Say what you will about the winters in New England, but the endless snow drifts and below-freezing nights just make the nice weather that much more enjoyable when it arrives. Maybe that's why amusement parks in Massachusetts and neighboring states offer some of the most elaborate, over-the-top fun a family could ever want. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on family-fun parks, here is our guide to all the key information visitors need to know about Massachusetts-area theme parks.
In the 1940s, Ellis D. Atwood, a giant in the cranberry business, decided to create a rail line for entertainment purposes. He built what's now known as Edaville USA by using two-foot-gauge rails left over from Maine's 19th-century golden transportation days. Now the park also hosts family events and includes several playfully themed rides for kids featuring elephants, caterpillars, turtles and rocket ships.
Train TracksThe biggest draw is the train, which takes regular 20-minute rides around roughly two miles of scenic cranberry bogs. There is also an old-fashioned carousel and the 1953 Ferris wheel, "Big Eli."
Ride With ThomasKids have an opportunity to ride with Thomas the Tank Engine (of book and TV fame) during "Day Out With Thomas" celebration. A person dressed as Sir Topham Hatt makes the rounds with meet and greets, while live music and storytelling times are scheduled through out the day.
Variety Of SnacksFood venues include KC's Cafe, serving hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, pizza, chicken fingers, sandwiches and fries; Raspberry Mousse Caboose, serving every sweet treat your dentist warned you against; and seasonal Choo-Choo Barbecue, serving barbecued chicken meals.
Safety RecordAccording to a 2001 article in the Standard-Times in New Bedford, park officials acknowledged three minor train derailments in 2000 and 2001. None resulted in serious injury. Also according to the Standard-Times, in 1996, a helicopter accidentally crashed into a bog on the Edaville property. No serious injury resulted from this either.
Address: 5 Pine St., Carver, MA 02330
Hours: The park is open weekends Sept. through Dec., though hours vary for each event. See the website's events page for specific times.
Price: Prices vary from year to year. See the website for ticket prices for each event.
Six Flags New England
With its recognizable six themed areas, this amusement park branch will strike a familiar chord with families from almost any area of the country. Because Six Flags New England is located in the southwestern part of Massachusetts, it is easily accessible to residents from Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York.
For Thrill Or Family FunRides are divided into three categories, thrill, family and kids, but the thrill rides are what keep patrons coming back to the park. Three signature rides at the park include Batman - The Dark Knight, which straps you in and lets you whoosh through the air with nothing under your feet, the Bizarro coaster, which is more than 20 stories high, includes a 221-foot drop and attains a top speed of 77 mph, and the classic wooden coaster Thunderbolt, originally built in 1941.
Other AttractionsOpen well into the night, the park offers a number of events and shows, such as "Survivor Live," Looney Tunes character meet and greets and a summer concert series. In the fall, leading up to Halloween, the park is also host to an equally scary and cheesy "Fright Fest."
Food VendorsMultiple vendors sell typical amusement park fare, such as hot dogs, fries, chicken tenders, sandwiches, wraps, salads, fried dough, ice cream and shakes.
Safety RecordAccording to Theme Park Insider, a man was killed on the Superman ride in 2004. Witnesses reported to the Boston Globe that ride operators did not check the man's restraints. A nonfatal incident also occurred on the same ride in 2001. And in 1999, a raft on the Blizzard water ride capsized, trapping eight people underwater, but no one was seriously injured. All entering guests go through metal detectors as a security measure.
Address: 1623 Main St., Agawam, MA 01001
Hours: The park is open mid-April through the end of October. It's open 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays.
Price: General admission is $46.99, $36.99 for those under 54 inches tall and free for ages 2 and younger.
Other Noteworthy Parks Near MassachusettsWhite's Family Fun and Sports Center
Adventureland of Narragansett
Canobie Lake Park
What's your favorite roller coaster in Massachusetts? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
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