Take a ride on the ferris wheel at The Land of Make Believe this summer season, and your wishes might well come true. So says owner Christopher Maier of the newest attraction at the popular 30-acre park, which includes rides, shows, games and a water park. For many Bergen County parents, a day trip to the 58-year-old amusement park in Warren County brings back fond memories of their own childhoods.
"The Land of Make Believe was designed so that parents aren't passive spectators," Maier says. "Here they can participate in the fun with their children. Our park gives parents permission to be kids again, and that makes it very special and unique."
The amusement park is also special because of its location in Hope Township. A trip to the park can be combined with a self-guided walking tour of the historic township. (Maps can be downloaded at hopetownship.com.) Hope is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and is one of the earliest planned communities in the country. It was established in 1769 by German Moravians, a Protestant denomination.
Moravian architecture is evident on many buildings throughout the town, which also features beautifully restored Victorian homes. Movie buffs will likely recognize the entrance to the Moravian Cemetery, as it was featured in the 1980 horror film Friday the 13th.
Families who start off the day at The Land of Make Believe might consider packing a picnic lunch. The park encourages parents to bring their own food.
"We provide families with a beautiful picnic area," Maier says. "All we ask is that they don't bring glass containers, and there's no alcohol or grilling allowed in the park."
For those who prefer not to pack their food, the amusement park offers a choice of 10 food areas with hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, chicken and, of course, ice cream. Maier, who is also president of the Hope Area Chamber of Commerce, says there are some excellent family restaurants in the Township of Hope.
When visiting the township with older children, families might want to combine the amusement park and a walk around town with a trip to Jenny Jump State Park. Located just a few miles from The Land of Make Believe, the park features 11 miles of scenic hiking trails. The Summit Trail, at an elevation of 1,090 feet, offers a view of the Delaware Water Gap and the Pequest Valley.
Consider finishing the trip with a spectacular view of the night sky at the United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey Observatory located within Jenny Jump State Park. v
If You Go
The Land of Make Believe is at 354 Great Meadows Road, Hope, N.J. Open weekends through the second weekend in June; daily from the third Saturday in June through Labor Day. Also open on the weekends after Labor Day. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the season. Admission is $23 for adults; $25 for children ages 2 through 18; $21 for seniors, and free for children younger than 2. For more information, visit lomb.com or call (908) 459-9000.
Jenny Jump State Park is on State Park Road in Hope. For more information, go to state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/jennyjump.html.
The United Astronomy Clubs of NJ Observatory is located in Jenny Jump State Park, 333 State Park Road. The club offers programs to the public starting in April. For more information on upcoming programs and hours of operation, call (908) 459-4909 or visit uacnj.org.