It's summertime, which means it's the perfect time to visit a theme park. You could go to Disney World or perhaps you could visit a theme park closer to home, depending on where you live. Or maybe you want to try something new like a new theme park that you've never been to before and has a unique concept. After all, a theme park is an amusement park that bases its structures and attractions around a main theme, with multiple areas promoting different themes. They're built purely as entertainment for the masses.
Theme parks have been around since the mid-twentieth century, and in the years since their inception, many theme parks have been designed around strange and sometimes downright bizarre concepts. I can't guarantee that you'll have a great time at any of the theme parks listed below, but you're more than welcome to see them for yourself. Here are the most unique theme parks around the world.
21 Hersheypark — Hershey, Pennsylvania
Hersheypark is a dream come true for chocoholics everywhere. You'll see people dressed up as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey Kisses costumes, 14 heart-pounding roller coasters, and more than 70 attractions, some of which are candy-themed naturally. And if you think it can't get much better than that, the entire park smells like chocolate. Not part of Hersheypark is Hershey's Chocolate Park where admission is free and the "factory tour" is complimentary.
20 Zero Gravity — Dallas, Texas, US
Zero Gravity calls itself the world's only "Thrill Amusement Park," and for good reason too. The park may only have five rides, but each one has been built to evoke the maximum level of thrills from riders. On one of the rides, Nothin' But Net, a person is lifted to the top of a 16-story tower before they are dropped off in a 130-foot free-fall — no bungee cord, no parachute, no straps — to land in two stunt-quality safety nets secured with reinforced rigging.
19 Republic of the Children — La Plata, Argentina
The Republic of the Children was built as a way for children to learn how to exercise their rights and uphold their obligations in a democratic country in a fun and exciting environment. Drawing inspiration from Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, the theme park features a mixture of childhood elements, such as the train stations being named after Thumbling and Little Red Riding Hood. And the entire city has been scaled down to kiddie-size.
18 Ferrari World — Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Ferrari World is every Ferrari-enthusiast's dream come true. The amusement park features the world's largest Ferrari retail space along with an extensive collection of Ferrari-branded products and memorabilia. There are over 20 shows, tours, and rides, including a ride known as the Formula Rossa that's been deemed the world's fastest roller coaster — it can take you to speeds of 149 MPH in less than five seconds. You can also drive a go-kart or "drive" a Ferrari in a state-of-the-art simulator.
17 Wunderland Kalkar — North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Originally, Wunderland Kallar was the site of a nuclear power plant that never went into operation due to construction issues and protests. Eventually, a Dutch businessman bought the property and converted the site into a hotel, meeting, and leisure complex while leaving the reactor building and cooling tower intact. The highlight of the park's 40-plus attractions is the 58-meter high "Vertical Swing," which is housed in the cooling tower. A swing ride was also built onto the cooling tower.
16 Haw Par Villa — Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore
Haw Par Villa was designed as a way to introduce tourists to Chinese folklore and mythology, featuring 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas that illustrate famous Chinese figures like Confucius and legends such as Journey to the West. The main attraction, however, is the Ten Courts of Hell, which is well-known for its graphic nature, so much so that visitor discretion and parental guidance is recommended. Adult Singaporeans who visited the park as children on field trips said the Ten Courts of Hell gave them nightmares.
15 Creation Museum — Petersburg, Kentucky
The Creation Museum is an immersive experience that allows visitors to delve into Bible history and natural history. There are entrance gates topped by metallic Stegosauruses, animatronic puppets that act out the exile of Adam of Eve, an Eden Zoo, the Dinosaur Den, botanical garden, and special-effect theaters with vibrating seats meant to stimulate a flood. You can also gaze upon the stars in the Stargazer's Planetarium and take a ride on one of the 20 zip lines on the Screaming Raptor Zip Line.
14 World Joyland, Changzhou, China
World Joyland takes theft to a whole another level. One half of the park is a ripoff of the hugely popular MMORPG World of Warcraft and the other half is a rip-off of the strategy game Starcraft. An assortment of the games' characters are brought to life in larger-than-life statues and all the rides are game-themed. However, because the park operators didn't purchase the rights to use characters or names from World of Warcraft or Starcraft, the Warcraft area is named "Terrain of Magic" while the Starcraft area is named "Universe of Starship."
13 Nintendo Amusement Park — New York City, USA
The Nintendo Amusement Park is still in the developmental stage so you can expect gamers from everywhere are going to descend upon the grounds once the park opens for business. The leaked map shows areas called Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Peach's Castle, Kirby Kid's Playland, Zelda's Kingdom, Zelda's Kingdom, and Donkey Kong Island. There are also plans for a Super Mario World Ride that would let guests ride in a real-life Mario Kart race.
12 Parque Jaime Duque — Bogotá, Colombia
If you want to see the entire world in one spot, Parque Jaime Duque is the best place to do it. Virtually unknown to tourists, the theme park is an amalgamation of history and culture around the world, featuring replicas of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Egyptian Pyramids, the Seven Wonders of the World, Moscow's Red Square, and much more. There's also a massive male version of the Statue of the Liberty as a bonus.
11 The Holy Land Experience — Orlando, Florida, USA
The Holy Land Experience is exactly what it sounds like — a Christian-based theme park. The park's entrance consists of a shrunken recreation of the Damascus Gate in old Jerusalem and attractions in the park include a fake Coliseum, a tableau of Jesus' life, an amphitheater, a pre-Hamas Jerusalem street market, and more. You won't find any roller coasters here, but according to a headline on the theme park's website, you can watch watch a show about Jesus' life.
10 Dwarf Empire — Kunming, China
The Dwarf Empire, also known as the Kingdom of the Little People, is a theme park entirely staffed by very short people. One has to be under 4'3" in order to perform on stage there. Over 100 employees perform two daily shows which include ballet scenes, hip-hop routines, and a speech from the "dwarf king." Depending on what each one of them do, employees can receive between $160 and $400 a month, and they live on site in dormitories specially built for their size.
9 Grūtas Park — Gruta, Lithuania
Grūtas Park has been certified as one of the world's ten weirdest museums. It's a sculpture garden of ideological Soviet monuments that were left over after Lithuania regained its independence in 1991. There are more than 100 sculptures of Soviet political leaders, an art gallery, museums, exhibitions, and recreations of prison campus, all designed to show generations of visitors the negative elements of Soviet ideology that crippled the country for years. The park is often referred to as "Stalin's World."
8 Dickens World — Chatham, England
Dickens World may have closed its doors for good in October 2016, but it still earns a spot on the list. The theme park designer wanted to build a theme park built around the life, the times, and the books of famed author Charles Dickens. One of the park's features was The Grand Tour, which took guests on a guided tour experience back in time to Victorian England, and another one was the Great Expectations Boat Ride, which carried patrons through a recreation of London's sewers.
7 Crocosaurus Cove — Darwin, Australia
Forget swimming with the sharks — at Crocosaurus Cove, you can swim with the crocodiles. One of the main attractions at the theme park is known as the "Cage of Death." Tourists are lowered into the enclosure for 15 minutes which provides visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Australia's saltwater crocodiles. Each crocodile dive lasts 15 minutes and crocodile handlers feed the crocs throughout the dive to ensure constant movement from the animals and possibly constant terror from the people in there with them.
6 Diggerland — Kent, England; Devon, England; Durham, England; Yorkshire, England; West Berlin, New Jersey
Diggerland is a construction-themed adventure park where kids can drive, ride, and operate real machinery. No more playing with construction toys; Diggerland puts the kids directly in the driver's seat. The equipment is real, full-sized, and diesel-powered, to give children an authentic experience of operating construction equipment. According to the park's website, “Each machine has undergone advanced engineering modifications which make them safe for the public, allowing children as small as 36 inches to operate with little to no instruction."
5 Hacienda Nápoles — Puerto Triunfo, Colombia
Hacienda Napoles used to function as the estate for the infamous Columbian Pablo Escobar. Now it's a theme park. Visitors can feed baby hippos, tour Escobar's private collection of items including his assortment of vintage cars, and see the Cessna aircraft that carried his first shipment to the U.S. There's also a zoo, a bullfighting ring, and a private plane, and airstrip.
4 Angry Birds Theme Park — Changsha, China
It's a mobile game, and it's a motion picture, and it's also the inspiration for a theme park. Visitors can check out the Angry Birds Castle, play around in the parkour activity park, or listen to tunes in the music stadium. And because this is an Angry-Birds-themed park we're talking about, guests can buy Angry Birds merchandise at various gift shops and play the game at hardware stations in the interactive gaming area.
3 Shijingshan Amusement Park — Beijing, China
The old slogan for Shijingshan Amusement Park read as "Disney is too far to go, please come to Shijingshan!" A fitting slogan considering that the park is basically a ripoff of Disney's theme parks, with a castle that bears a strong resemblance to Disney Castle and characters that look a lot like famous Disney characters. The park owners have been sued on more than one occasion but the park remains open. However, in recent years, some of the Disney-inspired statues have been taken down and costumed characters have mostly been removed from the park.
2 Suoi Tien Amusement Park — Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Suoi Ten Amusement Park is built entirely around Vietnamese culture. Tourists can learn all about the country's rich history through oriental statues of famous Vietnamese legends, buildings, games, and, of course, rides. In addition, cultural festivals are periodically held in the park, such as the Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festivals. If that sounds fun, take note that there's a bay of 1,500 crocodiles, a boat ride that takes you through "hell," and a cave full of bats.
1 BonBon-Land — Holmegaard, Denmark
BonBon-Land functions as a family-friendly park, but you might not get that from your first glance. Arrayed throughout the park's 32 acres are various sculptures doing really gross things like vomiting and farting. Ride names include Seagull Blobs, the Horse Dropping, Skid Mark, and Rubbish Dump, and Henry the farting dog is the park's mascot.