Looking up at the sign above the Matterhorn carnival ride at Palace Playland.

Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Photo © Martin Lewison, licensed Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike.

Map of Southern Coastal Maine

Southern Coastal Maine

If you’ve got kids or just love amusement parks, you’ll find Maine’s best in the Old Orchard area, where sand and sun just seem to complement arcades and rides perfectly. (All of these parks are seasonal, so call or check websites for current schedule.)

The biggie is Funtown/Splashtown USA (774 Portland Rd./Rte. 1, Saco, 207/284-5139 or 800/878-2900). Ride Maine’s only wooden roller coaster; fly down New England’s longest and tallest log flume ride; free-fall 200 feet on Dragon’s Descent; get wet and go wild riding speed slides, tunnel slides, raft slides, and river slides or splashing in the pool. Add a huge kiddie-ride section as well as games, food, and other activities for a full day of family fun. Ticketing options vary by the activities included and height, ranging $25-36 for “Big” (48 inches and taller), $20-27 for “Little” (38-48 inches tall) and “Senior” (over age 60), and free for kids under 38 inches tall.

Three miles north of Funtown/Splashtown USA, Aquaboggan Water Park (980 Portland Rd./Rte. 1, Saco, 207/282-3112, 10am-6pm daily late June-Labor Day) is wet and wild, with such stomach turners as the Yankee Ripper, the Suislide, and the Stealth, with an almost-vertical drop of 45 feet—enough to accelerate to 30 mph on the descent. Wear a bathing suit that won’t abandon you in the rough-and-tumble. Also, if you wear glasses, safety straps and plastic lenses are required. Besides all the water stuff, there are mini-golf, an arcade, go-karts, and bumper boats. A day pass for all pools, slides, and mini-golf is $20 (48 inches and taller), $16 (under 48 inches tall), and $5 (under 38 inches tall). Monday is $12 general admission. A $30 superpass also includes two go-kart rides and unlimited bumper-boat rides.

The biggest beachfront amusement park, Palace Playland (1 Old Orchard St., Old Orchard, 207/934-2001) has more than 25 rides and attractions packed into four acres, including a giant water-slide, a fun house, bumper cars, a Ferris wheel, roller coasters, and a 24,000-square-foot arcade with more than 200 games. An unlimited pass is $32/day; a kiddie pass good for all twoticket rides is $24; two-day, season, and single tickets are available.

The Old Orchard Beach’s pier, jutting 475 feet into the ocean from downtown, is a mini-mall of shops, arcades, and fast-food outlets. Far longer when it was built in 1898, it has been lopped off gradually by fires and storms. The current incarnation has been here since the late 1970s.

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Maine.