Not Quite Disney: 17 Of The World’s Strangest, Weirdest, and Most Wonderful Theme Parks

theme parks that are definitely not disneyWelcome to March everyone, as in “March Break.”

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 17
    Crocosaurus Cove, Australia
    You'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 17
    Holiday World, Indiana
    There 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
    Dig This, Las Vegas
    Just off the strip in Las Vegas, Dig This is a big dirt pile where kids (14+) can play. Yes, leave your sandbox sized diggers at home, at Dig This you get to climb in and play like a pro.
    Image via DigThis
  • Puroland, Japan 4 of 17
    Puroland, Japan
    Disney has Disneyland, Sanrio (the maker of Hello Kitty) has Puroland. Visit Kitty's house, take a boat ride similar to It's A Small World leading fans through the homes of many Sanrio characters.
    Image via Wikipedia
  • República de los Niños, Argentina 5 of 17
    República de los Niños, Argentina
    What would things be like if children ruled the world? Welcome to República de los Niños, 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 17
    BonBon Land, Denmark
    The 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 17
    Europa Park, Germany
    The 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 17
    Diggerland, UK
    While 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 17
    Hersheypark, Pennsylvania
    I 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 17
    DickensWorld, England
    The 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 17
    Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park, Vietnam
    Suoi 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 17
    Holy Land Experience, Florida
    Travel 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
    Creation Museum, Kentucky
    Science meets religion in this clash of the titans. The Creation Museum brings the Bible to life, while at the same time inviting children to play with dinosaurs. I don't remember seeing Adam and Eve in Jurassic Park, your mileage may vary.
    Image via David Berkowitz
  • MiniEurope, Belgium 14 of 17
    MiniEurope, Belgium
    Why 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
    Grūtas Park, Lithuania
    This is not quite the happiest place on earth. Grūtas Park, also known as Stalin's World his home to dozens of Soviet-era statues. The kids will most likely not love this.
    Image via Wikipedia
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Florida 16 of 17
    The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Florida
    No 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 17
    Shijingshan Amusement Park, Beijing
    Disneyland 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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