Theme Parks for Families with Young Children

Edaville U.S.A. is for families with young children.
Edaville U.S.A. and Mattel

Most theme parks have rides, lands, and other features for very young visitors. Think Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. But a few parks are geared entirely for the 12-and-under set. Discover magical places where your young kids would be able to ride most of the rides.Parks are arranged alphabetically.

01 of 09

Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

The Fun Slide at Dutch Wonderland.
Jim, the Photographer / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Boasting a signature castle at its entrance, Dutch Wonderland in Pennsylvania's Amish Country treats younger kids like royalty. Most of its rides are geared to pre-teens, and even the youngest guests can enjoy most of the attractions when accompanied by an adult. Its newest addition is Merlin’s Mayhem, a suspended coaster in which the train hangs beneath the track.

02 of 09

Edaville U.S.A. Featuring Thomas Land in Carver, Massachusetts

Thjomas Land rides at Edaville U.S.A.
Edaville U.S.A. and Mattel

In 2015, the small, train-themed park in Massachusetts opened Thomas Land as part of a big expansion. It features rides and attractions based on the popular PBS show,​ Thomas & Friends. The park also offers a dinosaur land, coasters, and other rides.

03 of 09

Gilroy Gardens in Gilroy, California

Gilroy Gardens Ferris wheel

 Gilroy Gardens

In addition to pint-sized rides, visitors at the agriculture-themed park can ride a monorail through a garden filled flowers and butterflies. One of its highlights is its collection of “circus” trees. With names like Four-Legged Giant and Squat Curvy Scallops, they were coaxed into odd shapes by arborists. Kids can meet Gil and Roy, garlic bulbs that sport sunglasses.

04 of 09

Idlewild in Ligonier, Pennsylvania

Daniel Striped Tiger at Idlewild park in Pennsylvania

Idlewild

Idlewild is one of the country's premier parks, if a bit under the radar, for families with young children. Dating back to 1878, it also trades on nostalgia. Among its classic attractions is a carousel from the 1920s, a 1947 Caterpillar ride, and the Rollo Coaster, a woodie that opened in 1938. In 2015, the park changed out its Mr. Rogers land and re-themed it to the spinoff PBS series, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Admission includes entry into the Soak Zone water park

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Legoland California in Carlsbad

Legoland California
Arthur Levine

You know Legos. Most kids have a bucket of the snap-together blocks in their toy chests. Imagine a whole park constructed out of Legos and decked out in its primary colors. There are the requisite roller coasters (though they are tame), but many of the attractions are wildly inventive, hands-on, interactive, Lego-themed creations.

06 of 09

Legoland Florida in Winter Haven

Ninjago ride at Legoland Florida
Legoland Florida

This is the Florida version of the Lego-themed park. Like its California counterpart, it is geared for the 12-and-under set. It includes a Lego-themed water park. it also offers two onsite hotels. Legoland Florida has maintained some of the features from the site's previous incarnation as Cypress Gardens, including the lovely formal gardens and a ski show, which now features Lego pirates.

07 of 09

Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire

The train ride at Santa's Village in New Hampshire

Santa's Village

Santa’s Village is especially charming and beguiling. it is loaded with themed rides such as Rudy’s Rapid Transit coaster and the Yule Log Flume. The park’s primary season is summer, but it does reopen around the holidays for a (chilly) Christmastime celebration.

08 of 09

Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Elmo at Sesame Place

Sesame Place & Sesame Workshop

As with the landmark PBS and HBO children's show on which it is based, Sesame Place is designed largely for a preschool audience. It does, however, include some mild to slightly wild coasters, including Oscar‘s Wacky Taxi coaster, which was introduced in 2018. The park has a great collection of water park rides and some compelling shows.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire

The castle at Story Land in New Hampshire
© Arthur Levine.

Another New Hampshire park specifically geared to families with younger children, the front section of the mid-century Story Land retains many of its original storybook tableaus such as Humpty Dumpty, the Old Woman in the Shoe, and the Three Little Pigs (with real pigs!). The back of the park offers some modern-day attractions including a wonderful raft ride, a steel roller coaster, and a log flume ride, but the thrills are generally toned down to pint-size levels. Among Story Land’s most recent additions is Roar-O-Saurus, a surprisingly thrilling wooden coaster.

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