Most theme parks offer some areas and attractions designed to delight their youngest visitors, but some go much further: some theme parks devote major sections to the wee set; others are entirely designed for toddlers and young kids.
Concept art, Sesame Place
Sesame Place, the nation’s only theme park based entirely on the award‐winning children's show "Sesame Street," is expanding this spring in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. A new area called Cookie's Monster Land is set to open in May 2014 and will feature five rides, a three‐story net climb and a soft play area for little ones.
Magic Kingdom is one of four theme parks at Disney World and is similar to the original Disneyland theme park, with signature attractions that repeat at Disneyland California, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Little kids love the the classic Disney rides especially those in the Fantasyland area: Dumbo The Flying Elephant, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan's Flight, It's a Small World, etc.
Legions of kids and parents love the Dr. Seuss books, and Seuss Landing
-- in the Islands of Adventure
theme park at Universal Orlando -- does a nice job bringing characters and wacky ambiance to life. The fun ramps up during the holiday season when "Grinchmas" comes to Seuss Landing.
Photo couresy of LEGOLAND California.
LEGOLAND California is a 128-acre theme park designed for ages two to twelve, with roller coasters and other rides, mini-lands made from millions of LEGO bricks, waterplay attractions, and lots more.
One of the "minilands"
The original LEGOLAND is in Denmark, birthplace of the ubiquitous LEGO building blocks. There's also a LEGOLAND just outside London, England; see photos from a day-trip to LEGOLAND Windsor.
Photo courtesy of Sesame Place.
In Langhorne Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia, is a whole theme park devoted to the Sesame Street neighborhood and characters, with themed rides, shows, water attractions, Elmo's World, character meals, and more.
Cedar Point, in Sandusky Ohio, is "the roller coaster capital of the world"- which can be a scary thought, if you're visiting with little kids. Never fear: Cedar Point (often voted the "Best Amusement Park in the World)" has a "Planet Snoopy" with rides, monster trucks, and bouncy tower, PEANUTS playground, and other zones designed for pint-sized guests.
Six Flags is a major brand of theme parks with locations in New England, Texas, Los Angeles, and more. Younger kids will especially have fun in Wiggle's World and Looney Tunes Movie Town. ("The Wiggles" are a popular children's musical group from Australia, with a large fan base of preschoolers.)
This theme park near popular tourist spot Lake George New York
started as a family-run storybook-themed attraction, and a few reminders of those days remain. Great Escape is now a Six Flags park, and includes a Wiggles World area.
photo courtesy of Lake Compounce
Lake Compounce is America's oldest amusement park, in operation since 1846, with 325 acres that offer thrill rides, coasters, water park, flume ride, classic carousel, etc. Lots of family rides and rides that suit little kids.
In New Hampshire's White Mountains, Story Land offers attractions just for little kids, a bit of nostalgia for the grown-ups, value pricing, and even a few thrills such as a coaster and a log flume ride (-suitably pint-sized thrills, that is.)
About.com's Guide for Theme Parks knows all when it comes to the world of theme parks, including those designed especially for the under-twelve set.
*Always check destination websites for updates!