Dickens World – UK
What could be more fun than a theme park? How about a theme park where the theme is the dark, oppressive and downright dangerous environment where renowned literary figure Charles Dickens set most of his books?
Dickensworld is an utterly bizarre concoction of a theme park located in Chatham, Kent. It features haunted houses, boat rides and a collection of rides based around the characters and locations of the great writer’s works. A real family holiday hot spot, I don’t think.
Loveland – South Korea
This is less of a theme park than it is a series of 140 huge, unsettling sculptures based on the theme of understanding and expressing physical love. This explicit park features interactive sculptures and movies that visitors can use to expand their knowledge of how to please a lover.
Families probably won’t be too distraught to know that the required age for entry is 18, so no running around giant phallic statues for the little ones!
Stalin World, Grutas Park – Lithuania
Why not treat the whole family to a day out where they get to learn all about live under a Communist dictatorship? If there was ever a concept that was less suited to being used as the basis for a fun day out, then Communism would be it.
Grutas Park (Unofficially: Stalin World) is a sculpture garden/interactive experience displaying Soviet-era relics and artwork inspirations. There are even recreations of Soviet Gulag prisons complete with guard towers and barbed wire fences!
This is a great place to take the kids, because the rest of your holiday will seem infinitely joyful by comparison to your day out here, regardless of what you are doing.
Seagaia Ocean Dome – Japan
Since its grand unveiling in 1993 as the world’s (then) largest water theme park, the Seagaia Ocean Dome has been closed and reopened more times than its staff can remember.
The park features water slides, pools and even a gigantic wave machine for surfers to take advantage of, all held at the constant temperature of a balmy 30 degrees Celsius, thanks to the retractable roof and regulation systems.
Why is this weird? Because the park is located less than 5 minutes from the actual coastline! Still, at least Seagaia was built with the simple purpose of letting people have fun in a water park, making it far less bizarre than its fellow entries listed here.
Diggerland – UK
A theme park built specifically for the construction and earth-moving enthusiast. “Niche” doesn’t even begin to describe the appeal of this place.
Another bizarre element of this entry is that there isn’t just one Diggerland, there are four! Dotted around the UK are four places dedicated to allowing visitors to ride dumper trucks and rides constructed out of shovelling heavy machinery.
Suoi Tien Park – Vietnam
Vietnam’s own Buddhist paradise park, Suoi Tien park contains the “Heaven’s Palace” which is where souls are supposed to go if they manage to escape the torments of hell. Lovely.
Suoi Tien features a bat cave filled with hundreds of real live bats and an air bike ride that stretches over a crocodile farm (pictures above). Better hope that the safety regulations are in order, kids!
Hersheypark – USA
Located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, near the Hershey chocolate factory itself, Hersheypark combines a Chocolate World interactive museum and a theme park featuring over 60 rides and attractions.
If you thought that you couldn’t rack up 60 attractions all based around the theme of a specific chocolate brand, then you would be wrong.
Don’t think of this as a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, because you’ll be disappointed by the lack of edible flowers and chocolate waterfalls, although you could catch a few Oompa Loompas (tourists with a little too much fake tan!)
Joyland – China (Honourable Mention)
Despite its generic-sounding name, China’s Joyland has a very specific source of inspiration. The park almost entirely rips off the intellectual property of one of the world’s biggest video games developers: Blizzard.
Blizzard are the guys who made the world’s most popular online game, World of Warcraft, as well as numerous other hit titles. Joyland is essentially a whole theme park dedicated to taking the characters, situations and settings of those games and tweaking them ever-so-slightly to give the appearance that the park isn’t a shameless rip-off.
As a fan of Blizzard’s games, I simply had to stick this in as an honourable mention. While the park itself might be a traditional setup of themed rides and attractions, it’s basically one giant monument to intellectual property theft!