Oldest Amusement Parks in the United States

  
Lake Compounce - Bristol, Connecticut
Lake Compounce opened in 1846 in Bristol, Connecticut and is America's first and oldest operating amusement park. Like many amusement parks, it began as a picnic area that also offered swimming, boating, and concerts. Eventually, trolleys ran to and from the park on weekends. Because it is the first major amusement park in the United States, it pioneered the American amusement park concept. Lake Compounce remains a world class amusement park. TheBoulder Dash roller coaster is the longest and fastest wooden coaster on the Eastern seaboard and ranks among the nation's top rated coasters. Boulder Dash is unique because it is the first wooden roller coaster built into the side of a mountain. Lake Compounce also features an original 1911 antique carousel and the Mark Twain sternwheel paddleboat. In addition, trolley service has returned to the park and visitors can ride the antique 1911 trolley. Lake Compounce is owned by the Kennywood Park Corporation.


Cedar Point - Sandusky, Ohio
Cedar Point opened in 1870 and is America's 2nd oldest operating amusement park. The Lake Erie peninsula beach resort offered concerts and camping facilities. Unlike trolley parks, most of Cedar Point's visitors arrived by boat. Cedar Point's first ride was a water ride which opened in 1880 in the lake. It's first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway, opened in 1892. Since then, Cedar Point has become recognized as the mother of all amusement parks and pioneered many of the standards for world class amusement resort areas. It is consistently rated the world's number one amusement park by amusement park enthusiasts. Not only is it the world's largest traditional amusement park (365 acres), it has the most rides, the most roller coasters (17), and many of the best rated coasters. Cedar Point is known as a roller coaster pioneer and is always building the biggest, longest, tallest, and fastest ones. In 1976, it debuted the world's first corkscrew coaster with 3 inversions. In 1978 it debuted Gemini, the world's tallest coaster, a double wooden racing coaster. In 1989 it debuted the Magnum XL-200 as the world's tallest and fastest coaster. In 1995 it debuted Mantis as the worlds tallest and fastest stand-up coaster. In 2000 it debuted Millennium Force as the world's tallest and fastest coaster. In 2003, the 420 ft/120 mph Top Speed Dragster opened as the world's tallest and fastest coaster. Cedar Point's newset coaster is 2007s Maverick which includes a 95 degree drop. The park's other coasetrs include Wicked Twister, Raptor, Iron Dragon, Mean Streak, and Disaster Transport. Other major attractions include the Power Tower thrill ride, the Giant Wheel Ferris Wheel, the Space Spiral observation tower ride, Soak City water park, the Breakers Hotel, and the Coliseum hall.
   

Idlewild Park - Ligonier, Pennsylvania
Idlewild Park is America's 3rd oldest operating amusement park and one of it's most beautiful parks. It's popularity began in 1878 when the Ligonier Railroad placed a station there to help promote the park's camping, boating, fishing, picnic, and hall facilities. However, park visitors remained more interested in the park's natural beauty than in its amusement areas until the 1930s, when the facilities were improved and new amusements were added. Idlewild offers the charm and nostalgia of simpler times and caters mainly to families and children. Its main attractions include historic Olde Idlewild, which is the original amusement area, the Racoon Lagoon, Storybook Village, Jumpin' Jungle, and Mister Rogers Neighborhood children's areas, Hootin' Holler mining town, and Soak Zone water park. Rides include the Rollo Coaster and Wild Mouse roller coasters, a 1920s Merry-Go-Round, a 1930's Whip, a 1940s Caterpillar, and a Tilt-A-Whirl. Idlewild Park is owned by the Kennywood Park Corporation and is a sister park of Lake Compounce.
 

Seabreeze Amusement Park - Rochester, New York   
Seabreeze is in northeast Irondequoit, where Irondequoit Bay empties into Lake Ontario. It opened on 5 August 1879, and, according to the National Amusement Park Historical Association, it is the fourth-oldest in the United States. Its most celebrated ride is the Jack Rabbit, an "out and back" roller coaster, and the fourth-oldest operating roller coaster in the world (opened 1920). It is owned and operated by the Norris family, many of whom lived on the property for years.
 
Dorney Park - Allentown, Pennsylvania
Dorney Park traces its history to 1860, when Solomon Dorney built a trout hatchery and summer resort on his estate outside of Allentown. In 1870, Dorney decided to convert the estate into a public attraction. Initially, the facility featured games, playground-style rides, refreshment stands, picnic groves and a hotel and restaurant. By the 1880s, Dorney had added a small zoo, gardens and a number of mechanical rides, marking the enterprise's beginning as an amusement park. When the Allentown-Kutztown Traction Company completed its trolley line from Allentown to Kutztown in 1899, the company added a stop at Dorney's park. Two years later, the traction company purchased the park, operating it until 1923, when the park was sold to Robert Plarr and two partners. Plarr soon bought out his partners and ran Dorney Park until his death in 1966.

 
Coney Island - Cincinnati, Ohio
Coney Island started in the 1870s as an apple orchard farm owned by James Parker, who realized that his location along the Ohio River was a profitable location to attract people looking to visit. The orchard was sold to Ohio Grove Corporation and was officially renamed "Grove Park, The Coney Island of the West," and opened June 21, 1886. In 1887, the Grove Park name was dropped and the park renamed to "Coney Island." Over the years, the park became a full-fledged amusement park, complete with rides and carnival games. In that capacity, Coney Island was a Cincinnati institution.
 

Lakemont Park - Altoona, Pennsylvania   
Opened in 1894 as a trolley park, Lakemont Park has overcome many obstacles to become the 8th oldest amusement park in the United States. One of Lakemont's most prized possessions is the world's oldest roller coaster, Leap-the-Dips. Built at the park in 1902 by the E. Joy Morris Company, the historic wooden roller coaster was restored and reopened on memorial Day 1999. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1996.
 

Arnolds Park Amusement Park - Arnolds Park, Iowa
In the late 1800's, when steamships carried passengers to historic ballrooms and other grand sites around the Iowa Great Lakes, pioneer developer Wesley Arnold envisioned an attraction that would draw visitors to his lake shore property in Smith's Bay on West Lake Okoboji. The construction of a formidable water toboggan slide on that property gave birth to the Arnolds Park Amusement Park, a landmark that would evolve over the next century into the very essence of the Okoboji experience. Throughout the next hundred years - as the amusement park evolved into a Coney Island-style attraction and became known as a vacation destination - people came seeking the thrills of the legendary roller coasters and the breathtaking view of the lake from the zenith of the Ferris wheel.

 
Carousel Gardens - New Orleans, Louisiana
Since 1906 little kids and kids at heart have enjoyed the "flying horses" of City Park's antique carousel, one of only 100 antique wooden carousels in the country and the last one in Louisiana. The carousel, featuring the masterwork of famed carousel carvers Looff and Carmel, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and its renovation garnered national attention and praise from the National Historic Preservation Society.

Trimper's Rides Amusements -
Ocean City, Maryland
 

Trimper's Rides is a historic amusement park located near the inlet at South First Street and the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, in The United States. It was founded in 1893 as The Windsor Resort, and is over 100 years old. It is located at the south end of the boardwalk, where it consists of a year-round indoor facility, The Haunted House (which resides on its own lot on the Boardwalk strip), and three outdoor lots.