Riding on a roller coaster has been on my kiddo’s bucket list this summer, and we finally got to check it off when we made it to The Land of Make Believe in Hope Township. This former dairy farm, transformed into an amusement park in 1954, has over 30 acres of affordable fun and plenty of kid-friendly roller coasters perfect for my little coaster enthusiasts. Plus, we all loved that we could cool off at the themed Pirate’s Cove waterpark within the park. It’s an easy day trip, and the best part was many rides and activities had very short lines, so we were able to do everything at the park for plenty of memorable family fun. Scroll down for more on our day there, and check out our guides to 15 Family-Friendly Waterparks in NJ and13 NJ Amusement Parks To Get Your Thrills Out This Summer too.
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Amusement for the whole family at Land of Make Believe
My kids made a beeline for the rides as soon as we got to The Land of Make Believe. We started on the classics like the carousel, Ferris Wheel (known as the “Wishing Wheel”), and the Tilt-A-Whirl. Then there are adorable kiddie rides—the first stop was the Magic Dragon, where my kids could control how high or low they wanted to go. The next was the Jump Around Frog, which hops and makes cute frog noises as it moves, and the Red Baron, where my kids felt like real pilots. We upped the action factor on the Tornado, a fun spinning ride, and then on the Rockin’ Tug, a simulated boat ride on the stormy seas. And finally, the main event was the Thriller Roller Coaster which had thrills and spills—just the right amount of coaster for us. My kids also loved the new Spinning Coaster and the Drop & Twist (which also gave us great aerial views of the park). And for the adventurous, don’t miss the Scream Machine 360, which spins, twists, and even turns you upside down.
Argh! Take a pirate water adventure
Shiver me timbers! We were thrilled to learn that waterpark admission is included with the amusement park tickets at the Land of Make Believe, and we made sure to bring our suits. After the rides, we changed (there are lockers to store your stuff), and since it was so hot, the waterpark was a welcome oasis to cool off. My kids loved Blackbeard’s Pirate Ship and Blackbeard’s River, where they rode a tube through waves, rapids, and waterfalls. While the kids were hanging in the Pirate’s Cove Wading Pool (America’s largest wading pool), I spotted brave participants over at Blackbeard’s Pirate Fort where they were getting a 1,000 gallon of water dumped their heads, and then going down the slides at Pirate’s Plunge.
Celebrate Christmas in July
No trip to Land of Make Believe is complete without some Christmas cheer, so we headed to Santa’s Barn to hear what he’s been up to in his summer North Pole home. After hanging with the big guy and checking out the sleigh status at Santa’s Aviation Shop, we stopped for a break at Mama Santa’s Pizza and Rudolph’s Ice Cream Parlor. My kids ran around the Candy Cane Forest full of life-size colorful candy canes and enjoyed the new maze—a great place to get some energy out.
Visit Old MacDonald’s farm
In a nod to Land of Make Believe’s dairy farm roots, there’s an adorable barn that has domestic farm animals in the middle of the park. It was a nice break from the rides and water park to visit and see the animals and had some shady areas to duck out of the sun. Plus, it’s a good place for younger kids to hang if older siblings are going on rides. There were quite a few animals to see at the farm, but my kids said they loved the cow the most.
Step back in time
Besides the amusement rides, there’s lots of history at Land of Make Believe. The Douglas DC-3 was first produced in 1935, and it revolutionized air transport in the ’30s and ’40s. It was considered one of the most significant transport aircraft ever built because of its impact on the airline industry and its service in WWII. This was a favorite family spot for us because my son could climb into the cockpit, and we were fascinated to hear its story and how it was acquired by Land of Make Believe. Continuing the history theme, we took a train ride on the 1863 CP Huntington Civil War Train, built in Paterson, NJ. The train takes a trip through a tunnel and all around the park. We also saw you can take a ride on the Off-Road Safari Adventure to see the Wild West of the 1700s, though we ran out of time to do this. Another activity my kids thought looked fun was mining for gems and fossils at the Land of Make Believe Mining Company. We vowed to come back and try these next time.
What to know before you go
The Land of Make Believe is open daily from Memorial Day until the weekend after Labor Day. The hours are 10 AM-6 PM, with the water park closing at 5:30 PM. We found it was easy to do the entire park in a day, and it gives you plenty of time at the water park. There are height requirements for some rides, and kids under 3 are limited to certain rides, such as the carousel, train, and the water park. Daily tickets are discounted online or at the gate to $34 for everyone (kids under 3 are free), and include all the attractions and the waterpark. Keep in mind there are no refunds or rain checks and all sales are final. While we packed a few snacks, you can bring food for a picnic or purchase refreshments at the park. There are also shows, lockers, games, a gift shop, and free parking.
Land of Make Believe
354 Rt 611, Hope, NJ 07844