Dragon
Legoland Carlsbad Dragon by Josh Hallett (CC BY-SA)

Legoland

2021
The park celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019 and now boasts more than 60 rides. Open this year with reservations, visitors can experience a "4D" version of "The Lego Movie" at the park. The aquarium, water park, and Lego-themed hotel rooms add to the experience, but the highlights are still the new Lego builds like the Star Wars and Las Vegas minilands. Even a mini Death Star is bigger than you.

The Great Movie Ride and Chinese Theater at Walt Disney World
The Great Movie Ride and Chinese Theater at Walt Disney World by Jedi94 (CC BY-SA)

Disney Hollywood Studios

Orlando, Florida
1989
Originally opened as the Disney MGM Studios, which had only a Backstage Studio Tour and a single ride, it beat Universal to Orlando by a year. The Great Movie Ride was a funhouse through animatronic scenes from "The Wizard of Oz," "Casablanca," "Mary Poppins," "Singing in the Rain," "Alien," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." They did teach kids how sound effects worked and let them make their own.

Tower of Terror ride - Disney's MGM - Orlando
Tower of Terror ride - Disney's MGM - Orlando by Alexf (CC BY)

Disney Hollywood Studios

2021
Currently open, this park's name was changed and has been known as Disney Hollywood Studios since 2008. Toy Story Land and Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy are the newest attractions. Star Wars-themed Star Tours has been updated with multiple Star Wars attractions added. You can still watch Indiana Jones dodge boulders and Nazis live in a stunt spectacular, brave the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror and have a laugh with Muppet-Vision 3D.

Adventureland | Altoona, Iowa
Adventureland | Altoona, Iowa by Martin Lewison (CC BY-SA)

Adventureland

Altoona, Iowa
1973
When Jack Kranz opened Adventureland, the centerpiece ride was the Sky Ride in the middle of a cornfield. A Main Town included small rides like kiddie helicopters, Jaunty Jeeps, Silly Silo, River Rapids, a trolley tour, and Bavarian Scrambler.

The Monster Adventureland
The Monster Adventureland by TheCatalyst31 (CC BY-SA)

Adventureland

2021
Now with 100 rides, shows, and attractions, Adventureland is a full-blown theme park open for the season with a minimal restrictions and protocols in place. Bernie Bernard is the mascot well known throughout the state, joined by other favorites like Toby the tiger, dogs Heather and Henry, Gilda the gorilla, and the animatronic barker P.T. Barnaby. Four years ago, Adventureland debuted The Monster, its first new roller coaster in 23 years. In 2019, the park opened yet another attraction: a $6-million "family spinning roller coaster" called The Phoenix.

Epcot Spaceship Earth Walt Disney World Orlando 2010
Epcot Spaceship Earth Walt Disney World Orlando 2010 by chensiyuan (CC BY-SA)

Epcot Center

Orlando, Florida
1982
"Center" would ultimately be dropped and EPCOT stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, but to families, it meant double the Disney World. Walt Disney envisioned Epcot as a functioning city. The company realized it as a theme park. Future World sort of eclipsed Tomorrowland; the World of Imagination was hosted by the dragon Figment himself; and World Showcase introduced American kids to international culture.

EPCOT 2019
MichaelWarrenPix/istockphoto

Epcot

2021
Perhaps the most significant change to Disney World is the Park Hopper pass, which grants families access to all three Orlando parks, rather than a la carte. Epcot, which is open, now includes Disney entertainment attractions such as Frozen Forever After, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Phineas and Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure. After a temporary hiatus from 1999-2000, the Figment the dragon is also back. There are a lot of new attractions at Epcot, including an innovative PLAY! pavilion and rides based on "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Ratatouille." 

 

Six Flags America
Six Flags America by dbking (None)

Wild World / Six Flags America

Marlboro, Maryland
1981

Wild World opened after buying a wildlife preserve from Jim Fowler of "Wild Kingdom" fame, who had taken over from ABC Television. Through the '80s, it was more of a water-slide and wave-pool park with rides. It got a real roller coaster in 1986 when The Wild One was imported from Paragon Park in Massachusetts. 1980s kids can remember drying off on the rides after soaking on the water slides.

Six Flags
Six Flags by Camile Gévaudan (CC BY-SA)

Wild World / Six Flags America

2021
Renamed Adventure World in the '90s, the park was taken over by Six Flags in 1999. The Wild One turns 104 this year, and the water park is more of a separate attraction now. The rides have been expanded, including Six Flags' DC Comics licenses, with a different spin on Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth. The park's newest roller coaster, the FIREBIRD, features a half-mile of track, a nine-story dive, and two inversions. No longer just a local day trip, Wild World became a full on Six Flags destination. The park is open to the public this season with few restrictions.

Camp Snoopy
Camp Snoopy by Magnus Manske (None)

Nickelodeon Universe

Bloomington, Minnesota
1992

The Knott's family expanded their theme park empire out of California to open a Peanuts-themed kiddie park in Minnesota's Mall of America. They still managed to fit 23 rides and attractions under the indoor dome, including river rapids and a roller coaster. Peanuts themes abounded, but just in case you weren't a Snoopy fan — who wouldn't like Snoopy? — there were also general rides.  

Nickelodeon Universe 2019
Nickelodeon Universe 2019 by Baseball Bugs (None)

Nickelodeon Universe

2021
Knott's got out of the Camp Snoopy business in 1997, and when Nickelodeon took over the park in 2006, you can bet the Peanuts themes were replaced by rides with SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themes. Nickelodeon Universe is now 27 rides strong, including the more recent openings of roller coasters Shredder's Mutant Masher and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock. Parkgoers, however, will have to wait to ride any of them — Nickelodeon Universe has opened for 2021 with masks required for the unvaccinated.

Six Flags St. Louis
Six Flags St. Louis by Pacman5 (CC BY)

Six Flags St. Louis

Eureka, Missouri
1971

Six Flags Over Mid-America opened in 1971 with 16 rides, a dolphin show, and petting zoo, back when it took only 1,400 employees to serve the park. They didn't even sell alcohol back then.

St Louis six flags boomerang
St Louis six flags boomerang by Jeremy Thompson (CC BY)

Six Flags St. Louis

2021 
The park in St. Louis has opened for the season, with a number of the usual COVID-19 measures in place. It adopted the name Six Flags St. Louis in 1997, and you can still drive the original Moon Antique Cars. Newest attractions include a Typhoon Twister in Six Flags St. Louis' Hurricane Harbor, an additional Funnel Cake Factory because you need immediate funnel cake access, and now Batman: The Ride goes backward. A Supergirl spinning wheel debuted in 2019 to test your stomach of steel.

Santa's Village
©TripAdvisor

Santa's Village

Jefferson, New Hampshire
1953

Dry cleaners Norman and Cecile Dubois opened Santa's Village with pony rides and a Francis the Mule and Santa Claus show. They charged $1 to get in and a quarter to ride a pony. Playgrounds, restaurants, and rides wouldn't become part of the village until the '60s as Santa's Village remained in the Dubois family, with its third generation operating the park today.

Santa's Village
©TripAdvisor

Santa's Village

2021
Tickets here cost $36, but a few decades of added rides make it a steal compared to the Six Flags and Disneys of the world. Classic rides get a yuletide twist like the Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree swings, Chimney Drop free fall, and Little Drummer Boy spinning drums. Who needs teacups? Santa's Village is open for 2021, with the park noting on its website that it will limit capacity and require reservations.  


Related: 15 Classic Destinations for an Old-Fashioned Christmas

Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure by Jim, the Photographer (CC BY)

Six Flags Great Adventure

Jackson, New Jersey
1974

Businessman and Hollywood scion Warner LeRoy had big plans for his own magic kingdom, but on opening day, only two areas were ready: The Enchanted Forest and Safari. The Fort and Western sections were developed soon after. Its Antique Cars ride lasted only one season and its short-lived roller coaster, the Jumbo Jet, lasted only one year in 1975. The undersea-themed Pretty Monster spinning cars were next on the chopping block.

Jersey Devil Coaster
Six Flags

Six Flags Great Adventure

2021
This is another Six Flags location that has opened for the season with basic health measures in place. Six Flags turned Great Adventure into one of its standard-bearing parks, and a handful of original rides — the Log Flume, Runaway Mine, Skyride, Big Wheel, and Carousel — are still nestled among big coasters and superhero rides.  This year the park opened their Jersey Devil coaster, the world’s tallest, fastest, and longest single rail coaster. Another of the newest? Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth, a pendulum ride that reaches gut-lurching speeds of up to 75 mph. Need something calmer? Great Adventure also has a Six Flags branded Hurricane Harbor water park next door.

Family Kingdom
©TripAdvisor
Family Kingdom Amusement Park
©TripAdvisor

Family Kingdom Amusement Park

2021
Family Kingdom now has upward of 35 rides including many added in the last 10 years or so. The Twist 'n Shout is a steel roller coaster opened in 2013. The Kite Flyer lets riders lie face down and does the flying for them. Flying Tigers are a circular plane ride, and the Frog Hopper is a bouncy kids ride. The park opened for 2021, though the adjacent water park remains closed. 

Kings Dominion
©TripAdvisor

Kings Dominion

Doswell, Virginia
1975

Virginia made a good day trip when East Coasters couldn't go all the way to Orlando. Opening rides on May 3, 1975, included The Rebel Yell roller coaster, Lion Country Safari monorail, Log Flume, Steam Train, and a one-third scale Eiffel Tower. In the Happy Land of Hanna Barbera, children could meet Scooby-Doo, Fred Flintstone, and other animated favorites in person.

Kings Dominion
©TripAdvisor

Kings Dominion

2021
The park is open at Kings Dominion, though reservations are still required at Soak City. The Rebel Yell is now called Racer 75, one of 12 coasters. The classic 1982 Grizzly wooden roller coaster is still there, too. In the '90s, Hanna Barbera land became Nickelodeon. Peanuts took over in 2010, so the Scooby Doo coaster became the Woodstock Express in 2013. Many old favorites (King Cobra, Smurf Mountain, The Hurler, and The Shockwave) are gone, too, in Kings Dominion's pursuit of more thrills. The newest is Twisted Timbers, a roller coaster with a decidedly dark back story


Related: 19 of the World's Oddest Theme Parks