Most popular amusement parks worldwide
The oldest-operating amusement park, to date, is 436 years old. In Klampenborg, Denmark, Bakken boasts six roller coasters—one of which is a wooden ride that has been operating since 1932. So while the idea of an amusement park seems inherently American and is a nostalgic memory for many, their relatively inexpensive and accessible nature has been taken advantage of everywhere. The first characteristic amusement park in America didn’t appear until the 19th century. Since the opening and success of Bakken, gathering at fairgrounds and indulging in thrills and food has become a universal idea of fun.
Amusement parks originated from pleasure gardens in Europe, which were public lands for recreational activities and entertainment. They differed from public gardens in that they hosted events, offered food, and drew crowds for entertainment purposes rather than just leisure.
The first modern amusement park—one that is singly owned, permanent, and enclosed—is credited to Sea Lion Park at Coney Island in Brooklyn. Opened in 1895, this park was one of the first places to sell tickets to individual rides. And the innovation has not stopped; we’ve seen new rides, technology, locations, attractions, and more.
Today, even though Disney can seem to monopolize the theme park territory, many amusement parks around the world offer different attractions on the same basic principle of community recreation. And, even after geopolitical conflicts, wars, recessions, and dynamic real estate values, amusement parks have survived.
Stacker compiled the most popular amusement parks worldwide using data from Themed Entertainment Association. The parks are ranked by the number of visitors in 2018. Read on to transport yourself to 25 of the most popular amusement parks in the world.
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#25. Chimelong Paradise, China
- Visitors in 2018: 4.68 million (11.9% increase from 2017)
- Visitors in 2017: 4.18 million
Chimelong Paradise is the largest amusement park in China and the flagship of Guangzhou Chimelong Tourist Resort. The resort comprises neighboring attractions included Chimelong Paradise, and visitors can travel between the parks. In Guangzhou, China, this park is home to attractions like the 10-inversion roller coaster—one of only two in the world.
#24. Tivoli Gardens, Denmark
- Visitors in 2018: 4.85 million (4.5% increase from 2017)
- Visitors in 2017: 4.64 million
Before the creation of Disneyland, it is said that Walt Disney visited Tivoli Gardens and drew inspiration from its charm. Opened in 1843, Tivoli Gardens is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world. Here, the attractions are more akin to traditional pleasure gardens. Tivoli has become known for its performing arts, light shows, and gardens, besides the variety of rides. Part of this park’s appeal stems from Chinese-inspired aesthetic and historic aura. Even after damage from World War II and changes in ownership, Tivoli Gardens has rebuilt, expanded, and modernized all without losing its original elegance.
#23. Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris, France
- Visitors in 2018: 5.29 million (1.9% increase from 2017)
- Visitors in 2017: 5.20 million
Walt Disney Studios Park makes up half of Disneyland Paris and puts a spotlight on the business of movies. Attractions include the park’s landmark icon, the Earffel Tower, Toon Studio, inspired by Disney’s animated characters, Production Courtyard, and Backlot, all of which give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the production of movies.
#22. De Efteling, Netherlands
- Visitors in 2018: 5.40 million (4.2% increase from 2017)
- Visitors in 2017: 5.18 million
Unlike the amusement parks Americans are accustomed to, De Efteling in the Netherlands isn’t based on movie characters. Instead, this park evokes nostalgia with rides and attractions based on folklore and fairytales. The park has faced recent controversy for certain rides that are designed with yellow face and black face. Specifically, the Monsieur Cannibale ride includes racist depictions of black people. De Efteling announced in January it would close for three months to update some designs and infrastructure.
#21. Europa Park, Germany
- Visitors in 2018: 5.72 million (0.4% increase from 2017)
- Visitors in 2017: 5.70 million
“Amusement Today,” a trade publication focused on the industry of amusement parks, named Europa Park the best amusement park in the world. It’s the largest park in Germany and includes 18 themed areas, many of which are based on different countries, and 13 roller coasters. Since 2007, Europa Park hosts the Euro Dance Festival among many other events for visitors to enjoy.
#20. Ocean Park, Hong Kong S.A.R.
- Visitors in 2018: 5.80 million (0.0% change from 2017)
- Visitors in 2017: 5.80 million
After years of being unable to turn a profit, Ocean Park revitalized the amusement park scene in Hong Kong and proved itself to be a competitor to Hong Kong Disneyland when it expanded to over 80 attractions that cost $5.5 billion. Ocean Park is infamous for capturing wild orcas and dolphins to support its animal exhibits but famous for holding some of the largest Halloween celebrations in Asia.
#19. Everland, South Korea
- Visitors in 2018: 5.85 million (7.3% decrease from 2017)
- Visitors in 2017: 6.31 million
Global Fair, Zootopia, European Adventure, Magic Land, and American Adventure are the five themed areas in this park. While Zootopia doesn’t have any connection to the Disney film, it shares the frivolous nature of the film. Unique to this park is also Magic Land, which features some attractions based on “Aesop’s Fables.”
#18. Nagashima Spa Land, Japan
- Visitors in 2018: 5.92 million (0.2% decrease from 2017)
- Visitors in 2017: 5.93 million
Possibly the biggest attraction of Nagashima Spa Land is the Aurora Wheel, a 295-foot Ferris wheel. The park itself has 12 operating roller coasters and a hot spring and botanical garden nearby. Also, a landmark of this park is the Steel Dragon 2000, a ride that cuts through the entire length of the park.
#17. Lotte World, South Korea
- Visitors in 2018: 5.96 million (11.2% decrease from 2017)
- Visitors in 2017: 6.71 million
Lotte World is made of an indoor and outdoor park. The indoor portion of the park has received the accolade of the biggest indoor theme park in the world.
#16. Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong S.A.R.
- Visitors in 2018: 6.70 million (8.1% increase from 2017)
- Visitors in 2017: 6.20 million
Opened in 2005, Hong Kong Disneyland has risen to not only the biggest theme park in Hong Kong, but the 16th-most popular park in the world. The park is the smallest of all the Disney parks worldwide and has a daily capacity of 34,000 people. The park has faced criticism for overcrowding and has since started plans to expand the park and increase the number of visitors it can support.2018 All rights reserved.