The Best Illinois Amusement Parks and Theme Parks

As the home of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, the world's fair that introduced the Ferris wheel and has been credited as one of the precursors of the modern-day amusement park and theme park, Illinois has played an important role in the amusement industry. Today, there are a number of places in the state where you can find roller coasters and other amusements, including the thrill-packed Six Flags Great Americawhich are listed below.

But, as is the case for a number of other states, there used to be many more amusement parks that have since shuttered. Riverview Park in Chicago, for example, opened in 1904 and closed in 1967. It was a beloved place that featured a slew of coasters such as the Bobs, Pippin, and the Big Dipper, all classic woodies. Among many other closed Illinois amusement parks were Central Park in Rockford which offered the Giant Coaster, Kiddieland in Melrose Park which operated from 1929 to 2009, and White City in Chicago, which opened in 1905 and was largely destroyed by fires in the 1930s.

The following Illinois parks, which are arranged alphabetically, are open.

01 of 11

AZoosment Park at Santa's Village: East Dundee

AZoosment Park at Santa's Village
AZoosment Park at Santa's Village

Santa's Village was an Illinois favorite for many years. It closed in 2005, but was retooled and reopened as Santa's Village AZoosment Park. It includes some of the original park's rides, such as Santa's Slide and the Snowball Ride, along with animal exhibits and other attractions. It also offers classic rides, like The Whip and the Midge O Racers, culled from Kiddieland. Its lone major coaster is Super Cyclone, which climbs 33 feet and hits 30 mph.

For the 2021 season, the park is adding The Blizzard, a pendulum ride, and The Jolley Trolley, a train ride.

02 of 11

Donley's Wild West Town: Union

Donley's Wild West Town
Donley's Wild West Town

Donley's Wild West Town (seasonal) is an old-school, small park with shows, pony rides, a museum, and other attractions themed to the Old West. Rides include a mine train roller coaster, a carousel, a small train, and canoes.

03 of 11

Enchanted Castle: Lombard

Enchanted Castle Illinois ride
Enchanted Castle

The small facility includes laser tag, go-karts, bowling, laser tag, an arcade, and a few rides, such as bumper cars and a spinning Catapult. It also offers black-light mini-golf and Quest II, a play structure for young kids with rope bridges and interactive features. Enchanted Castle also includes the Dragon's Den restaurant.

04 of 11

Go Bannanas: Norridge

Go Bananas bumper cars
Go Bananas

The small center includes bowling, a jungle gym, a toddler zone, an arcade with Skee Ball and other redemption games, and a few rides such as a small roller coaster, bumper cars, a bounce house, and spinning rides.

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05 of 11

Grady's Family Fun Park: Bloomington

Grady's Family Fun Park Illinois
Grady's Family Fun Park

Grady's Family Fun Park offers go-karts, a slide, bumper boats, batting cages, and mini golf. Amusement rides include a Tilt-A-Whirl, Round-Up, a Sizzler and a small coaster.

06 of 11

Haunted Trails: Burbank

Haunted Trails Illinois Miner Mike Coaster
Haunted Trails

The small Halloween-themed park, Haunted Trails, features laser tag, batting cages, go-karts, and mini-golf as well as a few rides such as a small coaster and a Crazy Cabs spinning ride. It also offers two game rooms that are open year-round.

07 of 11

Haunted Trails: Joliet

Haunted Trails Go-Karts
Haunted Trails

Like its sister park in Burbank, this is a small facility. It includes a few rides such as a small coaster, an arcade, batting cages, go-karts, and mini-golf.

08 of 11

Navy Pier: Chicago

Navy Pier in Chicago

Navy Pier

The lakefront entertainment, dining, and shopping complex includes amusement rides. Its most prominent attraction is the 200-foot-tall Centennial Wheel, which is evocative of the original Ferris wheel that appeared at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition in the late 1800s. Other features include a spinning Wave Swinger, the Light Tower mini drop ride, and a carousel. There are also interactive experiences, including Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze, Amazing Chicago’s Atomic Rush Game, and Amazing Chicago’s Time Freak Game. The Pier offers what it bills as extreme thrill rides on the high-speed Seadog boat, as well as architecture and sightseeing cruise tours, In 2021, Navy Pier added Drop Tower, a major thrill ride.

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Safari Land: Vila Park

Safari Land is a small, jungle-themed park. Activities include a carousel, small roller coaster, a Tilt-A-Whirl, a flight simulator, go-karts, bowling, an arcade with redemption games, the Lion's Den soft play area for young children, and billiards. The center also offers the Atlantis Restaurant and the Water Hole lounge.

10 of 11

Scene75: Romeoville

Scene 75 go-karts

Scene 75

Scheduled to debut in late 2021, the family entertainment center chain Scene75 will open a location near Chicago. Among its features will be an indoor spinning roller coaster, a drop tower ride, a motion simulator attraction, mini-golf, go-karts, a two-story laser tag arena, over 150 arcade games, and a restaurant with a full bar.

11 of 11

Six Flags Great America: Gurnee

Six Flags carousel
Six Flags

A massive park, Six Flags Great America is one of the amusement chain's premier locations. Among its many marquee rides is Goliath, which hits 72 mph (making it one of the ten fastest wooden roller coasters in the world), the “wing coaster” X-Flight, and the launched impulse coaster, Vertical Velocity. While thrill rides are its specialty, Great America also offers three areas with tame rides designed for small children The park also includes an adjacent water park which requires a separate admission.