Back in the old days, whizzing rollercoasters and jaw-dropping rides were all you needed to make a great theme park. It seems like only yesterday that Australia’s Wonderland was still around. Nowadays, though, there are many alternative theme parks around the world that – crazily enough – attract plenty of quirky tourists each year!
Gilroy Gardens – Gilroy, USA
Who would have ever thought of creating a theme park around vegetables and horticulture? Believe it not – the Americans! Travel just an hour-and-a-half south of San Francisco and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Gilroy Gardens. Rides here include the Artichoke Dip, the Garlic Twirl, the Mushroom Swing and the Banana Split – which is basically a pirate ship ride in a huge banana! It’s a little odd, but (probably) great fun for vegie-loving travellers with kids.
Suoi Tien – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Buddha has taken theme parks to a whole new level with Suoi Tien! This huge water park has been designed around the Buddhist myths and legends of Vietnam. You can explore the world ‘inside’ a golden dragon, visit ‘Heaven’s Palace’, cruise down the river of the Buddhist underworld or even waterslide down the beards of Buddhist sages.
Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley – Orlando, USA
It hasn’t opened just yet, but the cobble-stoned streets of Diagon Alley are set to spring into magical life next year before you can say, “Expelliarmus!” Diagon Alley marks Universal’s themed addition to the Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and Ollivander’s experiences currently featured in the Islands of Adventure theme park. In true form, travel between the two will be undertaken by hopping on none other than a real life Hogwarts Express! Let’s hope there aren’t any dementors around to spoil the ride…
Ferrari World – Abu Dhabi, UAE
Can you say Ferrari ten times in a row, really fast? Because that’s what you’ll be doing when you visit Ferrari World! If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a Ferrari but aren’t rich enough to afford one, immersing yourself in this Ferrari park in Abu Dhabi is a sure way to give you that pedal-to-the-metal thrill. You can learn how Ferraris are made, jump into a Ferrari motion simulator or have a go on one of the many Ferrari-based rollercoasters. If you’re game, the Formula Rossa is supposedly the fastest rollercoaster in the entire world. Buckle up!
Legoland – Billund, Denmark
You 05/have outgrown those tiny building blocks, but there’s no mistaking the fun to be had at Legoland! You can visit Miniland, where the world’s buildings have been built in Lego form, you can go on Lego safari, cruise around on a Lego boat or simply explore rides and entertainment within worlds made of Lego, like Knight’s Kingdom or Pirate Land.
If you can’t make it to Denmark, you’ll also find Legoland parks in California, Florida, Germany, Malaysia and the UK.
Angry Birds Land – Tampere, Finland
That’s right, a Game App has finally become a theme park… and we can’t say we’re at all surprised. ‘Angry Birds’ took the world by storm and those crazy Finnish folk became the first ever (if you discount the unlicensed park in China) to create an amusement park based purely around the game. Visitors will be able to explore lands filled with bad pigs and wooden structures, jump on an Angry Birds ride or simply play Angry Birds on a huge TV screen.
Why Finland, you ask? The Angry Birds were created there, of course. Now, there’s also the Angry Birds Activity Park in the UK (Yorkshire) and a rumoured Angry Birds Theme Park opening in Malaysia in 2014.
Before you go, make sure you have the right travel insurance lined up, so that if anything happens during your trip, you’re prepared. Check your policy carefully before you purchase it to make sure it covers everything you need.