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LIST: ADVENTURE / THEME PARKS

This is an eclectic list of popular & well-known theme parks, water parks, adventure parks, amusement parks and other attractions overseas.
Bagatelle Le Touquet, France Medium-sized adventure park just south of Le Touquet on the Channel coast, with over 40 rides, attractions and shows.
Bakken Klampenborg, Denmark Small park just outside Copenhagen, which happens to be the world's oldest amusement park, dating back to 1583.
Bellewaerde Ypers, Belgium The 130-acre park offers a mixture of attractions, animals and parkland. Signature rides include Boomerang, a steel looping coaster; Niagra, with a breathtaking plunge over a waterfall; Screaming Eagle, a tower freefall ride; Flying Carousel, a wave swinger ride; Houdini's Great Escape, a magic house attraction unique in Belgium; and El Volador, a ride to the top of a 20-metre tower, which then falls over! Open April through October.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Virginia, USA Less well-known to Brits than its sister park in Florida, but it has been voted America's "Most Beautiful Theme Park" for nine consecutive years - whatever that means! Despite its 'beauty' it has some world-class roller coasters among its 40+ rides, shows and attractions.
Cedar Park Ohio, USA Calls itself "the roller-coaster capital of the world" and claims to have the world's largest collection of rides (68) including the world’s largest swing ride (guests swing to the height of a 12-storey building). Cedar Point is one of seven amusement parks and five water parks in the USA operated by the Cedar Fair group.
Disneyland Paris Paris, France Disney in Europe. Most of the rides and attractions are identical to the ones found in the USA, but of course, a lot more convenient - especially by Eurostar.
Duinrell Wassenaar, Netherlands A mixture of amusement park and holiday village. There's a medium sized amusement park with a number of serious rides & attractions (mostly water rides), a huge nearby indoor water park, an artificial snow ski-valley, and a campsite & holiday bungalow village.
Efteling Tilberg, Netherlands starOne of Europe's biggest, best and oldest theme parks but hardly known to Brits. It has thrill rides, but its gentle focus on European fairytale culture makes it perfect for families with young children. If Disney's style doesn't appeal, go here. You'll love it!
Europa Park Freiburg, Germany Large theme park with plenty of roller-coasters, rides and shows set in zones themed on European countries.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi A Ferrari theme park with a range of displays and driving experiences, plus the world's fastest rollercoaster reaching speeds of 125mph (200kph).
Futuroscope Poitiers, France Architecturally imaginative park dedicated to the moving image. IMAX screens, 3D screens, laser shows, and other high-tech special effects offer virtual adventures on land, in the air, in the sea, and in space. It's all done on a grand scale and with great style, but there is a flaw... all the main attractions are shows, not continuous rides, so everything has a queue. No FastPass system here!
Gardaland Lake Garda, Italy Italy's largest adventure park (46 hectares), located in Castelnuovo del Garda, near Verona. It has 38 attractions laid out in four theme areas covering everything from extreme roller-coasters, through jungle rapids, to Dinosaur islands.
Gatorland Orlando, Florida What does the self-proclaimed 'Alligator capital of the World' have that has drawn visitors in their millions since December 1949 (that's well before its large neighbours, Disneyworld, Sea World & Universal Studios turned up)? Well, thousands of sharp-toothed gators, obviously, plus plenty of other reptiles, exotic birds and other animals. There's a breeding marsh, reptilian shows and demonstrations, a miniature water park, aviary, petting zoo, and more all packed into a 110-acre site.
Gronä Lund Stockholm, Sweden Copenhagen has the Tivoli gardens, this is Stockhom's Tivoli; an amusement park, concert venue, and more. There are loads of rides for young children and some serious ones for adults too.
Hansa Park Lubeck, Germany Large theme park on the Baltic coast north of Lubeck, with plenty of rides and attractions for families with young children, and with its own holiday village, next door.
Heide Park Soltau, N. Germany North Germany's largest theme park with 40+ rides including some spectacular roller-coasters. There's also a large holiday village and a pirate-themed hotel.
Huis Ten Bosch Nagasaki, Japan A Dutch styled theme park with Dutch architecture, gardens & waterways plus plenty of gentle and thrill rides... plus, the world's first hotel staffed by robots.
Isla Mágica Seville, Spain Family theme park with thrill rides and plenty of gentle attractions & rides for younger children.
Lake Compounce Connecticut, USA America's oldest amusement park. It opened in 1846 as a picnic site on the shore of Lake Compounce under Mount Compounce. Now it is a a family theme and water park with over fifty rides, attractions and shows, including plenty of opportunities for getting wet. One of its three roller coasters, the mile-long Boulder Dash, is pretty spectacular. It drops down the mountainside and runs along the base of the mountain over and around the cliffs & boulders.
Legoland - Denmark Billund, Denmark The original Lego park. Lego announced in April 2005 that they are putting their four parks - Billund, Denmark; Windsor, England; Carlsbad, Calif; Gunzburg, Germany - up for sale. Legoland Holidays (£) (a HolidayExtras brand) operate shortbreaks with ticketing to Legoland Windsor and Legoland Germany.
Linnanmäki Helsinki, Finland Finland's oldest amusement park has a selection of 37 rides plus other attractions including a 'play castle'. (You might want to turn your sound off before you click on this site!)
Liseberg Gothenburg, Sweden Amusement park with rides ranging from one of the world's most popular wooden roller-coasters to one of the most extreme rides - Kanonen.
Lotte World Seoul, Korea A huge recreation complex with an indoor theme park, an outdoor amusement park with rides, plus shopping malls, cinema multiplexes, hotel, sport facilities and a Korean folk museum.
Moomin World Naantali, Finland Muumimaailma, aka Moomin World, is a theme park based on the childrens' cartoon characters, the Moomin.
Morgan's Wonderland San Antonio, Texas The world's first theme park designed specifically for physically & mentally disabled people, and their families.
Movie Park Germany About 20 km from Essen, this park has plenty of familiar themes. It is divided into 5 areas; Looney Tunes Land, Gotham City, The Old West, Marienhof and The Hollywood Street Set.
Nigloland Aube-en-Champagne, France Nigloland is based on a character called 'Niglo' the hedgehog. The park was the brainchild of the Gelis family who, for generations, toured France with their fairs and circuses. In 1987 they built Nigloland in Dolancourt, Aube-en-Champagne (180km east of Paris). Le Figaro ranks, Nigloland as the third best park in France, although in size it ranks No.4. There are three themed areas with roller-coasters, rapids, and other fast rides such as a runaway gold mine train. There's haunted houses, enchanted gardens and jungles, a gentle 'enchanted river' ride, a miniature steam railway, and, in the Gelis tradition, performance shows.
OK Corral Cuges-les-Pins, France Small, cowboy-themed park located halfway between Marseilles and Toulouse with shows, rides and a wild west town to explore.
Parc Asterix Roissy, France Home of the cartoon character, Asterix the Gaul, and his friends. As you'd expect there is a Gallic village inhabited by the characters, there are also plenty of fearsome rides, and other attractions. Located about 30kms NE of Paris.
Playmobil Fun Park Zirndorf, Germany Theme park with pirate ships, castles and other settings populated with life-sized (5ft) playmobil characters. There are five other 'fun parks' located around Europe and the USA, but they are really large shops with play areas. Zirndorf is a real theme park, located next door to the Playmobil factory.
Port Adventura Barcelona, Spain Theme park with five themed 'worlds' to choose from (Far West, Mexico, Polynesia, China, Mediterranean) each with its own selection of rides and attractions. Was briefly called 'Universal Mediterranea' in 2002 when Universal Studios ran it.
Puy du Fou Vendee, France It's full name is The Grand Parc of Puy du Fou. Large scale performances in historical settings in a large theme park environment. By day there are demonstrations of falconry, jousting, horse-riding, and chariot races set in a reconstructed medieval village and a Roman amphitheatre. There are seiges & battles before a castle, and areas just to explore yourself among lakes and woods. At night, in the summer, there's a spectacular son-et-lumiére involving a thousand actors and horsemen. 
Särkänniemi Tampere, Finland Park with seven sections/attractions: Aquarium, Planetarium, Children's Zoo, Observation tower (Näsinneula), Amusement Park, Dolphinarium and Sara Hilden Art Museum
Siam Park Playa de las Americas, Tenerife Major new water park, allegedly Europe's largest opened to rave previews on 17 Sept 08.
Six Flags - USA Various, USA There are currently 16 Six Flags adventure parks throughout the USA, usually located in and around the USA's largest metropolitan areas. They all have thrill rides and play host to attractions featuring Bugs Bunny, Tweety and their famous Looney Tunes friends. 
Terra Mítica Benidorm, Spain Major theme park with five zones re-creating ancient Mediterranean civilisations - Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Iberia and 'the islands'. There are 25+ state-of-the-art rides and traditional ones.
Tropical Islands Brand, Germany The world's largest indoor water park, complete with rainforest, lagoon and white sandy beach, was opened on 19 Dec 04 in a vast 107-metre high hanger designed originally for the giant CargoLifter airship project which failed in 2002. Guests are able to bask all day long in temperatures of 25-27 degrees C 24hrs a day (you can hire a tent and sleep on the beach overnight!), 365 days a year. The rainforest, comprising over 12,000 plants including trees up to 14 metres tall spread over a hill (with recorded insect sounds), help to keep the micro-climate balanced at 50% humidity. The 'sea' is the size of four olympic swimming pools and is supposed to be maintained at 31 degrees C, however Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported in Aug 05 that some visitors had complained the pools are too cold & trees were dying from lack of sunlight, but the park seems to have got over its problems now (Mar 09).
Universal Orlando Orlando, Florida One of the top three Orlando icons. Universal Orlando is split into two parks - Universal Studios (Jaws, Terminator,Men in Black, ET, Back to the Future, etc) and Islands of Adventure (which divides into 5 seperate island parks: Marvel Super Hero Island; Suess Landing; Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon, and The Lost Continent) - plus a City Walk shops & clubs area and hotel resorts.
Walibi - Belgium Wavre, Belgium Over 50 attractions including roller-coasters and a tropical water park located in Wavre, close to Brussels. Used to be part of the Six Flags group and before that was known as Walibi Wavre.
Walibi - Holland Dronten, Netherlands Europe’s roller coaster capital with 12 thrill rides.
Walt Disney World Florida, USA Huge, and hugely popular with Brits. It can take a week to explore it all. There are four complete stand-alone theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios & Animal Kingdom) plus several water parks, resorts, and other areas. You'll never understand how it all works until you've been there, but the closest you can get to understanding it is by reading 'A Brit's Guide to Orlando and Walt Disney World' (published annually by Foulsham), which is widely considered to be THE definitive guide.
West Edmonton Mall Alberta, Canada Ok, it's a shopping mall! But it's a shopping mall PLUS. In fact, covering 48 city blocks, it's billed as the World's Largest Entertainment and Shopping Centre, and Alberta's No.1 tourist attraction. The colossal indoor water park has the World's Largest Indoor Wave Pool, the World's Tallest Indoor Permanent Bungee Tower, and some spectacular water chutes. 'Galaxyland', the World's Largest Indoor Amusement Park, has some 25 rides and attractions, including 'Minderbender', the World's Largest Indoor Triple-Loop Roller Coaster. There's also the 'Dolphin Lagoon' marine show and aquarium; the Deep Sea Adventure submarine tour (yep, real underwater submarines carrying groups through marine seascapes and reefs); the 'Ice Palace' skating hall & hockey venue; the 'Adventure Golf' course & driving Range, casino, cinemas, bars, stages, etc etc... Oh, yes! And you could probably find somewhere to buy a pair of socks too.
Wild Wadi Dubai More fun than most people can take in a day, located between the Burj Al Arab and The Jumeirah Beach Hotel, in 12 acres with 23 water rides including the Jumeriah Sceirah & a 108ft vertical free-fall slide & the tallest and fastest outside North America.

Notes

  • Not really a major theme park, but if you are hooked on mazes you might want to visit Labyrinthus in France. Seven serious mazes on one 12-hectare site outside Tours.
  • Pre-buying tickets for overseas theme parks can definitely work out cheaper than turning up at the entrance ticket booths. You can pre-buy your tickets from agencies such as Attraction Tickets Direct.
  • There's an even more comprehensive database of amusement parks around the world than ours (hard to believe, I know! A.) at wikipedia.

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