The World's Oddest Theme Parks


Martin Lewison

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Patriot Park Russia

Curious and Curiouser

For many families, theme parks and fun have long gone hand-in-hand. But while most revelers go for things like roller coasters, bumper cars, and corn dogs, several theme parks around the world feature attractions that are, well, just a little more peculiar, if not downright crass. Case in point: Russia's Patriot Park, a military wonderland that feels especially cringe-worthy in light of current events. Here are some theme parks you just have to see to believe.

Related: 17 Abandoned Theme Parks for Thrills, Chills, and Nostalgia

Patriot Park, Russia

Patriot Park

This self-proclaimed "Military Disneyland" pays tribute to the brute strength of Mother Russia and acts as a showground for international arms dealers. Opened by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015, this is where you take the family for a fun-filled day of climbing on massive tanks, inspecting sophisticated rocket launchers, and watching elaborate military drills. The kids can even get their hands on some massive rifles, munch on military rations at the canteen, or engage in a wholesome simulation of urban warfare at the tactical-games center. Head to the gift shop for a souvenir Stalin fridge magnet or a military T-shirt with "Victory!" on the front. 

Related: 19 Awe-Inspiring U.S. Military Vehicles

The Rig
Public Investment Fund

The Rig

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is already planning its pivot away from being the world's source for oil. After eschewing tourism for years, the nation has done an about-face. Part of its plan to attract visitors: The Rig, which it says will be an "extreme park" suspended on platforms above the Persian Gulf. There are plans for three hotels, 11 restaurants, roller coasters, bungee jumping, and sky diving. While the country still expects modest dress (the hijab is no longer required by law) and has banned public displays of affection, Saudi Arabia hopes current plans will help it equal nearby Dubai as a tourist destination. The capital, Riyadh, will also be getting a Six Flags that will be home to a record-breaking roller coaster

Related: 20 Fascinating Places Where Tourists Aren't Welcome

Imsil Cheese Theme Park, South Korea

Imsil Cheese Theme Park

South Korea
Love cheese? Then your nirvana is this 32-acre theme park in South Korea, a country that was only just introduced to this delicacy of the dairy country in the late 1950s by a Belgian missionary. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, the park includes a 4D theater, cheese-making experiences, a cheese-themed play area, factory tours, and more. Don't miss the giant cheese-wheel buildings.

Related: The Funkiest Cheeses in the World

Wunderland Kalkar
Soichiro Mihara

Wunderland Kalkar

At first blush, Wunderland Kalkar has all the trappings of your typical amusement park, like a hotel, restaurants, dozens of family-friendly rides, and all-you-can eat ice cream. But look closer at the massive, cheerfully-painted concrete cone enclosing a swing ride — it's the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor. Indeed, Wunderland Kalkar was built on the grounds of a never-used reactor, constructed beginning in the 1970s but abandoned after concerns about its stability grew too intense. You can even do some rock climbing on the outside of the tower.

Hacienda Napoles, Colombia

Hacienda Napoles

If the site of a nuclear reactor seems an unlikely spot for a theme park, how about the estate of an infamous drug kingpin? About 90 miles east of Medellin, Colombia, you'll find Parque Tematico Hacienda Napoles, once the home of Pablo Escobar. Today it's a safari-themed escape where you can see animals like rhinos and hippos, and splash at a water park. The ruins of Escobar's house, formerly open for tours, were demolished a few years ago after a partial collapse, but you can still see some of his rusted car collection.

Window of the World, China

Window of the World

Mini-Europe in Brussels might be the more famous "replica" theme park, but Window of the World in Shenzhen is certainly more comprehensive. Visitors get to snap pictures in front of 130 scaled-down world landmarks, from a 1:3 scale Eiffel Tower to the mysterious Moai statues of Easter Island to a pre-9/11 New York City skyline. Not thrilling enough for you? There's a log flume through the American West, a 4D cinema, and oddly enough, an "Experience of Death" simulator where you can "experience cremation."

Diggerland USA


United Kingdom and New Jersey
It's the stuff of a 2-year-old's dreams: A theme park devoted entirely to construction machines. Kids even get the chance to operate diggers and other machines themselves, scooping massive piles of dirt until their hearts are content. There are four locations in the U.K., but the newest outpost is stateside, in New Jersey. There, visitors can also find more pedestrian attractions like a kiddie land, gem mining, and go-karts.

Related: Amazing Family Vacation Rentals That Are Tricked Out for Kids

Land of Oz

Land of Oz

North Carolina
It sounds charming, really: A "Wizard of Oz" theme park where you can follow Toto down the yellow brick road. Sadly, history hasn't been kind to Land of Oz, which saw a fire ravage its replica Emerald City and shops and restaurants in the '70s. It closed in the '80s and sadly fell into disrepair. However, you can still get a taste of its ramshackle magic on select dates this year, when the partially restored park will open for tours and an "Autumn at Oz" festival.

Shijingshan Park, China

Shijingshan Park

Beijing's Shijingshan Amusement Park is home to a copy-cat Cinderella Castle and Spaceship Earth and has even hosted roaming characters that bore more than a passing resemblance to Snow White, Donald Duck, and a certain mouse we all know and love. If that's not egregious enough, the park's motto used to be, "Disney is Too Far!" But the Happiest Place on Earth, this is not. TripAdvisor reviewers report that while the park is still very much open, piles of trash and broken-down rides litter the grounds. Mickey, avert your eyes.

Mukluk Land, Alaska

Mukluk Land

Billed as "Alaska's most unique destination," Mukluk Land in the remote town of Tok is an eclectic little park run by local journalists who also publish the town paper. Attractions at this former junkyard include mini golf, Skee-Ball, an unusually large cabbage, "the world's largest mosquito," rusty snowmobiles and plenty of other odds and ends. Of course, you'll also need to stop for a photo with the giant mukluk boot at the entrance.

Bon Bon Land, Denmark


If you can't cope with a fart joke, scratch "the most fun amusement park in Denmark" off your list. BonBon-Land is chock full of off-color humor and slightly risque mascots, perhaps best exemplified by its signature ride, the Dog Fart Switchback roller coaster. You'll be treated to a statue of a giant pooping dog who treats you to flatulent sound effects while you zoom around the track.

Parque Eco Alberto \

Parque EcoAlberto

Parque Eco Alberto is indeed a tempting place to cool off, especially during Mexico's brutal summers. This "eco-tourism" park includes plenty of pools and water slides, and for cooler weather, some hot springs. There are also more adventurous activities, including kayaking, rappelling, and zip lining. But the marquee attraction is the "Night Walk," a strenuous multi-hour hike where participants pretend they are illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The experience is meant to be authentic as possible (think sirens, barking dogs and fake drug smugglers) in an effort to dissuade border crossings.

Yunessun Spa Resort, Japan

Yunessun Spa Resort

A mashup of a theme park and a spa, Yunessun has figured out how to attract a crowd in a country filled with places devoted to relaxation and Zen. Amid its 23 hot spring baths are water slides, a kid's splash area, and pools where you can actually soak in sake, green tea, coffee or wine. Before you get any funny ideas, all of them come with a stern warning: "No drinking, please." If you're really feeling adventurous — and you aren't ticklish — you can try the fish foot bath where tiny fish eat the dead skin off your tired feet.

Related: Spectacular Destination Spas in Every State

Haw Par Villa, Singapore

Haw Par Villa

"Quirky yet enlightening," Singapore's Haw Par Villa fuses Chinese, Buddhist, and Taoist mythology. While that might sound sensible enough, the main attraction is the Ten Courts of Hell, packed full of statues meeting creatively violent ends for their transgressions in this life (drowning in the "Filthy Blood Pond," for instance). Another section highlights cultural vices and virtues. Coming soon? A "Hell's museum." Sounds like fun for the whole family. The park is scheduled to reopen July 1.

Grütas Park, Lithuania

Grütas Park

Welcome, comrade. The old-world counterpart to Russia's Patriot Park, Grütas Park is nicknamed "Stalin's World." The grounds contain more than 80 Soviet relics, including massive statues of Lenin and Stalin, old tanks, and even fences and guard towers from a gulag. There's also a museum packed with Soviet propaganda. Of course, to round out your fun-filled day, there is a zoo, kiddie play area, and a café, also vaguely Soviet-themed.

Salina Turda, Romania

Salina Turda

Part museum, part subterranean theme park, Salina Turda is a salt mine that has been turned into one of the world's most unique tourist attractions. Visitors not only get to explore various parts of the mine, but they also get to have fun doing it: There's an underground lake with a boat ride, mini golf, a Ferris wheel, a bowling alley, a kid's play area, and more. Need to relax after all that adventure? There's a spa, too.

Jeju Loveland
Jeju Loveland by Binh Huynh (CC BY)

Jeju Loveland

South Korea
Here's one theme park where you really should leave the kids at home. Jeju Loveland, on popular Jeju Island, is filled with more than 140 sculptures ranging from risqué to downright graphic, and even the cartoon mascots and bathroom door handles are meant to evoke certain body parts. There are also hands-on exhibits and films about sex. The park makes more sense when you know that Jeju is a popular honeymoon destination in a nation with one of the world's lowest birth rates — a visit may inspire some other activities to fill the day.

Popeye Village, Malta

Popeye Village

Well, blow me down. Malta is known for its gorgeous coast, historic fortresses, Mediterranean breezes ... and Popeye? An entire seaside town, Sweetwater, was constructed here for a 1980 live-action remake of the iconic cartoon that starred Robin Williams. The movie bombed, but locals seized on the opportunity to make it into a quirky theme park with live actors, mini golf, boat rides, and a kid's play area. The Daily Beast calls it a "hilariously bizarre tourist trap," so proceed with caution unless you're a die-hard fan of the spinach-loving sailor.

Related: 50 Iconic Movie Locations Around the World

Bicycle of Death, Ai Pioppi Playground, Italy

Ai Pioppi Playground

"The feeling that a ride might crumble at any minute adds to the thrill," notes Fatherly's exploration of Ai Pioppi Playground. If you agree, then this homemade amusement park in Italy may be worth the short drive north from Venice. Entirely hand-built by a restauranteur who took up welding in his spare time, Ai Pioppi features self-powered rides ranging from carousels, slides, and bridges to the "Bicycle of Death," which involves a lot of pedaling, gravity, and nerves of steel. Entrance is free for anyone who eats at the restaurant.