AMUSEMENT PARKS HAVE a reputation for being kid-friendly fun-factories: pay an exorbitant entrance fee, be stripped of any and all outside food and beverage, shuffle slowly through the cattle gates, drink a Coca Cola, get wet on the log ride, be entertained.
The following 8 theme parks, however, are anything but generic:
1. Dig This – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The next time I’m on the hunt for some dirty entertainment in Vegas, I know where I’ll be going. What looks deceptively like a barren construction site is actually Dig This, a heavy equipment sandbox full of obstacle courses and activities designed to challenge your hand-eye coordination.
Finally, operating a 10-ton hulking piece of metal is as simple as the exchange of a large sum of cash and a brief safety class. Seeing as how I often have trouble parallel parking my 2-door hatchback, I’m glad instructors will be out on the course to provide an in-cab orientation and a few warm-up exercises.
Highlight: The lovely Excavate and Exfoliate package offered in conjunction with the SPA at Trump Hotel. For, you know, the ladies.
2. Amora – London, England
Perhaps by entertainment, you actually meant adult entertainment. Amora Sex Theme Park features plenty of “hands-on” attractions for your dirty mind.
Focused on providing an educational and enlightening sexual experience, Amora is divided into a variety of sections, including the Sexplorium, which features a collection of real-life genital body casts; the Sensorium, where you can interact with “multi-media models wired to respond to your every touch” (sex robots…?); and the troublingly titled Orgasm Tunnel, where likely terrible things happen.
Highlight: The animated swimming sperm on their website.
3. Holy Land – Orlando, Florida, USA
Unlike other amusement parks in the Orlando area, Holy Land has no rides, no mouse-shaped headwear, and no performing sea creatures. And probably no actual fun.
Instead, they have a replica of the Qumran Caves, an attraction called the Jesus Boat, and hundreds of actors dressed as Biblical figures and 2,000-year-old Jerusalem street vendors.
Jesus is shackled, beaten, and crucified twice daily for your viewing pleasure. You might want to leave the kids at home for this one, as the event is infamous for it’s slightly-too-liberal use of stage blood.
Highlight: 2 words — Christian karaoke.
4. Tierra Santa – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Like Holy Land, Tierra Santa is another Jesus-themed amusement park. Unlike Holy Land, Tierra Santa might actually provide some kind of amusement. They still crucify fake Jesus, but at least the recreations here rely more on lasers and robots than stage blood and the traumatization of small children.
The main event is the resurrection, when a comically large animatronic Jesus rises out of a hill, backed by a booming Hallelujah chorus. Did you (somehow) miss the spectacle? Don’t worry, it’ll happen again in 30 minutes.
Highlight: Sharing a meal of hummus and shwarma with a plastic donkey.
5. Dickens World – Chatham, England
Based entirely on the creations of Charles Dickens, Dickens World aims to pry the Twilight books out of kids’ hands for at least a day. Part punishment and part dumpster-diving fun, this theme park recreates 18th century England, complete with vile schoolteachers, pretend raw sewage, and grimy pickpockets.
Their main attraction, the Great Expectations Boat Ride, sends visitors floating through brown sludge meant to depict the inside of a London sewer. Sounds like a real treat.
Highlight: All descriptions of Dickens World take care to note the recreation of both the sights and the smells of Victorian-era London. From this, I can only deduce that this place smells like a crotch. Count me in!
6. Hacienda Napoles – Puerto Triunfo, Colombia
Horsey rides, hippos, and big concrete dinosaurs with growly soundtracks built in — sounds like an awesome place to take the kids for a theme park vacation, right? Yeah, as long as you’re fine with sending them a vague message that, at least for a little while, being a druglord is kind of rad.
Hacienda Napoles is the former estate of notorious druglord Pablo Escobar. At its peak, the massive property included several artificial lakes (for recreational hovercrafting, of course), a private airport, and wandering African game, including elephants, zebras, giraffes, and the aforementioned hippos. In the years since Escobar’s death, the ranch has been repurposed into a tourist attraction and partially refurbished back to its old glory.
Highlight: A dip in Pablo’s pool, followed by a dig through the crumbling remains of his colonial-style mansion. Hope the looters that arrived after his death left some goodies behind!
7. Crocosaurus Cove – Darwin, Australia
Saltwater crocodiles are a mainstay in the Northern Territory, Australia, often making headlines by terrorizing neighborhoods and chowing down on beloved family pets. At Crocosaurus Cove, you can see firsthand what the hell kind of creature actually has the capacity to eat the family pony.
If the kid-friendly aquariums and reptilian petting zoo get too boring, Crocosaurus Cove also lets you stand on a platform and dangle hunks of meat over croc-filled waters using a flimsy fishing pole. …Uh, yeah, I think I’ll just hang out over by the turtles.
Highlight: Not dying (hopefully) in the Cage of Death while sharing the water with a 20-foot “salty.”
8. Puroland – Tokyo, Japan
Fact: Hello Kitty has a pet named Charmmy Kitty, who is… also a cat.
Learn more odd Sanrio factoids while visiting what can only be described as pure kawaii hell: Puroland in Tokyo. The indoor theme park includes a slow-as-molasses boat ride, musical theatrics with singing and laser lights, and a walk-through tour of Hello Kitty’s house, where she apparently lives in sin with her boyfriend, Dear Daniel.
The wandering actors dressed as neck-less, puffy-headed cartoons might be the cutest things in the world, if they weren’t actually the most terrifying things in the world.
Highlight: Chomping down on a kitty-head-shaped, meat-filled bun from your bento lunch. Mmm, meat brains.