Hold onto your hats — and the nearest available hand — for this season’s new theme park thrill rides.
On Long Island, Splish Splash Water Park in Calverton rolls out The Riptide Racer flume mat slide ride and Bombs Away, a 300-foot-long loop-de-loop with freefall and splashdown. Adventureland in East Farmingdale unveils its Mystery Mansion dark ride.
The thrills are multiplying off-Island, too, at some of the Northeast’s one-of-a-kind theme parks. Here’s the story at five parks, all within a day’s round-trip drive of home.
West Berlin, New Jersey
The country’s only heavy construction-themed amusement park lets kids safely drive and dig holes in the dirt with life-size construction equipment, such as steamrollers, excavators, dump trucks and backhoes.
NEW FOR 2018 A multimillion-dollar, seven-acre expansion with five new rides, including the 130-foot-high, 700-foot-long Soaring Eagle Zip Line spanning nearly the entire length of the park, and Ventrac 3400Y, a hydrostatic compact tractor kids can drive around an asphalt course.
ADMISSION $34.95 for guests over 42 inches tall; $29.95 for kids 36 to 42 inches tall; free for kids less than 36 inches (limited rides).
INFO 856-768-1110, diggerlandusa.com
The Pennsylvania landmark’s 70-plus rides include 14 coasters — among them the steel Great Bear and Skyrush, the tallest and fastest coaster in the park. The Boardwalk at Hersheypark features 16 water rides. Chocoholics can shop for chocolate-scented T-shirts, a Hersheypark Monopoly game and five-pound chocolate bars.
NEW FOR 2018 Located on the “Boardwalk” (despite the name, the park is landlocked), Breakers Edge is the world’s first Hydromagnetic water coaster, according to park officials. A four-person raft simulates a bobsled ride over hills and around saucer turns. The other addition, Whitecap Racer, is a mat racing slide.
ADMISSION $66.95 ages 9 to 54; $44.95 ages 3 to 8 and 55 to 69; $28.95 ages 70 and older; free for children 2 and younger
INFO 800-437-7439, hersheypark.com
Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari/ Six Flags Hurricane Harbor
Jackson, New Jersey
Six Flags is the second-largest theme park in the world, after Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. Its 510 acres are a roller coaster rider’s dream (or a nightmare if you’re chicken). Nerve-fryers include Kingda Ka (at 456 feet, it’s the world’s tallest coaster), El Toro, Nitro and The Joker. Gentler kicks revolve around three sections of kiddie rides and live family entertainment.
NEW FOR 2018 Cyborg Cyber Spin is the nation’s first major theme park ride named for the half human, half machine who is America’s other favorite African-American superhero. Cyborg’s 24-seat gondola lurches riders 70 feet in the air for spins on three axes. It’s located in Six Flags’ new Metropolis section, near last year’s sensation, the Justice League: Battle for Metropolis 3-D dark ride.
ADMISSION $51.99 online; $76.99 for guests 54 inches or taller; $48.99 less than 54 inches tall; free ages 2 and younger
INFO 732-928-2000, sixflags.com/greatadventure
Muppets walk, talk and “drive” coasters at Sesame Place, the nation’s only amusement park dedicated exclusively to rides inspired by the classic kid’s TV show. In between meeting Elmo, Big Bird and friends, youngsters can take their first roller coaster or water rides chaperoned by moms and dads. Fill out the day watching “Street Party” parades and educational puppet shows, such as “Elmo: The Musical Live!”
NEW FOR 2018 Oscar’s Wacky Taxi is the park’s first wooden coaster and second “starter” coaster, joining the equally unscary Super Grover’s Vapor Trail. The Wacky Taxi coasts up to 33 miles an hour on a quarter-mile track with easy-to-take twists, turns, a 40-foot-high hill and a banking curve through a tunnel. An Oscar the Grouch sculpture “drives” the bright yellow Checker cab, singing (via voiceover) about his love for trash and telling kids to “scram” when it’s over.
ADMISSION $65 online; $75 at the gate, ages 2 and older
INFO 215-752-3566, sesameplace.com
Six Flags the Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom
Queensbury, New York
The theme park located on the road to Lake George features 135 rides, shows and attractions. They run the gamut from the Frankie’s Mine Train kiddie ride and Krazy Cars to The Comet, a 90-year-old wooden roller coaster.
NEW FOR 2018 Locked into seats aboard what looks like a multicolored flying saucer, riders aboard Pandemonium get a lift and take 360-degree spins with tilts at various angles.
ADMISSION $61.99 at the gate ($51.99 online); $46.99 for seniors and children less than 4 feet tall; free for children younger than 3
INFO 518-792-3500, sixflags.com/greatescape