Everyone loves a good theme park, and we're qualifying people who don't like heights or rides in that, too. Why? Because going on a day out to a theme park is about so much more than just the adrenaline rush associated with being thrust into the air and through loop-the-loops - it's about the entire experience of being with your friends or family, enjoying one another's company, and sharing some laughs and memories that will last a lifetime.
We aren't going to pretend like there aren't bad experiences out there to be had, too, because they've all been well documented over the years both online and in the media. Nothing is ever perfect and we understand that, but you'll get as close as you're ever going to get to attaining that by visiting a theme park for a day of fun-filled activities.
So then, as for the purpose of this article: we want to list 20 parks that not only give you everything you're looking for in a theme park but also give you the added spice that convinces you to spend your hard-earned money on a visit. Some of the reasons we're going to list may seem a little dull or a little mundane but trust us, it's all got a purpose.
It doesn't matter if you're sat reading this in Europe, North America, Antarctica or beyond, because these 'rules and regulations', if you will, apply to every single person alive today. That sounds a little bit over the top, but come on, it's hard not to get overwhelmingly excited by the words "do you wanna go to a theme park today?".
20 Universal’s Islands of Adventure - Be Bold
Whilst some people automatically think of films and television when they hear the world Universal (and some people think of Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship reign as a WWE reference), many think of the many wonders associated with the Universal Orlando Resort.
On one hand, you've got the CityWalk & the Studios, but on the other, you've got something for the thrillseekers. You've got intense rollercoasters, islands featuring different mythologies and franchises, as well as a series of attractions that make you legitimately feel like you're in a video game - or, that make you feel like a kid again, which is something that we can all relate to.
19 Puy du Fou - Be Different
It's important to be unique especially when you're going up against some high-quality theme parks with world-class roller coasters, and as bizarre as it sounds, Puy du Fou may have the best 'alternative' strategy out of any park that can be found across the land.
Located in the tiny Les Epesses, Vendée, PDF (apologies for the unintentional hilarity of that abbreviation) brings in millions of visitors every year, mainly because of the historical connotations associated with the park. The Cinéscénie, in particular, takes you through the hundreds of years of history that can be found in that area and beyond.
18 Ocean Park - Be Remarkable
When you double up as a theme park and an oceanarium, you know that you're going to attract a lot of tourists - especially when you're located somewhere as beautiful as Hong Kong. Overlooking the mountains, Ocean Park has a stunning essence that, unsurprisingly, makes it one of the most popular parks in Asia.
They seem to merge together the entertainment aspect of things with education, whilst keeping their core morals intact. They certainly haven't been immune from some controversy over the years, but when you look at the bigger picture, it's hard not to be intrigued by what they're doing.
17 Epcot - Be Disney
Epcot was always supposed to be a vision of the future from the minute it was thought up by Walt Disney, to the minute the park was actually created back in 1982. Spaceship Earth alone is worth the price of admission, as it takes you inside the mind of one of the most revolutionary individuals of the last few hundred years - and that's not an exaggeration.
The world showcase, in particular, highlights why Epcot is so different from anything else that can be found throughout the world of Disney. It feels more sophisticated, it caters to the adult as well as the child in you, and it feels like a natural step up and progression.
16 Beto Carrero World - Be Latin Proud
Unfortunately, there seems to be a certain stigma surrounding Brazil as a nation with a perception regarding some of the more negative things that the country is known for. Whilst this isn't exactly going to redeem that, Beto Carrero World is the heart of the theme park scene for Latin Americans.
Castelo das Nações offers up a unique alternative to the stereotypical castles that we see at different parks around the globe, with nine different themed areas for everyone to explore. The central theme for a place like this is 'creativity', which is something that the 'rollercoaster game' if you will has been sorely lacking as of late.
15 Europa-Park - Be Strong
You can never debate Germany's commitment to entertaining tourists, especially when you take one glance at Europa-Park - which is, without a doubt, one of the top three most popular theme parks in Europe. It has a rich history dating back to 1975, it has 13 roller coasters, and one of its coolest features has nothing to do with rides whatsoever.
The park plays host to the Euro Dance Festival every single year and while that isn't going to appeal to everyone, it's one of those 'bucket list' types of things that we'd highly recommend you check out. It's a stereotypical thing to say, but Europa-Park really does provide you with fun for all the family.
14 Legoland - Be Legotastic
Standing on a piece of Lego is a cruel and disastrous consequence of the dreaded 'not looking where you're going' disease, and it's something we've all fallen for over the years. Beyond that, though, actually playing with Lego is great fun, and that's encapsulated in the historic Legoland in Windsor, England.
Every kid used to dream of one day going here, and no, we aren't about to suggest it's the greatest or most elaborate theme park in the world or anything - but it reminds us of our childhood. Sometimes it's important to hold onto that side of you, even if it's only for a few hours.
13 Six Flags Great Adventure - Be Historic
Located in the otherwise unknown Jackson, New Jersey, Six Flags Great Adventure is somewhere that you're going to want to visit if you're an enthusiast who wants to expand their horizons. Why? Well, simply put, it's home to one of the most remarkable roller coasters of all time: Kingda Ka.
The ride stands high as the tallestroller coaster in the world, resembling another ride that we'll discuss later on in the list. Whilst it seems odd to travel that far just for one attraction, it's something that you can always say you were able to do. Plus, if you're an adrenaline junkie, it'll be right up your alley.
12 Tivoli Gardens - Be Beautiful
Tivoli Gardens isn't just a theme park: it's one of the top attractions in all of Copenhagen, which is surprising for a variety of reasons. It blends in as a beautiful garden with stunning architecture, alongside a series of really entertaining rides and coasters. In short, it's the best of both worlds.
It's one of the only entries on this list that resides in an extremely notable city, not only in Europe but across the globe. You'll almost certainly find a parade of other things to do in Denmark that highlights what Scandinavia has to offer, but we urge you to try this out on your travels.
11 Tropical Islands - Be Revolutionary
Technically a water park? Yes. Something we're going to miss out on because of that? Not a chance.
Tropical Islands completely changes the game for holiday-goers, and we mean that with all sincerity. Located a quick train journey away from the centre of Berlin, TI serves as a unique park that allows you to visit even when you're in the midst of the winter months.
You'll be able to go outside in a heated pool that feels great on your lower half, whilst your face still feels like it's about to freeze off. It's an absolutely bizarre thing to experience and we can tell you first-hand that you need to go there in person in order to believe it.
10 Hershey park - Be Delicious
It's a theme park that features a zoo and was initially designed solely for the employees of Hershey's. What's not to love here? Pennsylvania is a state that should be loved and appreciated for about a million different reasons, and this is one of them.
From the observation tower to the chocolate factory-themed tour ride you won't be short of reasons to return on a year-by-year basis, and that's the kind of hook that a theme park really needs. Oh, and they measure your height category based on sweets like Jolly Ranchers and Twizzlers, which is just the best idea ever.
9 Dollywood - Be Themed
You don't need to be a fan of Dolly Parton in order to appreciate everything that's great about Dollywood, but it would certainly help.
Tennessee is great for many reasons, but considering what Dollywood has become, it's a testament that it's considered to be one of the state's best attractions. Parton, who the park is now named after, saw an opportunity in Dollywood, and the park continues to go from strength to strength.
It's much more than just a tribute act because Dollywood has quietly been establishing itself as one of the best parks for many reasons: with the tremendous selection of food and drink being one of them.
8 Efteling - Be A Romantic
When it was initially opened back in 1952, Efteling was nothing more than a fairytale forest with promise. Now, all these decades later, it's still going strong as one of the powerhouses on the theme park circuit in Europe, located in the charming village of Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands.
As odd as it sounds, Efteling is one of the only theme parks in the world that can really claim to be a 'romantic' hub, with many couples coming here for days out. Obviously, the same thing applies to a series of other theme parks, but not to the extent of Efteling.
Love and a thrill: what more could you want?
7 Gardaland - Be Stunning
As if Lake Garda and all that surrounds it wasn't enough of a reason to travel to northeast Italy, now you've got another: Gardaland. Whilst the name may be lacking in originality there's entertainment to be found throughout the park, and the best part is that they're always evolving.
From suspended looping coasters to steel sit-down coasters, they're always aiming to provide their audience with the kind of variety that will keep them coming back for more. Gardaland feels like a project that speaks for itself in terms of advertising, and the numbers reflect that. If you don't believe us, try it for yourself.
6 Six Flags Magic Mountain - Be Record-Breaking
There are more roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain than any other theme park on Planet Earth, and if that doesn't work as a selling point, literally nothing will. They could probably work some more magic in terms of their notability in comparison to their rivals, but how could that anecdote possibly be anything other than incredibly enticing?
It can be found in gorgeous Santa Clarita, California, allowing for you to double up with a Cali road trip. As far as underrated and underappreciated parks go, Magic Mountain is up there with the best of them, which is insane to consider when you think about the figures involved.
5 Thorpe Park - Be Indie
Brits often debate as to what the 'superior' theme park is between Thorpe Park and Alton Towers when in reality, they're both wonderful and offer something different for everyone. Alton Towers is more family friendly and a little bigger, whilst Thorpe Park is home to more death-defying and all-around thrilling coasters.
Stealth serves as the highlight, but with that being said, it isn't all about the roller coasters with Thorpe Park. Derren Brown's Ghost Train and the new Walking Dead section both offer up frights no matter what time of year you visit, and that kind of diversity is what you need in a theme park.
4 Siam Park - Be Stylish
This may come across as something of a cop-out, but we've decided to include the water park (which is technically a theme), Siam Park, which is located in Tenerife (Canary Islands). We aren't exaggerating when we say that people, quite literally, will go on holiday with the sole intent of visiting this establishment - which is why it qualifies for our list.
The Siamese theme runs throughout and sometimes, it's hard to get invested in a water park if you're a theme park lover: but that isn't the case here. It's fun, it's lively, and some of the designs and rides are so sophisticated that you'll want to praise the architectural brilliance of it all from the minute you arrive.
3 Cedar Point - Be Famous
With 17 roller coasters to its name it isn't exactly hard to distinguish why Cedar Point is such a selling point for US coaster fans, and fans around the globe for that matter. With six coasters taller than 200 feet you won't be short of reasons to visit if you want that standard theme park rush, and beyond that, it just makes for a great day out.
You feel like (because you literally are) on an island separated from the rest of the world, in a kind of 'movie setting' type of format. That doesn't take anything away from it by any stretch of the imagination, and if you hear the words Cedar Point, you know that you're in for a ride - literally.
2 Alton Towers - Be The Best Of Both Worlds
The best part about Alton Towers isn't Nemesis, it isn't The Smiler and it isn't Wicker Man - it's the family-friendly feel to the park which is something you just don't get nine times out of ten when you go elsewhere.
There's plenty of places to chill out with your family, it's a great place to visit with your friends, and there are still high-intensity coasters to be found. If you're into obscurity, too, it's located in a particularly secluded region of the UK - which tends to be a common theme amongst many of these entries.
Oh, and as a private estate, it's been around since 1860.
1 Blackpool Pleasure Beach - Be Cheesy
Blackpool Pleasure Beach is viewed as quite a cheesy 'attraction' up in the north of England, but that's mainly because of the reputation that Blackpool has as a seaside resort. Alas, what people don't realise or take into consideration is how scenic the Pleasure Beach is.
In addition to that, with 10 coasters and four that are wooden (with one built in 1923), history is on the side of BPB without a shadow of a doubt. It's hardly going to be somewhere that you'll be stereotypically dying to visit if you're looking for the ultimate UK theme park experience, but it should be.