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Get your Fill of Thrills at these Top Attractions Around the Globe

by Kelly Magyarics

Apr 18, 2023

PHOTO: © SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN

Age Specific / Multigenerational

Whether you love the rush of careening down a sleek metal track before facing head rush-inducing twists, turns and loops or prefer plunging fun in a bathing suit and inner tube, these theme parks pack in the rush that adrenaline junkies crave. But since there’s more to these types of experiences than death-defying heights and dizzying speeds, we’ve also rounded up spots that appeal to fans of movies, superheroes, music, candy, nature and more. Buckle up and take your family on an adventure they’ll never forget.

 

BEST FOR COASTER ENTHUSIASTS
For g-force nirvana seekers, Six Flags Magic Mountain — located in Valencia, California, and deemed “The Thrill Capital of the World” — tops the coaster list, with 20 coasters boasting some of the fastest and steepest drops anywhere. SUPERMAN: Escape from Krypton is the fastest, taking riders from 0 to 100 mph in a shocking seven seconds. The newest, WONDER WOMAN Flight of Courage, is the world’s tallest and longest single-rail coaster, while riders taking on THE RIDDLER’s Revenge stand up during the loops, corkscrews and 4.2 g’s. Those willing to brave Tatsu strap in face down, never able to peek at the track during all those pretzel turns and twists. Oh, and if you don’t fancy all this exhilaration, the park includes more than 90 other rides to explore.

 

OLDEST IN THE WORLD
Bakken, officially called Dyrehavsbakken, translating to “the deer pasture’s hill,” first opened its doors in Klampenborg, Denmark, in 1583 as a place to partake of the woodland area’s restorative spring waters while enjoying entertainers and artists. These days it’s home to 32 rides and 78 attractions, including shooting stalls and gaming arcades. Among its five roller coasters, the Tornado spins riders around as they zoom up and down the track. To maintain its historical value and natural vibe, the park refreshingly bans neon signs and big brands. Instead, guests find wooden structures, independently owned shops and eclectic stalls. Admission to the park itself is free, with several options to pay to ride.

 

Theme Park

PHOTO: © BLANSCAPE | DREAMSTIME.COM

BEST FOR DISNEY LOVERS
Among the 12 Disney parks around the world, many Mickey Mouse loyalists and bloggers laud Japan’s Tokyo DisneySea for its exciting attractions, attention to detail and delicious food. Inspired by ocean legends, the nautical-themed park features seven authentically designed zones: American Waterfront, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Mediterranean Harbor, Mermaid Lagoon, Mysterious Island and Port Discovery, with a huge expansion called Fantasy Springs opening in 2024. The most popular attraction, Soaring, is a flight motion simulator over global landscapes, while coaster Raging Spirits takes riders upside down with a 360-degree inversion. Guests can float along on a gondola ride or have lunch in “Venice,” and the retro Teddy Roosevelt Lounge is a 1920s-themed bar on the S.S. Columbia cruise ship.

 

BEST IN THE CARIBBEAN
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, boasts a brand-new destination: Katmandu Park Punta Cana. The Caribbean’s first world-class theme park reimagines the concept with innovative, patented ride technologies; interactive storytelling; and a “big-experience, small-footprint mentality.” Defeat evil Explorer Mages with blasters, spin and brave an avalanche as you plummet into an ice cave, challenge ChessBits to defeat the mad mage, and tackle a ropes course inspired by the Himalayas. The tech innovations include an immersive Suspended Theatre, 4-D interactive theater and 4-D dark ride. And the first of three planned resorts — Falcon’s Resort by Meliá All Suites Punta Cana — lies just steps away.

 

Theme Park

© CYNTHIA MCCRARY | DREAMSTIME.COM

BEST FOR MUSIC LOVERS
Nestled in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the impressive Dollywood complex owned by beloved singer, songwriter and philanthropist Dolly Parton consists of a 160-acre theme park, 35-acre Splash Country, DreamMore Resort & Spa and Smoky Mountain Cabins. Attractions include Lightning Rod, which, until its recent conversion to steel tracks, held the title of the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster, and Wild Eagle, a unique attraction with seats perched on either side of the track. See the Great Smoky Mountains on a 5-mile journey on the coal-fired steam train Dollywood Express, and peek into the 30,000-square-foot aviary housing the largest number of non-releasable bald eagles in the United States. Live music acts abound, including mixed a cappella acts, a string band and a Songwriter’s Showcase.

 

Theme Park

PHOTO: © GEORGESHELDON | DREAMSTIME.COM

BEST FOR INDULGING YOUR SWEET TOOTH
Chocoholics become giddy at Hersheypark, “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” where candy-themed characters stroll and streetlights are shaped like Hershey’s Kisses. New attractions at the Hershey, Pennsylvania, park include Candymonium, billed as the tallest, fastest, longest and sweetest coaster; and the Jolly Rancher Remix coaster, which undergoes six inversions in 90 seconds and includes a random Jolly Rancher scent like watermelon or green apple pumped through the tunnel. A bit tamer, Kissing Tower offers a 360-degree view of the park (yes, kisses are encouraged). Save time to peruse Hershey’s Chocolate World, home to a tour that covers the process of making the world-famous chocolate as well as branded treats and souvenirs and a make-your-own candy bar attraction.

 

COOL MOVIE THEME ALTERNATIVE
Step into the world of Hotel Transylvania, Jumanji and other blockbusters at the world’s first Columbia Pictures-branded movie theme park, opened last October in Na Chom Thian, Thailand. Columbia Pictures’ Aquaverse offers an all-ages immersive experience with land- and water-based attractions, interactive areas, live entertainment, restaurants and shops with specialty merchandise. Guests splashing in the artificial surf of the mega-wave pool can enjoy music events and movie screenings on giant LED screens with Dolby DTS surround sound, or become a member of the Bad Boys Race Club during an exhilarating turn around the track. The three attractions in the Ghostbusters-themed Proton Stream include the world’s first water dome ride.

 

Theme Park

PHOTO: © MOHAMAD KADDOURA | DREAMSTIME .COM

BEST INDOOR THEME PARK
Since it’s hot and dusty in the desert, Dubai ingeniously offers a lot of climate-controlled fun — even indoor snow skiing. The massive IMG Worlds of Adventure complex covers the equivalent of 28 football fields, with zones and attractions themed for characters from the Marvel Universe, Cartoon Network and prehistoric dinosaurs, as well as a kids’ zone and a 120-screen cinema with IMAX. Dangle upside-down above water jets on Thor Thunder Spin, whiz past the New York skyline before plunging into darkness on Spider-Man Doc Ock’s Revenge, and encounter ghosts and zombies after you check in to the Haunted Hotel … so terrifying it’s recommended only for guests 15 and older.

 

Theme Park

© PINGAN YANG
| DREAMSTIME.COM

BEST FOR WATER BABIES (OF ALL AGES)
H2-whoa! At 450 acres, Chimelong Water Park in Guangzhou, China, is the biggest waterpark in the entire world, with one of the largest lazy rivers (4,200 feet long) and a 55,000-square-foot wave pool. Designed amid stone temples and tombs, the park uses an advanced ozone filtration system to make sure the water remains sparkling clean for the more than 2 million visitors it welcomes each year. Liquid fun includes SlideWheel, a tunnel slide that spins as riders pass through it, jostling them this way and that, and Python, a curving flume with high-banking oscillations and steep drops that dumps visitors into a mega-tube.

 

Theme Park

© KMIRAGAYA | DREAMSTIME.COM

BEST FOR ECO-LOVERS
The original attraction in this now massive entertainment complex in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, is equal parts amusement, theme and water parks, with a focus on the local ecology, archaeology and history. Located in the jungle adjacent to the Caribbean Sea, Xcaret (whose name means “small cove”) is dotted with cenotes, the water-filled sinkholes that are the region’s geological hallmark. Guests can snorkel, sunbathe on the beach and swim in the lagoon, while the younger set can frolic in pint-sized wading pools. Learn about air, land and sea creatures at the aquarium, sea turtle center, aviary and butterfly garden; and don’t be surprised to see manatees, spider monkeys and flamingos throughout the park. The Xcaret México Espectacular features the iconic Papantla Flyers ceremony, an equestrian show and pre-Hispanic dancers.

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