9 Quirky Theme Parks You Need to Visit in Your Lifetime
Forget Disneyland—these fun theme parks run the gamut from crazy to crazier. Think: Charles Dickens extravaganza, all-you-can-eat chocolate paradise, and a giant construction site.
Crocosaurus Cove, Australia
If you’re a fan of alligators, this wacky theme park is one place you’ll want to add to your bucket list. Crocosaurus Cove is located in Darwin City, Australia and allows you to experience what daily life is like for crocodiles. Their most popular attraction, “The Cage of Death,” submerges you in a clear tank with crocodiles up to 20 feet long swimming around you. If you really want to experience what death by a crocodile is like, you can have the animals fed while you’re in the tank. Check out these secrets that amusement parks won’t tell you about saving money and avoiding crowds.
Dig This, Las Vegas
Consider Dig This a sandbox for adults. Just minutes from the Vegas strip is a five-acre sandbox filled with mammoth heavy machinery—like steamrollers and dump trucks—for you to pilot. Although you only have to be over 4-feet tall and 14 years of age to drive one these giant earth moving machines, it’s unlikely that any teen could afford to drop $400 to “Dig Big” (the park’s standard three-hour activity offer). Park admission comes complete with a one-hour training and safety orientation and a Certificate of Accomplishment to show off that you’ve successfully maneuvered a big yellow monster.
Holiday World, Indiana
If you think a place called Santa Claus, Indiana, would be an obvious location for a children’s theme park, you’d be right. Louis J. Koch built Santa Claus Land in 1946 for all the disappointed children who visited the town expecting to meet Santa. Nearly 70 years later, Santa Claus Land is not only a huge success but has expanded into what is now known as Holiday World Theme Park & Splashin’ Safari. While visitors can still sit on Santa’s knee like they did in 1946, today they can also try the water park, roller coasters, and the Fourth of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving pavilions. You have to add these American campsites to your bucket list.
Hacienda Nápoles, Puerto Triunfo, Colombia
This wacky theme park is built on the grounds of the well-known drug smuggler Pablo Escobar’s old mansion. You can see everything from a zoo, to a bullfighting ring, to a private plane and airstrip, to an expansive car collection. It’s a great place for kids to have a fun afternoon (maybe just leave out the part about the drug smuggler).
If you’ve ever dreamed of naming a place after yourself, look no further for inspiration than Dollywood. Any guesses as to who founded it? The theme park is owned by none other than famed country singer Dolly Parton, who grew up in Tennessee. She brings her personality to the park with things like a full-time chaplain, who says Sunday services. The park’s rides emphasize the unpredictable weather of the region: think Barnstormer, Timber Tower, and Tennessee Tornado, which takes screaming patrons down a 128-foot drop in ore cars.
Suoi Tien Theme Park, Vietnam
This wacky theme park in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is Buddha-themed. It’s both an amusement and water park and it’s perfect for a weekend family getaway. Suoi Tien Theme Park is also filled with lessons in Vietnamese culture, so locals and tourists can learn a lot while having fun. You have to take your kids to the 30 must-see places around the United States before they’re too old.
Hershey, Pennslyvania, may truly be the sweetest place on earth. Not only is it the birthplace of the American chocolate bar, but it is also the home of Hersheypark. Founded by Milton S. Hershey, the park originally served as a haven for workers in his chocolate factory. Today, you can enjoy chocolate-themed rides, meet giant Hershey’s kisses, and visit Hershey’s Chocolate World, where the whole family gets to taste free samples and discover how the yummy treats are made. Hersheypark is a chocoholic’s dream—there’s even a pass that lets you indulge in as much chocolate as you want.
Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
This is the perfect theme park for all of the adrenaline junkies out there. Some of the rides at Ferrari World include go-kart racing, world-class roller coasters, and a zero-gravity fall. The park wants to make you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat of a fancy Ferrari.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Florida
It wouldn’t be a list of the strange and unusual without mentioning Harry Potter, the most famous boy that never lived. Head to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, where you’ll find a massive, life-sized Hogwarts. Once inside, you can sample butterbeer, a frothy drink reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch, at the Hog’s Head Pub, or have a wand choose you at Ollivanders. You can also experience pulse-pounding rides like the Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff. Next, find out the best family travel destinations in each state.