On the banks of the Willamette River in Southeast Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood, Oaks Amusement Park has been providing families with carnival thrills and family fun since 1905. With 44 tree-studded acres (18 hectares) of rides (including classics like bumper cars and a roller coaster), games, miniature golf, go-carts, roller-skating and a mini-train tour, the park offers plenty for everyone to enjoy.
Rides & Attractions
For adrenaline-seekers, Oaks Park does not disappoint. The park’s hair-raising rides include the Tilt-a-Whirl; the Tree Top Drop, a new attraction added to the park in 2016 that drops riders from a dizzying 45 feet (14 m); the Looping Thunder Roller Coaster, which includes a gravity-snubbing 360-degree loop; and the most popular stomach-clencher, the Scream’n Eagle, which vaults riders 70 feet (21 m) in the air.
There’s plenty of fun to be had at a slower pace, too. Little ones can experience their own thrills with rides like the Zoom Coaster, Toon Cars and nostalgic Big Pink Slide. Taller visitors who aren’t looking for high speeds or death-defying drops will enjoy the vintage carousel, which dates back to 1911 and features hand-carved horses, along with stunning views of the Willamette River and downtown Portland from the top of the Ferris wheel.
Speaking of vintage attractions, don’t miss the roller rink, which offers classes, skate rentals, open skate sessions and fun events like Roll-A-Roke (skating + karaoke) for new and experienced rollers alike. This isn’t your average skate rink; it’s the largest on the West Coast and the last remaining rink in the country to feature live music from a massive Wurlitzer pipe organ in the ceiling. It’s also home to the Rose City Rollers, Portland’s roller derby league.
Like at any great amusement park, Oaks Park lets you try your luck at carnival and arcade games such as balloon darts, basketball toss, skee ball and even an Old West saloon-themed shooting gallery. (The carnival games are cash only, so stock your wallet accordingly.)
When it comes to eats, the reasonably priced concessions include summer standbys like hamburgers, corn dogs, ice cream and cotton candy. You can also bring your own vittles and enjoy a riverfront picnic among the park’s ample picnic tables and shaded grassy areas overlooking the Willamette.
Planning your visit
Hours at the amusement park change frequently, so call ahead or check their website before you visit. From March until schools let out in June, the hours are usually Saturday and Sunday from 12–7 p.m. Once schools are out (starting June 21 in 2016) through September, the park is open Tuesday to Thursday from 12–9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 12–10 p.m. and Sunday from 12–7 p.m. Admission to the park is free; tickets or bracelets must be purchased for rides. The roller rink has separate admission fees.
Oaks Park is perhaps more reminiscent of a quaint, small-town state fair than it is of a Six Flags mega theme park. That said, over 900,000 people visit this fun-filled park annually, so crowds and lines are to be expected (especially on sunny weekends). To beat the crowds, visit midweek and arrive as close to noon as possible — that way, you’re sure to be first in line for the Scream’n Eagle!