Get your thrills on some of the world’s fastest rides or be immersed in themed lands at these must-visit amusement parks. By Karla Courtney.
Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando
You know you’ve found the epitome of fun when you’re at an amusement park that’s more than twice the size of Manhattan. Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, has Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the newest addition, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which features rides, wildlife and incredible light shows.
Must-ride: For a thrill, ride the Expedition Everest coaster at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or take the drop on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Coming soon: Pandora: The World of Avatar is scheduled to open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in summer 2017.
Tokyo Disney Resort is widely regarded as the best Disney park outside the United States and Tokyo DisneySea is our favourite park in the complex. Its magical sets take you everywhere, from Venice to the underwater home of The Little Mermaid.
Must-ride: Journey to the Center of the Earth is pretty intense.
Coming soon: A Finding Nemo/Finding Dory ride is scheduled to open in spring 2017.
Universal Studios Hollywood, Los Angeles
This park is part of a working movie studio where you can go on a tour to see real, behind-the-scenes Hollywood action. There’s also a good offering of rides, including those in the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We also love its counterpart in Orlando, Florida – especially the E.T. Adventure ride – but it isn’t a film lot.
Must-ride: The Studio Tour is a must, as are Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Transformers: The Ride-3D and The Simpsons – all well-executed motion-simulation rides.
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
This isn’t the largest or most thrilling park in the world but we love it for its charm (it’s the second-oldest amusement park in the world, having opened in 1843). It’s located in the centre of Copenhagen, just a two-minute walk from the main train station.
Must-ride: Vertigo flips you around in tiny planes, allowing you to feel 5G (acceleration at five times the weight of gravity). For less stomach-churning excitement, try the classic timber Roller Coaster.
Six Flags Magic Mountain, California
This is the roller-coaster capital – with a current count of 19, it boasts the most of any one amusement park in the world.
Must-ride: The X2 features seats that spin 360 degrees independent of the direction and movement of the track. As you travel 122km/h, you’ll be turning so much you can say goodbye to any concept of direction.
Cedar Point, Ohio
Cedar Point is all about the thrills – the park boasts 17 roller-coasters, including some of the fastest, longest and tallest you will find on the planet.
Must-ride: Millennium Force was the world’s first Giga Coaster (having a height surpassing 300ft/91m) and reaches speeds of up to 150 km/h.
Paultons Park, UK
This gets top marks for kids – there are currently 70 rides and most of them are suitable for younger children.
Must-ride: The entire Peppa Pig World is one of the sweetest things ever. And, be sure to meet the very life-like, animatronic dinosaurs at the new Lost Kingdom park section.
Beto Carrero World, Brazil
The largest amusement park in Latin America, Beto Carrero World features characters from DreamWorks and Universal Studios and offers both roller-0coasters and themed fun for kids.
Must-ride: We love the Madagascar Crazy River Adventure – a good mix of cute and speed. You will get wet.
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