Best Amusement Parks Near Philadelphia for Preschoolers
It's hard to imagine a more thrilling summer day for a preschooler than riding bumper cars, spinning teacups, and a miniature locomotive. Fortunately, there are many amusement parks near Philadelphia that offer fun for the younger set, including toddlers and preschoolers.
We've rounded up our favorite nearby theme parks with extra kiddie rides or those designed precisely for preschoolers. This summer we've added 2020 reopening info, including parks requiring online reservations or with ride closures due to COVID-19.
Be sure to check out our Summer Activities Guide for Philly Kids, which is filled with amazing summertime activities for little ones.
Note: All parks are operating at reduced capacity in 2020 due to state restrictions and masks are required for everyone age 2 and up.
Diggerland USA — West Berlin, NJ
Reopened for summer 2020, including the water park.
This construction-themed park is sure to delight little ones obsessed with trucks and tractors. However, many rides have a 36- or 42-inch minimum and toddlers don't have quite as many options. Read our review of Diggerland for more info on attractions and tips before you go. There's also a brand-new water park at Diggerland in 2020!
Kids will love the rides and water play at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom.
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom — Allentown, PA
The theme park has reopened for 2020 with single day online ticket reservations, but the water park remains closed.
This park is home to several roller coasters that send chills down the spine of even hard-core thrill seekers. But for the junior set, there are rides such as PEANUTS Road Rally, Woodstock's Wagon Wheel, and Snoopys Junction. A theater hosts live performances starring the gang that will entertain tots with singing and dancing. If the kids want more, Dorney has other family rides including Cedar Creek Canonball, Ferris Wheel, and Antique Carousel. And, don't forget to back a bathing suit for the sister water park, Wildwater Kingdom.
Dutch Wonderland — East Lancaster, PA
Reopened for Thursdays-Sundays in 2020 but with some limited ride closures due to COVID-19.
With a host of rides for kids under 36 inches, Dutch Wonderland is a preschooler's paradise. The Duke’s Lagoon water play area has small-sized slides located under shady palm trees. There are lots of food options, including some healthy choices like salad, yogurt, and fruit; however, families may also pack their own food to eat in the picnic area. Read our full review of the Dutch Wonderland theme park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Hersheypark is open in 2020 with social distancing rules in place.
Hersheypark — Hershey, PA
Reopened in 2020 with online reservation requirements.
Although Hersheypark is well-known for its impressive lineup of looping, heart-pounding roller coasters, they still have a good selection of rides for the "miniature" kids. Many of the preschooler-friendly rides are found near the park entrance. Live shows, character appearances, and a tot-friendly section of the water park are also sure to entertain. Read our full review of the Hersheypark amusement park in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Knoebels Amusement Park — Elysburg, PA
Reopened in 2020 with some areas and rides closed to maintain social distancing.
About a two hour drive from Philly's western suburbs, Knoebels is a family-oriented amusement park that offers free parking and free admission (rides are pay-as-you-go or buy a wristband). The park has a mix of old-fashioned and modern rides with plenty of options for little ones. Many families enjoy staying at the nearby campground.
A number of NJ theme parks and water parks, such as Land of Make Believe, have reopened for summer fun.
Land of Make Believe — Hope, NJ
Reopened for 2020 with online reservations.
Described in our review as "a little gem tucked away in Hope, New Jersey," Land of Make Believe offers many attractions for young kids to play the day away. The New Jersey amusement park contains dry rides and a water area, so be sure to pack swimsuits and a change of clothes. Parking is free and families can bring their own coolers inside the park.
Sesame Place — Langhorne, PA
Reopened for 2020 with online reservations. There may be some temporary ride closures as well.
Fans of the PBS TV series will go gaga (especially if that's the only word they can say!) for this park. There are a ton of rides aimed at kids ages 2 to 6. Happily, there are dozens of options that will appeal to older siblings, too. The park is big, with wet and dry attractions, so bring a bathing suit. Be sure to read our full review of Pennsylvania's Sesame Place for all the top tips.
Six Flags Great Adventure has rides for every age!
Six Flags Great Adventure — Jackson, NJ
Reopened for 2020, including its Hurricane water park, with online reservations. Offering its safari as a DIY drive-thru in 2020.
While Great Adventure is primarily marketed towards older thrill-seekers with rides named "Drop of Doom," "Sky Screamer," and "Dare Devil Dive," the park is so large that there are also plenty of options for younger riders. Live entertainment and Looney Tunes characters throughout the park appeal to little ones as well. Read our full review of Six Flags New Jersey.
Storybook Land is a lovely way to spend a day with younger kids.
Storybook Land — Egg Harbor Township, NJ
Reopened for 2020 season but reservations are now required as are masks. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
With a theme based on fairy tales and nursery rhymes, Storybook Land is a great destination for kids under 10. Shady and compact, Storybrook Land offers free parking and plenty of rides to keep the family entertained. Guests may purchase food at the park or pack their own to enjoy a picnic. Read our review of Storybook Land for more details.
Photos courtesy of the parks
This article was originally published in 2015, but it has since been updated.