What are some of the world's great, but overlooked, theme parks?
Published: September 6, 2010 at 9:42 PM
We know about the top-attended theme parks, the ones from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld. They top the attendance charts because they typically offer world-class attractions, presented with excellent service. People want to visit those parks; they do visit those parks, and that's why those parks earn the bulk of our coverage here on Theme Park Insider.
But Disney, Universal and the SeaWorld parks don't have exclusives on high quality. Smaller, regional parks can offer world-class rides and service. Over the years, for example, we've become big fans of Indiana's Holiday World, not only for its three outstanding wooden coasters - including The Voyage, the top-rated roller coaster on the website - but also for its customer-friendly policies, such as free parking, free sunscreen and free soft drinks.
What other great, unsung parks are out there?
Allow me a word of caution before you answer. I'm looking for parks which offer something worth driving across the country to experience. A nice, friendly park that's worth a 30-minute drive to visit might not seem so nice or so friendly once you drive 3,000 miles to experience it, only to realize that you passed 10 just like it along the way.
If we're going to direct people from all over the country, and all over the world, to this park, it needs to offer at least one notable thing on the level of the Big Three - or better. Otherwise, we'd just be setting up your fellow readers for disappointment, and the owners of the park for complaints from visitors with unrealistic expectations.
That said, I'm still willing to bet that some parks down the list for annual attendance are worth more international attention. Here's your chance to make the case for your favorite smaller park.
Over the years, I've heard from fans of places such as Silverwood in Idaho and Mt. Olympus in Wisconsin. In Europe, I've heard readers recommend Efteling in the Netherlands and Parc Astérix in France. Do you agree on any of these parks, or do you have another to recommend? Remember, we're looking for a place that offers some aspect that's exceptional (in a good way). And the more excellence, the better, of course.
I'd love to hear from some lurkers on this one, as well as from a few new readers. If you know someone who speaks well of a park we don't typically cover, please invite her or him to come on over and submit a comment on this post.
Thanks in advance, and I can't wait to read your recommendations, along with your specific examples why these parks are worthy of more visits from theme park fans.