You Must Be This Short To Ride: Mini-Amusement Park For Kids Comes To Queens

Posted by Kate W on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

There are some occasions that just feel integral to the childhood experience. Losing your first tooth, getting your first haircut, climbing aboard the bus for your first day of school: these are all quintessential events that nearly every child experiences firsthand. The marketing wizards at Disney have done an exceptional job convincing us that traveling to a theme park should be one of these inherent childhood milestones. Disneyland has become synonymous with iconic family fun, thanks to clever branding and advertising:


Even adults buy into the premise that traveling to a theme park is one of those iconic childhood journeys upon which we all must embark. Daveland: The Blog takes a nostalgia-soaked look at some of Disneyland’s most beloved attractions, like a look at Storybook Land through the narrative of the 1968 tour script. And on this very blog, not only do we cover breaking news on theme park attractions that use cutting-edge technology, we also examine the historical context behind some of the country’s most beloved theme parks.

However, it is a simple fact that even though we celebrate theme parks as being a crucial and archetypal part of the childhood experience, not everyone has access to the Disney experience with all its bells and whistles. It can be extraordinarily expensive to visit big-name theme parks (especially with Disney ticket prices at an all-time high), and that doesn’t even factor in travel and lodging expenses. As much as we wish all kids could have a theme park in their backyard so they could experience the magic and exhilaration of these beloved destinations whenever they wanted, it’s not the reality we live in.

New roller coaster at Fantasy Forest mini-amusement park in Queens, New York

For kids in Queens, New York though, their roller coaster dreams just became a little bit less out of reach. A few weeks ago a mini-amusement park designed just for children opened up to big crowds and great fanfare at Flushing-Meadows Corona Park, featuring miniaturized rides for pint-sized visitors. Fantasy Forest may not be home to the tallest coasters in the world, and it may not feature cutting-edge 3-D technology, but that doesn’t matter. What it does is bring thrills and excitement to an underserved part of the population who might never get to celebrate the theme park experience that so many of us take for granted.

Though Queens was once home to several amusement parks, the last one at Rockaway Playland became defunct in 1985. For nearly three decades, if kids have wanted to get their kicks on whizz bang rides, it meant at minimum a train ride to Coney Island. Until Fantasy Forest opened, the biggest opportunity for excitement in the 897-acre Flushing-Meadows Corona Park came from the historic carousel, a relic of the 1964-65 World’s Fair. Now that revamped carousel is joined by rides like The Queens Himalaya, the Corona Choo Choo, and the Fantasy Frog Hopper. Though the park is open for business some rides, like a dragon-themed roller coaster remain unnamed: park reps are soliciting help from the public to name, which will further serve to engage the community.

New ride at Fantasy Forest mini-amusement park in Queens, New York

Now, the park promises to bring much revitalization to the area: over 5,000 people came to check out Fantasy Forest over Memorial Day weekend, and park administrators hope to make the park a more family-friendly destination thanks to these new attractions. The prices certainly make it possible for families to spend a day at the park without going broke: tickets cost just $1.00 each, with discounts given for packs of 10 or 20. The rides cost 3 to 4 tickets apiece, meaning you can go on over 20 rides before you spend just the admission fee that you would at Disney.

The rides at Fantasy Forest may be geared towards anyone from tots to young teens, but there is much to celebrate here for anyone who holds great attachment to the theme park experience. No, these aren’t the most majestic and thrilling rides in all of the land. But between their affordable price and neighborhood setting they contain a characteristic that most theme park rides lack: accessibility. Fantasy Forest is making it possible for Queens kids to experience the same theme park joy many of us remember warmly from our own youth. Don’t get us wrong: we love vision and excess and top-of-the-line tech. But we wouldn’t mind if this mini amusement park set a whole new trend of accessibility over spectacle.

Carousel at Fantasy Forest mini-amusement park in Queens, New York

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