Disney’s highly anticipated Harry Potter and Star Wars ride openings may be on the national radar, but Long Islanders don’t have to travel that far to experience the thrill of flying with a superhero, immersion in colorful high-tech video games or a meetup with their favorite comic book character.
Here’s a roundup of theme parks reachable with an E-ZPass and a tank of gas, with new ride attractions inspired by Wonder Woman, Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary and Reese’s peanut butter cups.
SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE & SAFARI/SIX FLAGS HURRICANE HARBOR Jackson, New Jersey
ADMISSION $81.99 for general admission (54 inches or taller); less than 54 inches tall, $50.99; 2 and younger free (at the gate)
INFO 732-928-2000, sixflags.com/greatadventure
Billed as the second largest theme park in the world, Six Flags’ 510 acres bursts with bucket-list roller coasters. The neck-whippers include the 45-story tall Kingda Ka; El Toro, voted the world’s best coaster by Amusement Today; Nitro and The Joker. The ground-level entertainment includes shows on the street and on three stages, character meet-and-greets and food truck and wine festivals.
WHAT’S NEW Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth
The Justice League heroine is the inspiration for of one of the world’s tallest pendulum rides, according to Six Flags officials. A 17-story pendulum swings back and forth, propelling riders in counterclockwise circles at a speed of nearly 75 miles per hour. Riders whirl around for that weightless feeling up to heights of 172 feet in the air.
Hurricane Harbor also splashes down with a new activity pool, 100,000-gallon Calypso Springs.
HERSHEYPARK Hershey, Pennsylvania
ADMISSION $68.95 ages 9 to 54; $46.95 ages 3 to 8 and 55 to 69; $31.95 ages 70 plus; children 2 and younger free
INFO 800-437-7439, hersheypark.com
The more than 70 rides in Hershey’s 121-acre park include the Laff-Trakk, an indoor spinning glow coaster with retro funhouse scares; the wooden Comet Coaster and the Skyrush mega-hyper roller coaster. Fahrenheit, a vertical-launch roller coaster, plunges riders on a 97-degree negative drop from 120 feet in the air. The Kissing Tower lifts riders up 250 feet in the air for a panoramic view through chocolate kiss-shaped windows. For a real kiss (chocolate, that is) visit the park’s Hershey’s Chocolate World.
WHAT’S NEW Reese’s Cupfusion
This is a revamp of Hersheypark’s existing interactive gaming ride based on the popular peanut-butter-and-chocolate confection. The re-imagining has players earning points by protecting the “Crystal Cup,” which gathers the world’s love for chocolate and uses it to power the Reese’s factory. Punning character names such as Mint the Merciless, Commander Cup and Citizen Cane add new flavors to the colorful storyline.
PLAYLAND PARK Rye, New York
ADMISSION $30; $20 for children under 48 inches tall; free 2 and under
INFO 914-813-7000, playlandpark.org
The Westchester County-owned and -operated Playland, located off I-95 Exit 19, features more than 50 rides, Kiddyland and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. A boardwalk spans part of the 1,200-foot beach on Long Island Sound. Rye Playland is a nostalgia trip with seven original attractions still going strong since the park’s first day in 1928, among them the 3,400-foot wooden Dragon Coaster. Fireworks shows are held on Fridays in July and August.
WHAT’S NEW The park is adding some dazzle with twice-daily laser shows in mid-June. But the major new attraction is scheduled to open around the Fourth of July, the first attraction added since 2008, according to county officials. Details on the ride weren’t available at press time.
LUNA PARK Coney Island, Brooklyn
ADMISSION Entrance to the park is free; $3-$22 per ride; all-day pass $42-$69
INFO 718-373-5862, lunaparknyc.com
The classic theme park brand revived nine years ago is a nostalgic throwback to Coney Island’s storied past. Attractions include a carousel with 50 hand-carved wooden horses, and thundering coasters named The Thunderbolt and Steeplechase. Still raising neck hair since its first go-round in 1927: the Cyclone, a wooden roller-coaster with an 85-foot, 60-degree drop.
WHAT’S NEW A circus-themed adventure area with a rope course and zip lines lets you whiz through the air for a different view of the boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean.
DUTCH WONDERLAND Lancaster, Pennsylvania
ADMISSION $45.99 general admission (ages 3-59); $39.99 ages 60-69; $30.99 ages 70 and up; under 2 free
INFO 866-386-2839, dutchwonderland.com
The wonders in this amusement park include more than 30 rides, live entertainment and the Duke’s Lagoon water play area. All attractions are geared to families with kids age 12 and under.
WHAT’S NEW Duke’s Lagoon spouts a number of new features starring park characters. Duke the Dragon takes the helm of a new pirate ship centerpiece, and a friendly octopus will make his home atop a new slide intended for younger kids.
SESAME PLACE Langhorne, Pennsylvania
ADMISSION $74.99 ages 2 and up
INFO 215-702-3566, sesameplace.com
The kiddie-friendly rides range from Oscar’s Wacky Taxi wooden roller coaster to the racecar-themed Honker Dinger Derby. Kids meet the Muppets in three stage shows and at the daily Sesame Street block party attended by Elmo, Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, and the rest of the gang.
WHAT’S NEW Sesame Street Neighborhood has been redesigned to reflect the new set on TV’s Sesame Street, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary on the air this fall. The Sesame Street Neighborhood show adds a new neighbor to Sesame Place — the big, furry and lovable Mr. Snuffleupagus.