The promise of hours of PG-rated fun has made theme parks one of the mainstays of family vacations for the past couple of decades. But not all theme parks are created equal. We took a look at some of the more questionable offerings from around the world. From Soviet bunkers to drug smuggling museums, they may not be the happiest places on earth, but they certainly are the wackiest!
Soviet Bunker, Lithuania
Ever wanted to dress in a threadbare coat, wear a gas mask, be interrogated by a KGB officer and learn Soviet anthems under duress? No, we haven’t either. But apparently some people will pay good money for the privilege in this old Soviet bunker, built five metres underground near Vilnius. But be warned, this place is not for the faint-hearted; many of the actors were originally in the Soviet army – some as interrogators. If you make it through the whole scenario, you get a shot of vodka. Two and a half hours of this torture will set you back $US220.
Hirakata Park, Japan
This Osaka-based theme park offers a unique service for travellers wanting to impress their companion. For a fee, you can hire a fake fighter to pretend to attack you and let you win, thereby ensuring the adulation of your loved one. If physical violence is not your thing, you can also choose from a series of elaborate scenarios where you can “be a hero”, including diffusing a bomb or pretending to donate blood in an emergency situation.
Dwarf Empire, China
To work in this theme park in Kunming, you have to be less than four feet tall. Visitors are treated to twice-daily, politically incorrect scenes of dozens of little people emerging from their mushroom-shaped houses to dance in unison, perform sporting contests and sing songs.
We are not making these up!
Angry Bird Land, North Yorkshire, Surrey, Malaysia, Finland
As if the video game wasn’t annoying enough, now you can spend a whole day inside the world’s most popular video game. Take a ride on King Pig’s Wild Hog Dodgems, slide down tubes and through pig tunnels and use slingshots against the enemy – the Piggies. Yes, you read correctly, there are at least four of these around the world. Somebody make them stop!
Hacienda Nápoles, Colombia
What do you do with a world famous Columbian cocaine smuggler’s mansion once you oust the drug lord? Turn it into a theme park, of course! The Columbian government built Hacienda Napoles in the grounds of Pablo Escobar’s mansion to finally cash in on his black-market earnings. It’s got a zoo, a bullfighting ring, a private plane and airstrip, the remnants of Escobar’s car collection and all sorts of other artefacts that will give you a rare glimpse into the decadent lifestyle of the rich and infamous.