Family Owned Amusement Parks in New England

By Carla Charter

Among the Amusement Parks in New England, the area boasts several smaller family owned parks, several of which began in the days of trolley parks.  These parks offer not only midways and traditional amusement rides, but they also offer a link to the past. For a unique one of a kind amusement experience, take a stop at one of the following this summer.



Quassy Amusement &Water Park

Quassy Park, has been run by the same family for the last 81 years. The park, located in Middlebury,  started in Colonial days with Abel Wheeler.  At that time fishermen could rent a boat and leave his horse in a stall with plenty of hay for 50 cents a day. The park became a full-fledged amusement park after World War II. These days the park offers swimming, picnicking, an arcade, Splash Away Water Park, a Wooden Warrior Roller Coaster and  a wooden train whose tracks run through a dark tunnel as well as underneath the roller coaster.  More information on the Quassy Amusement and Water Park can be found at


Palace Playland

The Playland has been located at the same site, in Old Orchard Beach, since 1902. The park describes itself as New England’s only beachfront amusement park. The rides at the park include a Ferris Wheel, giving riders a view of the midway, beach and surrounding area, two roller coasters, a carousel and an arcade.  More information on Palace Playland can be found at



Edaville Family Theme Park

This train themed park received its name from the initials of its founder Ellis D. Atwood. Atwood began his Railroad by purchasing most of the equipment from Maine’s two-foot rails in 1946 and 1947 and brought them south to their current home of Carver, where the train once again was brought to life, running around his 1,800-acre plantation of cranberries. The trains still run today with the park also boasting a Thomas Land based on the popular children’s television show. Other events throughout the year include Dino Land, Character breakfasts, character meet and greets, a “Not So Spooky Halloween” in October and a “Christmas Festival of Lights.”  More information on the Edaville Family Theme Park can be found at






Canobie Lake Park

Canobie Lake Park, in Salem began in 1902, shortly after a trolley line came to the town. In 1936 the owner purchased the wooden Greyhound Rollercoaster, today known as the Yankee Cannonball at the park. Along with the wooden rollercoaster, the park boasts a 1903 carousel with a 1922 Wurlitzer Organ providing the background music for it, as well as a chance to take a 20-minute boat cruise around Canobie Lake.  More information on Canobie Lake Park can be found at




Atlantic Beach Park

Atlantic Beach Park in Westerly, began as a place to enjoy the beautiful surf and sitting on the boardwalk enjoying the sun and some swimming.  These days, park offers a ride on the circa 1915 Herschell-Spillman Carousel. The park also boasts a rollercoaster and although small and meant for children, it is the only Rollercoaster in Rhode Island.   After a day of fun and rides the park offers several food venues including a stop for ice cream at Dusty’s Original Dairy Bar, which has resided in the same spot for 40 years.  More information on Atlantic Beach Park can be found at




Santa’s Land USA

Ever wonder where Santa lives in his off season? It might be in Putney at Santa’s Land.  The original Santa’s Land opened in 1957 and last year it reopened after being closed for several years. It offers an Alpine Express Train, Carousel and kiddie rides and of course what would a trip to Santa’s Village be without a chance to meet Santa and his elves. Treats are available too ranging from hot chocolate to fries at the concession stand. More information on Santa’s Land can be found at