One of the summer season’s most popular destinations is the amusement park. Visitors travel far and wide to visit parks across the country and we are lucky to have some great amusement parks with thrilling roller coasters, exciting family rides and water parks that we can easily visit on a short road trip.
While each park dates back decades and offers a variety of classic rides, each has new attractions visitors can enjoy this season.
At Santa’s Village in East Dundee, Ill. adults who have been to the park as youngsters will find some of the rides they fondly remember, including the sleigh ride, balloon race ride and fire engine ride. This year marks the 55th anniversary of the park’s opening. This year two new rides will open, one being the Wild Cat, a medium-sized steel roller coaster. An announcement on the second new ride will come later this summer.
Unique to this park is a number of animal attractions. While a petting zoo has always been part of the park, there has been an expansion in the animal area since the park re-opened in 2010 after being closed for three seasons. It re-opened with the name Santa’s Village Azoosment Park to highlight the animal features. The barnyard includes everything from goats and sheep to camels and llamas and in the free flight aviary, visitors can feed the birds with a stick. Added this year is the deer and Wildlife Park.
Park owner Jason Sierpien said the park’s manageable size is a plus for families with young kids where the average stay is 4 1/2 to 5 hours. “It’s a nice size park for parents with young kids or grandparents,” said park owner Jason Sierpien. “It’s good, clean, safe family fun.”
Indiana Beach Amusement Resort in Monticello has seven new attractions this season to cover all ages from kiddie rides to family rides to a new intense thrill ride. The Dragon Wagon Kiddie Coaster has opened for the little ones while those looking for a heart-pounding adventure can hop on the Viper where you’re suspended in the air over the boardwalk. The Grand Carrousel is another new feature this year that will appeal to all with 60 hand-crafted horses.
Indiana Beach also has a water park and includes a sand beach and has on-site lodging accommodations. A scenic ride can be taken on the Schafer Queen Paddle-Wheeler boat for an additional charge. No visit to the park is complete without feeding the hungry fish off the dock. Small cups of food are available for purchase that can be tossed right into their open mouths.
At Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Ind., the Mayflower swinging ship ride int he Thanksgiving section is the newest addition. The ride seats 60 and swings you in an arc 54-feet in the air over a pool of water.
Holiday World is known for it’s wooden roller coasters, which attract coaster enthusiasts from around the world. The Voyage, one of three wooden coasters at the park, was recently named the nation’s No. 1 wooden coaster by TIME magazine.
Another recent distinction for the park was the announcement last year of the Splashin’ Safari Water Park being named “Best Water Park in the Nation” by USA Today.
Paula Werne, director of communications, said the number of attractions and amenities included in the ticket price are a big draw for the park. “Families really appreciate our free soft drinks, free parking, free sunscreen, plus the fact that the one admission ticket gets you both parks and there’s not a charge to use inner tubes in the water park,” Werne. A number of free shows are also included.
Also new to the park this year is a fireworks show that takes place each Friday night from June 13 through August 1.
Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor have been welcoming visitors to the massive park for decades and soon to come is a record breaking coaster, one of 14 in the park.
Finishing touches on the Goliath have been slightly delayed due to the harsh winter and rainy spring, but soon visitors will be able to enjoy the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world, reaching speed of 72 miles per hour. It also boats the tallest drop on a wooden coaster of 180 feet and the steepest drop on a roller coaster at 85 degrees.
One nostalgic addition in recent years has been the relocation Little Dipper in 2010. The coaster had been part of Kiddieland in Melrose Park since 1950 before the park’s closing.
Check websites before you purchase your tickets for online discounts, special offers or free or discounted tickets for military, veterans and emergency professions. If you plan to make at least two visits this season, compare prices for season tickets, which may save you some money on admission and offer additional discounts and perks. For example, Indiana Beach offers season ticket holders a discount in the gift shop and for dining and accommodations as well as having special offers on designated days, including days where you can bring a guest for free.