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Monday Top 10: The World's Best Theme Park Playgrounds

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 29, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Looking for an interactive, immersive attraction that will set a child's imagination on fire? The best theme park playgrounds go far beyond your local park's jungle gym to create well-themed environments where kids can not only climb, slide, and run around, but to become characters in a setting that no local park or school playground can match. Today, we are honoring the top 10 dry playgrounds at top theme parks around the world, as rated by Theme Park Insider readers. (As always, we present our top 10 list as one post, and not as one of those annoying click-hogging slideshows.)

10. Shamu's Happy Harbor
SeaWorld Orlando

Shamu's Happy Harbor

Shamu's Happy Harbor features crawl nets, tunnels, and a ball crawl in its dry playground, in addition to a water maze, whirlpool tea cups, and other kiddie rides elsewhere in the kids' land.

9. Land of the Dragons
Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Land of the Dragons

Busch Gardens' play area offers a treehouse and themed slides in its playground, in addition to kiddie rides and a show.

8. Sesame Street Bay of Play
SeaWorld San Diego

Sesame Street Bay of Play

Few kids would want to pass up the chance to play with the gang from Sesame Street.

7. The Hideaways
Legoland California

The Hideaways

One can make an argument that all of Legoland is just one giant playground, but the Hideaways take play areas to another level, literally, with a multi-level play fort that defies parents' best efforts to helicopter over their children while they play. Just take a seat by the well-restricted entrance and relax.

6. If I Ran the Zoo
Universal's Islands of Adventure

If I Ran the Zoo

Dr. Seuss + Playground = Win. And yet, this isn't even the best playground in the park. (Keep reading!)

5. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Disney California Adventure

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

Definitely a playground for bigger kids, Disney's added Brother Bear and Up themes over the years to this delightfully themed Northern California forest campground.

4. Adventure Isle
Disneyland Paris

Adventure Isle

Disneyland Paris skipped the traditional Magic Kingdom Tom Sawyer Island in favor of this playground, located next to Pirates of the Caribbean.

3. Ariel's Playground
Tokyo DisneySea

Ariel's Playground

Located inside the wonderful indoor Triton's Kingdom in DisneySea's Mermaid Lagoon, Ariel's Playground gives your guppies a chance to play under the sea.

2. Camp Jurassic
Universal's Islands of Adventure

Camp Jurassic

Islands of Adventure was the only park to place two playgrounds on our list. Camp Jurassic claims the top spot among U.S. theme park playgrounds for its immersive theme, where visitors can climb towers, scamper across rope bridges, and explore caves and an amber mine.

1. Tom Sawyer Island
Tokyo Disneyland

Tom Sawyer Island

Imagine a Tom Sawyer Island that combined the best elements of Disneyland's and Walt Disney World's islands, then presented them all, open and well-maintained. Then you'd have Tokyo Disneyland's delightful playground for children of all ages — a wonderfully-themed playground that sets the standard for all theme parks around the world.

What's your favorite theme park playground? What was your favorite when you were a kid? Tell us, in the comments.

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