Storyland in Glen, NH – Vacation Nirvana for the Preschool Set

A mini pumpkin coach for photo ops!

Some of my favorite memories in childhood revolve around our family vacations to the White Mountains in NH. We were never an outdoorsy family, so our trips were a definite departure from the norm. We climbed on rocks, burrowed through caves and just enjoyed the gorgeous scenery that the area has in abundance. But the best part of the trip had nothing to do with nature at all. It was a visit to Storyland, a family-owned theme park in Glen, NH. With storybook scenes and characters, Cinderella’s castle, and a wide variety of rides and attractions, I always thought it was somewhat magical. As the years went by, the park grew, adding new and bigger rides. I have such fond memories of Storyland that I started my bachelorette party there, riding the rides and being silly.

Act like a tree

When my kids were born, I made lists for them of all the things I wanted to show them in the world. High on my list were trips to Storyland. So, two years ago we rented a house for a week with some friends and spent four – yes, FOUR – days roaming around the park with our kids. LadyBug was small – she had just turned one, but Bug was two and a half and a fantastic time exploring, driving “tractors” and taking endless rides on the train. We have

taken them again each year and the kids still delight in all of the many experiences. The park has been sold to a chain, but is still clean and well-maintained, with reasonably-priced concessions.

Our annual "scared kids" family photo

There are storybook houses and displays to explore, including The Old Woman Who Lived in a Show and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. These are great for younger children to toddle around. There are animals such as goats, ducks, rabbits, and pigs. There is a pumpkin coach ride up to Cinderella’s Castle. There are small swan boats and bigger themed boat rides. All of your favorite rides are there: the teacups, merry-go-round,

antique cars, and a tilt-a-whirl. If you’re more of a thrill ride fan, there is a small roller coaster, a few water rides and the “Flying Fish.” You can go on a jungle safari, stow away on a pirate ship or explore a haunted mine (use caution here!). Our kids current favorite is the Loopy Lab, a building filled with foam balls and all manner of cannons to shoot them in the air. We’ve spent hours just in that spot alone and, although it’s loud and chaotic, they probably would have spent hours more. The overall vibe of the park is for younger kids, but there are quite a few rides that will appeal to the older kids, too. That said, you won’t find anything extreme here. It’s just not that kind of place.

Flying whales

One of the nicest things about Storyland, for us, is that they are allergy-friendly. Each of the food stands has a book listing the ingredients of every item at the stand and the website has a complete ingredient list for every food item in the park. The concessions themselves are all fast food/quick service-type spots, so I wouldn’t bother asking for too many special accommodations, but it is nice to be able to plan ahead for which spots will be safe or your family.

Balls everywhere!

Storyland isn’t an inexpensive trip by any means (tickets for ages 3+ are $26.99 during the 2010 season), and there are no discounts available. But there is one trick that we use religiously. If you arrive after 3pm during peak season, or after 2pm off-peak (when the park closes at 5pm), you can enter the next day for free. It’s a great way for families with young kids to split up time in the park, and for more hard-core families to maximize their visit. We tend to spend as much time as possible that first day so that we can feel free to leave early the next day in case of grumpy kids, bad weather, or other vacation downers.

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