New Year’s Eve is one of those holidays that changes drastically once you become a parent. Any kind of grown-up fun usually involves weeks of planning. Who can babysit? How much do we pay on New Year’s Eve? Do we let the tweens stay up until we get home? Unless you truly need an adult night out (in which case, GO for it!), how about a happy compromise? Read on to get the scoop on events in NJ for families who want to ring in the New Year together, including parties at an indoor amusement park, an aquarium, and even a battleship. Just be sure to reserve your spot soon!
Looking for pre–New Year entertainment? We rounded up 25 great things to do this holiday break, plus even more fun events happening this week for the kids. Be sure to check our Event Calendar for more.
Adventure Aquarium – Cherry Hill
Ring in the New Year with family, friends, and fish at Adventure Aquarium's annual New Year’s Eve Splash, featuring a DJ dance party and fireworks display. This year's theme is New Year's Around the World, and the aquarium will be celebrating a different country every hour. The party happens all day long, from 11am to 6pm.
Enjoy the fireworks and then sleep over on a real battleship.
Battleship New Jersey – Camden
Don't mistake the fireworks for bombs bursting in air during a visit to the Battleship New Jersey on New Year's Eve. The ship invites guests to come onboard to watch two pyrotechnic shows from its deck, at 6pm and midnight. Music, food, and drinks (including alcohol) will be available for sale. If you're lucky, you might be chosen to set off the historic five-inch gun onboard to cap off the night. The $10 donation per person goes toward the ongoing restoration of the ship. Doors open two hours before each show.
Crystal Springs Resort – Sussex County
If you're looking for an overnight getaway this New Year's, Crystal Springs offers a variety of party options. Book a room at the Grand Cascades Lodge to get special access to a three-course dinner that includes a cocktail hour, live entertainment, dinner, dancing, and open bar from 8pm to 1am. There are also two family-style buffet options offered from 5 to 8pm that don't require an overnight stay: The Copper Room presents dinner with a DJ, dancing, and cash bar, while the Diamond Ballroom features dinner with a DJ, dancing, cash bar, games, strolling magician, and balloon artist. A Diamond Ballroom late-seating includes chips, a midnight sundae bar, hats, noisemakers, and a big-screen TV to watch the Times Square ball drop, but it is also limited to overnight guests.
Dave & Buster's – Wayne & Woodbridge
Families can gather for an early celebration in Wayne, from 5 to 8pm. Packages include an appetizer buffet, dessert, unlimited soft drinks, $20 or $25 Power Card ($25 card comes with unlimited video games), and video ball drop. In Woodbridge, the under-21 crowd is also welcome to attend, from 9pm to 1am. The premium package includes a buffet dinner, churro party station, unlimited soft drinks, $35 Power Card with unlimited video game play per guest, and video ball drop.
Deptford Skating Center – Westville
Celebrate 2018 at the Kids Daytime NYE Party at Deptford Skating Center. There are two sessions: 11am – 2pm and 2:30 – 5:30 PM. Admission includes skating, rentals, funzone, inflatables, NYE party favors, balloon pop with prizes, and countdown to "midnight."
The Funplex – East Hanover & Mount Laurel
A mega entertainment center for older kids and adults, The Funplex is an ideal choice for families that want to let loose on New Year's Eve. The party starts at 10am, culminates with a balloon drop at 8pm, and finishes at 10pm. Purchase an Extreme Band any time during the day and receive a free pass to the dinner buffet (6pm-8pm). Although The Funplex is family-friendly, most of the attractions are geared toward older kids (7 & up) and even the pre-teen set would enjoy a night here.
Garden State Discovery Museum – Cherry Hill
Be among the first to sing, dance, and countdown to 2019 at this hands-on children's museum's annual celebration. There are two sessions: noon and 3pm. The countdown for noon begins at 11:45am, and the countdown for 3pm begins at 2:45pm.
iPlay America – Freehold
iPlay America's annual bash for all ages features hours of fun from 7:30pm to 1am. Kids can use their unlimited ride pass and $10 game card to stay entertained throughout the night. They'll also enjoy lots of prizes and giveaways, party favors, a cool light show, and a rockin' DJ. There's even a cocktail area for adults. To cap off the celebration, watch the ball drop on one of five large-screen TVs as confetti cannons are set off. Admission is free for toddlers. Dining options can be added for an additional cost.
Kidville – Hoboken
Kids ages 6 and under are invited to Kidville's Annual Ball Drop from 11am to 12:30pm, featuring a Glow in the Dark party, along with baby champagne (sparkling juice) and refreshments.
PAWS Discovery Farm – Mount Laurel
Celebrate "Ewe" Years at PAWS Discovery Farm. Guests can meet some of the new animals on the farm as well as countdown to 2019 in the Welcome Center. Hours are 11am to 4pm.
Pump It Up – Hamilton
Kids need an outlet for all that post-holiday energy! Reserve a spot at Pump It Up, and they can bounce and climb their way into 2019. The New Year's Eve Balloon Drop Bounce runs from 11am to 1pm and is billed as a Noon Year's Eve Jump. In addition to all the inflatable fun, kids can enjoy a special holiday theme that includes karaoke, special lighting, and a festive balloon drop. Glow necklaces and party hats are also included.
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Kids can enjoy their own kind of bubbly at Sahara Sam's New Year's Eve party.
Sahara Sam's – West Berlin
Bathing suits and swim goggles might not be the first things that come to mind when making New Year's Eve plans, but you can get your swim on at Sahara Sam's Midnight at the Oasis. From 7pm to 12:30am, families can splash away at all of the indoor water attractions, including the 350-foot Nile Mile body slide. Nosh on appetizers, entrees, and desserts while a DJ spins tunes. When midnight draws near, don't miss the super-fun foam party. Round out the celebration with champagne for mom and dad, and sparkling cider for the kids—noisemakers and party hats included. Children under 2 are free.
Sesame Place – Langhorne, PA
Join Count von Count and his friends as they count down to 2019! Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Abby Cadabby will join the purple Muppet in a musical celebration of favorite songs to accompany a fireworks show. The fireworks start immediately after the 6pm Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade and are viewable from inside the park. For an additional cost, purchase a fireworks grab bag in advance, which includes glow wands, drinks, and popcorn. Park admission required.
The Shannon Rose – Clifton & Ramsey
Party on Dublin time, and celebrate New Year's from 4 to 7pm. Kids can enjoy bagpipers, face-painting, balloons, and a celebratory toast.
Six Flags Great Adventure – Jackson
Thrill-seekers can get in their last rollercoaster runs of the year, then gather to watch fireworks from along the lakefront and A Main Street Christmas at 9pm. Fireworks are included in park admission.
Stryxe – Madison
Bowl the early evening away at Stryxe. From 5:30 to 8:30pm, enjoy three hours of unlimited bowling. A variety of tapas, specialty Tabisca-style pizza, and sweets; unlimited soft drinks; and a champagne toast for guests age 21+ is included. Each reserved lane earns a $25 Stryxe gift card for future use, and the 9:30pm seating adds on a bottle of prosecco per lane. Bowling shoe rentals are part of the deal, too.
Urban Jungle Play – Hoboken
Kids ages 9 months and up are invited to celebrate at UJP's Countdown to Noon from 9am to noon. There will be cool accessories to wear and awesome confetti poppers to take home for the night's festivities.
First Night Ocean County – Seaside Heights
If you’re down the shore this New Year’s Eve, stop by Seaside Heights Boardwalk for a fun family celebration from noon to 5pm. Arcades and businesses will be open. Caricature artists, face painters, balloonists, magicians, jugglers, and crafts are sure to entertain all ages. Fireworks start at 5pm.
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Enjoy up to 80 performances--music, dance, theater, fine arts, children's acts and more at First Night Morris.
First Night Morris – Morristown
For an action-packed, family-friendly New Year’s Eve, look no further than First Night Morris, New Jersey's largest First Night event. The alcohol-free evening, which kicks off at 4:45pm, features 70 events, including dance, theater, music, visual arts, and cultural and children's programming. Though everything is within walking distance of the Morristown green, a free shuttle can also get you around. The night includes two fireworks shows, at 9:15pm and midnight, so you can choose the celebration that works best for your family.
Fireworks – Various
There are several fireworks displays happening throughout the state, including those at First Night celebrations in Ocean City and Warren. You can also catch them in Sea Isle City and Atlantic City.
Happy New Year!
Photos courtesy of the events/venues.
Originally published 2011; updated 2018.