16 Epic Kid-Friendly Openings Coming to NYC in 2020
So far this month, we've ushered in a new decade, taken a ride on an interactive art installation, and celebrated the news a Harry Potter megastore opens this summer. City kids have it pretty good but dare we say, the best is yet to come. Our 2020 calendar is already packed with epic kid-friendly openings.
We've scoured the five boroughs to pull together this list of the most anticipated kid-friendly fun on the horizon, and there's something for everyone. We're psyched to celebrate the 150th anniversary of two of our favorite museums and are excitedly anticipating new thrills at Coney Island's Luna Park. We're dreaming of hot summer days and cooling off at a sprawling new splash pad, and killing time until then by twirling on a sky-high ice rink that's already open.
Here are 16 can't-miss openings, premieres, celebrations, and must-do activities for New York City kids this year.
New Stage Shows
She Persisted: The Musical – Chelsea
Performances begin February 22
Based on Chelsea Clinton's best-selling book She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, this musical from Atlantic for Kids takes audiences on a girl-powered adventure. With a book and lyrics by Adam Tobin, She Persisted: The Musical follows a fourth-grader's journey to a women's history museum. Whisked away on a time-traveling expedition, the protagonist, Naomi, encounters the inspirational women in the book and watches them accomplish their dreams and leave their mark on the world.
The Music Man – Times Square
Previews begin September 9; Opening night is October 15
Ladies and gents, this is the moment you've waited for...Hugh Jackman seemed destined for a return to the Great White Way, and 2020 is the year it happens. He's taken a headlining role in the Broadway revival of Meredith Wilson's The Music Man. If that's not enough star power for you, consider this: Sutton Foster plays alongside him in one of the most anticipated shows of the year.
Get ready muggles: The most extensive collection of Wizarding World products anywhere is coming to Flatiron this summer. Rendering courtesy of Warner Bros. Wizarding World
New Flagship Stores
Harry Potter New York – Flatiron District
Anticipated opening: Summer 2020
If we had a working wand, we'd conjure up an earlier opening date for Harry Potter New York. Just-released details confirm the concept shop, the first of its kind, will open across the street from Madison Square Park sometime this summer. It promises to house the largest collection of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beast products in the world, an only-in-New York line of wands, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. We'd be willing to guess you can wash them down with butterbeer, too. Beyond the goods, there will be plenty of Instagram-worthy photo ops.
Krispy Kreme NYC in Times Square brings a 24-hour donut operation to life. Photo courtesy of Krispy Kreme
Krispy Kreme NYC – Times Square
Anticipated opening: Early 2020
These classic, light-as-air glazed donuts have a cult following, so it's no wonder the brand is planning to open a Times Square outpost, which promises 24-hour service. An oversized "hot donuts now" sign is sure to draw crowds into the 4,500-square-foot space where a donut assembly line sits in full view of customers, especially those lucky enough to snag a spot in the stadium-style seats modeled to look like an open donut box. If you're in a hurry, a walk-up window will let you snag a pre-packed dozen while dodging tourists.
The new space show in the Hayden Planetarium, World's Beyond Earth, opens January 21.
American Museum of Natural History – Upper West Side
The American Museum of Natural History kicked off its 150th-anniversary celebration with the debut of T. rex: The Ultimate Predator last spring, and we were blown away by the exhibit. More big things are on the horizon, including a new space show in the Hayden Planetarium, World's Beyond Earth, which opens January 21. Narrated by Lupita Nyong'o, it's the first new show since 2013. We got a sneak peek and loved the incredible imagery showcased, much of which is a result of recent breakthroughs in deep space exploration. The Allison and Roberto Mignone Hall of Gems and Minerals reopens in the fall, and construction has begun on an entirely new education wing. Follow all the anniversary happenings and events on the museum's dedicated website.
The Met – Upper East Side
Not to be outdone by its neighbor across the park, The Met also celebrates its sesquicentennial this year. The first show to mark the milestone, Making the Met, 1870-2020 opens March 30 and provides an overview of the collection with 250 selected works ranging from visitors' favorites to rarely seen treasures. Behind-the-scenes photos give a glimpse into the transformative moments in the institution's history. The Fashion Institute's upcoming exhibition profiles 150 years of style, and a weekend-long celebration in June promises an over-the-top birthday party worthy of its host.
Kusama: Cosmic Nature at NYBG explores the artist’s lifelong engagement with nature and includes multiple installations. Photo courtesy of the David Zwirner Gallery
Editor's Note: Due to coronavirus, this exhibition has been postponed to 2021. An exact date has yet to be announced.
Kusama: Cosmic Nature – Bronx Park, the Bronx
Opens May 9
New Yorker's have had Yayoi Kusama fever recently. The contemporary artist designed a balloon for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and just wrapped up a wildly popular exhibition and Infinity Room installation in Chelsea. But, more significant than both those developments is the exhibition the Japanese artist brings to the New York Botanical Garden this spring. The show focuses on the artist's fascination with the natural world and includes multiple installations—yes, even an open-air infinity room!—highlighting her trademark polka-dots and use of mirrors. A participatory installation—a first for Kusama—will be housed in a greenhouse and transform throughout the show.
At CMOM, visitors ages 3-10 get an up-close view of larger-than-life contemporary art installations. Photo courtesy of CMOM
New Exhibits at CMOM – Upper West Side
Opening January 18 & February 14
The Children's Museum of Manhattan debuts two new exhibitions in the next two months. The first, opening January 18, Inside Art takes over the first-floor gallery and gives visitors ages 3-10 an up-close view of larger-than-life contemporary art installations then provides the space and materials to inspire kids to create their masterpieces. Connect with the artists in residence in their on-site studios, too. In the forthcoming Superpowered Metropolis: Early Learning City, which opens February 14, visitors age 0-6 step inside a comic book-inspired educational city scene meant to build early childhood skills like self-control, memory, and mental flexibility through hands-on fun, including a two-story treehouse, a train table, and more. Guests under age 2 will enjoy the padded Baby Central Station, perfect for building early motor skills.
City/Game: Basketball in New York – East Harlem
Opens February 14
Basketball may have been born in Springfield, Massachusetts, but this new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York proves the sport really, truly belongs to the five boroughs. Inspect the history of the game through the lens of NYC, seeing how the city has shaped the game...and the game has shaped the city. Artifacts include photographs, audio, video, and even fashion.
The Fountain of the Fairs is transformed into a playful spray shower and mist zone where kids can cool off during the summer. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks
New Outdoor Fun
Fountain of the Fairs – Flushing Meadows, Queens
Anticipate opening: September
The long-anticipated redevelopment of the plaza between the Unisphere and the Fountain of the Planets in Flushing Meadows Corona Park is on track for a late-summer completion! The three fountains built for the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs get a substantial update, including spray jets and a mist garden, and Parks Department officials confirmed they should be flowing before the end of the season. We're already hoping for a late summer heatwave and more time to enjoy this spectacular water playground since sprinklers are generally turned off once the temps dip below 80 degrees regularly. The revamp plans also include fresh landscaping and more places to relax around the fountains.
A circus-themed area houses Luna Park's new ropes course, which allows visitors to climb, zip line, and get an aerial eyeful of the beach and boardwalk. Rendering courtesy of Luna Park
Luna Park Expansion – Coney Island, Brooklyn
Coney Island's biggest amusement park is growing, bringing with it a trio of new rides, a ropes course, and more amenities, including an open-air eatery and entertainment space. The big news here is the rides. Debuting during the 2020 season is a log flume ride whose tracks intertwine with a new steel coaster, which is even ADA accessible. A new ride, dubbed "Big Wavez," promises to bring King Neptune to life on a video screen equipped with motion-activated sensors. Visitors' movements create a different experience each go-round, though the one certainty is you will get wet. Consider drying off with some high-flying fun on the ropes course, which has a circus theme and varied attractions for all-ages fun.
NYC Ferry Expansion – Hell's Kitchen to St. George, Staten Island
We are huge fans of the NYC Ferry service, especially during the hot summer months—a ride on an air-conditioned ferry beats a sweaty subway platform any day! In 2020, service debuts on the west side of Manhattan with new NYC Ferry stops in Midtown West and Battery Park City, from there the ferry travels across the harbor to Staten Island's St. George, giving commuters more direct access to the West Side, even if it does come at a cost. But, hey, you'll be saving on MetroCard fare...
RELATED: Hudson yards With Kids: Top 10 Things To Do at NYC's New West Side Hot Spot
Hudson Yards will soon be home to the highest outdoor observation deck in the western hemisphere. Courtesy of The Edge
New Sky-High Attractions
The Edge – Hudson Yards
Opens March 11
New York's got its share of observation decks, but none are quite as bold as The Edge. The triangle-shaped outdoor deck is suspended 100 floors above the city streets at 30 Hudson Yards. If the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere isn't daring enough, consider stepping out onto its glass floor. Good luck summoning the courage to gaze down.
Vale Rink, atop the trendy William Vale Hotel, is now welcoming skaters. Photo courtesy of the hotel
Vale Rink –Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Queens gained a new ice skating rink late last year, and Brooklyn wasn't far behind. Vale Rink, atop the trendy William Vale hotel, is now welcoming skaters. Towering 23 floors above street level, Vale Rink offers some stunning skyline views while you twirl. The rink's surface is Glice, a synthetic ice that allows for greater glide, and there's a warming tent nearby serving kid-friendly goodies and hot chocolate for when your toes start to freeze.
Tropical fish, rays, and sharks swim in windows at SEA LIFE at the American Dream Mall. Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE
Epic Kid-Friendly Openings Nearby
SEA LIFE Aquarium at American Dream – the Meadowlands, New Jersey
American Dream debuted in 2019, bringing with it plenty of fun, from an indoor amusement park to a water park and indoor ski slope. In 2020, visitors can explore "A City Under the Sea," at the northeast's first SEA LIFE Aquarium, which opens this spring. Despite its New Jersey address, the aquarium has a decidedly New York vibe and is modeled after our streets with attractions like "Sharks Fifth Avenue." It houses a panoramic underwater tunnel with NYC landmarks prominently displayed.
Editor's Note: Due to coronavirus, Legoland's opening has been postponed to 2021. An exact date has yet to be announced.
Legoland New York – Goshen, New York
This opening is the granddaddy of them all in 2020. The Northeast gets its first Legoland, and it's set to be the biggest one ever built. Construction is well underway on the site in Orange County, about a 90-minute drive from Midtown. Once you arrive, you'll find more than 50 rides and attractions, plenty of shows, and ample opportunities to buy souvenir bricks! If you've visited the Legoland locations in Florida or California, you likely know what kind of can't-miss, kid-friendly fun awaits. Soar over the Legoland kingdom in its Dragon Coaster, earn a license in the Lego City Driving School, and take in the sights in Miniland. If a day trip seems overwhelming, take note: Legoland's on-site resort opens next year!