Don't limit your options for your next theme park vacation

November 29, 2017, 2:57 PM · So... which theme park should you visit next?

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.

Theme Park Insider's theme park guides:

Replies (2)

November 29, 2017 at 3:44 PM · Three words:

Norwegan Air Shuttle. Its the SouthWest model but TransAtlantic.

And one more: IcelandAir (if you want an experience, Icelandair will throw in a free 7 day stopover in Reykjavik).

Also, look at Virgin Atlantic - not for their prices, but the flights in Miles. A flight in miles with them transatlantic is cheaper than a domestic Delta flight in Miles. You can buy up to 100,000 miles a year, and it may be cheaper than the ticket.

November 29, 2017 at 4:56 PM · As a recent inductee to the Three Continent Club, here's a topic dear to my heart. Another major plus of seeing the international parks is the international travel itself. Once you're done enjoying Tokyo DisneySea, there's still all of Japan ready to explore! Every new destination offers unimagined adventures which, honestly, are often the most exciting thing about a trip abroad.

For me personally (with LAX nearby and with a flexible travel schedule), I genuinely think my ventures into Asia and Europe have been cheaper than a potential Orlando trip might be. Traveling on off-season is a big plus, as airfare and hotels are often far more affordable. I like using Google matrix software and cheap airfare alerts to start the prep. Speaking specifically of the Asian parks, they're far more accessible and tourist-friendly than many might assume, and places like Hong Kong Disneyland might even be a great way for a less experienced traveler to slowly ease into, say, Hong Kong itself.

Forego World Showcase for the world!

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