With Six Flags New England, Massachusetts is the hub for amusement park thrills in the New England states. The Six Flags outpost’s world-class coasters, array of other rides, and its enormous water park make it the place to visit for adrenaline junkies. The state also has a few other spots that offer coasters and high-impact fun. Massachusetts theme parks and amusement parks are arranged alphabetically.
Thomas the Tank Engine and his buddies from the popular Thomas & Friends series are the stars at Edaville USA. The park is designed for families with children 12 and under. In addition to Thomas Land, the park offers animated prehistoric animals in Dinoland and a country fair area with classic rides such as a Ferris wheel and a carousel. The park dates back to the 1940s, but its status rose in 2015 with the addition of the Thomas attractions. Special events include the fall Cranberry Harvest Festival and the holiday-themed Festival of Lights. All aboard!
It's not an amusement park, but the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs on the island of Martha’s Vineyard is the nation’s oldest operating platform carousel. It is among a handful of surviving classic rides that still includes a ring machine.
This place is so small, it barely qualifies as an amusement park. And it has seen better days. Having said that, Salem Willows (named for the stately willow trees that line its promenade) is located on a stunning peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the ocean. The circa-1926 carousel is charming, the cruise line is delightful, the buttered popcorn may be the world's finest, and you haven't truly lived until you've had a Salem Willows chop suey sandwich. (Really! Chop suey on a hamburger bun!) In addition to the carousel, there are a few other kiddie rides, a couple of arcades, and some food stands.
Like most Six Flags parks, Six Flags New England is loaded with roller coasters and other thrill rides. Among its arsenal of thrill machines, the Massachusetts park boasts two outstanding rides: Superman the Ride (which gets our nod for the best steel roller coaster in the country) and Wicked Cyclone, a wonderful hybrid steel-wood coaster. Other standouts include Thunderbolt, a wooden roller coaster opened in 1940, a circa-1909 carousel, and The New England SkyScreamer, which tops out at over 400 feet and was the world's tallest swing ride when it debuted in 2014. Included with admission is the water park, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. It is New England's largest water park, and is one of the best water parks at a theme park.
If you've got the time to venture out of Massachusetts to nearby states' theme parks, here's a list of some good options.
Canobie Lake Park: Located in Salem, New Hampshire, just over the border from Massachusetts, this wonderful trolley park dates back to 1906. Among its highlights is the Yankee Cannonball wooden roller coaster.
Lake Compounce and Bayou Bay: Bristol Connecticut. The nation’s oldest continuously operating amusement park, Lake Compounce offers both classic rides and contemporary thrills such as the highly rated Boulder Dash wooden coaster.
Massachusetts water parks, including the indoor water park resort, Great Wolf Lodge.
Like many states in the Northeast, there used to be lots of places to ride coasters and find other fun in Massachusetts. Among Massachusetts' gone-but-not-forgotten thrill zones is Revere Beach. Located just north of Boston, it was the area's answer to New York’s Coney Island. It featured lots of rides and coasters, including the mighty wooden Cyclone. There are still a few places to grab some grub, but like most seaside amusement areas, Revere's rides are long gone.
There are no longer any rides at Salisbury Beach in Salisbury on the New Hampshire border either. And although the carousel remains lovingly preserved at Nantasket Beach in Hull, the other rides at Paragon Park are gone as well. (Fun fact: Paragon's 1917 wooden coaster lives on at Six Flags America in Maryland, where it is now known as The Wild One.)
In the 1960s, a theme park known as Pleasure Island in Wakefield delighted New Englanders. The charming place had echoes of Disneyland. Other defunct Massachusetts parks include Whalom Park in Lunenburg, Lincoln Park in North Dartmouth, and Mountain Park in Holyoke.