10 Terrific Theme Parks Around the World

Does this sound familiar? “Are we there yet? Are we nearly there yet?”
Well get used to it because some of the theme parks in this list are a little bit further away than you’d normally travel – It’s over 24 hours to Australia’s Gold Coast… The parks are more than worth a visit if you’re in the area though.

1. Dreamworld – Gold Coast, Australia

Image by Neale Cousland

Dreams may not necessarily come true at this Australian theme park (sorry to disappoint you), but there is certainly much fun and excitement to be had. Of all the theme parks on the sunny Gold Coast, Dreamworld is the most jam-packed with rides. From the water-based Log Ride and River Rapids, to the stomach-tossing Giant Drop, to my childhood favourite, the chaotic WipeOut, you will be in for thrills galore. The theme park also has many kid-friendly rides, as well as the chance to feed a Bengal tiger!

2. Universal Studios – Orlando, Florida

Universal Studios

For anyone who is a fan of movies, comic books and heart-pounding rides, this famed Orlando park is the place for you. From Men in Black, to The Mummy and from Twister to The Terminator, the movie-themed rides are in abundance at Universal Studios and its neighbour, Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

You’ll no doubt be in a state of glee as you wander through the Simpsons-themed buildings; do not miss out on posing with Homer and Marge (the greatest moment of my life!) Experience the thrill of plunging 85 feet as you venture into Jurassic Park, before you re-live your childhood at Seuss Landing and enjoy a Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

3. Thorpe Park – Surrey, England

Roller coaster Thorpe Park
Image by Roller Coaster Philosophy

Muster up your courage to ride Stealth, the UK’s fastest roller coaster where you’ll be catapulted skyward at 80 miles per hour, as well as The Swarm, an apocalyptic-themed coaster which features new backwards-facing seats in 2013! Make sure you wear a raincoat (are umbrellas allowed?) when you board the Tidal Wave before you take on the terror of Saw-The Ride. Also new in 2013 is the Crash Pad, Thorpe Park’s own hotel; now you can stay right in the action!

4. Tivoli Gardens – Copenhagen, Denmark

Tivoli Gardens Copenhagen
Image by Salvador Oyson

Pay a visit to the world’s second oldest amusement park and the place that inspired the great man himself, Walt Disney. Opened in 1843, Tivoli Gardens has been thrilling and entertaining thousands over the years. Standout rides include the Star Flyer, a carousel-in-the-air type ride that is one of the world’s tallest rides and the Rutschebanen, a wooden roller coaster that was built in 1914!

The park is also known for its impressive themed buildings such as the Chinese Tower, the Pantomime Theatre, the Moorish Palace and the Glass Hall. If you can, visit the park at night to see it lit up in all its glory!

5. Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World – Gold Coast, Australia

Wet N Wild
Image by Mike Hauser

Wet ‘n’ Wild is another theme park on Australia’s Gold Coast, this one is a water park with some of the most thrilling water slides you’re likely to come across (let’s not mention the intense wedgies).

Why not start with a dip in the Wave Pool? Then take on the towering Mammoth Falls, the darkness of the Blackhole slide and the sheer fear that comes with the AquaLoop. Enclosed in a tube, waiting for the floor to disappear beneath me so I could drop into a watery abyss, I was absolutely crippled with nerves! After all this adrenalin, it’s best to relax on a tube in the calming waters of Calypso Beach.

6. PortAventura – Salou, Spain

Image by Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

Escape to six worlds in one day when you visit PortAventura, Spain’s most popular theme park. In Mediterrania, Europe’s fastest roller coaster awaits you. The Furious Baco will hurtle you from 0 to 135 kilometres per hour in just three seconds! Once you’ve collected your senses, hope on a boat that will transport you to…China! Explore this mystical land and take on the Dragon Khan’s eight vertical loops, if you dare.

You’ll no doubt need to relax, so next, head to Polynesia. Oh wait, the volcano is erupting! Quick! Escape on the Tutuki Splash and cool down! Spend the rest of your day being serenaded by a mariachi band in Mexico, entertained by a Can Can show in the Far West or getting in touch with your inner child at the Sesame Street world.

7. Disney World – Orlando, Florida

Mickey Mouse

Ah Walt Disney World. Arguably the most famous theme park in the world. Where else can you drop by Minnie and Mickey’s houses, ride in a tea cup and see your beloved childhood characters in the flesh? (well sort of).

For the more adventurous, there are also a number of thrill rides, such as Splash Mountain, Expedition Everest, Space Mountain and the Indiana Jones Adventure. Be sure to give yourself at least a few days at each of the parks, and that’s before you get started exploring the waterparks, Downtown Disney and the rest of this massive resort. By our reckoning you could probably spend a day in the souvenir stores alone!

8. Canada’s Wonderland – Vaughan, Canada

Canada's Wonderland
Image by Roller Coaster Philosophy

Welcome to Canada’s very own Wonderland, set just north of Toronto. With an unbelievable 16 roller coasters as well as its own water park, there’s little doubt as to why Canada’s Wonderland attracts millions of visitors every year. Kids will love hanging out at Planet Snoopy and KidZville, while the thrill-seekers will be queuing at the Behemoth, Leviathan and Dragon Fire roller coasters. The park also features much live entertainment, including a British Invasion musical revue showcasing hits from the Beatles, the Spice Girls and Adele, in case you’re missing home.

9. Ocean Park – Hong Kong

Ocean Park
Image by Benson HE

For all things awesomely aquatic, a trip to Ocean Park is definitely in order. Apart from the free-fall towers, roller coaster, rocking ship and ferris wheel, the park is home to many types of marine life. At the Ocean Theatre, be dazzled by the dolphin and seal performances, before making your way to the Sea Jelly Spectacular, where you will be hypnotised by the sight of thousands of jellyfish lit up by state-of-the-art lighting.

Next visit the Grand Aquarium where kids get the chance to touch sea cucumbers and starfish. Finally, panda lovers will get a pleasant surprise when they come across Ying Yang and Le Le, the park’s Giant Pandas, at the Amazing Asian Animals exhibit.

10. Europa-Park – Rust, Germany

Image by Roller Coaster Philosophy

As the country’s largest theme park and one of the most popular theme parks in Europe, it’s a fair assumption that a day at Germany’s Europa-Park will be chock-a-block with fun! The park has 16 different themed areas, most revolving around a particular country, such as Iceland, Italy, England, France and Russia. Then there is the Enchanted Forest, Adventure Land and Children’s World. Live entertainment includes musical shows, ice-skating performances and acrobatic showcases, meaning you’ll be entertained even as you sit and relax!