8 Totally Strange Amusement Parks From Around the World
In the six years since we wrote about some of the weirdest amusement parks on Earth, many other strange parks have opened, so it seemed fitting to do a follow-up. While these parks may not be the happiest places on earth, they just might be some of the weirdest.
1. Wunderland Kalkar, Germany
In 1973, construction started on a nuclear power plant outside of Dusseldorf, but it never went online due to construction issues and protests. The system did actually go into partial operation for about a year, but the nuclear materials did not yet arrive, and after 1986's Chernobyl disaster, the project was cancelled altogether.
When the property was sold off in 1991, one Dutch entrepreneur saw a perfect business opportunity. He purchased the property and converted it into an amusement park that features more than 40 rides—including a swing ride and climbing wall, which are both built on the iconic cooling tower.
2. Išgyvenimo Drama, Lithuania
If you've ever wondered how well you'd survive in an oppressive military prison, here's your chance to find out: Išgyvenimo Drama doesn't offer any spins or drops like your favorite rollercoaster, but it will probably give you more chills than any ride ever could—because this attraction puts you right inside a Soviet-era prison.
The bunker dates back from the USSR occupation of Lithuania, and those who choose to experience the drama are treated to a terrifying historical reenactment. Visitors to the survival experience are first forced to surrender all of their possessions and change into Soviet coats. They are then ordered to put on gas masks, learn the Soviet anthem, eat a typical Soviet meal, submit to a medical exam, and undergo a Gulag-style interrogation by employees who were previously employed in the Soviet army (many of whom were even interrogators in their positions). Those who survive are given a shot of vodka to help calm their nerves before returning to regular society again.
3. Action Park, New Jersey
It seems anyone who lived in New Jersey between 1978 and 1996 has memories (or nightmares) of the legendary Action Park, a place with a reputation that would put any imaginary horror park to shame.
Thanks to poorly-designed, shoddily-constructed rides, ambulances were a common sight at the park. In fact, Vernon Township, where Action Park was located, had to buy more ambulances (nicknamed the "Action Park Express") solely to keep up with the park's injuries (including six fatalities). The park was so infamous that it inspired its own short documentary.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Action Park, though, is that the company that owned it and helped earn the park such a fearsome reputation recently repurchased the park and re-opened it under the same name this summer.
4. Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park, China
In what could easily be called the Copyright Infringing-est Place on Earth, visitors are invited to enjoy a suspiciously familiar-looking castle and to take photos with characters that strongly resemble Mickey Mouse, Shrek, Hello Kitty, Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Betty Boop, Winnie the Pooh, and other famous trademarked characters, which the park owners claim are all based on Grimm's Fairy Tales. If that all strikes you as mere coincidence and not serious copyright infringement, consider the park's old slogan: "Disney is too far to go, please come to Shijingshan!"
Unsurprisingly, park owners have been sued multiple times, but the park remains open although they do seem to periodically discontinue using particular icons—for example, some of the Disney-inspired statues were torn down over the last few years and costumed characters seem to have largely disappeared from the park. Asia Obscura has a great, photo-filled article from a 2011 trip to the park after many of the changes took place—copyright infringement is still pretty evident, though, as is the odd mishmash of cultural icons.
5. World Joyland, China
For those who prefer copyright infringement involving video games, Changzou's World Joyland offers all the real world fun you'd expect of a World of Warcraft or Starcraft, without all those pesky licenses. It also happens to be one of China's most popular theme parks—particularly among cosplayers who enjoy showing off their creations to visitors.
Enjoy the fantastical Terrain of Magic or the high tech Universe of Starship, or get a bite to eat at a noodle house that just happens to have a mascot of a jovial, cartoon panda practicing kung fu.
6. Love Land, South Korea
South Korea's Jeju Island has been a popular destination for newlyweds ever since the Korean War. Many of the couples were joined together in arranged marriages and the partners never received sex education. In 2004, Love Land opened on the island as a sort of sex-ed park that features statues, films and interactive exhibits based around sexual activities. It takes about one hour to go through the whole attraction, which is only open to those 18 and over.
7. Ferrari World, UAE
If you want to make a splash in the UAE, the rule is "go big or go away." Ferrari World is no exception: The attraction is not only home to Formula Rossa, the world's fastest roller coaster, as well as the world's largest Ferrari logo—but the park itself is the world's largest indoor amusement park, covering over 2 million square feet.
As you may guess, the rides and attractions tend to be Ferrari-themed, but even those who aren't car crazy will still likely enjoy themselves on the flume rides, roller coasters and other traditional amusement park attractions.
8. Parque Jaime Duque, Colombia
What do you look for in an amusement park? If your answer is "naked, gender-swapped versions of famous statues," then you need to head down to Colombia's Parque Jaime Duque, where you can enjoy a massive, nude, male version of the Statue of Liberty—and that's only one of the park's 700 strange sculptures. The park also offers a miniaturized version of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and "Dante's Castle," a magical boat ride based on Dante's Inferno.