10 Coolest Theme Parks

by Chanize Thorpe Subscribe to Chanize Thorpe's posts Posted Apr 9th 2010 04:43 PM

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10 Coolest Theme Parks

You are never too old for a trip to an amusement park, especially if it's a park where you can go 125 mph on a racecar roller coaster, take a 3-D trip to the moon, or swim with crocodiles. We put together a list of the coolest and craziest rides from the U.S. to Asia, plus got the scoop on some of the biggest openings for 2010 (you may have heard about some new rides involving a certain boy wizard). There's something for everyone, whether you want to get wet and wild in the Mayan ruins of Mexico or take a ride on construction equipment in the English countryside. Click forward for the 10 coolest spots to have an adventure this summer and beyond.

10 Coolest Theme Parks

This 200-acre eco-park one hour south of Cancun is said to be "part Disney, part National Geographic adventure." The natural playground transports you back in time to the mysterious Mayan world and gives you a glimpse of how they worked and played. It's a surreal experience to snorkel through tunnels in the 1,600 foot underground river, swim with dolphins, snuba and sea trek, all amidst genuine ruins. There are also plenty of chances to see animals in their natural habitat, including the jaguars living on the aptly named Jaguar Island that you can view through telescopes. When night falls there are shows with traditional dancing, songs, and an ancient Mayan "basketball" game. www.xcaret.com

10 Coolest Theme Parks

Lego's first U.S. park is thirty minutes north of San Diego and is constructed mostly out of, yes, Lego blocks. There are more than 50 rides, shows and interactive attractions involving pirates, castles, and even Egyptian temples. The best part is that the 2010 season kicks off in June with a new five-acre water park. Cool features include the Build-A-Raft River where you customize your own raft made of soft LEGO bricks before floating down a lazy river and the family raft slide that's 11-feet wide and 300-feet long. www.legoland.com

10 Coolest Theme Parks

Racing fanatics will love the Formula One park when it opens this year in Dubai, where they can channel their inner Jeff Gordon or Danica Patrick on one of the two dozen rides. Less than an hour away in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World (which also opens later this year) will have a GT Rollercoaster that pits two F430 Spider drivers against each other on separate tracks. Intended to simulate real racing conditions, speeds will reach 60mph, which might be child's play compared to the F1 rollercoaster, already being dubbed the fastest in the world at a mind blowing 125mph. www.f1x.ae; www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com

10 Coolest Theme Parks

No matter what your religious beliefs are you will be intrigued by this Buddhist-centered theme park that goes all out. It opens with a gigantic Buddhist sage sculpture that rises 12 stories above a swimming pool, flanked with waterfalls gushing from the beard. The mouth of a giant golden dragon leads to a neon shrine while a boat ride guides visitors through Naraka, Buddhism's version of Hell. But it's not all that serious: bumper cars, a Ferris wheel, and the Tien Dong Beach man-made beach are the park's more secular pursuits. www.suoitien.com

10 Coolest Theme Parks

At first glance, this park is merely a 19th century Adirondack camping experience with quaint exposed wooden beams and a dramatic floor-to-ceiling fireplace, but the 38,000 square-foot White Water Bay indoor water park brings it squarely into the 21st century. While most water parks are slaves to the weather (especially in the Northeast), this one is open year-round and maintains a toasty 80-degree temperature, perfect for slipping into your bathing suit and going white water rafting and body boarding. You won't be able to pull the kids away from the multi-level Tall Timbers Treehouse with its 160 interactive elements, like a giant wooden bucket that spills water onto unsuspecting guests below. www.sixflagsgreatescapelodge.com

10 Coolest Theme Parks

Techies and sci-fi lovers need to put this out-of-this-world adventure at the top of their list. Dedicated to the power of the imagination, the huge action-packed park features several IMAX-on-steroids experiences. "Arthur, The 4D Adventure" is the newest creation made with film director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Transporter) that thrusts you into the make-believe world of the Minimoys and a race against time. Other must-dos are "The Future is Wild", a virtual reality interactive safari using expedition vehicles, binoculars and a sensory bracelet. "Cosmic Collisions" is an awesome 3D journey through time and space and "Fly Me to the Moon" recreates the incredible adventure of the Apollo 11 flight. The sites aren't all virtual, though. Go inside La Gyrotour, the 148-foot spiraling observatory, for a 360° view of the entire park and the rolling hills of the surrounding French countryside. www.uk.futuroscope.com

10 Coolest Theme Parks

Hello Kitty and friends have captured the hearts of children and adults since 1974, so why shouldn't there be a theme park dedicated to "Kitty-chan"? The most faithful fans make the trek to Kyushu island in southern Japan to pay homage and experience rides like the Time Machine of Dreams that involves 3-D and scented seats. The Boat Ride reminds guests it's a (not-so-small) Japanese world after all plus there's a carousel, Ferris wheel, and tea-cup ride all made from characters like My Melody and Keroppi (not to mention parades, musicals and the Kitty Castle). And of course, there's shopping galore to stock up your toys...er, collection. www.sanrio.co.jp

10 Coolest Theme Parks

This aquarium like no other, in northern Australia, is home to seven saltwater crocodiles, known as "salties," that weigh up to 2,000 pounds. You can get up close to the crocs by petting the babies, helping with feedings, or swimming next to juveniles (a glass window separates you). But the Cage of Death is the main attraction. The 9-foot tall acrylic box can hold two people and is submerged into one of the four croc tanks for an encounter that's been described as the ultimate adrenaline rush. There are also plenty of exhibits for those who prefer to stay dry, including the chance to meet resident movie star Burt. The infamous croc nearly made Linda Koslowski's character lunch in the 1986 movie, "Crocodile Dundee." www.crocosauruscove.com

10 Coolest Theme Parks

There's not one but four of these theme parks, devoted to those who wear Timberlands for both style and function and think Caterpillars are backhoes, not insects. Lovers of all things rugged can choose between the parks in Kent, Devon, Durham and Yorkshire (that's the newest and biggest) that are owned by the UK's largest excavating company. Make like Bob the Builder and jump onto giant diggers and backhoe rides made from converted heavy machinery or take a turn on the Spindizzy -- a modified Tilt-a-Whirl where you sit in the bucket of a giant excavator and get tossed about. New for this season are scale model Landrovers that kids can drive around a grass course. www.diggerland.com

10 Coolest Theme Parks




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