Not Quite Disney: 17 Of The World’s Strangest, Weirdest, and Most Wonderful Theme ParksBuzz Bishop
Yes, Easter is in a few weeks and that means a week (or more) away from the school for the kids. If you’re too late to the party to plan your getaway, here are some things to whet your appetite.
Sure, you could take the kids to Disneyland, (my son is going next month and can’t wait), but what about switching it up a little?
Why not visit a theme park built around construction vehicles? Or travel to the Argentian park that is said to be Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland? What about one with nothing but character knockoffs, or a huge indoor fake ocean dome – right next to the real ocean?
Check out this list of 17 the World’s Strangest, Weirdest, and Most Wonderful Theme Parks.
Crocosaurus Cove, Australia 1 of 17You'd expect the land of the Crocodile Hunter to have something along the lines of Crocosaurus Cove. The park in Darwin, Australia is home to the largest collection of Australian reptiles and something they call "The Cage of Death." It is the only cage in the world that brings you face to face with some of the largest Saltwater Crocodiles in captivity. Crikey!
Image via Crocosaurus Cove
Holiday World, Indiana 2 of 17There are some strange place names in this world of ours and one of them is Santa Claus, Indiana. Kids got excited when driving through the town, but were disappointed when they noticed no Santa lived there. So in 1946, Santa Claus Land was created. It has now expanded into the huge Holiday World complete with waterslides and other adventures. The site claims to be Santa's summer home and he pops around the park to visit the kids in his North Pole off-season.
Image via Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Dig This, Las Vegas 3 of 17
Puroland, Japan 4 of 17
República de los Niños, Argentina 5 of 17What would things be like if children ruled the world? Welcome to RepÃºblica de los NiÃ±os, a pint sized park in La Plata, Argentina. The City of Children, as it is also known, features government buildings, theatres, courthouses, and countryside all shrunk down to child size. According to the official website, in 1950 Walt Disney visited the park and, surprised by the beauty, was inspired to build Disneyland.
Image via Wikipedia
BonBon Land, Denmark 6 of 17The sense of humor in Scandinavia is a little different. The concept of BonBon Land is a candy maker has gone wild and created treats out of different objects. It's Simpsons-esque almost in that it looks cute and cartoony for the kids, but the parents and tweens will be in on some good gags. The most popular ride, for example, is the "Hundeprutterutchebane", which translate to Dog-Fart-Coaster.
Image via Facebook
Europa Park, Germany 7 of 17The theme at Europa Park is Europe itself with the grounds divided into 16 regions representing different Euro nations. Euromas is a grey mouse and the park's mascot presiding over the continent's 2nd busiest theme park (behind EuroDisney). The park is home to 11 coasters and a lot of theatre. There is an Ice Show in Greece, a Gladiator Arena Show in Spain, an Acrobatics Show in an Italian Theatre and a fully re-created Globe Theatre, based on that of William Shakespeare.
Image via Europa Park
Diggerland, UK 8 of 17While Dig This in Las Vegas is for bigger kids, if you can get across the pond to the UK, the entire family can get in on the action at Diggerland. In addition to riding and driving REAL full size construction machinery, there are sandboxes, rides, and all sorts of diggery stuff to do.
Image via Diggerland
Hersheypark, Pennsylvania 9 of 17I remember visiting this one as a kid. A theme park based around chocolate? SIGN! ME! UP! Hersheypark in Hershey, PA started as a playground for factory workers but has become a full out theme park with 11 roller coasters and enough chocolate themes to make even Willy Wonka jealous.
Image via DrivingTheNortheast
DickensWorld, England 10 of 17The literary works of Charles Dickens come alive at DickensWorld! The park promises "an assortment of attractions to keep the whole family entertained." You can jump on board the Great Expectations Boat Ride for splashing good fun, take a trip back in time to a Victorian School complete with nasty schoolmaster or get spooked in The Haunted House of 1859. Who knows, at the end of the day your kids may look up like you with Oliver Twist yearning eyes.. "Please, Mum, may I have some more?"
Image via DickensWorld
Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park, Vietnam 11 of 17Suoi Tien, or "the fairy stream," is the world's first water park devoted to Buddhism. Animism is a belief that natural physical entities contain a spiritual essence. This park explores that with sacred animals like the dragon, unicorn, tortoise and phoenix. Watch out for the staff, they're dressed in golden monkey suits, and act accordingly 😉
Image via Suoi Tien
Holy Land Experience, Florida 12 of 17Travel back to the 1st century Jerusalem, in the heart of Florida at the Holy Land Experience. The Trinity Broadcasting Network runs the park, and it was protested at the opening in 2001 as some Jews thought it was to be used as a conversion tool. However, HLE claims it is non-denominational. As for rides? Well there's not really any. This is more of a time traveling trip back to the era of Jesus.
Image via Holy Land Experience
Creation Museum, Kentucky 13 of 17
MiniEurope, Belgium 14 of 17Why drag the kids all over the old country to see the sites, when you can see them all at MiniEurope in Belgium? The park brags you can see the everything Europe has to offer in just a few hours as you tower of mini versions of Big Ben, the gondolas in front of the Doge's Palace, the Grand-Place in Brussels, the Acropolis and more.
Image via Chris Friese
GrÅ«tas Park, Lithuania 15 of 17
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Florida 16 of 17No muggles allowed in this theme park. Orlando is home to many a theme ride and that's where Universal built The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for some $265M in 2010. No detail of accuracy has been spared here, including a life-sized replica of Hogwarts. Like Disney, get ready for copies of the park to pop up in Japan and Hollywood.
Image via Cletch
Shijingshan Amusement Park, Beijing 17 of 17Disneyland in Hong Kong is too far away, so entrepreneurs in Beijing do what the Chinese seem to do - they made a knock-off. Shijingshan Amusement Park's slogan is even "Disney is too far to go, please come to Shijianshan!" Seriously. From Shrek to Bugs Bunny, and Hello Kitty to Sleeping Beauty, everything is fair game. In 2007 the park made headlines for the copyright violations, and while some reported the copycat characters were removed, nobody seems to have official word.
Image via Asia Obscura
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