Huffpost Travel

Amusement Parks In Chicago: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

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The Navy Pier Ferris wheel at night. | Serge Melki

Amusement parks in and near Chicago allow for a light-hearted and fun-filled break from exploring the city's renowned architecture and landmarks. Chicagoland amusement parks feature classic and futuristic rides for all age groups and thrill-seeking levels. As part of a Huffington Post series on family-fun parks, here is our guide to all the key information visitors need to know about Chicagoland amusement parks.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier is much more than just an amusement park. This 50-acre lakefront entertainment center not only has classic rides like a Ferris wheel and musical carousel, but it is also home to some of Chicago’s landmark restaurants, such as the Billy Goat Tavern and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. In the summer, you can also enjoy a fireworks display and live entertainment, or maybe even take a boat cruise on Lake Michigan.

Ferris Wheel

The 150 foot-high Ferris wheel is modeled after the Ferris wheel built for Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. This seven-minute ride not only provides a thrill but also a spectacular view of the city.

Museums And Carousels

In addition to other classic rides, such as the musical carousel and Wave Swinger -- an old-fashioned swing -- the park also has an 18-hole miniature golf course and remote-control boats. On the pier, you will also find the Chicago Children’s Museum, Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze, the high-speed thrill ride Transporter FX, bike and skate rentals, Segway tours, the Smith Museum of Stained-Glass Windows, an IMAX Theatre, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and special events like the Cirque Shanghai Extreme.

Fast Food Favorites

Navy Pier has full-service restaurants and bars as well as a food court and a beer garden. Seafood, sandwiches, wraps, pizza, pasta, salads, steak, nachos, hot dogs, ice cream, pretzels and popcorn are only a few of the numerous food options.

Safety Record

Our research showed that reported accidents at Navy Pier involving amusement park rides are uncommon.

Address: 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 312-595-7437 or 800-595-7437
Hours: Navy Pier is always open, but park hours vary by season. In general, the park is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday in the summer, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the fall, winter and spring. Rides usually open in early April.
Price: Entrance to the park is free. Prices for rides and attractions vary. A ride on the Ferris wheel is $6, but you can purchase a five-ride combo for $15.

Six Flags Great America, Chicago

Six Flags Great America is a classic Chicagoland amusement park that also includes Hurricane Harbor water park. The park also offers plenty of dining, shopping and entertainment options for a full day of fun for every member of the family.

The American Eagle

The park's classic wooden roller coaster, The American Eagle, has been in operation for more than 25 years. This nearly three-minute thrill includes a 147-foot drop.

More Than 50 Thrilling Rides

Great America has more than 50 rides for all age groups, such as Big Easy Balloons, Krazy Kars, Skull Island, Giant Drop, Hurricane Mountain and The Dark Knight Coaster, but the park offers so much more. There are character meet-and-greet stages, a Glow in the Park Parade, Looney Tunes Dance Off, live music and special events.

From Pizza To Ice Cream

The park has an assortment of more than 30 restaurants, food kiosks and bars. Fare includes everything from pizza, sandwiches, fajitas and burgers to funnel cake, cotton candy and ice cream.

Safety Record

According to Theme Park Insider, the last reported incident at Six Flags Great America occurred on March 11, 2008, and involved the death of a contractor hired to dismantle the Splash Waterfalls ride. Prior to this event, there were two incidents of injury in 2007, one involving a park maintenance worker who fell while working on a locomotive and one involving a family that complained of neck and back pain from The Orbit ride. In 2006, a 10-year-old girl died on Spacely's Sprocket Rocket, but it was later discovered that she had a congenital heart condition and it was not the ride that caused her death.

Address:1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, IL 60031
Phone: 847-249-4636
Hours: The park is open May through October, and hours of operation vary by season and by day. During the summer, it is mostly open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Price: General admission is $56.99 and $36.99 for children under 48 inches tall. Children age two and younger are admitted free. Check the website for online promotions and deals. Season passes are also available.

Other Noteworthy Parks Near Chicago

Magic Waters Water Park Blackberry Farm Donley’s Wild West Town Santa’s Village Safari Land

What's your favorite amusement park in Chicago?

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