The Area’s Top Amusement Parks
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Whether you’re entertaining your grandkids or you’re a kid at heart, the area offers several amusement parks for cooling off, thrilling rides and fun times this summer.
Darien Lake (www.sixflags.com/darienlake, starting at $34.99), between Buffalo and Rochester, operates both a waterpark and a theme park for one all-day admission. You can also watch live shows and concerts on the grounds, rent paddle boats and play carnival and arcade games. To do it all, you really need a full day or two. The park’s special packages provide discounts on lodging if you want to make it a long weekend by staying in the park’s hotel, cabins or campsites, all within walking distance of the park.
Check the concert schedule to see who is performing at the amphitheater on the grounds.
Seabreeze Amusement Park (https://seabreeze.com, starting at $23.99) in Rochester is smaller than Darien Lake, but includes a similar mix of theme park rides for smaller children through adults, plus a water park. Take a ride on the Jack Rabbit, a 100-plus-year-old, classic wooden coaster. The Jack Rabbit is the oldest continuously operating roller coaster in the nation and the oldest to feature under-friction wheels. In 2020, Tripadvisor listed Seabreeze as #15 on its list of Best of the Best for Amusement Parks.
Roseland Waterpark (www.roselandwaterpark.com, admission TBA) in Canandaigua focuses on water attractions. The park provides big-kid draws, like the Wake Park and flume-style water slides, and for younger ones, Splash Factory, along with tube rides. The perfect combination makes it a hit for taking children of all ages. Don’t miss the lazy river ride for the whole group. Roseland also offers boat rentals, beach volleyball, and a water balloon warzone.
Clubhouse Fun Centers in Henrietta (www.clubhousefuncenter.com/henrietta) and Greece (https://www.clubhousefuncenter.com/greece) do not have a waterpark or large rides. However, for affordable, pay-as-you-go pricing, these facilities are hard to beat. The centers offer a large arcade room, miniature golf, and—depending on location—go-karts and bumper cars (Henrietta) or batting cages and Wow! Ball Factory play area (Greece). Wow! Ball Factory allows children to shoot each other with 9,000 foam balls, along with other play features. Since part of each facility is indoors, Clubhouse is a nice choice for very warm days where you will want a break to cool off or if intermittent rain is in the forecast. Most children could spend better than half a day at the Clubhouse.
To enjoy your amusement park day:
• Peruse the website before you go. You want to know the park’s policies about clothing, footwear, parking, admission and rain dates.
• Consider a spectator pass. Some parks offer these if you are there just for the grandchildren and will not participate in riding. These are usually substantially discounted.
• Buy a season-long pass if you plan to visit often. This costs much less than individual admission tickets.
• Look for coupons, deals and discounts online. Some offer packages for groups, and senior or military discounts.
• Plan for comfort. Bring along sunscreen, a hat and wear shoes meant for walking. The theme parks provide rental lockers, so you do not have to carry your gear—and the stuffed animals you win for the grandkids—all day long.
Bring a picnic, but you’ll likely have to eat it in the parking lot, as most facilities do not allow outside food. Check the site’s policy.
Featured image: Darien Lake, between Buffalo and Rochester, is one of the options for people to take their grandkids to this summer: the venue offers a waterpark and a theme park for one all-day admission.