Ah, a theme park based on operating heavy machinery, why didn’t we think of that? Diggerland — which has four locations in the UK — advertises itself as “UK’s most unique attraction where children and adults have the chance to ride and drive REAL full size construction machinery, under the guidance of our trained staff – No driving licence required!” There are also full-on rides and Dumper Truck Racing, should you feel the urge. [Photos via]
Išgyvenimo Drama, Lithuania
Though it’s a little more like an interactive experience then a full-on theme park, Išgyvenimo is certainly a hot tourist attraction in Lithuania — though we can’t exactly figure out why. An ex-Soviet bunker in the countryside has been reappropriated to be, well, a Soviet Bunker, staffed by actual ex-members of the Soviet Army, where you can go to experience what it might have been like to live as a USSR citizen in 1984 — that means “watching TV programs from 1984, wearing gas masks, learning the Soviet anthem under duress, eating typical Soviet food (with genuine Soviet tableware) and even undergoing a concentration-camp-style interrogation and medical check.” Don’t worry though, at the end you get a nice shot of vodka to celebrate your survival. Fun! [Photos via]
Dickens World, UK
In the somewhat ill-conceived Dickens World, you will find “an “authentic” re-creation of the London of Charles Dickens’s novels, complete with soot, pickpockets, cobblestones, gas lamps, animatronic Dickens characters and strategically placed chemical “smell pots” that would, when heated, emit odors of offal and rotting cabbage.” There’s also the Great Expectations boat ride, animatronic ghosts, and staff with genuine accents and garb to point you in the right direction. Though we love the idea of creating livable worlds devoted to beloved authors, we wonder if this is all a bit too absurd to function.
The Holy Land Experience, Orlando, FL
Yikes. Folks go to the Holy Land Experience to see reenactments of the Last Supper, the Virgin Birth, and a notoriously bloody recreation of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, wherein everyone sings. Not to mention the Celebrate Jesus Karaoke. “[It’s] a faith based version of Universal Studios,” says parent company Trinity Broadcast Network’s Chief of Staff Paul Crouch. Well, we don’t know about that. It sounds pretty scary to us. [Photo via]
Though it has not yet been built, we’re already cringing at the idea of an amusement park based on the life of the famed military and political leader. Napoleonland, which is being promoted as a Disneyland rival, will feature attractions like a battlefield ski run “surrounded by the frozen bodies of soldiers and horses,” a recreation of Louis XVI being guillotined, and interactive battle reenactments. The organizers plan to situate the park just south of Paris, on the site of the Battle of Montereau, Napoleon Bonaparte’s final 1814 victory against the Austrians. You know, for historical accuracy and all.
Dwarf Empire, Kunming, China
As you might have gathered, the concept behind this amusement park is… dwarves. Nearly 100 dwarves live and work at the park, and the main attraction for the tourists seems to be the twice-daily musical performances that culminate with the presentation of the Dwarf King, as well as magic shows, dance numbers, and all sorts of variety-style performances. [Photos via]
Memory Village, Haiti
Another park that has yet to come to fruition but is no less strange for it, Memory Village plans to be a theme park where anyone can step into the shoes of a slave for 12 hours. Tourists will be able to choose whether they’d like to be spectators or participants — if they decide to participate, they’ll be dressed in African garb, kidnapped and taken on a simulation of a grueling ship voyage, chained and sold, tortured and put to work on a plantation. At the end, participants will get to take part in a reenactment of the slave rebellion for their emancipation. Though the idea seems to be a weird mix of education and catharsis, we’re not sure how many volunteers they’re likely to get.
Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, UAE
That’s it — Ferrari has flat-out put an enormous logo on the earth. No, wait, it’s just the indoor theme park in the world, and it’s devoted to one brand of car. Ferrari World boasts “more than 20 rides and attractions designed to tell the Ferrari story in ways which will appeal to a broad audience of different ages and interests,” including a roller coaster ride that lets you race the roller coaster next to you. While that is admittedly pretty cool, we wonder just how many ways the Ferrari story can be told, and if we really want to hear it. [Photos via and via]
Grūtas Park, aka Stalin’s World, Lithuania
Okay, so it’s really a sculpture park, but it’s still Southern Lithuania’s biggest tourist attraction, so we’re counting it. Grūtas Park, affectionately dubbed “Stalin’s World,” is a national park filled with statues of Soviet-era leaders than can (nay, must) be perused while listening to Soviet marching music blasting from speakers perched on imitation Gulag watchtowers. There’s also themed food, like the “Goodbye Youth” chop and “Sprat Done The Russian Way,” which means it comes with a shot of vodka. [Photos via]
Love Land, Cheju Island, South Korea
Yes, the theme of this theme park is sex. Another outdoor sculpture garden, this one is pretty much the opposite of Grūtas Park — instead of busts of Lenin, there are copious phallus statues, and busts of busts. The park also runs sex education videos and has “hands-on exhibits,” whatever terrifying thing those might be. Though the park is super raunchy, the idea behind it is actually kind of sweet — the island became a popular honeymoon spot after the Korean War, and since many of the couples visiting were the product of arranged marriages, some hoteliers ended up acting as “professional icebreakers.” Thus, the idea for this park was born.