By James Brennan
They say you never outgrow Adventureland, Long Island’s leader in family fun since 1962. For almost four decades, generations of all ages have made this Farmingdale amusement park the No. 1 destination for those seeking laughter and thrills at prices that won’t soak their wallets.
“When you hear the screaming and the laughing, that’s a good thing,” says Steven Gentile, Adventureland’s manager. “Then you know you’re doing something right!”
This summer they’ll be screaming their lungs out at Adventureland’s newest attraction, the Ghost House, a $700,000 ride designed in Germany. The ride, which lasts almost seven minutes, promises plenty of scary surprises for those who dare to venture through its “haunted” doors.
Another improvement over years past is a completely revamped indoor arcade, the fruition of a half-a-million dollar investment. Previously the arcade had been leased out, but Adventureland’s owners decided to take it over themselves and install all new equipment. Arcade-goers play for tickets they can redeem for top prizes like an Apple iPad.
“I’ll go out on a limb and say that this arcade is better than the one upstairs at the ESPN Zone in Times Square,” says Gentile. “Ours has better equipment that is state of the art.”
Also new this summer is the Sky Trail, a kind of jungle gym for adventuresome tweens set about 12 feet off the ground. Participants wear safety harnesses as they make their way across the trail.
Not to be missed is Adventure Falls, a log-plume water ride with a 30-foot drop, and the Hurricane Roller Coaster, 60 feet high, which boasts an inverted loop and sends riders up to 45 miles per hour. Catch it while you can, Gentile says, because Adventureland is hoping to bring in a new, $4-to-$5 million roller coaster in time for the park’s 50th anniversary in 2012.
For those who like their roller coasters with a little bit less adrenaline rushing through their veins, the Lady Bug is a long-time family favorite.
“You see 5-year-olds enjoying their first ride with their grandma and grandpa,” says Gentile with a smile. For years Adventureland has been the scene of birthday parties and more special events, and its Kiddieland section is where memories have long been made.
And don’t forget the food court and all the other goodies! Adventureland makes their own pizza dough and sauce on site each day. There’s a mouth-watering sweet shop, with salt-water taffy and fresh, home-made fudge. At the Hershey Shack, you can create your own sundaes and, new this year, at the Dog House, you can cook up your own concoction with a host of special toppings and condiments.
Adventureland draws almost 6,000 people when the weather is right, averaging almost 300,000 fun-lovers a year. Admission is free, but you do need tickets to ride. For $21.99 you can buy a pay-one-price bracelet that entitles you to ride as often as you like within one of two sessions, either from noon to 7 p.m., or from 4 p.m. to closing. If you want to pick and choose, you can purchase tickets (at a dollar a piece) for a particular ride, which generally requires three-to-five tickets per person. Another option is the group rate, ideal for parties and reunions: P.O.P. bracelets are $19.50 each for groups of 20 to 49 people and $16.50 for groups larger than 50. Reservations are required two days in advance for large groups. Parking is also free, but for $20 you can park in the V.I.P. lot, which is more restricted, and get $10 in tokens. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Adventureland, located at 2245 Rte. 110 (between the LIE and Southern State) is open almost every day, starting at noon. Remember, no flip-flops or open-toed shoes are permitted on the rides, and shoes and shirts must be worn at all times. For more information call 631-694-6868 or go online at www.adventureland.us and enter the e-mail club, which offers four free passes a month to lucky winners.