There are as many good answers to that question as there are combinations of people and theme parks in this world. Since a large part of the fun of travel is the dreaming before the planning, why limit your options to theme parks near you? Or the same places you've visited in the past?
It costs you nothing to think about what you might consider off-the-wall, impossible options. So, why not? In my Orange County Register column this week, I make a pitch for Americans to think about traveling abroad for a theme park vacation by offering my top 10 reasons to visit international theme parks.
As you might have read, I spent Thanksgiving last week not gathered around a laden table with extended family, but instead taking my daughter to visit what Theme Park Insider readers this year voted the world's best theme park — Efteling in The Netherlands. For the past six years, Theme Park Insider readers have selected a theme park outside the United States as their favorite, despite the fast that 75 percent of Theme Park Insider readers visit the website from the Americas. (For reference, 15 percent of our readers are from Europe and 10 percent read from Asia and Oceania.)
Theme parks are a global business, with designers flying all over the globe to work on projects in the United Arab Emirates and China as well as in more-established markets in the Americas and Europe. My son's film teacher this summer took a full-time job to do design work for a park in Japan. This industry is booming, and fans miss a lot of what's most exciting about theme parks today if they look only to parks in the United States.
Yes, international travel can be expensive from America. But, as I mentioned in my column, theme parks outside the United States typically charge much less for tickets than American theme parks do. Hotel rooms can be found for prices similar to those in the United States. And if you learn to watch airfares and have some flexibility on when to travel, you can find deals that make the price of flying across the ocean not that much more than flying across the country.
So why not go ride the world's fastest roller coaster? Or see a trackless dark ride done right? Or visit a park with an actual castle at its heart? They are waiting for you, beyond America's borders. Whether you're ready to fly there right now, or you just keep this as a wish for a day far in the future, I hope theme park fans never stop dreaming about visiting new parks, wherever they might be.
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