If you ever fantasized about unwrapping a golden ticket and being one of the few lucky enough to tour Willy Wonka’s factory, this theme park is the next best thing. Less magical (but quite a bit safer) than Mr. Wonka’s sadistic fantasyland, the World Chocolate Wonderland contains over 150,000pounds of chocolate, which have been molded, sculpted and even painted into a variety of exhibits. Some of the highlights include a delicious rendition of China’s Terracotta Army featuring 500 chocolate figures, famous Chinese paintings reproduced in chocolate, and a chocolate BMW.The park also boasts the world’s largest chocolate replica of the Great Wall of China. The Wonderland’s highly melt-able exhibits can’t take the heat of Summer, so this park closes it’s gates from April to January each year.
Some parks try to win you over with giant brightly colored rides, and crazy characters, but at Diggerland the main attraction is pushing dirt around from one area to another. It must be more fun than it sounds because this theme park has been successful enough to spawn a chain of locations all over England as well as a temporary branch in Dubai. Here, kids and adults can operate real, full size construction machinery with no driving license required!
3. Pioneer Park
Heralded as Alaska’s only historical theme park, one visit to Pioneer Park and you’ll understand why it is alone in this distinction. Park attractions like Wickersham House (a small white building surrounded by a quaint picket fence) and Pioneer Hall (which features a meeting room with early Fairbanks artifacts) are a unique take on the exciting spectacles most people expect to find at theme parks. You’re likely to find more excitement at one of the hotels in Fairbanks, especially if your room comes with free HBO. The highlight of this park, which feels as if it were designed by a board of sleepy librarians, is the Riverboat Nina: a giant wooden boat resembling the largest wedding cake never made. Don’t expect to travel anywhere onboard the Nina, although fairbanks-alaska.com consoles visitors that “Future plans include adding a new boiler to the ship to spin the paddle and make the boat seem more lifelike.”
Holy Land Experience aims to bring the world of the bible alive. Which might sound frightening, but they’ve left a lot of the heavy stuff out and added attractions like Smile of a Child Adventure Land, so it’s chill. Watch a re-enactment of the crucifixion, then grab a soda at the Oasis Palms Café. Kids might think twice about acting up after watching a recreation of Jesus at the Whipping Post.
Where on earth can you visit the tropical rainforest, ocean, wetlands, coastal desert, and savannah grasslands in a little over an hour? Until teleportation takes off, Arizona’s Biosphere2 is the best way to explore a wide range of the world’s many ecosystems in one afternoon. Think of it as a mini-Earth. With way less inhabitants.And a gift shop.Run by the University of Arizona, the biosphere’s website explains that its mission is to “serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching and life-long learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe”. There aren’t any wild rides or games here, but for science lovers this is easily the Disneyland of educational destinations.
Taking it’s name from the park’s owner, legendary country sweetheart, Dolly Parton, Dollywood is as huge and exciting and the singer’s famous personality. Dollywood has all of the rides and games you’ll find at a Great America style amusement park, but it’s the park’s Southern country flair that makes it unique. Here visitors can check out the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, explore numerous exhibits focused on the culture and history of the Southern Appalachian region, and visit the Adventures In Imagination area, which offers a fun glimpse into the big dreams and rags-to-riches journey of the park’s owner.
Although there’s no height restrictions set for admission to attractions at the Kingdom of the Little People, park employees (who range in age from about 20-50) are required to be less than 51 inches tall. Twice daily visitors come to the “Dwarf Empire” to see little people preform costumed variety shows in a candy colored village of mushroom houses. The park is set up like a little people town complete with on site housing (no, the dwarfs don’t actually have to live in the mushroom houses) and a miniature store. Though it’s been criticized as exploitive to park employees, the Kingdom of the Little People seems to remain one of China’s highly popular attractions.
Not the best destination for those who prefer their humor highbrow, BonBon Land has an odd obsession with the type of bodily functions 8-year-old boys find most amusing. Though the large, smiling cartoon characters populating BonBon Land appear to be having fun, visitors often describe the park’s atmosphere as more than a bit “creepy”. There are lots of rides for thrill seekers including 4 roller coasters and a couple water rides, and at least a few attractions named after farts. Line up for a ride on the farting dog rollercoaster, or hop on the spinning swing set which dangles underneath a giant nauseated turtle. And don’t forget to check out the peeing ant and crapping seagull.
The park boasts Europe’s largest dark ride, a log boat which travels through scenery inspired by Dickens’ classic novel Great Expectations. Guests who dare to enter the Haunted House of Ebenezer Scrooge can get up close and personal to the three famous Christmas ghosts. According to Wikipedia, this truly strange theme park strives to be a place where “visitors can immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and smells of 19th century England.”An exhaustive search of the park’s informational materials failed to offer any specifics relating to the aforementioned smells.
Remember when you were a kid and you waited for months for Christmas to arrive only to have all the excitement by over midway through Christmas morning? Santa’s Theme Park seeks to rectify this injustice with an entire Christmas themed park. Here you can celebrate the spirit of Christmas with a paddleboat ride around a small lake, or by feeding the monkeys on Monkee Island. As indicated by the park’s name, there is also a zoo on sight. Because nothing says Christmas like Red-Tailed Lemurs.