When I was a teenager growing up in rural Vermont, the place to go during the summer was Riverside Amusement Park in Agawam, Massachusetts.
Riverside was basically a big, permanent carnival. It had all the carnival-style rides like the Music Express, swings, Ferris Wheel, the Rotor and a few roller coasters.
Now, however, Riverside has become Six Flags New England. While I still miss the old park, I have to say this new version has it all over the old version in thrill rides. It does, however, lack a bit in atmosphere.
I’ve taken my family to a number of theme parks over the years, including HersheyPark in Pennsylvania, DisneyWorld in Florda, Lake Compounce, and Quassy Amusement Park. I’ve ridden just about all the thrill rides at all those parks and the ones I haven’t ridden, my eldest two children did. (They’re braver than I am.)
All three of us agreed that the Bizarro Coaster pictured above is the scariest and most intense of the roller coasters we’ve experienced. I closed my eyes on this ride. The kids, of course, did not. (In my defense, I had my eyes open on the Mind Eraser.) I couldn’t find anything to indicate this but I definitely feel like we pulled some Gs on the Bizarro ride.
There are two main reasons to visit Six Flags New England. The first is to ride all the coasters and thrill rides, the second is the water park, Hurricane Harbor. The water park has numerous water slides of varying degrees of scariness, several pool areas, and a wave pool that my twelve-year old twins pronounced “awesome.”
You could probably spend all day in just the water park. But I’ve learned through experience to start the day with the water park area because it’s less crowded at that time. Then, when the kids are tired, I can switch them to the rest of the park in the afternoon. Most of the time, these means the lines for the coasters are less too because people have switched to the water park.
There are some rides for younger children and a couple of sections specifically for those who can’t go on the roller coasters but I find them not really worth the price of admission, which starts at $36.99. That’s the kids price which everyone usually can buy with a discount. Season passes are $59.99 and definitely the way to go if you live in the area.
I took all four of my crew on our trip, ages 18, 15, 12 and 12. The park supplied me with four media passes and then I bought at discount pass for $30 at my local town recreation department. Still, the day still cost.
Locker at Hurricane Harbor: $17
Parking at official lot: $20.
Lunch inside the park: $50.
Drinks inside the park, particularly water: $10.
You can buy an endless soda refill inside the park but that’s $13.99. The park says no food allowed inside save for infants and toddlers. I don’t know how strictly they enforce this rule but I didn’t chance it.
If I had paid for admission for all five of us, the day would have cost well over $200. That might be in the budget of many readers of this blog but I would recommend if you have younger children and live in New England, that the better bet would be Lake Compounce, which is more compact and easier to navigate with young children. Also, there is free soda available at any time, though they also have the same “no outside food allowed” policy.
There’s one other issue I noted with the park. They’ve tried to convert it to a “Warner Brothers” experience, much like DisneyWorld and DisneyLand are Disney experiences, with characters throughout the park and the rides re-worked to reflect the theme.
In many cases, though, it seems more like window dressing than the immersive experience a Disney Park can be. The Bizarro ride is the only thrill ride that also uses a lot of theatrics both while waiting and during the ride. There’s nothing at Six Flags like the wait for, say, “The Tower Of Terror” or “The Haunted Mansion” at Disney. And Six Flags also has the right to the DC superheroes but I found their “Hall of Justice” to be very disappointing. It’s a big room designed after the old Superfriends “Hall of Justice” and there are usually at least two people in superhero costume inside but it didn’t grab me once I entered the room. It just didn’t pull me into the fantasy at all.