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Theme parks vs national parks

I love Disney World and Universal Orlando, but a recent trip to the West made me appreciate the parks that are not man-made.

From Daniel Etcheberry
Posted July 27, 2011 at 5:31 PM
I visited Yellowstone, and I found it to be the most beautiful place I have ever seen.

Theme parks are man-made marvels; national parks are nature marvels.

Do you have a favorite destination between them or do you like them equally?


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted July 27, 2011 at 5:53 PM
While I love theme parks, the National Parks are where it is at. . . been to Acadia, Shenandoah, Yellowstone, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Isle Royale, and the Great Smokey Mountains.

Honestly, I made the drive to visit a friend near Roanoke when I went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg/ Kings Dominion, and the Blue Ridge Parkway was SPECTACULAR!

From Albino Pygmy
Posted July 27, 2011 at 6:33 PM
What do you call Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse?

I went to Crazy Horse and got to hike up on his arm, really cool and highly recommend it! The only catch is, they do this once a year on a weekend in June, so you have to plan accordingly. You can still visit the site and visitor's center and museum, but won't be able to hike up top.

From Robert Niles
Posted July 27, 2011 at 6:42 PM
Fiction vs. Nonfiction. As a reader, I love them both, though each delivers something different for me.

Theme parks and national parks are the same way. As a traveler, I love being in both narrative and natural environments. They are different experiences, but both rewarding.

The notable thing about America's natural parks. In my experience, a huge percentage of fellow visitors are not American. It seems that international travelers often appreciate our parks more than we Americans do.

That, or they are more likely to be able afford to take vacations these days. I don't know which explanation makes me more sad.

From Flavio de Souza
Posted July 28, 2011 at 7:09 AM
Great topic!!

I love both! But they deliver different experiences. You need time to truly appreciate a nature park, while in a theme park you can do multiple attractions in a short period.

But there are some common points. I am a huge safari fan, and I can trace back this taste to the first time I went to jungle cruise in WDW. Sometimes in a theme park my anxiety to go to all main rides spoils my fun. The same thing can happen when doing a safari in Africa and you fall in the paranoia of seeing all the big 5.

If you like wildlife I would recommend Serengeti and Ngoro Ngoro in Tanzania. These parks are unbeatable!

If you like a mix of man made with nature made I recommend Cappadocia, in Turkey.

I have been to only 3 national parks in USA, Sequoias (CA), Upper Peninsula (MI) and Everglades (FL) but I find then very organized and with a very good touristic infrastructure. I belive is that, plus the natural beauty that attracts foreign visitors. The same is true for South Africa National Parks.
My home country, Brazil, unfortunately is the opposite. We have many and very beautiful parks, but with a lousy touristic infrastructure (information included).

I would love to go to Yellowstone and Yosemite, but my kids are too young for that. What do you think would be the ideal age (or the minimum age) for a children to enjoy these parks?

From Daniel Etcheberry
Posted July 28, 2011 at 9:14 AM
When I was 7, I enjoyed nature. I don't know the minimum age for enjoyment though.

From James Rao
Posted July 28, 2011 at 6:24 PM
The nice thing about Silver Dollar City (three and a half hours from my house) is that it combines the natural beauty of the Branson, Missouri area with the unnatural beauty of a theme park. Additionally one of the park's original attractions is a 45 minute cave tour! Rollercoasters and caves, what a great combination!

From Manny Barron
Posted July 28, 2011 at 10:07 PM
Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico is my favorite national park, and a short drive from where I live. Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend in West Texas are the other two nearby National Parks. These nature parks are wonderful and well worth the trip. I hope to visit many more in the future. It's nice to have short trips to these destinations in between larger theme park vacations.

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