Going to a theme park with the family is a timeless activity that never fails to deliver big smiles and bigger memories.
However, it’s tough when you have kids of different ages. The toddlers need experiences catered to them, but you don’t want your older kids to be bored out of their skulls.
You can make everyone happy, and it’s simpler than you think! I’ve compiled this list of my 15 favorite theme parks for toddlers that also have rides that appeal to children, tweens, and teens.
Planning your next family outing just became a lot easier!
Bay Lake, Florida
Dreams come true at the Magic Kingdom, the most breathtaking of all the parks at Walt Disney World. Cinderella’s castle will look larger than life to your toddler.
The park is home to more than 60 rides, stage shows, character experiences, and live performances. Your toddler can meet Tigger or Winnie the Pooh, or perhaps Ariel or Aladdin.
If they prefer slow rides, don’t miss The Magic Carpets of Aladdin or The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
In the meantime, your older kids can spin around until they’re dizzy on the Mad Tea Party teacup ride or go on The Haunted Mansion…if they dare!
The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is a comedy show that kids of all ages can appreciate. You’ll leave with sore cheeks from laughing so hard.
The Swiss Family Treehouse isn’t a ride so much as a small playground your toddlers can enjoy when they need a break from the action.
The Magic Kingdom features the Happily Ever After fireworks, laser, and lights show every evening if your young ones can stay awake that long.
Feed your family the most fantastic meals this side of Florida. You can select from table service, quick service so you can grab a meal and go, fine dining, or character dining.
Eating your way through the Magic Kingdom is as fun as riding everything, and your toddler will be utterly delighted.
LEGOLAND has theme parks in New York, Florida, and California, so whether you’re craving a west-coast vacation or want to explore the east coast, you can experience this toddler-friendly park.
This stop is a must if you ever find yourself in the Carlsbad area.
Many rides and attractions throughout LEGOLAND cater to the little ones. They can ride small carts that look like they’re built from Legos on the Driving School ride.
Your little ones will love flying in a plane on the Cargo Ace ride (you must accompany them unless they’re over 36 inches).
Fairy Tale Brook is a serene boat ride for parents and toddlers that takes you through a Lego-built wonderland. Older kids will find it a touch boring, but it’s perfect for your little ones.
Besides the rides, toddlers can go rock climbing, dig for dinosaur bones, explore the playground at DUPLO Playtown, or take a Lego Factory Tour.
What about the older kids? They can experience the Lost Kingdom Adventure dark ride, Coastersaurus dino-themed coaster, or Lego NINJAGO The Ride, for starters.
The SEA LIFE Aquarium on the grounds of the theme park and the water park give you and the family a reason to make a whole vacation out of a stay at Universal.
You also won’t want for much when you can chow down on ramen, ice cream, churros, pasta, sandwiches, pizza, burgers, and apple fries. That’s right, apple fries. You must try them for yourself!
The Mall of America in Minnesota and New Jersey’s American Dream (also a mega-mall) each have a Nickelodeon Universe. You don’t even have to travel to Florida for Nick thrills, spills, and yes, slime.
Nickelodeon appeals to kids of all ages with rides to match. Toddlers and their parents can swing, spin, race, and fly in rides themed after Nick shows like Blue’s Clues, Bubble Guppies, Rugrats, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Dora the Explorer.
You can also enjoy family rides galore at Nickelodeon Universe. All the classics are here, from bumper cars to carousels and log flumes.
Of course, the park has its fair share of coasters and thrill rides for the older kids.
Are your children still begging for more? Nickelodeon Universe offers additional attractions like mini golf and an adventure course for an extra fee per attraction.
Your kids’ favorite characters are out in droves. Now’s their chance to meet the Ninja Turtles, Dora, Squidward, Uniqua, Blue, or SpongeBob.
Nickelodeon Universe is exclusively indoors at either location, so no matter what the weather is like outside, you can experience family togetherness inside.
4. Story Land
Bartlett, New Hampshire
I’ve touched on some of the larger-than-life theme parks, but what about something with cozier vibes? Story Land is a theme and amusement park in New Hampshire that’s been going strong for more than 60 years.
The fairy tale theme makes it a great alternative if visiting Disney World or Disneyland isn’t in the budget.
Story Land has nearly 50 rides, most of which are not intense. Your toddlers will learn about German culture while riding in a clog on the Dutch Shoes ride.
The Great Balloon Chase is a miniature Ferris wheel with balloon carts that gently spins, offering great views up into the trees.
Taking a ride in Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach will make any little girl feel like royalty.
The Huff Puff & Whistle Railroad is a quaint, charming train ride for toddlers and parents.
Are you visiting in the heat of the summer? Story Land has a few small water attractions for toddlers, including Dr. Geyser’s Mini-Geysers and the Oceans of Fun Sprayground that are great for cooling off.
Older kids mustn’t miss the Roar-O-Saurus, Story Land’s premier wooden roller coaster. The spinning Crazy Barn is also fun, and the Bamboo Chutes log flume is another great way to beat the heat.
Story Land promises to make any child’s day special with experiences and shows. Children can have tea with Cinderella or a character breakfast. They can also sail with Tinkerbell and Peter Pan.
Satiate your hunger all day with ice cream stands, a la carte dining, express stands, coffee shops, and kiosks.
It doesn’t get much sweeter than Hersheypark, the biggest theme park in the state.
Toddlers can spend the entire day exploring the 20+ kiddie rides throughout the park. Some of my favorites are the Balloon Flite swing ride, Red Baron plane ride, Sweet Swing, and Tiny Tracks plane ride.
You’ll also find miniaturized versions of many classic rides, including the Mini Scrambler, Mini Pirate, and Mini Himalaya.
Hersheypark has a host of rides for older, braver children seeking thrills, including a rainbow-hued Ferris wheel, Day-Glo bumper cars, and coasters, coasters, and more coasters.
Of course, families don’t only come to Hersheypark for the rides. They’re here for the chocolate, and there is more than enough of it to go around.
The Chocolatier is a full-service restaurant that incorporates chocolate into lunch and dinner entrees. Chocolate Treats is another place to get your cocoa fix, as is The Sweeterie Confectionary Kitchen.
Don’t stress if you don’t have a huge sweet tooth. There are plenty of savory options throughout Hersheypark, including Subway sandwiches, tacos, fries, Nathan’s hot dogs, and Moe’s quesadillas.
6. Sesame Place
Hersheypark isn’t the only great theme park in Pennsylvania! You can also treat your toddlers to a day at Sesame Place, a Sesame Street-themed amusement park and water park.
Your toddler could experience their first rides at Sesame Place, with ultra-tame options such as the Peek-a-Bug or Oscar’s Rotten Rusty Rockets, where kiddos ride in a trashcan-shaped car. Mini Monster Clubhouse has plenty of tubes and slides for climbing and playing.
Younger kids past the toddler stage will beg to ride Big Bird’s Tour Bus, Captain Cookie’s High C’s Adventure, or Elmo’s Cloud Chaser, a spinning swing.
Maybe you wouldn’t expect thrill rides at Sesame Place, but the park has a few. The Vapor Trail and Oscar’s Wacky Taxi Roller Coaster are two coasters that will keep tweens entertained.
Imagine the look on your child’s face when you tell them they get to dine with Elmo. Even if you miss that special experience, characters walk around the park all day for photos and meet and greets.
Don’t go home before seeing the Sesame Street Party Parade featuring Oscar, Big Bird, Grover, Cookie Monster, and all your kids’ favorites.
Sesame Place has themed restaurants and eateries across the park for chowing down on pizza, BBQ, funnel cakes, wraps, tacos, and cookies.
Visit the place “where fun grows on trees” at Gilroy Gardens. This is a great place to take the young kids if they’ve already been to LEGOLAND and Disneyland.
Many rides here are very low on the thrills so your toddler can ride with you or an older sibling. The Artichoke Dip is the standard spinning teacup ride but with a healthy spin. Have your camera ready when your child comes zipping by on the Bulgy the Goldfish ride.
You can also ride with your toddler or young children on a Ferris wheel, duck-shaped paddleboats, or a carousel.
Even a place like Gilroy Gardens has thrill rides, including spinning swings and two moderately scary coasters. Older kids should certainly scream on these fun rides!
What I love about Gilroy Gardens is how it has educational components. Kids of all ages can take park tours or learn about butterflies at the Monarch Garden. The Green Barn also encourages children to tap into their inner scientists.
Eager to beat the Cali heat? Gilroy Gardens has a few water attractions.
The dining here isn’t standard theme park fare. You won’t find fried foods on the menu, and the options are lower in calories than most park restaurants. You can also eat gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.
Don’t worry, there are still chicken strips, corn dogs, burgers, and fries on the menu in case you have a household of picky eaters.
New England’s heritage theme park and railroad Edaville Family Theme Park is a classic. The park has a mix of indoor and outdoor rides. If you and the family are lucky, you can take a ride on a classic diesel or steam train.
Ellis’ Playhouse is the indoor portion of the park with a museum and assorted small rides, including bumper cars. This part of the park is quite popular for hosting birthday parties, as it also has an arcade!
The range of food is out of this world and unique compared to what you’d traditionally find at amusement parks, as it’s fair-themed.
Magic is calling at the Enchanted Forest in Salem. This adorable theme park has plenty of rides for children of all ages, and you’ll love how it’s far less crowded than the major theme parks.
It’s also a cost-effective entertainment option. It costs $1 per ticket after the price of admission, and rides require three to five tickets on average.
Your toddler can scoot along the water on the Kiddy Bumper Boats or ride an enchanted multicolored train on the Tiny Tune Train. Their locomotive adventure will take them past the Three Little Pigs’ homes, Pinocchio’s village, and more incredible storybook sights.
The Up and Away Ferris Wheel features rainbow-colored balloon carts that rotate on a track, while the Kiddy Frog Hopper bobs up and down, reaching max heights of 20 feet.
You will also find classics at the Enchanted Forest, such as a haunted house, bumper cars, and a kiddie carousel.
Wander through the Old European Village and be transported to a time of yore. Tofteville Western Town and Storybook Lane are equally as enchanting.
The park also features live music and entertainment, like a comedy theatre.
Of course, no list of toddler-friendly theme parks would be complete without mentioning Universal Orlando Resort.
The little ones can step into the world of the Minions on Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. Harry Potter fans can’t miss Hogwarts Express or Harry Potter and Escape from Gringotts.
Your toddlers will also smile from ear to ear being able to meet their favorite characters.
This park is heaven for thrill-seekers, as Universal Orlando Resort has all the rides you could ever want, including Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Revenge of the Mummy, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, and The Incredible Hulk coaster.
Your tweens and teens will ascend to new heights and experience the deepest, most daring drops on these coasters.
When your hunger ramps up, fill your belly. Universal CityWalk has its own host of restaurants.
You can also take your children to a movie theater or play some mini golf here, as there are two interactive courses.
If you get hungry at the theme park, you can eat seafood, Irish-American cuisine, Asian, Mediterranean, or Greek food.
11. Santa’s Village
Jefferson, New Hampshire
Who says Christmas has to end in December? At Santa’s Village, it’s Christmas every single day, even in the spring, summer, and autumn.
This theme park for Christmas lovers has holiday-themed rides around every corner. You can enjoy a Ferris wheel as a family bedecked in Christmas colors or ride a spinning swing called Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (how apropos!).
The Little Drummer Boy is a spinning teacup ride, Little Elf Flying School lifts riders off the ground in an up-and-down ride, and The Chimney Drop is a bouncy ride for kids.
A few rides eschew the Christmas theme, but they’re pretty few and far between.
The rides are only one small part of what Santa’s Village has to offer. You can cool off at the water park from the start of summer until September.
You can also see Santa’s Christmas Light Show from May through December or view A Tinkerdoodle Christmas, a 3D film.
Live performers, entertainers, and characters wander the park to make your day that much cheerier. These are great photo ops!
Snacking and dining are as easy as pie here, with soft pretzels, popcorn, coffee, donuts, burgers, and pizza on the menu.
Fruit Loup’s Farm Stand sells veggie and fruit trays, or you can let your sweet tooth dictate your diet at the Sugar n’ Spice Bake Shop.
Visit the place where dreams come true. For more than 100 years, Disneyland has fostered unforgettable family memories.
Your toddler is old enough to remember their Disney experience but not so old that the magic is ruined, so now is a perfect time to plan a getaway.
Many rides are made for little ones at Disneyland. I recommended my favorites here, which include the Disneyland Railroad, Minnie’s House in Mickey’s Toontown, The Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland, Alice in Wonderland in Fantasyland, and It’s a Small World, also in Fantasyland.
Step off a ride and see a show, like the Disney Junior Dance Party, or meet classic Disney characters, princesses, and new faces throughout the park.
Your kids will love the opportunity to partake in character dining, sharing breakfast at the Plaza Inn with Minnie Mouse, or having a three-course meal with a Disney princess.
The other dining experiences here are some of the best you’ll find at any theme park. This is Disney we’re talking about here, so that’s par for the course.
Your every craving is obliged here and in the cutest, most Instagrammable way.
13. Diggerland USA
Berlin, New Jersey
Diggerland USA is a can’t-miss destination for toddlers who love anything on wheels. All the rides and attractions here are themed around construction vehicles.
Kids can climb on and into the vehicles (with parental supervision), learn how a digger works, cross a ropes course, test their mettle at the rock wall, or spin on rides.
The Dig-A-Round is awesome, as kids ride in excavators on this unique take on a merry-go-round.
The Crawl Space is a play zone for toddlers and children with seating for parents who need to take a breather.
After all the rides, gather the kiddos and play at the arcade, dig for some gold, or play games like bean bag toss or four in a row.
Diggerland has a water park and many events throughout the year that allow toddlers and kids a unique chance to get up close and personal with excavation equipment.
If all that digging worked up your appetite, refuel with entrees, snacks, sides, candy, ice cream, and drinks at the various snack shops, stationary food trucks, and food stops throughout the theme park.
14. SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando might be known for its wild coasters, but besides those sky-scraping, breathtaking rides is Sesame Street Land. This is just as good as Sesame Place if you can’t visit.
Walk through a faithful recreation of Sesame Street, visiting with costumed characters like Elmo or Big Bird. Sesame Street Land also has some of the most kid-friendly rides in the entire park, such as the Sunny Day Carousel for toddlers.
Rosita’s Harmony Hills lets your little one make beautiful music. They can also cool off at Rubber Duckie Water Works with splash pads aplenty.
Older kids will enjoy racing on Super Grover’s Box Car Derby or Slimey’s Slider. Elmo’s Choo Choo Train is fun for the whole family. Let your kids turn the wheel on Big Bird’s Twirl ‘N’ Whirl, as they’ll certainly enjoy the responsibility.
Teens who haven’t watched Sesame Street in years can ride an assortment of dizzying coasters. Manta is a flying coaster that takes you right over the water, while Infinity Falls is like a log flume on steroids. You will get wet!
SeaWorld Orlando also has animal experiences and presentations, aquarium tours, and seasonal events.
An all-day dining deal makes it cost-effective to eat at the full-service bar, grab a quick bite, or sit down at a restaurant.
I recommend the Dine with Orcas experience to see the whales leaping across the water while you eat. It’s dinner and a show!
Pittsburgh’s Idlewild is a theme park with over 40 attractions and rides designed for kids of all ages.
Your toddler will feel the enchantment as they walk hand-in-hand with you through the Story Book Forest. The Safari Hut is a tropical playground, and there’s also a net climb for toddlers and older kids. Oh, and don’t miss the face painting!
The rides here are a blast, from teacups to the Loyalhanna limited railroad, which rides across picturesque Loyalhanna Creek.
Toddlers can hop on boat rides, car rides, and a merry-go-round. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a trolley experience that will make any young child light up.
The SoakZone is an accompanying water park that’s open seasonally. The park also has live shows, entertainment, and character meet and greets, including with Daniel himself.