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What Are Theme Parks?

By Phil Shepley
Updated May 23, 2024
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An amusement park is a park that has rides, such as roller coasters, as well as other forms of entertainment. Theme parks are amusement parks that are organized loosely around a central idea or theme. These parks will usually be divided into different sections that use different elements to convey to visitors that they are in a specific place or time, or also to tell a unique story.

The first theme parks in the world that usually comes to mind are Walt Disney World and Disneyland, which are located in Florida and California, respectively. This is no surprise since they are among the largest and most visited themed amusement parks in the world. Walt Disney World embodies the definition of the theme park, and in its main section, the Magic Kingdom, there are several themed mini-parks that display this even further.

An example of one of these sections is Frontierland, where visitors can experience the architecture of the old west of the United States, and in it can ride rides and see live shows that highlight this era of American culture. Throughout the entire park, these minor themes are tied together with the major themes of the park, such as its mascot, Mickey Mouse.

Other theme parks imitate Disney’s successful formula, but alter it by using mainly corporate themes and focusing more mainly on thrill rides for the amusement of patrons. Busch Gardens and Six Flags are examples of these types of parks, and the former uses live animals and a zoo-like atmosphere for some of its themes. Each park can be different and unique in its own ways, and the more successful parks stay in competition with one another by constantly expanding and by adding more shows and rides every couple of years.

Additional types of theme parks that gained popularity towards the end of the 20th century are ones that are based on movie studios, such as Universal Studios. These parks use rides that are based on movies, and feature live shows that give people the experience of either filming or being in a movie. Other parks base their themes upon music, as with Dollywood, a country music-based park, and Hard Rock Park, which revolves around the history of rock music.

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Discussion Comments

By pleonasm — On May 25, 2011

One of the best physics teachers I ever had took us to a theme park for a "lesson" in different forces. We had to do some exercises on it afterward, but it was worth it!

Her class was always full, even though it was optional, because everyone knew we got to go to the theme park at some point at the end of the year. It also made everyone try to keep their grades up, because if we didn't we would miss out. Best class ever.

By Mor — On May 23, 2011

@umbra21 - Yeah, I tried to plan a trip out west to include some of California's theme parks and unfortunately some of the best rides were not operating when I was there. You really have to check ahead, on the websites because the faster rides seem to be down for maintenance quite often. Space Mountain was down when I was able to go to Disneyland, and I was really disappointed, because that is one of my favorite rides. If there is a ride you absolutely have to go on, make sure you plan your trip around it, or you might miss out.

By umbra21 — On May 22, 2011

I've known a few people who based an entire trip around the United States or Europe on going to different theme parks. They always try to go to Cedar Park, which is supposed to have most of the biggest and fastest theme parks, and of course Disneyland, or Disneyworld.

My sister did this a couple of years ago, and she had a ball, although she was exhausted by the end of it. She was disappointed though, because she really wanted to see the Harry Potter theme park but it hadn't opened yet.

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