The best theme parks around the world
by: A. Wild
Want to take your kids on an amazing adventure or simply spend a weekend going wild with your friends on fun rides? Theme parks make fantastic vacation spots, and these are some of the best of all.
Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
If you ask children where they want to go, Disney resorts always top the list, and this one, just outside Orlando in Florida, is widely considered the best. Iconic Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Pluto welcome approximately 18,588,000 visitors each year. It is dominated by Cinderella’s Castle and incorporates six different themed areas: Main Street, USA; Adventureland; Frontierland; Liberty Square; Fantasyland; and Tomorrowland. Temperatures can get as high as 92ºF in July but at the other end of the year they are mild, so visitors can choose what works for them. United Airlines can fly you to Orlando, special buses can take you to the park and, if you want, you can stay right there in a Disney themed hotel.
Universal Studios Japan
Nobody does theme parks with quite as much enthusiasm as the Japanese. This one attracts over 10,000,000 visitors annually. To a US visitor, it may seem disorganized, but many see it as somewhere to explore, with different movie themed rides around every corner: The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, and Jaws. The rollercoasters, Hollywood Dream, and Space Fantasy, are not for the faint-hearted, but there is something here for all age groups—try the Magical Starlight Parade for sleepy little ones. Top shows include Waterworld, with its water stunts, and Backdraft, with its fire stunts. To get there, fly to Osaka and take a train to JR Universal City, which is right beside the park entrance. There are many good hotels nearby.
This Hong Kong Park has almost 7,500,000 visitors per year. It specializes in scares—book ahead to visit a haunted house customized to evoke your deepest fears—and even fairytale land, the Forest of Legends, includes some creepy surprises. There is also much more, including fantastic animal adventures. Most visitors opt to stay in central Hong Kong.
The most popular theme park in the UK, with around 2,500,000 visitors per year, Alton Towers specializes in nail biting rollercoaster rides, including the famous Th13rteen and Megaphobia. There are some great water rides (though they can be cold, as summer temperatures rarely get much above 80ºF). There are special buses to the park from Derby, Uttoxeter and Stoke-on-Trent railway stations. Many visitors opt to stay in these towns but there are on-site accommodations and there are also some good campsites nearby.
Beta Carrero World
As Latin America’s largest theme park, this colorful resort is located in Penha, Brazil, and attracts 1,530,000 visitors annually. Divided into areas including Nation’s Avenue, Fantasyland, Old West, and Pirate’s Island, it also has a popular section devoted to cars and also has its own zoo. The easiest way to get there is to fly to Rio and then on to Navegantes.
Whichever park you choose, you are bound to have a thrilling time. Don’t let kids have all the fun—treat yourself to a theme park adventure.