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Sunday, June 17, 2012

11 Best Theme Parks in the World

Water parks, amusement parks, fairs, pleasure gardens. Whatever name you use, theme parks form the bedrock of a huge hunk of the global tourist trade. After all, for diversion and mindless thrills, what else offers such pure escape and childlike awe as a roller coaster, a carousel, a Ferris wheel, a water slide, a log flume or a gigantic mouse?
A lot of folks seem to agree, as the numbers attest. The ten top amusement park firms by attendance took in a grand total of 300 million visitors in 2010, with one in particular (you know which one) at almost half that figure alone.
While we love a behemoth, city-like theme park as much as the next grade school imp, not all the best theme parks have car parks the size of San Marino. Some come from more humble roots and still emit a lot of throwback charm. Our list of the best 11 theme parks in the world pays homage to them all.
Pacific Park, Santa Monica, California
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/digitizedchaos/4389114207/
A look out into the Venice area within Tokyo DisneySea
A look out into the Venice area within Tokyo DisneySea, Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tokyo DisneySea lures a cool 12.5 million visitors per annum, cost over USD 4 billion and hit the 10 million customer mark faster than any other theme park in history.
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tokyo DisneySea, circa 2001, meet Tivoli Gardens, circa 1843. A Copenhagen icon, Tivoli is the most popular seasonal theme park in the world and most popular leisure landmark in Nordic Europe.
English: Luna Park in St Kilda, Melbourne
English: Luna Park in St Kilda, Melbourne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Tivoli of the Southern Hemisphere is, without question, Luna Park in Port Phillip Bay, St Kilda. The century-old park is home to the Scenic Railway, the elder statesman of the roller coaster world.
Pacific Park, Santa Monica
Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California
English: Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California. Two images from a RAW base image combined in HDR. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
L.A. has scores of amusement, theme and water parks but we love the classic carnival and boardwalk atmosphere of Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier.
Disneyland, Anaheim
Fireworks at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Fireworks at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One must, however, see both sides of the spectrum in metro Los Angeles and that includes a trip to Disneyland. The paragon gamechanger in the history of the theme park industry welcomes over 15 million visitors a year.
Where to stay: Ayres Hotel Anaheim
Disneyland Paris
English: Main Street USA, Disneyland Paris, France
English: Main Street USA, Disneyland Paris, France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The most popular theme park in Europe draws over three times more visitors than second place Europa-Park in Germany.
Europa-Park, Rust, Germany
Europa-Park, Germany
Europa-Park, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nonetheless, if you happen to be in Alsace, France or Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Germany, a trip to the seasonal theme park is a good way to recharge in between wine and beer tours.
Everland, Yongin, South Korea
YONGIN Everland, South Korea's largest amusement park
YONGIN, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 16: Penguins dressed in Santa costumes at Everland, South Korea's largest amusement park on November 16, 2010 in Yongin, South Korea. Many Christian and non-Christian Koreans celebrate the holiday by exchanging gifts, caroling and participating in church services. South Korea is the only east Asian nation that recognizes Christmas as a national holiday. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Samsung, that most august of South Korea chaebols, runs the ever-popular Everland in the city of Yongin in the Seoul National Capital Area.
Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista (Florida)
Main Street Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA
English: Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA. The photo is taken presumably from the roof of the Walt Disney World Railroad, and the US Flag is in the foreground. In the background is the regal Cinderella Castle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Close to 50 million people visit Walt Disney World Resort, a monster park outside of Orlando that is twice as big as Manhattan, every year. Magic Kingdom alone lures over 17 million people, which makes it by far the most popular theme park on the planet.
Ocean Park Hong Kong
The rides found in Ocean Park Hongkong Roller
English: The rides found in Ocean Park. Roller coaster ...etc. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hong Kong has Hong Kong Disneyland but Ocean Park is the most popular theme park in the city by a slim margin, with 5 million visitors per annum.
Wet’n'Wild Water World, Gold Coast
English: Wet'n'Wild Water World Australia Mach 5
English: Wet'n'Wild Water World Australia Mach 5 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Gold Coast, Queensland, in some respects, is a giant theme park in and of itself. Wet’n'Wild Water World, however, is singular and the eighth most popular water park in the world.
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