There are two main amusement parks in Oregon, both with long histories of providing fun diversions for generations of Oregonians and visitors.
Enchanted Forest opened in Salem, Oregon in 1971, and today it is still one of the state’s most popular family destinations. The original Storybook Lane allows adults and children alike to walk into their favorite nursery rhymes and childhood stories with handcrafted, detailed exhibits and play structures. For more excitement, visiting Western Town gives guests the opportunity to pan for gold, explore Indian caves, or test their shooting gallery skills. Other themed areas include English Village and the Haunted House, both of which show the incredible attention to detail that has become the park’s hallmark. Rides include the largest log flume ride in the northwest, the 40-foot-tall Big Timber Log Ride, as well as the Ice Mountain Bobsleds roller coaster. Kiddie rides, bumper cars, and other simple rides are also available.
There is a small admission fee to the Enchanted Forest, and anyone wishing to try the rides must purchase ride tickets – the amount of tickets varies for each ride based on its size and thrill level. Ride bracelets are also available that allow unlimited rides for the day. Enchanted Forest is open seasonally from March through September, though early and late in the season the park is only open on weekends.
Oaks Amusement Park
Oaks Amusement Park is the oldest theme park in Oregon and first opened in Portland in 1905. In more than a century, the park has grown to include a wide range of rides and attractions, including a large indoor roller skating rink, the Looping Thunder Roller Coaster, and a variety of classic thrill rides including a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, carousel, small train, a tall slide, and more. Families will especially want to visit the Acorn Acres section of the park with its just-for-kids attractions and family-friendly roller coaster. The park also features 25 picnic areas and a large dance pavilion that is available for weddings, reunions, banquets, and other special events. Catering is available for both the picnic areas and the dance pavilion.
There is no gate admission charge for Oaks Amusement Park except on the busiest days of the year, and both individual ride tickets and all access ride bracelets are available. There are also plenty of discount options and coupon deals available, making this park a great bargain for families. While the rides section of the park is only open seasonally, the roller skating rink is open year-round.
Oregon’s Water Park
Visitors looking for splashtastic thrills can check out Oregon’s only indoor water park, Splash! at Lively Park, in Springfield. This municipal pool features a 144-foot water slide, water basketball court, kiddie pool, wave pool, and hot tub, as well as a sunbathing deck and concession stand. Open year-round, special times are reserved each week for younger guests, and anyone can reserve the facility for a party or special event. Daily rates are inexpensive, and frequent visitors can buy packs of admission for multi-visit discounts.
Several Oregon amusement parks have given families years of entertainment but are no longer open.
- Gayway: This park in Seaside, Oregon, operated for twenty years but closed in the 1980s.
- Jantzen Beach Amusement Park: This park was in Portland but closed in 1969. The park’s carousel, built in 1921, still operates in the Jantzen Beach Shopping Center food court.
- Lotus Isle Park: The Portland amusement park was home to two wooden roller coasters, the Alpine Scenic Railway and the Wiz, but closed in the 1930s.
- Thrill-Ville USA: Located in Turner, Oregon, this park was home to the relocated Jet Star roller coaster from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – renamed the Ripper – but closed in 2007.
Visiting Amusement Parks in Oregon
Families planning to visit Enchanted Forest or Oaks Amusement Park should be prepared for Oregon’s temperamental weather. Even on the best summer days the temperatures can be cool and rain is common. The parks are generally busiest on weekend afternoons, so planning a visit during the week or earlier in the day will maximize the fun while minimizing crowds. By being prepared for the park’s conditions and knowing what to expect, anyone can enjoy a visit to Oregon’s family-friendly amusement parks.