Six Flags New England

Guide to The Largest Theme Park in Massachusetts

Thunderbolt-SFNE.jpg
••• The classic Thunderbolt roller coaster at Six Flags New England. © Arthur Levine.

As with most of the properties in the amusement park chain, the focus at Six Flags New England is on coasters and thrill rides. And when it comes to coasters, the park boasts one of the world's finest: the Superman the Ride hypercoaster. That alone would be more than reason enough to visit. But, there are plenty of other great features at the park.

The formerly all-wooden coaster, the Cyclone, had become progressively rough through the years and was not giving a pleasant ride experience in the last few years of its existence.

In 2015, however, the ride got a newfangled steel "I-Box" track and a new lease on life as a hybrid wooden-steel coaster. The converted ride, now known as Wicked Cyclone, is faster, includes inversions, and is wicked smooth. It is the second-best attraction at Six Flags New England and among the best hybrid wooden and steel coasters.

The floorless coaster, Batman--The Dark Knight, is not quite up to the standards of floorless coasters at some other parks, but it is nonetheless a blast. The Mind Eraser, an inverted steel coaster, is not one of the park's highlights. With their feet dangling in the air, riders sit two across in ski-lift style cars that navigate the wild twists and loops suspended from the track above. Unlike other inverted coasters however, Mind Eraser is not particularly smooth and delivers some jarring head-banging moments. My advice: Skip the coaster's long lines and opt for a second (or third or fourth) ride on Superman or Wicked Cyclone.

In 2017, Six Flags New England debuted The Joker, a "4-D Free Fly" coaster. It's quite short, but its spinning cars deliver an unusual and enjoyable ride experience.

Barely-There Nostalgia

Known for many years as Riverside, the park began as a picnic grove in 1840 and has a long history on which to draw.

A circa-1909 carousel (although Riverside installed it in 1940) graces the park's front entrance in a lavish building canopy. The classic 1940 "Thunderbolt" wooden roller coaster includes the ride's original, evocative neon sign at its entrance. But, in typical Six Flags fashion, just about everything else about the park's glorious, if tacky, past is gone.

In fact, there is little to distinguish Six Flags New England from any of the corporation's other parks. The company tends to strip away any local ambiance in favor of a homogenized, one-size-fits-all ethos.

This can be especially jarring when it comes to food. As with most Six Flags parks (and most theme parks, for that matter), the food stands are often overcrowded and the dining choices are limited, overpriced, and somewhat bland. Where are the lobsters, steamers, clam chowder, baked beans, corn bread, and other regional favorites? This is Six Flags NEW ENGLAND, right? Instead, it's the usual fast food suspects. Two standouts, however, are the Go Fresh Cafe, which offers freshly prepared sandwiches, wraps, and salads, and JB's Smokehouse BBQ, which rustles up some pretty decent pulled pork and brisket sandwiches.

Six Flags knows how to do rides.

In addition to the coasters, the park offers other great attractions, such as the Blizzard River raft ride. Teeming with fog, the rafts careen in near-whiteout conditions for a wet (but not soaking) respite from the heat. Houdini's Escape is an intriguing spinning room illusion. The New England SkyScreamerthe world's tallest swing ride when it debuted in 2014, is a real hoot. Younger kids can find plenty of fun in the Looney Tunes-themed Movie Town.

Hurricane Harbor water park is included with admission. With two wave pools, a water coaster, tons of slides, and other attractions, it is among the biggest and best water parks at a theme park. There's plenty to help guests cool down after a hot day on the thrill rides.

Location and Phone

Agawam, MA (near Springfield, MA and Hartford, CT). The actual address is Route 159, 1623 Main Street in Agawam, MA.

Directions from Boston: Mass Pike W to Exit 6. I-291 W onto I-91 S to Exit 3 (Agawam). Cross bridge, take first exit, and follow rotary to Route 57 W, then Route 159 S (Main Street) 2.9 miles to park.

From Connecticut: I-91 N to Exit 47W. Route 190 W to Route 159 N, then 3.8 miles to park.

From Albany: Mass Pike E to Exit 4. Route 5 S to Route 57 W (Agawam/Southwick), then Route 159 S (Main Street) 2.9 miles to park.

(413) 786-9300

Tickets and Admission Info

Reduced price for children (2 years old to less than 54"). Ages 2 and under are free. Discounted tickets are often available online. Season pass tickets include admission to all Six Flags parks.

For an additional fee, the park offers the Flash Pass go-to-the-front-of-the-lines program. VIP tours are available for an extra fee (which is quite high).

Nearby Hotels

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Official Web Site

Six Flags New England