I started hearing about Oaks Amusement Park immediately upon moving to Portland, and it’s no wonder, because this little amusement park packs big time fun. Our first visit to Oaks was last fall for a riveting Rose City Rollers roller derby match. We didn’t quite understand what was happening, but it was fun nonetheless. Our next visit was during the spring when my daughter Karys and I went to Preschool Skate at the roller rink. We had a blast skating around, learning skating skills and safety, and playing Simon Says as the Wurlitzer organ played classic kids’ tunes. The milk and cookies provided at the end helped ease Karys off the rink and back into real life.
This summer, we decided to head to Oaks for Chipper’s Preschool Rides. Each Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the summer from 9:30-11:30 a.m., $7.50 is all it takes for kids six and under to ride unlimited rides, visit with the Oregon Dairy Princess and Chipper the Squirrel (park mascot) for story time, and feast on a snack of milk and cookies. My admission was free with the purchase of Karys’ ticket, but I got to ride most of the rides with her. Because the park is only open to preschoolers, some of the rides were powered off, but we stayed busy the whole two hours we were there.
We started at the Tilt-a Whirl, then we headed to the Big Pink Slide, Chipper’s Choppers, and every ride from the ticket booth to the Rockin’ Tug at the end of the park. Riding on the 1911 Hershall-Spillman hand carved menagerie carousel was a special treat. According to the ride operator, an adorable older gentleman, the carousel has been the site of multiple first dates and marriage proposals, and it is one of only two carousels like it in existence. We had trouble deciding which gorgeous animal would make the best seat.
At five and a half, Karys could have gone on most of the rides by herself, but I didn’t want to miss out on the fun. I zipped down the huge slide with her and even bumped along on the little roller coaster beside her. On the few rides that were too small for adults, I stood on the sidelines and took pictures of Karys flying an airplane, riding a motorcycle, and floating in a boat. We saw lots of toddlers and big kids alike enjoying themselves on the rides, with and without their adult companions. Each ride is labeled with height requirements, and you can check the specs for each ride on the Oaks Amusement Park website.
This is a popular destination for preschoolers, so lines can get long. I’d suggest getting there at the early part of the event to save some time waiting in line. I’ve heard that parking can be hard to come by on particularly nice days, but we didn’t have any issue the day we went. Finding seating in the shade for story time was a challenge. Be sure to pack a water bottle and a snack, since the park’s normal concessions aren’t open during Chipper’s Preschool Rides. The line for milk and cookies after story time was a bit chaotic, but it seemed to move pretty quickly once we all figured out what was happening.
Overall, our morning at Oaks was A-“Oak”-K! I hope that we’ll be able to enjoy it a few more times this summer, and I’m stoked that Karys will still be six next summer so we can enjoy it again in 2016.