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Theme parks near New York City offer kid-friendly rides and attractions

To keep the kids amused this summer, take them for a thrill ride on a dragon roller coaster, through a funhouse filled with their favorite superheroes (and villains), to the heights for a plunge from a 189-foot tower, or to the back of a mini dump truck for a gentle spill. These are just a few of the new rides at nearby Northeast amusement parks, geared to please everyone from tots to tweens, teens and guilty-pleasure-seeking grown-ups. Here’s a rundown of what’s new, classic or retro at amusement parks within a day’s round-trip from Long Island. (Prices quoted are at the gate, day of purchase; some parks offer discounts online on special days.) Guaranteed the kids will sleep on the way home.

Diggerland USA in West Berlin, New Jersey

Guests ride in modified earthmoving equipment buckets during
Photo Credit: AP/Matt Rourke

DIGGERLAND USA
West Berlin, New Jersey 
The Greased Beast dump-truck ride is the clanking new attraction in the construction-themed park’s fourth season. Hydraulic systems lift riders 34 feet into the air in the back of a demolition trailer for a simulated “dump” of the human cargo. The Shake N’ Roll steamroller debuted last year.
DISTANCE FROM NYC 80 miles
ADMISSION $36.95 more than 42 inches tall, $28.95 less than 42 inches tall; free for less than 36 inches tall and over age 65
INFO 856-768-1110, diggerlandusa.com

Diggerland USA in West Berlin, New Jersey

DIGGERLAND USA West Berlin, N.J. 856-768-1110, diggerlandusa.com DISTANCE
Photo Credit: Diggerland USA

Kids can get down and dirty, driving and operating heavy equipment modified for safety, on more than two dozen rides simulating excavators, dump trucks and backhoes at Diggerland USA. 

Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Fun Slide, one of the highlights what Dutch
Photo Credit: Dutch Wonderland/Robie Capps Photography

DUTCH WONDERLAND
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The new Merlin’s Mayhem ride is the 54-year-old park’s first suspended roller coaster. The overhead track tests your mettle with two dragon-like helix turns. At 60 feet, it’s the park’s tallest ride. It has an audio element, too, with Merlin narrating a highflying adventure in search of his dragon friend, Mayhem. Or take a gentler ride down the family-friendly Fun Slide (pictured). 
DISTANCE FROM NYC 160 miles
ADMISSION $42.99 ages 3-59, $37.99 ages 60-69, $29.99 ages 70 and older, free ages 2 and younger
INFO 866-386-2839, dutchwonderland.com 

Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

The new 2015
Photo Credit: Dutch Wonderland

Dutch Wonderland offers a total of two dozen rides, including the Bon Voyage Balloon Chase (pictured), plus live entertainment and the Duke’s Lagoon water play area. And you’re in Pennsylvania Dutch country, so don’t forget to try the root beer and shoofly pie.

Luna Park at Coney Island

People ride Soarin Eagle roller coaster in Luna
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

LUNA PARK
Coney Island, Brooklyn
At the park on the iconic boardwalk, the venerable Cyclone wooden coaster still chugs along in its 90th season, with an 85-foot, 60-degree drop and six turnarounds. Added three years ago, the 2,233-foot steel-track Thunderbolt roller coaster speeds along at 55 miles an hour through a 90-degree vertical drop, a 100-foot vertical loop, an 80-foot roll and a 112-degree turn. Other scream-inducers include the Soarin' Eagle coaster (pictured) and Sling Shot, where riders buckle into an open-air cockpit and soar 150 feet at speeds up to 90 miles an hour. 
ADMISSION Entrance to the park is free; $3-$22 a ride. Wristband deals available; check website.
INFO 718-373-5862, lunaparknyc.com

Luna Park at Coney Island

People ride Zenobio roller coaster in Luna Park
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Zenobio in Luna Park at Coney Island flips riders head over heels, forward and backward, all while spinning 130 feet in the air.

Playland Park in Rye, New York

The Dragon Coaster at Playland Park in Rye
Photo Credit: Playland Park Westchester County

PLAYLAND PARK
Rye, New York
Also known as Rye Playland, this Westchester County-owned and -operated attraction is just off I-95 exit 19 on the Long Island Sound. Open since 1928, it still has seven of its original rides, most notably the 3,400-foot wooden Dragon Coaster (pictured). Riding the Gondola Ferris Wheel offers scenic views of the Sound and the New York City skyline. The Jolly Caterpillar, a train ride that originally opened in the 1950s, is a retro attraction in Kiddyland, making its big circle on bouncy wheels.
DISTANCE FROM NYC 28 miles
ADMISSION $30 general admission, $20 for children under 48 inches tall, free ages 2 and younger
INFO 914-813-7000, playlandpark.org

Playland Park in Rye, New York

People ride the Log Flume at Rye Playland's
Photo Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

The Log Flume at Playland Park features a big drop ending in a bigger splash.

Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania

SESAME PLACE Langhorne, Pa. 1-215-702-ELMO, sesameplace.com DISTANCE FROM
Photo Credit: Sesame Place/Jason Lindsey

SESAME PLACE
Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Small fry will light up when they meet Bert & Ernie, Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Dinger (pictured) and other beloved Muppets from the classic TV series. Fifteen rides and nine water attractions include Sky Splash, Oscar’s Rotten Rusty Rockets and the racecar-themed Honker Dinger Derby. Three live shows feature popular characters from the Sesame Street gang.
DISTANCE FROM NYC 78 miles
ADMISSION $56 online, $66 at the gate
INFO 215-702-3566, sesameplace.com 

Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania

SESAME PLACE Langhorne, Pa. 1-215-702-ELMO, sesameplace.com DISTANCE FROM
Photo Credit: Sesame Place/Jason Lindsey

Tots can have their first theme park experience aboard the Sesame Place ride Super Grover’s Vapor Trail, a roller coaster for kids as young as 3.

Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Customers ride the Laff Trakk, an indoor-spinning steel
Photo Credit: Hersheypark/Ron Wyatt Photos

HERSHEYPARK
Hershey, Pennsylvania
On the new Triple Tower ride, you choose the level of hair-raising thrills. The Hershey’s Tower Space Shot & Turbo Drop rockets riders to a height of 189 feet before blasting back to ground at 45 miles an hour. The other candy-themed tower options are Reese’s Tower (131 feet) and Kisses Tower (80 feet). Or try the Laff Trakk (pictured), an indoor ride sometimes called the "Glow Coaster." The weaker-stomached can visit Hershey’s Boardwalk (14 water attractions) and the ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park, an 11-acre walk-through zoo with more than 200 animals. While the kids scream the day away, you can pass the time taking in a show or shopping for goodies at 25 shops within the park.
DISTANCE FROM NYC 165 miles
ADMISSION $64.95 ages 9-54, $41.95 ages 3-8 and 55-69, $26.95 ages 70 and older, free for children 2 and younger
INFO 800-437-7439, hersheypark.com

Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Patrons ride the Skyrush, one Hershey Park's extreme
Photo Credit: Hersheypark

About 120 hilly acres feature 70-plus rides in all; 13 are roller coasters, including Skyrush (pictured).

Six Flags in Jackson, New Jersey

Riders as scream as they ride one of
Photo Credit: Six Flags

SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE & SAFARI/
SIX FLAGS HURRICANE HARBOR

Jackson, New Jersey
One of the largest amusement centers in the world just keeps getting bigger. Of course, the kids will want to experience the classic coasters — there are 14 within the park’s 510 acres, including Kingda Ka, El Toro, Nitro and The Joker (pictured). The fun includes family rides, three sections of kiddie rides and live entertainment. Safari Off Road Adventure takes you on a guided, open-air truck tour of a wild area stocked with more than 1,200 exotic animals — not only elephants, giraffes and kangaroos, but lions and tigers and bears (oh my!).
DISTANCE FROM NYC 73 miles
ADMISSION $72.99 54 inches or taller, $46.99 less than 54 inches, 2 and younger free
INFO 732-928-2000, sixflags.com/greatadventure

Six Flags in Jackson, New Jersey

The Justice League Ride with a DC Comics-themed
Photo Credit: Six Flags Great Adventure/JLBFM Photos

New this season: the DC Comics-themed Justice League: Battle for Metropolis (pictured), an interactive, 3-D “dark ride” with animatronic characters and wind, fire, mist and fog effects. The good guys — Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Supergirl and Cyborg — fight the baddies, Lex Luthor and The Joker.

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