The 8 Oldest Amusement Parks in the World
You can still visit these today!
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Plenty of amusement parks pre-date Disney
Courtesy Judy Sipe/Reminisce Extra
Despite the differences between Disneyland or Disney World, they are both some of the first things that come to mind after hearing the word “amusement park.” There are plenty of other parks that pre-date the Magic Kingdom, however, and many are still open. Click on to learn more about the oldest amusement parks in the world.
Bakken or Dyrehavsbakken, located in Denmark, is the oldest amusement park in the world. It opened in 1583, and the first attraction is actually all-natural. The area is home to a natural spring, which attracted city-dwellers in Copenhagen with poor water quality to travel up north. Entertainers saw an audience in these large crowds of people and put on their best shows. Eventually, King Frederick III closed the grounds to the public until King Frederik V later reopened them in 1756. That’s when more performers, vendors, and rides slowly took over. Bakken is still open today with different roller coasters, Ferris wheels, and other rides. If want to try something new, check out these new amusement park rides.
Wurstelprater, or Prater for short, dates back to Emperor Joseph II and 1766—when he gave up his hunting ground to create an amusement park. Once the area opened to the public, restaurants and puppet theaters populated the area. Still, the most popular attraction is the Vienna Grand Ferris Wheel because of scenes in the film, The Third Man. This park must be doing something right since it’s still open. Unlike these creepy abandoned amusement parks.
Tivoli Gardens might be one of the few old amusement park names you recognize. Not only did The Beatles play at the park in 1964, but it also inspired Walt Disney, as well as the famous fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen. Located not far from Bakken, Tivoli features boat rides, a theater, beautiful gardens, and a popular wooden roller coaster, along with other attractions. The park is open today and exists thanks to the founder, Georg Carstensen, and King Christian VIII. Tivoli sounds like a magical park, unlike these quirky theme parks.
America is definitely home to some old amusement parks, and the oldest one is Lake Compounce in the heart of Bristol, Connecticut. The park dates back to 1846, but it’s come a long way since Gad Norton opened the space to the public. He hired scientists to conduct experiments and performances. Although those weren’t a big hit, the rides, swimming area, and barbecue areas attracted crowds. Plus, in 1914, the park added a carousel and its first electric roller coaster. The wooden coaster, Boulder Dash, won plenty of awards and is one of the scariest roller coasters in America.
Opened in 1853, Hanayashiki is the oldest amusement park in Japan. The park started as a flower garden and expanded throughout the years to include a now-defunct mini-zoo, and your standard amusement park fare, including a Ferris wheel, haunted house, and roller coaster. Today, one of the most popular experiences is actually located right outside the park—a ninja school. The school offers a course including swordplay, escape techniques, and martial arts. The old park has some more competition coming thanks to a brand new Disney theme park coming to Japan.
The Cedar Point amusement park will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2020. Initially, the park was a public beach before the first coaster opened in 1892. The park kept adding more rides and attractions until, today, it’s known as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” with 18 different coasters. If the thought of so many roller coasters makes your stomach flip, these theme parks with the spookiest Halloween celebrations are sure to be a scream.
Idlewild and Soak Zone
This attraction combo is still open today, and it’s won plenty of amusement park awards. The park opened in 1878 as a picnic spot, before the owners pooled their money in the 1930s to add rides, lunchrooms, and a carousel. They also jumped on the waterpark trend later in 1985. Now, there are two parks in one and plenty of rides for the whole family. Before you buy your ticket, learn these amusement park secrets to save money and avoid crowds.
In 1883, Jacob Schultheis from Berlin founded the Gröna Lund amusement park. Unlike others, however, there’s limited space of only about 12 acres. The 30 rides, seven roller coasters, and a huge sound stage are all jam-packed into one old, amazing park. Similar to many other amusement parks, Gröna Lund was originally a garden before all the attractions. If international travel to visit these parks isn’t on the agenda, you’ll want to know the best amusement park in every state.