A 2022 Guide to the New York Area's Best Theme Parks

Here's everything you need to know about planning your next roller coaster adventure.

Image by Maitane Romagosa
Image by Maitane Romagosa

One of the summer's most revered traditions is queuing up for a theme park ride. Whether you're inhaling the salt air at Coney Island or tackling some of the world's biggest coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure, the New York area is full of roller coasters, Ferris wheels, bumper cars, and more to make any hot summer night into a cherished memory.

With the weather warming up and parks getting ready to open for the season, Thrillist put together a comprehensive 2022 guide to theme parks in the New York area. Head down to the Jersey Shore or stay within city limits; we've rounded up everything you need to know about planning a theme park trip. Get ready to scream your head off!

Courtesy of Nickelodeon Universe

Nickelodeon Universe

Opening Date: Operates year-round
Ticket Price:  $44.99
Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey
Public Transit Connections: NJ Transit Bus 355 from New York Port Authority
What's New: Unlike the rest of the theme parks on this list, Nickelodeon Universe is entirely indoors and operates year-round. Located inside the American Dream mall, the kid-focused theme park recently opened a swing ride called Guppy Bubbler and a hovercraft experience known as Zuma's Zoomers.

The American Dream is also home to the Dream Wheel, a luxury observation wheel with views of the New York City skyline that just opened. It's a separate attraction from Nickelodeon Universe, but you can see it on the same trip.

Medusa roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure
Pit Stock/Shutterstock

Six Flags Great Adventure

Opening Date: April 2, 2022
Ticket Price: $39.99 and up
Location: Jackson, New Jersey
Public Transit Connections: NJ Transit Bus 308 from New York Port Authority and Newark Penn Station (begins Saturday, May 28)
What's New: Medusa is making its grand return to Six Flags Great Adventure this year. The world's first floor-less, top-rail roller coaster originally opened in 1999 before being rebranded as Bizarro in 2009. The ride will sport a new paint job and an updated theme.

A two-year revamp of the children's section will see it rebranded as the Jr. Thrillseekers area, with eight rides, including the Jersey Devil Coaster counterpart, the Lil' Devil Coaster. The park is also adding single-rider lines to many of its popular coasters, which, combined with a technology update on its Flash Pass system, promise to shorten wait times.

Luna Park aerial view
Courtesy of Luna Park

Luna Park

Opening Date: April 2, 2022
Ticket Price: $38–$62 per wristband depending on height, or $3.00 per ride (varies)
Location: Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York
Public Transit Connections: By subway, take the Q or F lines to West 8th Street Station or the D, F, N or Q lines to the Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue Station. By bus, take the ​​B36 to Surf Avenue and West 8th St, or B68 to Neptune Avenue and West 8th St.
What's New: Several thrilling attractions are making their debut at Coney Island's Luna Park this year. The Super Flume ride is perfect for adrenaline seekers. After lifting its 12 flume boats over 40 feet high, the attraction will plunge down at over 35 miles per hour. The Super Flume will be located next to the Thunderbolt.

A brand new roller coaster will also join the rides at Luna Park. The family-friendly ride will stretch for more than 1,200 feet of track intertwining with the Super Flume and will provide guests with an exhilarating experience.

Those wishing for a more hands-on experience will be delighted to know that Luna Park is also debuting its new Sky Chaser Ropes Course, where adventurous park-goers will be able to climb up to breathtaking views of the Coney Island Boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean 50 feet above the ground. Rope courses and zip lines will be available for all ages and skill levels.

"New attractions, rides, and entertainment will be available beginning Memorial Day Weekend, along with environmentally friendly plazas for guests to kick back and relax after all the thrills," said President and CEO of Central Amusement International Alessandro Zamperla.

Legoland entrance
Courtesy of Legoland New York Resort

Legoland New York

Opening Date: April 8
Ticket Price: $67.99
Location: Goshen, NY
Public Transit Connections: ShortLine Hudson bus from New York Port Authority to the park.
What's New: With the opening of the theme park for its second season, guests can expect two new entertainment stages and three brand new shows to liven things up. Once the summer comes, a new water playground—dubbed LEGO City Water Playground—will open, too. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing construction last year, the park opened in stages throughout the season, and some rides and attractions may be new even to returning customers.

On July 4th, the park will ring in the holiday with its first-ever Red, White & BOOM event. Coming this fall, park-goers will be able to enjoy an even bigger Brick-or-Treat bash. As winter approaches, the park will launch its first annual Holiday Bricktacular event.

Courtesy of Casino Pier

Casino Pier

Opening Date: April 9, 2022
Ticket Price: $1 per ride credit
Location: Seaside Heights, New Jersey
Public Transit Connections: NJ Transit Bus Bus 137 from New York Port Authority or NJ Transit Bus 67 from Newark Penn Station
What's New: Beach-goers at the famed Jersey Shore know that Casino Pier is the destination for ocean-front fun. While the pier isn't adding any new attractions this year, fan-favorites like the Hydrus roller coaster and the towering Skyscraper thrill ride will be ready to greet patrons as usual. 

There's also a robust schedule of events for all ages, including fire shows, character appearances, princess sing-a-longs, animal shows, and more. You can check out the full calendar of events on the pier's website

Courtesy of Lake Compounce

Lake Compounce

Opening Date: April 30
Ticket Price: $39.99 and up
Location: Bristol, Connecticut
Public Transit Connections: Greyhound Bus from New York Port Authority to Hartford, Connecticut or Amtrak train from New York Penn Station to Hartford, Connecticut; rideshare from Hartford to Lake Compounce
What's New: Lake Compounce is unveiling its new slide experience, called Storm Surge, for the 2022 summer season. Adding lights and sounds to the famous lighthouse in Lake Compounce, the Storm Surge will delight guests with a light show as they slide down the tunnel. Featuring iSlide technology, the new improved water slide will amaze guests with 30 changing colored lights, four speakers, and a surprise around every turn.

In June, the Lake Compounce food festival Bites & Pints will return with a brand new menu, and in September park-goers will be able to enjoy craft beers together with their pups as the park will go dog-friendly with its Ales and Tails event.

Steel Force at Dorney Park
Courtesy of Dorney Park

Dorney Park

Opening Date: May 7 and 8 for season pass holders; May 13 for all guests
Ticket Price: $39.99 and up
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Public Transit Connections: Greyhound Bus to Allentown from New York Port Authority, rideshare to park
What's New: Dorney Park is set to improve its guest center and outdoor service area this year. Upon entering, guests will notice a slew of visual changes ranging from landscaping to rides and dining. New menu items and merchandise will appear this season, and changes to facilitate speed and efficiency have been made. In addition to upgraded parking booths, Dorney Park has also upgraded turnstiles to make for a more seamless experience.

In terms of events, Dorney Park's Grand Carnivale is back this year, and attendees in the fall can expect to enjoy the Halloween Haunt again and the Great Pumpkin Festival. Of course, the park's signature roller coasters like Thunderhawk, Steel Force, and Hydra will all be available for those seeking a thrill.

Rye Playland
Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

Rye Playland

Opening Date: May 21, 2022
Ticket Price: $34.99
Location: Rye, New York
Public Transit Connections: Metro-North train to Rye station, rideshare, or Bee-Line bus to park
What's New: Rye Playland is in the midst of a multi-year, $135 million renovation that will refurbish many of the park's century-old Art Deco buildings and facilities, including its restrooms and pool. Phase I also calls for the refurbishment of the Carousel and Derby Racer. The plan will also bring in new rides and recreate famous older ones over several years, although the exact timelines are still emerging.

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Chris Mench is an editor focusing on NYC News at Thrillist. You can follow him on Twitter for more of his work.
Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.