Flushing Meadows Corona Park is already jam-packed with cool kids' attractions like the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Zoo and a historic carousel. But there's always room for more. This Memorial Day weekend, Fantasy Forest at the Flushing Meadows Carousel, the only amusement park in Queens, officially opens to the public, and my kids and I got a sneak peek at the fun.
Before you start thinking that Fantasy Forest is the next Coney Island, it's much more modest. In addition to the carousel, there are four fairly tame rides best for younger children and a couple of games. But it's certainly worth a stop during your day out in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Bring a picnic lunch, hang out under the shady trees or plop down on one of the many benches, and stay a while.
Fantasy Forest at the Flushing Meadows Carousel is located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. There are five rides: the Fantasy Frog Hopper, which goes up and down; the as-yet-unnamed snake roller coaster; a circular track ride called Queens Himalaya and the Corona Choo Choo train. There are also four games: the Ring Toss, Basketball Shoot-Out, the old strongman Hi-Striker and Rising Waters.
The management company has worked hard to beautify the place and it looks great. The carousel got a much-needed coat of new paint, and vintage signs from the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs give the spot a retro feel. There are plenty of shady benches, especially appealing if your children are tall enough to go on the rides by themselves. There's also a picnic table and plenty of grass where you can put down a blanket and eat.
Fantasy Forest marked my 3-year-old's first time at an amusement park, and she spent two hours going on all the rides over and over. She's still thanking me daily for taking her to the "music" park. The current selection of rides is perfect for preschoolers and young grade schoolers, I'd say ages 3 to 8. Most rides have a minimum height requirement of 33 to 36 inches, and children can go on alone at 36 or 42 inches, depending on the attraction. My daughter's favorites were the Queens Himalaya, the carousel and the Corona Choo Choo. I was impressed she tried them all!
Fantasy Forest is open select weekends in March, April, May, September and October, and daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Visit the website for the complete schedule. Admission is free but tickets must be purchased for rides. On Sundays and holidays, there are also free interactive performances at 2 and 4pm by clowns, magicians or jugglers.
Fantasy Forest at the Flushing Meadows Carousel is located inside Flushing Meadows Corona Park right next to the merry-go-round. Enter at 111th Street and 55th Avenue. If you're bringing a stroller be warned, there are stairs. However a reader informed us that if you follow the parking lot's railed walkway, there's a ramp all the way to the right.
Find out about other seasonal attractions in our Summer Fun Guide.
This post originally published in May 2013.