Roller coaster rides and winding waterslides are a major thrill for big kids. When it comes to sites that offer an admirable range of attractions geared toward young children with less bravado and shorter stamina, however, some theme parks really stand out. Plan a trip to one of these kids amusement parks for your next getaway with little ones.
Written by Jackie Perrin
Canada's Wonderland - Vaughn, Ontario
Recommended Canada's Wonderland Hotel
Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel & Suites is convenient to Canada's Wonderland, and offers an outdoor saltwater pool and Wonderland stay-and play-packages.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Williamsburg, Va.
Recommended Busch Gardens Williamsburg Hotel
Located just a mile from Busch Gardens, Courtyard Williamsburg Busch Gardens Area features an indoor/outdoor pool and one-bedroom suites with a separate living room.
Story Land - Glen, N.H.
Reserved stroller parking, VIP nursing and baby changing rooms, free pet kennels and free parking in an accessible lot make it especially family-friendly. For the whole crew, there's a fun raft ride and Roar-o-Saurus, a roller coaster the whole family will love. Enter the park during the last three hours of operation (schedule varies seasonally) and receive complimentary admission the following day.
Recommended Story Land Hotel
Seven miles from Story Land in North Conway, New Hampshire, the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort features an awesome indoor water park and Story Land packages.
Idlewild & SoakZone - Ligonier, Pa.
Kids can blow off steam in Jumpin' Jungle and SoakZone, with dry and wet play areas that offer tons of choices for hands-on physical fun. Characters come to life in Story Book Forest, and a trolley rides through Mr. Rogers beloved Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Fun Day Admission/Meal Deal passes include a meal voucher, good for your choice of a sandwich, hot dog or salad, plus chips and a beverage at participating outlets. Parking is free and strollers may be rented in advance online.
Recommended Idlewild & SoakZone Hotel
Located just 11 minutes from the park, Wingate by Wyndham Latrobe is a good family lodging option, with complimentary breakfast and free Wi-Fi.
Cedar Point - Sandusky, Ohio
Pre-schoolers will have a blast in Kiddy Kingdom, a self-contained play land filled with pint-sized rides they can board and steer themselves, including car and airplane rides and a carousel. Fitting for adventurers up to early elementary age, Camp Snoopy lures pint-sized Charlie Brown fans with cartoonish people movers, from a giant school bus to a submarine.
When hunger strikes, families have a host of familiar choices, from Chick-Fil-A to Dairy Queen. The kids amusement park features two Family Care Centers, both with baby changing and private nursing stations, a Kid Track safety system and a Parent Swap option, the latter of which allows parents to take a turn enjoying the big rides without a major wait.
Recommended Cedar Point Hotel
Right on the park property, recently redesigned Hotel Breakers features family-friendly sleeping set-ups, children's play areas and early theme park access.
Dutch Wonderland - Lancaster, Pa.
Recommended Dutch Wonderland Hotel
Convenient to Dutch Wonderland, Eden Resort & Suites, BW Premier Collection offers indoor and outdoor resort-style pools; an outdoor recreation area with a water spray park; a playground and sports courts; family villas with full kitchens; and daily buffets with pizza and other kid-friendly foods.
Magic Kingdom - Orlando
A Rider Switch program allows parents to enjoy rides that are too mature for little ones, without the wait, while a special behind-the-scenes Family Magic Tour is just right for the early elementary set. A Baby Care Center, located on Main Street, U.S.A. has special feeding areas, changing tables and a family waiting area where older children can watch videos while mom and dad take care of the baby. A special resort guide just for preschoolers can be found on Disney's website, and offers a comprehensive list of kid-friendly attractions, sample touring itineraries and travel tips.
Recommended Magic Kingdom Hotel
A short walk (or stroller ride) to the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Contemporary Resort takes the cake for convenience, allowing guests to return to lodging easily for a mid-day nap.
Disneyland - Anaheim, Calif.
Classic ride highlights for the pre-school set include the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan's Flight, King Arthur Carrousel and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Visits to Mickey and Minnie's homes in Toontown and the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland are obligatory for faithful fans. A Baby Center, located on Main Street, U.S.A., offers diapers and changing and feeding areas.
Kid-Friendly Disneyland Hotel
Convenient to Disneyland and offering and early theme park entry and an onsite character dining experience, the Disneyland Hotel features guestrooms with special Disney touches, themed suites and a kid-friendly pool and water play area.
LEGOLAND Florida - Winter Haven, Fla.
In DUPLO Valley, toddlers can build, splash and play in a comfortable, safe environment, while in LEGO City, kids ages 3 to 5 and 6 to 13 can earn their official LEGOLAND drivers' license at junior and senior driving schools. In Fun Town and Land of Adventure, the whole family can create their own mini-figures, watch a 4D movie, explore hidden tombs and ride a scaled-to-size LEGO dinosaur themed roller coaster. The LEGO World of Chima brings visitors up close with favorite characters, from Laval the Lion Prince to Cragger the Crocodile King.
For an added fee, visitors can combine a full day at the theme park with LEGOLAND Water Park admission. Like the theme park, LEGOLAND Water Park offers fun activities for toddlers, as well as school-aged children. A second U.S. LEGOLAND park and LEGOLAND Hotel are situated in Carlsbad, California.
Kid-Friendly LEGOLAND Florida Hotel
Opened in 2015 and just steps away from the park, LEGOLAND Florida Hotel features themed rooms that sleep five with bunk beds and trundle beds, complimentary breakfast, in-room treasure hunts and early LEGOLAND theme park entry.
SeaWorld Orlando - Orlando
Seasonal offerings like a holiday ice show and Halloween trick-or-treating are appropriate for young children. Additional SeaWorld parks in San Antonio, Texas, and San Diego, California, offer similar kid-friendly appeal.
Recommended SeaWorld Orlando Hotel
Within easy walking distance to SeaWorld Orlando, the Renaissance Orlando Resort at SeaWorld features an extensive outdoor pool complex with a water park, kid-friendly dining options like Saturday breakfast with Shamu, and special SeaWorld partner privileges, such as early theme park entry (select dates only) and complimentary Quick Queue passes.
Sesame Place - Langhorne, Pa.
Recommended Sesame Place Hotel
SpringHill Suites Philadelphia Langhorne is a short walk to Sesame Place by private path. This family-friendly hotel features complimentary breakfast, an indoor swimming pool and a seasonal children's play room. It also offers package deals.