Is there a better way to spend a day than at an amusement park? I say there isn’t. The bright colours, the rigged but fun carnival games, and the thrilling rides! I’m a big rollercoaster fan myself, but I won’t ever say no to a good waterslide or a drop tower.
I’m certainly not the only one who enjoys a good day at a theme park. According to Linchpin, the global amusement park market reached 73.5 billion in 2019. However, that number has since dropped to a “meagre” 71.6 billion for 2021 due to Covid-19. This decrease has not deterred the industry, however. New amusement parks seem to constantly be popping up worldwide as everyone is vying to get a stake in this lucrative industry.
But with dozens and dozens of parks to pick from nowadays, it can be hard to figure out which one to enjoy next! So if you’re running into a wall trying to plan your next amusement park trip, don’t worry. I’m here to help! I’ve collected some of the world’s most popular, most interesting and most fun amusement parks right here, so you can narrow down your options for your next trip!
Walt Disney World
I can’t have a list talking about theme parks without talking about one of the most famous parks of them all, right? Walt Disney has a significant stake in the amusement park industry, owning and operating five parks and licencing their brand to a sixth ( but more on that later). Now, I didn’t want to flood this list with Disney brand parks – that would make for a dreadfully dull list, and there are plenty of other non-mouse parks that deserve some time in the limelight. So, I settled at the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Walt Disney World is divided into four major parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The park also has numerous resorts, two water parks and several golf courses. Walt Disney World is massive, and it has a little something for everyone. The rides in the park range from kid-friendly attractions like “it’s a small world” or Jungle Cruise to classic thrillers like Splash Mountain or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
However, the real draw to Walt Disney World is the air of nostalgia and whimsy the amusement park has cultivated. Visitors can meet and take pictures with some of Disney’s most iconic characters. In addition, there are frequent parades that wind through the park full of lights and music. Visitors can also catch the various shows going on throughout the park at any given moment.
Walt Disney World is a classic for a good reason. It’s a great amusement park for families to enjoy together. With the laundry list of potential activities, you won’t have to worry about running out of things to do.
Located in Rust, Germany, Europa-Park is one of the most popular amusement parks in Europe, ranking just behind Disneyland Paris. It initially opened in 1975 and has been run by the same family ever since.
There are eighteen themed sections. Fifteen represent one of the different countries in Europe, while the remaining three are fictional lands of adventure and fantasy. And the park designers made sure every detail is as on-theme as possible. Each country offers a slightly different experience. Ireland is built specifically for children to enjoy, with fun rides like the Ba-a-a Express coaster or Spinning Dragons carousel. Older guests, however, will prefer Iceland, the home to two of the park’s largest rollercoasters: the Blue Fire Megacoaster and Wodan – Timburcoaster.
Europa-Park takes you on a culinary tour of Europe, all within the borders of the park! Are you feeling tasty traditional pub food? The Three Piglets Pub in the England section has you covered. Perhaps you’re leaning more towards pizza? Of course, they put a pizzeria in the Italian world. Do you just want something to drink? Don’t worry; there are multiple bars around the park for those of legal drinking age to enjoy.
Rulantica is Europa-Park’s waterpark, and with 27 waterslides, it is the largest outdoor waterpark in Germany. The park also has its own unique theme: its attractions take inspiration from Scandinavian designs and Nordic mythology. If you grow tired of the slides, wave pools, and tube rides, adults can enjoy some refreshment at the two pool bars on offer.
Europa-Park is an amusement park with a fantastic concept visible at every turn. If you want to experience a taste of different cultures while you line up for rides, Europa-Park is the place for you.
Universal Orlando Resort
The other big amusement park in Florida, Universal Orlando Resort, is actually three separate parks: Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. Volcano Bay is the resort’s water park, while the other two serve jointly as the central area. Visitors can choose to buy tickets for an individual park or combination tickets to access all three.
Universal Studios Florida is the oldest of the three parks, and houses rides like the Revenge of the Mummy or Transformers: The Ride 3D. Many of the rides represent a Universal movie and often have connected gift shops with coordinated merchandise.
Eight different “islands” make up Islands of Adventure. Each one is home to a world themed around a popular franchise of books or movies. For example, the Marvel Super Hero Island has rides dedicated to individual heroes and villains, like Storm or Dr.Doom. Dr.Seuss Landing, on the other hand, will make guests feel like they’re walking through the pages of one of the iconic children’s books. The range of franchises represented means that Islands of Adventure is a particularly great park for families with kids of different ages.
Perhaps the most popular draw to this amusement park is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Spread out across both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an excellent recreation of the iconic setting. If you’re in Universal Studios Florida, you can drink butterbeer as you walk around Hogsmeade, or if you’re in the Islands of Adventure, you can shop around in Diagon Alley. Both sections have fantastic rides as well, and if you have tickets to both parks, you can ride the Hogwarts Express to travel between them.
In my opinion, the best Universal Orlando Resort experience is through a visit with tickets to both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. The two parks complement each other incredibly well, and they make for a fabulous experience for pop culture fanatics.
Also read, the amazing travel tips by Angieaway – 7 Reasons to Stay at One of the Universal Orlando Onsite Hotels in 2021.
Located just an hour outside of Barcelona, Spain, PortAventura World is yet another fantastic amusement park in Europe. Like Universal Orlando Resort, PortAventura World has three separate parks: PortAventura Park, Caribe Aquatic Park, and Ferrari Land.
Yes, you read that right. PortAventura World has a park dedicated to the luxury sportscar. The park’s centrepiece is the Ferrari Experience, a building designed to mimic the famous car’s look. Inside, the Ferrari Experience is home to an interactive museum on the history of Ferrari and two themed rides that mimic driving the actual car. There are also restaurants, shops, and plenty of other rides, all themed after the iconic vehicle. Also in Ferrari Land is Red Force, which currently holds the record as the tallest roller coaster in Europe.
The rest of PortAventura World is a more typical , but still incredibly fun, amusement park. In a similar fashion to Europa Park, PortAventura Park has six differently themed worlds. Five worlds take inspiration from real places around the globe, and the sixth is centred around the famous children’s show Sesame Street. Rides, shops, and restaurants are all primarily based on the theme of the world they’re in. For example, the China-themed world holds Shambhala, a hypercoaster that draws inspiration from the Himalayas. It is the former tallest roller coaster in Europe and well renowned for being a fantastic ride.
If you’re someone who is passionate about cars or gets excited about the prospect of riding some of the tallest roller coasters the world has to offer, then PortAventura World would be a fantastic theme park to spend a day at.
As a Canadian, I think I’m legally obligated to shout out Canada’s Wonderland on this list. And you know what, I don’t mind at all! Canada’s Wonderland is an excellent amusement park that totally deserves some more love.
Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, currently has the second-highest number of roller coasters in the world at a whopping seventeen coasters. The tallest of these rides is the famous Leviathan that dominates the skyline of the park. With its 306 foot drop and speeds that reach 92 miles per hour, the Leviathan has become the most popular and iconic attraction at Canada’s Wonderland.
The newest roller coaster in the park is the Yukon Striker. The ride takes inspiration from the Yukon gold rush. It has the riders take the place of the gold seekers heading into the wilderness in the hopes of striking it rich. It’s a record-breaking attraction: it is the fastest, tallest and longest dive coaster in the world at the time of writing. For adrenaline junkies, the Yukon Striker is an absolute must ride.
The roller coasters aren’t the only reason to come to Canada’s Wonderland. The park is known for its seasonal events like the popular Halloween Haunt. In the month leading up to Halloween, Canada’s Wonderland transforms the park at night into a haven for everything creepy and spooky. Staff dress up in costume and scare guests who choose to explore what the park describes as “immersive scare zones.” Visitors can also wander the haunted houses and strange mazes, watch the Halloween-themed live entertainment, or just enjoy the park rides like normal.
Canada’s Wonderland is an excellent visit all year round for roller coaster enthusiasts and an absolute must-stop for Halloween devotees in October.
Do you remember earlier in the article when I mentioned I’d returned to the Disney theme park franchise? Well, here it is! Tokyo Disneysea, located in Tokyo, Japan, is the only theme park of its kind under the Walt Disney umbrella. But the house of mouse does not directly own TokyoDisneysea. Instead, Disney licensed their brand and characters to The Oriental Land Company, which owns Tokyo Disneysea and Tokyo Disneyland. The Oriental Land Company then built the most expensive theme park globally, with the cost coming out to 335 billion yen (or 3 billion USD in today’s dollars!)
This park is divided into seven nautically themed ports. Some of them, like the American Waterfront and Mediterranean Harbour, are based on real-life settings. Others are unique creations or based on recognizable Disney settings, like Port Discovery and Mermaid Lagoon. Each port has various rides that range from kiddie rides to heart-pounding attractions, and the park designers crafted each one beautifully.
The real highlight of the park, however, is the performances. Big Band Beat is one of the most popular shows at the park. Set inside a Broadway-style theatre in the American Waterfront port, guests can enjoy an orchestra playing swing jazz with the help of Mickey and friends. Visitors can also watch the signature Disney parades, but with a fun twist! Instead of weaving through the park’s roads, the DisneySea parades all take place on the water, with characters waving to you on brightly coloured boats. If you’re a big Disney fan, Tokyo Disneysea is an absolute must experience. The park is unique, immersive, and incredibly fun for fans of all ages. It’s Disney like you’ve never seen before.
There You Have it! Some of the Best Amusement Parks in the World
Any of these parks would be an excellent way to spend a day (or two!). Of course, the one you choose is entirely up to you. Are you a big movie fan? You’ll love Universal Studios Resort or either of the Disney parks. Can you barely pry yourself away from the roller coasters at theme parks? PortAventura and Canada’s Wonderland have some great rides that will get your heart pumping. Do you want a unique experience, above all else? Your best bets are either Tokyo Disneysea or Europa Park.
Whatever is the case, there is an amusement park for everyone. If you do some research of your own, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect one for your next trip.