Amusement parks are synonymous with roller coasters or thrilling rides. They are an exciting day trip or adventure. For me growing up, they were a special treat during the summer or a family vacation. But when you live like ten minutes from the Coaster Capital of New England, it becomes a weekly (or even daily) activity for many families in this area. What child wouldn’t want to go to the amusement park every week?
But what about the little ones? Is an amusement park the right place for a 3 year old? Here’s my take on visiting Six Flags New England with a preschooler.
Let me start by saying this, visiting any place with a preschool age child (or toddler) is exhausting. Visiting an amusement park with one is no different; in fact, it’s more exhausting. But it’s fun. And you have to weigh out those two things to decide if you taking your child to an amusement park at this age is a good idea. If you plan well, then the most exhausting part of your whole day should be all the walking. Here are some tips and a helpful guide on visiting Six Flags New England with a little one in tow.
Buy the Season Pass- when it’s on sale
Last fall, we bit the bullet and bought a season passes for Six Flags New England. They were running an awesome promotion and the deal was too amazing to pass up. The deal include admission for the rest of the 2016 season, and the entire 2017 season. We visited a couple times during 2016. And then when they opened up in April, we were back for more!
(from Six Flags New England)
The current promotion going on at Six Flags New England as of August 31, 2017 is one of their best deals of the year. One season pass costs only $53.99. This promotion includes an upgrade to gold membership, free parking and of course, unlimited visits. It also includes free days with guests (or discount days). If your child is three and older, they will need their own membership pass. If you know it will only be you and your child visiting every time, you could buy yourself the pass and then only visit when they have the free friend days (or discount days) but then you will not be able to bring your significant other or any one else unless they pay for daily admission. It also limits the days you can visit. Honestly, if this is something you would do more than a couple times during the summer, I’d get the season pass.
Otherwise, daily admission to Six Flags New England is $67.99 at the gate (children 54 inches and under are $57.99; and 2 and under are free). Advanced tickets can be purchased online for $47.99. Additionally, parking is $25 for the day.
I don’t think I have to break down the math on why the season pass promotion currently going on is a good deal. Even if you go ONCE, you still spend less than a single daily admission with parking.
Set Your Expectations LOW
You will not get to do everything at Six Flags New England with a young child in one day. It’s just not going to happen. And if you expect to do it all, then also expect a tantrum. Maybe two. Probably three.
Start by planning your visit ahead by checking out their map online. There are two separate kiddie areas, which I’ll go into further below. There is also a huge waterpark. Both of those in one day will be too much for a small child. I suggest picking either the water park or the amusement rides for the day. Come back another day and do the other.
When we visit, we try to arrive right when they open at 10:30 a.m. We spend around 3 hours in a single visit. This usually allows us to check out at least one of the kiddie areas, see a show or do a character meet and greet, grab lunch, and use the bathroom about a half dozen times. My child is not a stroller napper so we don’t push it too much. If we leave at 1:30, I can get him in bed by 2 and all is right in the world. When we stay too long, he goes into meltdown mode. And that’s not pleasant for anyone!
But, seriously, do not expect to enter the park and stay all day, ride every ride, go to the water park, eat lunch and dinner, catch all the shows, shop and more unless you have a super chill preschooler that never has meltdowns. (And if you do, I will pay you to tell me your secrets). Keep it simple and fun, and quit while you’re ahead. If you have the season pass, there is always another day.
Plan ahead and pack wisely
Plan for everything to go wrong with your child. Wet clothes, spilled drinks, dirty diapers or potty tantrums, requests for snacks or drinks. Prepare yourself by coming a full change of clothing for your child, an extra shirt for yourself, diapers/wipes/anything to make pottying on a public toilet easier, plastic bags for wet clothes, snacks and drinks for your small child (they allow sippy cups and bottles), sunblock and hats. You may want to bring a small toy if they get unruly. Don’t bring your purse (you can’t take it onto many rides); pack light with either a wristlet or backpack, or use your pockets. You’ll need your season pass, if you have one, a small amount of cash or a credit card, and your phone. Because, as I explain below, going back to your car will NOT be the easiest.
Pack the Stroller, your Sneakers and your FitBit because you are about to walk A LOT
Don’t put on flip flops. Just don’t. Put on those walking sneakers. Break out the big stroller. Your legs are about to get a workout.
When you approach the park, you think, “oh this isn’t bad, the park is right on the other side of the road from the parking lot and I just have to walk over the overpass. How easy!”
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.
The parking lot is FAR. F-A-R. I almost died the first time we pulled in. What on earth? They couldn’t put this closer??? And the parking lot is huge. So, depending on when you arrive, you could walk even further. Since we like to arrive right when they open, we tend to get a pretty good parking spot. But during the summer, the later you come, the harder it can be to find a prime spot. So if you are coming with a child in a stroller, come early.
They offer a shuttle from the parking lot, that’s how far it is. But you have a stroller. And it’s probably loaded to the brim with changes of clothes, wipes, snacks, more clothes, diapers maybe, juice cups, and more clothes. So you won’t be folding that up for the shuttle. If you have a backpack and you can fold that sucker up, do it. Take the shuttle. But if you’re like me and that stroller is loaded, you walk.
And once you have walked halfway across Agawam, you encounter this:
Stairs! Yay! But remember, you have a stroller. So you’ll need to hoof it up the ramp. While your child sits back and relaxes as you die.
Remember, that was just getting INTO the park. You have a lot of walking to do around the place. So, that’s why I encourage, no insist, that you wear sneakers, dress comfortably and bring a bottle of water (you’ll have to toss it in the trash at the gate, so don’t bring a fancy water bottle).
If you have a loving spouse or a friend, you could always be dropped off right by the staircase. My husband did that for us once last year, and it was quite delightful!
Getting Through the Front Gate
We tend to arrive on the earlier side, which is good for parking but it means the admission gates are packed. Unfortunately, there is no way around that.
First, you’ll have to go through security. It’s best to have everything ready for inspection, and explain anything you may have that could be questioned (I always mention our sippy cups). Often times, this is where the hold up is with getting through the front gate.
Once you’ve gone through security, you’ll head to the check-in gates, where they will scan your season pass (or your ticket). This should be smooth sailing, but it can be slow sometimes.
This is usually where my child starts getting restless. He’s now been in the stroller since the car, for that long walk and he can see the train ride over the fence. This is where the snacks, drinks and a toy come in handy!
If you do not have a season pass and plan to buy tickets at the park, you’ll want to head over to the ticket box to buy tickets. This is located to the right of the main gates.
If you are picking up your season pass for the first time, you’ll want to head straight through the main gates with your printed pass. They will give you a pass at the gate. It’s set up with your digital thumbprint. For your child though, they will need to take his picture for his season pass. So once you go through the gate, you’ll want to head to your right past the carousel and into Whistlestop Park. This is the season pass building. In here, you can upgrade to a season pass (or a gold pass), set up season meal plans, replace lost cards and set up your child’s season pass. This is a very busy building right after the big season pass promotion. If it is really busy, come back before you leave. You do not have to get the pass printed for your child RIGHT when you walk into the park. It’s so not worth standing in that line with a little one! Usually about an hour or so after the gates open, the line dies down.
So now, you’re in the park. What’s next?
Take Note of the Guest Relation Offices in the Front of the Park.
When you enter through the main gate, you want to head straight down Main Street (unless you go to the Season Pass processing building). There is no other way into the park except through by Main Street.
Here you’ll find a few shops and restaurants, and even the carousel.
You’ll also find many of the guest relations offices and buildings on this road. Here you’ll find stroller & wheelchair rentals, lockers, Lost Parents, Flash Pass Information and Ride Information (including central height check). Strollers and wheelchairs are available on a first come, first serve basis and can be reserved for a nominal fee.
Height information for all rides can be found here. Most big attractions (roller coasters) require a minimum height of at least 48″ to 54″. Kids rides vary so you’ll want to plan ahead by reviewing the height requirements for these rides. You’ll also find height requirements posted at every ride, so you can double check.
The Flash Pass is a special add-on that you pay for and gets you on the big attractions faster. You will not need this for the kids rides. But more information about the Flash Pass can be found here.
So, Where to First? Head To Kidzopolis!
There are two areas with designated kids rides. The first is Kidzopolis and it can be found in the direction of Superman The Ride.
There are several rides in this area. You’ll find swings, a small ferris wheel, a helicopter ride, tea cups, and several truck/car rides. Most of the rides require an adult if the child is under a certain height, but some rides they can (and have to) go on by themselves.
I found myself wedged into the back of a helicopter and a truck on this morning.
There is also a great boat for the kids to run around and climb on and it also has slides. Right next to the boat is a cooling station where the kids can splash around in the water. This is a great option for keeping the kids cool, if you are skipping the water park.
You could easily spend a few hours in this area going on these rides several times. In total, there are nine rides/attractions in Kidzopolis. There are usually no major waits. If anything, you may arrive right as a ride is starting so you’d have to wait for it to run its course and then for it to unload (which can take some time with little ones that move as slow as molasses – like mine)! We have not gone on every ride in Kidzopolis yet, but he does love the Krazy Kars!
MOVIETOWN – The Other Kiddie Area
On the other side of the park, over by Goliath, you’ll find the other kid’s area: Looney Toons Movietown. This is usually the area we start in and stay at for most of our visit. He loves the rides on this side!
Many of these rides can be ridden without an adult. He is now at the height where he can ride the swings, and go on a few other rides by himself. There are a total of 6 rides in Movietown.
Of course I still found myself wedged on a few rides with him!
There is also a small roller coaster in this area. Surprisingly, he could go on this with me. It’s a short ride but it has some crazy turns! He thought it was great!
You can also find the Relaxation Station in Movietown, which is a great place for some quiet time when your child is acting up and needs a break from all the excitement!
Don’t Forget the Train!
Back tracking a little bit, but you’ll want to make sure you take a ride on the New England Express, which is located back near the front gates (in the same area as the season pass processing building). This is, of course, his favorite ride!
Also by the train, you’ll find another water play area: Whistle Water Works. This is a fun little splash area that is never really crowded. When we visited last time, the train was actually out of service (Ah! I know!) and I had a sad little boy. So, I let him splash in the water for a while and all was good in his world again. Thankfully we did that last because he was soaked (and that’s why we bring extra clothes)!
Of course, if you are looking for the water rides and attractions, you’ll find a whole bunch at Hurricane Harbor. We have yet to check out the water park portion of Six Flags New England, so I can’t tell you much about it. But they do have a whole area dedicated to little ones including a spray pad area. They can also go in many of the wading pools, rivers and lagoons. There are even a couple water slides they may be able to go on once they hit 36″. Most of the tall water slides will just have to be skipped!
Hurricane Harbor is located way towards the right edge of the park. It’s quite a walk from the main gate; so if you plan to do the water park, I’d suggest that being the only thing you do that day!
The most important rule for Hurricane Harbor is that you must wear regular clothes in the park; bathing suits can only be worn in the water park! Also, toddlers and little ones must wear swim diapers. If your child is potty trained, you should be okay with a swimsuit, but go on your best judgement. I personally trust that my child won’t poop in the water, so we have been foregoing swim diapers this summer. If you wouldn’t let your kid swim in your own pool without a swim diaper, then don’t let him go through Hurricane Harbor without one either! No one wants to find that surprise in the water!!
There are lockers and showers available in the water park. They also have life vests for little ones under 48″ to use when in the larger pools and such. And they do not allow shoes to be worn in the water park!
Rollercoasters- The Non-Kid Friendly Rides
Of course, Six Flags New England is the Roller Coaster Capital of New England. I can’t not mention those roller coasters. If you are there with adults and older children, and you do want to go on a ride, there are plenty to choose from! The newest is The Joker. Unfortunately, I have not gone on any of these rides in a long time, since my visits this year have been with the 3 year old in tow. But my sister has brought the older kids and they LOVE these roller coasters!
Allow Time to Catch a Show
You can find live shows going on throughout Six Flags New England all day long. In Movie Town, there is usually a show held twice daily at MovieTown Stage. There is plenty of seating but arrive early to get a front row spot. They post the show times right by the Stage so you can plan ahead.
Center Stage is located in Kidzopolis and has much more seating. We have not caught a live show here yet.
You’ll also find regular appearances of the Looney Tunes characters at the Main Street Gazebo (right near the entrance) and the Meet & Greet Stage (located near the new Joker ride). The times for these appearances are usually posted on a sign nearby. Make sure to allow some time for at least one meet and greet, if not more! We love catching up with the characters, especially during a dance party. After their performance, everyone has the chance to give the characters a hug and take a picture with them!
Are you Hungry Yet?
Of course, all that walking and playing will build up an appetite in these kids. If you don’t stay too long, you could always walk back to the car and have a picnic in the parking lot. But if you are there during the lunch hour, Six Flags New England has plenty of options for dining. There are restaurants and food stands ALL over the park. You will not struggle to find a place to eat. During peak meal times, some places can get really busy and you may have to wait; but if you eat a little before normal meal time, you will have no problem getting something quick.
Because we have a gold season pass, we received an awesome offer for a dining plan. We opted for the lunch and snack plan and everytime we visit the park, we can eat without shelling out cash. The meal plan is usually a good deal if you are planning to visit at least 2 or 3 times during the season. There are specific items you have to order on the menu (it’s not a free-for-all) but what is included are pretty substantial items. We ended up buying just one meal plan for the two of us and it’s a lot of food! Plus, we also have a snack with our meal plan. Additionally, they also offer meal plans that include dinner.
They also offer a beverage plan which includes your bottle (make sure you don’t lose that– OR put it in the dishwasher!! Agh! I lost my bottle this season because I didn’t read the care instructions!!) There are two different bottles: one with unlimited refills for one price and another with 99 cent refills. The unlimited bottle tends to only be sold with the gold dining plan (the dinner meal plan). Occasionally, you may find it on sale during the summer without the purchase of a meal plan. Honestly, for us, since we only go for a couple hours a day, the 99 cent refill bottle works for us. I paid a flat fee to receive the bottle, and then I usually only refill it once or twice during a visit. You’ll have to decide which drink and meal plan works best for you. But for us, a single lunch/snack meal plan was best; with a 99 cent refillable drink bottle.
Of course, Bathrooms…
You can’t visit any place with a potty training preschooler and not get to know the bathrooms intimately, right? Potty training moms know all the best bathrooms- cleanest, quietest, shortest lines. You’ll find bathrooms all over Six Flags New England. Their large family restroom is located by the entrance of Kidzopolis and Center Stage. I spotted these child size toilet seats in the family restroom. It made potty breaks so much easier!
Fright Fest… Just Not at Night
I can’t not mention this popular event at Six Flags New England. Six Flags turns into Fright Fest during September and October. You will not want to bring your young child there after dusk. They actually ask that you leave the park with little ones by a certain time during Fright Fest. It’s scary. Don’t traumatize your kids. During the day, it’s fine. There are some interesting decorations, but it doesn’t seem to phase him. They also offer some cute events for the kids during this time like Trick or Treating or Come in Costume days. We checked that out last year, and it was a fun time!
On a side note, the park will also be open this year for the first time during the holiday season. Make sure to check that out!
Leaving the Park
After you’ve fully exhausted yourself and your child, and survived any tantrums that may have occurred, you can head to the exit which is right next to the main gate. If you want to come back after nap time, you can always get your hands stamped to return later in the day. Every time they ask me if I need my hand stamped, I want to laugh at them. Return with my child for round two? In the same day? That’s crazy talk. I just want to drag myself back to the car and die from exhaustion.
Because remember, you have to make that walk all the way back to the car. Aren’t you glad you wore those sneakers?
I know that was a lot to take in. I feel really lucky that we have such a fun, great activity available literally in our backyard. I do think the walk from the parking lot is pretty darn exhausting, especially with a stroller but it’s worth it because he has so much fun when we go to Six Flags New England. I probably would not visit this park at its regular admission price with my 3 year old, but having the season pass makes it absolutely worth it. If you have been considering getting a season pass for the family, I hope this helps you decide. We are currently debating buying one for next year since I am not sure we will be able to pull off another year in a stroller. And I don’t think he’ll be able to do the walking at 4 years old. It’s such a good deal though, that even if we went twice next year, it would be worth it.
You have a few more days to decide what to do; this year’s sale ends September 4, 2017!!
This about sums it up…
Route 159, 1623 Main Street – Agawam, Massachusetts
The 2017 season is currently underway. Please see the calendar for specific times and dates when the park is open.
The 2018 season should being during spring break in April.
Choose Your Day Pre-purchased Tickets (All ages): $47.99
Tickets at the Park: General Admission: $67.99; Children Under 54″: $57.99; Children 2 & Under: FREE
For information on season passes and memberships, visit their website
- Stroller accessible (strollers are also available for rent, on a first come first serve basis for a nominal fee)
- Two kid ride areas, as well as additional rides for small children (carousel and train ride) located throughout the park
- Waterpark included with park admission
- Live shows and character meet & greets
- Large parking lot with plenty of available spaces – Parking does cost if you do not have a season pass.
- Bathrooms located throughout the park, including changing tables and child size toilet seats
- Food available for purchase (numerous food vendors and restaurants throughout the park). Meal plans also available if you have a season pass
A few additional tips:
- Wear comfortable shoes- there is a lot of walking involved!
- Remember your sunblock.
- You can bring in small snacks and beverages for your kids.