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Storyland: New England’s Most Original Theme Park for Kids

by Barbara Rogers

Aug 4, 2018

© Stillman Rogers

Age Specific / Kids

The colorful slanty, off-kilter entrance buildings are the first clue this is a different sort of amusement park. Storyland, not far from North Conway in New Hampshire’s summer playground of the White Mountains, is not the usual kids’ theme park. The rides are original, creative takes on some old favorites like the Ferris wheel, roller coaster, spinning seats and water slide, but all based on familiar nursery rhymes, fairy tales and children’s classics. It’s the creative artistry that boggles kids and parents alike.

Take, for example, the giant pumpkin, a 12-foot-tall orange play house with widows and furniture. It’s a work of art, in addition to being a magnet for toddlers and young kids. So is Mother Hubbard’s Shoe House, a giant furnished shoe with Mother Hubbard herself at home. Cinderella’s Castle crowns a hill, and families can climb to meet the princess and sit on her throne, but most arrive in the grand style, alighting from a horse-drawn pumpkin coach.

Storyland is designed so the whole family can play together as they join a Mad Tea Party (and perhaps the Mad Hatter himself) in Alice’s Twirling Tea Cups, ride horses on the antique German merry-go-round or soar in the hot air balloon Ferris wheel. That’s the most amazing thing about Storyland — it seems to enchant everyone from toddlers to adults.

Storyland

Storyland © Stillman Rogers

Many of the rides are designed to please older kids (although our teens still won’t miss the Swan boats or Alice’s teacup ride just for old time’s sake). The Turtle Twirl is a faster version of high-speed spinning cars on a revolving platform, and the fastest spin in the park. There are two roller coasters, the Polar Coaster is the slower (although it’s fast enough for me!), entered through an igloo and with walrus faces on the cars.

The Roar-O-Saurus is bigger and faster, with Rory the dinosaur leading the cars over a 1,242-foot-long track at heights of up to 40 feet, through a landscape of animated dinosaurs. The coaster was designed and built for Storyland’s natural setting, as are most of the rides and activities. Another ride the teens never miss is Bamboo Chutes, a bamboo-log raft with a panda driving — straight down into a pool.

A newer area designed more for smaller children includes a farm, with mini-tractors to drive and the Crazy Barn, which rises into the air and spins. There are shows on a stage throughout the day. Not all the attractions are rides. Along with Peter Pumpkin-Eater’s giant pumpkin and the big shoe, kids can peek into Grandmother’s House to see the bed with the wolf in disguise, watch three very real Three Billy Goats Gruff balance on their bridge and visit the Three Little Pigs, whose pen includes a house of straw, one of wood and one of brick. A path winds up to the top of a hill where they can meet Heidi’s grandfather in his Alpine cottage.

Kids love to return year after year because of the wide range of activities, and to see their favorite storybooks come to life. Parents like the one-admission-fee-covers-all policy, the spotless campus and the reasonably priced foods in the cafeteria near the entrance (where you are also welcome to eat your own picnic lunch).

Storyland, on Route 16 in Glen, New Hampshire, is open weekends 9 a.m.–5 p.m., from Memorial Day to mid-June; daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m.from mid-June to Labor Day; and weekends only 9 a.m.–5 p.m. through Columbus Day. Admission is $31 for ages 3 and over; children 2 and under are free.

Another family-friendly policy allows you to enter the park during the last three hours any day (after 3 p.m. July and August, 2 p.m. other months), and get a free pass for the next day, or any other day that season. This lets you divide your visit between two days for the same price, especially helpful to families with small children. And it gives those with older kids a three-hour bonus visit.

Good places for families to stay near Storyland include Christmas Farm Inn and Whitney’s in Jackson, just up the road. Stonehurst Manor, in North Conway, has condos perfect for families. All three have restaurants, or try the family-friendly Red Parka Pub in Glen. For more suggestions on the area, contact the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce and White Mountain Attractions.

#WhereverFamily

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