All right. So as you know, whenever I write a roller coaster review, I will always give it a ranking. I'll rank it between a 1/10 or a 10/10. So yeah, I just use the /10 method of ranking roller coasters. However, when I rank theme parks, I never did a ranking for them at all. This was something that puzzled people because they want to know how good a theme park is in the same way they want to know how good a roller coaster is, looking for the 10/10s and avoiding all the 1/10s. Now if you read all my theme park reviews from head to toe, you'll know damn well just how good the theme park is and whether you should hit it or miss it. But for those who don't have the time to read the entire review and go through every little thing I have to say about the park, I decided to come up with some way for people to get a sense of how a park quickly without having to read an entire review (I know I'd be a hypocrite if I demanded that everyone read all my stuff all the way since I don't do so for other people often). However, I knew that I couldn't rank amusement parks out of 10 because as I've said before, amusement parks are good for completely different reasons. Its like comparing apples to oranges to carrots to papayas to hamburgers to jelly doughnuts. However, I could split them up into categories. This works because not only are you getting a sense of how good a park is, but also for what reasons. You'll understand the difference between not only big parks and small parks, but also quality in operations and specialties that parks serve in such as roller coasters or animals. So sit back as we take you through the 12 different types of theme parks that you can visit, from the worst kinds of parks to the best kinds of parks.
Theme Park Type #1
Parks that need SERIOUS Improvement
This is the only type of theme park that I really dislike and have a problem with because as the category implies, these parks need some SERIOUS improvement. Some of these parks were always bad, but others used to be good and under new management, went to sh*t. Now the original rankings of these parks would normally differ, but their horrible management drags them all the way down to the needs improvement category. With these parks, there's one universal theme that makes me cringe. BAD OPERATIONS!!!!!! Oh my god!!! Bad Operations just drive me bat-sh*t crazy and are a staple of the needs improvement park. Now these parks have several different qualities that also make them shine in the sh*t department such as closing all the rides before the park closes without any notice, idiotic rules that make me want to slap the people for being so stupid and then weep for humanity, constantly being on their cell phones and not doing their job, and my personal favorite, only buying one train out of cheapness resulting in PERMANENT one train operations!!!! Let me just say that again. PERMANENT ONE TRAIN OPERATIONS!!!!!! All of these are very serious flaws that totally hinder on the theme park experience. Because let me just say this now. "CUSTOMER SERVICE F*CKING MATTERS!!!!!! WHY DON'T THESE PARKS REALIZE THAT!!!!!?" Now some of these parks have some really great roller coasters, but like I said, customer service matters and these parks will sour your day.
Now for many roller coaster enthusiasts, you don't have to worry about a single thing when it comes to these types of parks. If you're a credit whore on the other hand, you're going to be hitting up A LOT of these places. By most peoples standards, these aren't even really theme parks as almost nobody comes here just to have a fun day at the Amusement Park, and when people do, its usually very small children. These are parks that we would never set foot into except for one single reason. Credit. Yep, there's a credit here, and as credit whores, it is your duty to go in there and get that credit. Some of these parks have some other interesting things. Usually its just funny copyrighted characters that they didn't get the liscence for. But ocasinally, there's something at one of these credit whore stops thats actually really worthwhile. But for the most part, these places are just for small children and credit whores looking in for a quick credit. So yeah. Get in, get the credit, and get out. That sums up these types of parks.
These parks are very similar to credit whoring stops in that if you're not a credit whore, you're probably not going to bother with one of these places and the only reason most enthusiasts go to these parks is to get some type of crappy credit. But there's one thing that really makes this type of place stand out from a typical credit whoring stop. The entire place is nearly abandoned except for very few people and the park is almost always incredibly ghetto. This type of park will almost always be closed and if you want to get the credit that you came all the way for, you're going to have to bribe someone to open up the ride for you. And be careful when bribing the people. Not all of them are friendly and some will just flat out turn you away. So be careful when treading on a Ghetto/Abandoned Theme Park. But hey, if you get it. You've at least got a good story to tell and a difficult credit now obtained.
Now these places are not theme parks at all. These places are just Casinos that happen to have a roller coaster inside them. However, unlike credit whoring stops, this isn't just some dinky little roller coaster that a credit whore is going to go out of their way for just to emberass themselves and gain a single credit. Rather, this a major roller coaster that all enthusiasts tend to know about and is a legitamate full sized roller coaster that even the General Public is riding. Because when you're depressed that you just wasted your life savings at the slot machines (Gambling is a stupid activity), the best thing to cheer you up is a roller coaster. Though the coaster is full sized, the qualitiy can vary. At some casinos, its an awesome coaster, whereas at other casinos, the coaster can be a total peice of sh*t. Just remember that either way, its gonna cost you some dough.
Now for those of you living in North America, some of you may be scratching your head thinking to yourself "What the f*ck is a playground park!? Playgrounds aren't theme parks. Not even close. Never seen one of these places in my life." Well if you've lived your entire life in either the United States or Canada, then yeah. The whole concept of a Playground Park is completely strange and foreign to you as I don't think there's a single place like this in all of North America. However, if you live in Europe, then Playground Parks will seem common and everyday place to you (especially if you live in Germany). Playground Parks are places that blur the very line between a local playground and a small theme park. On the one hand, these places do have rides and even a credit which while is how I discovered these places, is not what I remember them for in the end. On the other hand, theres a bunch of playground equipment, everyone there is a town local, and there are no ride operators or anything. Everything is self operated (which is why they don't exist in the U.S). Yeah, these places are a ton of fun and for everyone to check out.
These parks tend to vary in many different way. They're not credit whoring parks as there's a lot more to these parks than just a single credit, but they're also not exactly well known parks. They don't have enough to support themselves out in the main theme park world, but again, they've got more things to do than just your typical credit whoring park. Now as for whether these are good or not really just depends on the park. Some of them have some really good underrated coasters and are just a blast to hang out in because its just an awesome park. Others on the other hand, tend to be kind of boring and are sort of just treated like a credit whoring stop even though there's clearly other stuff to do. But hey. For the most part, these small parks are a good place to go and have fun in one of the hidden gems of whatever area you're in.
These parks are your typical piers and boardwalks. Now in many respects, these are just your typical small parks. Nothing big or fancy about these places. But Piers and Boardwalks have a certain atmosphere to them, a nice beach vibe that just makes them a great place to hang out. Even if you don't ride anything, just hanging around these kinds of places is really awesome. This is the kind of place that just makes you feel really good. And hey, some of these places have some really old classic wooden coasters that also add to the excitement of the park such as the Giant Dipper or the Coney Island Cyclone. But some of them also have modern rides as well. Either way, its a nice flashback and a great way to spend a day.
These parks are exclusively about roller coasters. Sure, they do have other rides at the park, but its pretty clear that the sole objective of these types of parks is to cram as many roller coasters into the park as humanly possible. They market roller coasters, they breathe roller coasters, thats all they build. And if you're a hard-core, nothing but roller coasters, enthusiasts, then these are the parks for you. I can't complain too much as I do love roller coasters, and these parks not only have A LOT, but they also have some of my all time favorite coasters including El Toro, Maverick, and X2. The problem with these parks is that when you're looking for stuff that isn't a roller coaster, things start to go south as at positive, they're just ordinary, and at worst, pretty damn mediocre. But hey. These places are all about roller coasters. So as long as you don't mind missing all the other elements of a good theme park, you should be happy at these parks.
These parks are not only theme parks, but they also double as zoos and aquariums. And yeah. These places are awesome. Ok, some of them can be pretty lame. But come on. Its cool to not only ride some awesome roller coasters and see some great animal exhibits in the same place. And no place is a better master at the Animal Parks than the Busch/Sea World Parks. These parks are essentially famous for their animal exhibits, hosting some of the best shows involving animals out there. And not only do they do a fantastic job taking care of all the animals and putting on a great show, but they have great roller coasters as well. Now not all Animal Parks are of the same quality as the Busch/Sea World Parks, but these are the best of the best and are highly recommended for anyone who wants to see some animals or is just longing for a trip to the zoo.
These are the parks that when you first look at them, they look like nothing special. Nothing about them seems to stand out nor do they have any fantastic or great theming. So your expectations are set low, preparing to lump these parks into the Small Parks Category. But you visit the park and it just BLOWS YOU AWAY!!!!! The park is AMAZING!!!! The rides are good, the food is great, the atmosphere is fantastic, and the park is just dripping with charm in every single step you take. Now you understand why these parks are so highly ranked or if they're not visited often, you realize that they should be. It may just look like a cute little park or a credit whore run, but these parks rank high up on my list (some of them even being my favorites). Highly recommend stopping at any Charmer Park. =)
These are the theme parks. The REAL theme parks. These parks will quite literally transport you to a whole new world. Even within the same park, you can go many different places due to all the different themed areas. This is the type of place that Walt Disney dreamed about when all theme parks were just boardwalks and carnivals. And yeah. He quite literally invented the theme park, with all 5 Disney Resorts falling directly into the Theme Park category. But despite his wishes and dreams, Micky Mouse does not have a monopoly on the theme park. Other parks such as Europa Park and Silver Dollar City do a fantastic job of whisking you away into a whole new world, whether it be a whirlwind tour of all of Europe or a trip back to the Post-Civil War 19th Century small Missouri Town. No matter where you end up, in one of these Theme Parks, you're gonna be whisked away to a place you've never dreamed about. They are the top of the top.
And yeah. These are the main theme park categories. However, its not so clean and clear cut as many parks straddle the lines between these different categories. Some parks are in multiple categories while others will probably eventually have to have new categories created especially just for them. But for now, these 12 categories are the best way for me to categorize all of the different types of theme parks out there in the world.