Are you searching for a family activity that will be fun for all ages? Then look no further than Bristol, Connecticut, home to the nation’s oldest family amusement park.
Lake Compounce has something for everyone: For thrill-seekers, there are more than 50 rides and attractions, including longtime favorites like the Boulder Dash (voted one of the World’s Best Wooden Roller Coasters) and Zoomerang roller coasters, and Thunder n’ Lightning, which rapidly swings riders to heights of more than 90 feet.
New this year is Rev-O-Lution, an adrenaline-pumping ride, spinning and rocking a full 360 degrees, high over the park. Riders sit in seats at the edge of a rotating platform that spins in two different directions. It’s dizzying just to look at from the ground.
If thrill rides are not your cup of tea, head over to Splash Harbor Water Park, complete with water slides, a wave pool and an 800-foot lazy river known as Anchor Bay. You can simply relax in a lounge chair with your feet in the water while watching your little ones splash for hours in the spray fountains.
Older kids will enjoy the Thunder Rapids Raft Ride (be prepared to get wet). You can take a short shuttle to this ride, which is at one end of the park. At the other end of the park, cool off with a wild log ride down the Saw Mill Plunge.
Situated on a 20-acre lake, Lake Compounce also boasts a small sandy beach with chairs, a good vantage point to watch people shoot out of the covered water slide and splash into the lake.
For little kids, there’s Circus World Kiddieland with rides appropriate for ages three-10, such as the kiddie bumper cars, the kiddie coaster and the Caterpillar Train.
More sedate rides are The Sky Ride, soaring high above the park, to take you on a scenic, half-hour trip. Or there’s the Lake Railroad, which travels a delightful course around the lake. An antique carousel — one of America’s oldest — is great for all ages as is the giant Ferris Wheel. As you enter the park, carnival and arcade games encourage visitors to try their luck at winning a large stuffed animal.
Need a time out from all the activities? Enjoy a meal at the Carousel Café or Croc Pot Cafeteria, or have a snack at one of the numerous carts filled with snow-cones, Dippin Dots, popcorn and Italian ices. The theme park offers a special treat: free soda is available all day long at various spots around the park.
When you need a break from the sun, visit the air-conditioned Starlight Theatre to be amazed by the park’s resident magician. On the Lake Compounce Web site, you’ll find a list of all shows and activities. This year, direct from Montreal, Canada, Cirque En Vol performs circus acts of acrobatics, juggling and aerial flight, on the outdoor stage located across from the Pirate Ship pond, several times throughout the day, on weekends, through Aug. 28.
Every Friday night in July and August, Lake Compounce comes alive with music, in the Lake After Dark Friday Night Concert Series. Concert bands perform in the gazebo by the lake, starting at 6 p.m.
Can you do it all in one day? The answer is yes, if you plan to spend the whole day and it’s not too crowded. You might just have to come back.
Lake Compounce is at 186 Enterprise Drive in Bristol. Phone: (860) 583-3300. Website: www.lakecompounce.com.
If you go:
Lake Compounce is just minutes from I-84, Exit 31. From the exit, travel two miles north on Route 229 and follow the signs to the park.
The park is open now through Labor Day, Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.- 8 p.m.; Fridays and Sundays, 11 a.m.- 9 p.m., and Saturdays, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.
All dates and times are subject to change without notice. The Sky Ride closes at 6:30 p.m. Splash Harbor Water Park is open noon-7 p.m., from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Regular admission (52 inches and taller) — $35.99 plus tax
Junior Admission (Under 52 inches in height) — $25.99 plus tax
Senior Admission (Age 61 and older) — $17.99 plus tax
After 5 p.m. Admission — $17.99 plus tax
Children age 3 and under — FREE
Season passes are available for $69.99, and for a limited time, if you buy four season passes, you receive a free large pizza.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.lakecompounce.com
Group rates and catered event pricing is available by calling Group Sales, 860-583-3300.
Come dressed in a bathing suit with either a cover-up or shorts and tops. Footwear and shirts are required in the park. Bring towels and change of dry clothes.
Lockers are available for rent, and there are changing rooms in the water park for your convenience.
Lake Compounce does not allow any outside coolers, food or beverages to be brought into the park.
Certain rides do not operate during periods of either light or heavy rain.