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8 places like Disneyland that’ll make you feel like a kid again

Chasing thrills, spills and rollercoasters? These parks like Disneyland have the magic and the rides to keep the whole family grinning from ear to ear.

Disneyland is a place of magic. It’s where you go to relive childhood memories, see your favourite Disney characters come to life, ride rollercoasters and indulge in carnival food from sun up til sundown.

While there’s no denying that Disneyland should be on every big and little kid’s bucket lists, there’s much more beyond these princesses and Mickey Mouse ears. So if you’re ready to step out of the Disney bubble and discover the many other amusement parks the world has to offer, these record-breaking fun parks are well worth a visit.

Unlimited access to 4 Gold Coast theme parks for $89.99

Get unlimited access to Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World, Wet N' Wild Gold Coast and Paradise Country until 30 June 2017. That's the same as one day's admission to Movie World.

8 magical places like Disneyland

1. Dreamworld | Gold Coast, Australia

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Hailed as one of Australia’s best theme parks, Dreamworld on the Gold Coast offers fun for the whole family and is practically a part of every Aussie’s childhood. It features nine thrill rides, movie magic in the form of a DreamWorks experience, and an on-site tiger sanctuary. Can’t say that about Disneyland, can you?

  • Top 5 rides: Hot Wheels Sidewinder, The Claw, The Giant Drop, Thunder River Rapids, Dorothy’s Rosy Tea Cup Ride
  • Must see: Tiger Island, Croc feeding experience, Wiggles World, LEGO certified store (coming soon)
  • 1-day admission (child/adult): $85 / $95

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2. Walt Disney World | Orlando, USA

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The larger sister of Disneyland, Walt Disney World is more resort than theme park but still harbours the same feel and similar rides to Disneyland. It features of four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) and two water parks (Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach). Each year it welcomes over 52 million Disney-lovers.

  • Top 5 rides: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Mad Tea Party, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain,
  • Must do: Disney After Hours, see the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (March-May annually) and tee off at one of its four bespoke golf courses
  • 1-day admission (child/adult): from US$91/US$97 (non-peak). Prices vary depending on theme park.

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3. Universal Studios | Hollywood, USA

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When it comes to movie theme parks, Universal Studios is one of the best. We think it’s fair to say that a trip to Hollywood wouldn’t be complete without experiencing its backlot studio tour, special effects show and the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction.

  • Top 5 rides: The Simpsons Ride, Jurassic Park The Ride, Shrek 4D, Revenge of the Mummy The Ride, Despicable Me Minions Mayhem
  • Must see: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Studio Tour, King Kong 360 3D, WaterWorld.
  • 1-day admission (child/adult): from US$84/US$90

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4. Alton Towers | Staffordshire, UK

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The UK’s answer to Disneyland is a local favourite and it isn’t afraid to experiment and deliver thrills of every kind. As an example, it just launched its bespoke Rollercoaster Restaurant. That’s right, it’s a restaurant where food is served via a mini rollercoaster! After you’ve tired yourself on the rides and in the waterpark, complete the magical journey by staying in one of the park’s woodland lodges or luxury treehouses.

  • Top 5 rides: The Smiler, Rita, Nemesis, Galactica, Th13teen
  • Must do/see: Tree Top Quest, Rollercoaster Restaurant, Alton Towers Waterpark, stay in a luxury treehouse
  • 1-day admission (child/adult): from £31.92/£36.12 (advance purchase)

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5. Cedar Point | Ohio, USA

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If record breaking roller coasters are what you seek, bump Cedar Point up on your must-visit list. Self-proclaimed as the “coaster capital of the world”, the Ohio-based park is home to 19 world class roller coasters, including its latest adrenaline-rush: Valravn. Launched 7 May 2016, Valravn has already been named the world’s tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster sporting a 61m drop, 90-degree freefall and top speeds of over 120km/h. Not for the faint hearted.

  • Top 5 rides etc: Millennium Force, Maverick, Valravn, Top Thrill Dragster, Blue Streak, Magnum XL-200
  • Must do/see: Soak City Waterpark, parasail or jetski Lake Erie, Dinosaurs Alive (animatronic dinosaur display), Coaster Campout
  • 1-day admission (child/adult): from US$45/US$65

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6. Europa-Park | Rust, Germany

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Winner of the Best Park award at the 2015 Golden Ticket Awards, Europa-Park is the second most popular theme park in Europe. Its competition? Disneyland in Paris, naturally. The theme here is Europe, with different areas being named after European countries like Germany, France and Italy. Like Disneyland Europa-Park features opening and closing shows and a daily parade.

  • Top 5 rides: Eurosat, WODAN - Timburcoaster, blue fire Megacoaster, Euro-Mir, Atlantica SuperSplash
  • Must do/see: Welcome and goodbye shows, Ed’s Party Parade, Rhode Island Waterfire (aquatic show), Swing, Twist and Splash show.
  • 1-day admission (child/adult): €38.50/€44.50

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7. Dollywood | Great Smoky Mountains, USA

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Just as Disneyland comes from the imagination of Walt Disney, so to does Dollywood come from the imagination of its owner, country singer Miss Dolly Parton. In true form, Dollywood is a rootin’, tootin’, boot scootin’ country-style amusement park. It features over 40 rides and hosts five of the South’s largest festivals, including Festival of Nations and Thrills in the Hills. Yeeha!

  • Top 5 rides etc: Lightning Road (world’s fastest wood coaster), Daredevil falls, Mountain slidewinder, Tennessee Tornado, Barnstormer
  • Must do/see: Barbeque and bluegrass, Parade of Lights, Skyzip
  • 1-day admission (child/adult): US$52/$65

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8. Disney Cruises

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This is bound to float any Disney lover's boat. Disney Cruise Lines is the official cruise of the Disney brand and is everything you think it is. From Disney themed rooms (e.g. Disney branded toiletries and cartoon porthole motifs) to Disney inspired entertainment (Tangled live musical performances and autograph sessions with superheroes) the magic really does comes alive on the high seas.

  • Top 3 Disney dining experience names: Eye Scream Treats, Beach Blanket Cafe, Daisy's De-Lites, Goody's Galley, Pluto's Dog House
  • Must do/see: Character meet and greets, live musical shows, deck parties

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Book a Disney Cruise from US$450

Book a Disney Cruise along the West Coast of Mexico, the Caribbean or Europe from just US$450 per person with Cruise Direct.


New amusement parks to get you excited

Blasted through our top 7? Don’t think for one second the excitement and fun stops there! With these new theme parks on the horizon, it’s time to book your tickets for more thrills and spills.

Six Flags, Dubai

Due to launch in 2019, Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is taking its brand of amusement park to the UAE. When it opens, expect 27 rides and attractions, including a number of record breakers and an after dark light show.

Wizard of Oz Theme Park, North Carolina

Talk about a nostalgia trip. The last time this park was in operation was in the 1980s, when it featured hot air balloon rides and a 44,000 brick yellow brick road. The theme park is reopening for a limited time only in June 2016 for select tours. Get more details here.


Ready to ride? Here are the best theme park passes you can buy online

Unlimited access to 4 Gold Coast theme parks for $89.99

Get unlimited access to Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World, Wet N' Wild Gold Coast and Paradise Country until 30 June 2017. That's the same as one day's admission to Movie World.

Gold Coast Theme Park Passes

Pre-purchase your Gold Coast theme park passes and save.

Up to 10% off Paris Passes

Buy a four or six-day Paris Pass for up to 10% off.

Theme park tickets and passes

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Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is a journalist, avid traveller and all-round bargain hunter. If there's an online coupon code, deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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