According to Roller Coaster Database (rcdb.com), there are over 3,000 theme parks, amusement parks, entertainment centers, and other locations with roller coasters and other rides in the world. That’s a number very few (if any) will ever hit in their life. This begs the question: what are the most important theme parks to visit in the world? Obviously, this can vary from person to person. Someone who wants to ride as many roller coasters as possible would probably consider Six Flags Magic Mountain, the theme park with the most roller coasters, a top destination. A huge Disney fan might have their top 5 filled with Disney Parks. The list that I’ve compiled isn’t necessarily my personal top 5 I want to visit (because I might fall into the aforementioned Disney category), but it is a well-rounded list of theme parks around the world that I think are important for every theme park enthusiast and/or adrenaline junkie to visit in their lifetime.
I’m going to include a short list of must-see attractions with each park. I won’t go into detail on these attractions, but I highly suggest researching them further once you’re done reading this article. Each attraction included is one that I consider to be “world-class.”
Honorable Mention: Six Flags Magic Mountain
As I mentioned earlier, Six Flags Magic Mountain has more roller coasters than any other park in the world. There’s currently 19 roller coasters, with one more on the way in 2022. To make things even better, two of the coasters (Twisted Colossus and West Coast Racers) are Möbius Loop Coasters, meaning they do two laps around a similar course which basically results in two rides in one. There’s also an amazing flying roller coaster in Tatsu and a crazy 4D flipping monstrosity in X2. Perhaps the park relies a bit too much on using kiddie coasters to get to the magic number of 20 (there’s four total). It also doesn’t have too much to do outside the realm of roller coasters. However, if you want ultimate bragging rights of riding 20 different roller coasters in a day, Magic Mountain is the park for you.
Must-See Attractions: Twisted Colossus, Wonder Woman Flight of Courage, X2.
5. Europa Park
This German theme park is absolutely massive. At first glance it might look like a weird Disney park knock-off, but Europa Park actually holds a lot of it’s own unique charm. For one, its’ coaster collection has both quality and quantity. The park boasts 13 coasters, including Blue Fire, a Mack Mega Coaster, and Silver Star, a giant B&M Hyper Coaster. On top of that, the park features countless other dark rides and flat rides which are all located in various themed lands. The park also has numerous on-property hotels with elaborate theming, including the Colosseum-inspired Hotel Colosseo. This creates a closed-off bubble for guests that can only be found in a few other places around the world (namely Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida). Europa Park isn’t just a regular theme park–it’s a vacation destination.
Must-See Attractions: Blue Fire, Woden Timbur Coaster, Voletarium.
Disneyland makes this list primarily for its historical significance. After all, without this important theme park, most other theme parks wouldn’t even exist today. Parts of the park might not be as grand or awe-inspiring as the other Disney Parks out there (the castle is a prime example of this), but it still features a unique charm that is hard to find at most theme parks. Perhaps this is because Walt Disney actually walked the paths that guests continue to walk to this day. Regardless of the reason, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll feel a wonderful excitement the minute you start walking down Main Street USA. Of course, there are numerous wonderful attractions at this park, but I firmly believe that you could spend a day at Disneyland without riding a single thing and still enjoy yourself. The atmosphere is more than enough to satisfy.
Must-See Attractions: Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Rise of the Resistance.
3. Cedar Point
The self-proclaimed “Coaster Capital of the World”, Cedar Point is a must-see destination for all thrill seekers. The park boasts a whopping 17 roller coasters, most of which either broke a record when they opened or still hold a record to this day. Gigantic rides such as Magnum XL 200, Millennium Force, Steel Vengeance, and Top Thrill Dragster all tower 200+ feet above the park, creating an intimidating yet jaw-dropping skyline. If roller coasters aren’t your thing, the park still has numerous flat rides, family rides, water rides, and more to keep you busy. It can take at least 3 days to truly see and ride everything, and most guests love to spend even longer there. Some might say Cedar Point is overrated, and that might be true to a certain extent. However, there’s a reason it has such a huge fanbase: it has an incredible amount of quality attractions to offer.
Must-See Attractions: Top Thrill Dragster, Steel Vengeance, Millennium Force.
Phantasialand is a heavily themed, compact park in Germany. It’s a bit on the smaller side, but that doesn’t take away from how every section is packed with incredible detail. The park has a fantastic collection of roller coasters, including the intense B&M Invert Black Mamba and the critically acclaimed Intamin Blitz coaster Taron, but that’s not what makes this park so special. It’s actually the scenic lands they reside in that skyrocket this park towards the top. For instance, the aforementioned Black Mamba would be a great roller coaster even without theming, but Phantasialand went the extra mile to create beautiful buildings and thrilling trenches for the ride to fly through. This theming doesn’t stop at the coasters either, as the park has rides like Chiapas, an elaborate flume ride with a backwards drop and the steepest log flume drop in the world, or Talocan, a topspin attraction with an epic soundtrack and multiple special effects (including fire). The park might not have the most attractions out there, but it’s attention to detail warrants multiple trips to fully appreciate.
Must-See Attractions: Taron, Chiapas, Talocan.
1. Tokyo DisneySea
This “second-gate” at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort is considered by many to be the most immersive theme park in the world. It features some of the most elaborate theming at any Disney theme park, or any park in the world for that matter. Each land has countless details that take multiple days to fully recognize and appreciate. At the center of it all is a massive volcano that looks incredibly realistic, despite it being man-made. Nearly every attraction is a hit, and even the smaller attractions feature some form of beautiful, jaw-dropping elements. For instance, the park has a classic Aladdin carpets aerial carrousel, which is something a couple other Disney Parks have. However, this Aladdin ride is set apart due to the stunning theming and backdrop it has. It’s amazing to see a theme park go the extra mile to make their smallest, least important rides look like main attractions.
Must-See Attractions: Tower of Terror, Aquatopia, Journey to the Center of the Earth.