The range of these opinions alone gets five stars.
We love theme parks. We also love Yelp reviews. Consequently, when you combine the two, you get a beautiful mess! How so, you ask? Well, reader, the human brain is an extraordinary organ that is capable of producing an array of indecipherable, yet fascinating emotions just begging to be translated. Luckily, we have Yelp to help us sort through these thoughts that occasionally transcend space and time.
The psychology behind the mindsets of patrons who venture through the doors of a random theme park, in particular, is something that’s not talked about enough. So, we’ve decided to delve a little further into that. This roundup is not an endorsement, but rather a series of observations. Observations of observations, if you will, concerning attractions that might not jump to the front of your mind when you think about parks and their respective themes–emphasis on the “respective” as we did seek out the most peculiar themes.
INSIDER TIPIn case you’re considering visiting any of the following attractions, take their respective *views* into account.
Top Picks for You
The Holy Land Experience (aka The Lord’s Land)
WHERE: Orlando, Florida
“Where the Bible is brought to life,” this Christian-based theme park consists of a series of interactive experiences that, well, bring the Bible to life. This includes much of the Land’s architecture, which recreates Jerusalem in ancient times.
The Good: “God is always working through the staff here. Actors are fantastic. Just regular people, but God uses them to bring the Bible to life!” – BB B.
The Bad: “Watching an actor playing Jesus turn to the audience and ask if anyone has fibromyalgia, then acting as if he were the ACTUAL Jesus and healing them. Claiming to also heal cancer and HIV. And to watch the minuscule crowd buy into it was both depressing and awe-inspiring.” – Ari H.
The Weird: “A cutout of Jesus [is seen] ‘walking on water.'” – Lea N.
The Takeaway: Liked by some, loathed by others, you can’t argue that this self-proclaimed educational attraction isn’t surefooted in its identity.
Dig This (aka The Place Where You Go to Bulldoze Any Negative Feelings)
WHERE: Las Vegas, Nevada
A buried (haha!) gem, Dig This places its customers inside bulldozers and lets them (safely) wreak havoc in what is essentially a giant sandbox.
The Good: “I could not believe how much fun it is to operate heavy machinery! I think this has to be the best amusement park experience Vegas has to offer!” – C C.
The Bad: “The instructor paid much more attention to the lady, and turned his back on me about 80% of the time.” – Steven S.
The Weird: “Here’s a photo of my ‘one arm push up.'” – Candace C.
The Takeaway: Dig This seems, by all accounts, pretty wholesome—especially if you’re looking for a way to, quite literally, blow off some steam (we’re talking machines here, people). According to their site, the attraction “provides exceptional experiences that help people forget their lives for a brief moment and regain their sense of confidence, accomplishment, and adventure.”
The Creation Museum (aka A Place With Views)
WHERE: Petersburg, Kentucky
Here, guests can venture through history as seen through the eyes of the creationist belief system, which embraces the notion that the universe was created approximately 6,000 years ago as stated in the Bible’s Genesis narrative.
The Good: “This would be a great place to take senior or family pics.” – April K.
The Bad: “This is Vegas for Christians…then there are the shirts proclaiming ‘take back the rainbow’ as if it belongs only to church folks…” – Betty C.
The Weird: “I rushed my 7- & 9-year-olds past the aborted fetus plastered on a wall. I WAS APPALLED! I couldn’t get them to the petting zoo fast enough. There we found a zorse, a cross between a zebra and a horse.” – Lisa D.
The Takeaway: “Prepare to believe,” reads this “family-friendly” attraction’s site. The site also reads, “The Creation Museum shows why God´s infallible Word, rather than man’s faulty assumptions, is the place to begin if we want to make sense of our world.” So, yeah, just to be clear, the 75,000-square foot space is dedicated to that. If you’re a curious individual and a lover of museums, I’m sure you can find something to gawk at here; even if it’s just the manicured, photogenic landscaping!
Paul Bunyan Land (aka Flannel Town)
WHERE: Brainerd, Minnesota
This amusement park, which offers more than 15 rides and a bevy of location-specific buildings dedicated to the celebration of North American loggers, was initially built around the property’s giant Paul Bunyan statue in 1950.
The Good: “I first met Paul about 70 years ago. Amazingly, he still remembered me when we visited him last week. What a great guy!” – Beth S.
The Bad: “Paul Bunyan saying our daughter’s name was neat but can’t justify that price.” – Jay B.
The Weird: “Creepy things in the ‘pioneer village,’ which looks like an M. Night Shyamalan movie set. Don’t touch the pig at the petting zoo–he gave me the swine flu. Do go to the candy store where everything is priced at $1.09.” – Joey Z.
The Takeaway: Just how impressive can a 26-foot tall talking animated lumberjack be? Turns out, pretty impressive as there are very few flat-out vitriolic reviews!
Weeki-Wachee-Springs (aka Where People Come to See Mermaids)
WHERE: Weeki Wachee, Florida
That’s right, tourists come from all over to see this natural attraction with its underwater performances by women wearing fish tails.
The Good: “The water is crystal clear and 72 degrees all year. We even swam with a manatee!” – David G.
The Bad: “This place literally sucks.” – Elizabeth D.
The Weird: “Saw the Little Mermaid 1:30 show which tells the story of a girl giving up everything that makes her unique, abandons her family, and then needs a man to fight her battles for her. The witch is pretty cool.” – Mike M.
The Takeaway: Not sure how “Witches and Mermaids” isn’t a Lana Del Rey song, but maybe Kacey Musgraves will read this and come through. Anyway, if you like the outdoors and you’re in the area (and have time to spare), keep Weeki-Wachee on your radar!
Cedar Point (aka The Place Where There’s a Lot Happening)
WHERE: Sandusky, Ohio
Cedar Point is the second-oldest operating amusement park in America, so, naturally, there’s going to be some stories.
The Good: “Best amusement park in the world. Best roller coasters. Best location. Best experience. You have to go here, bubba.” – John H.
The Bad: “I personally saw a guy in the kitchen blow his snot into his hands and handle the food afterward! Sorry but no thanks…I’ll pass on $15 for some snot chicken tenders and fries!” – Angela O.
The Weird: “I personally come to Cedar Point for the food. I adore the cheese on a stick.” – Stacy K.
The Takeaway: If you like rollercoasters, rickety or otherwise, you’ll probably like Cedar Point.
Santa’s Land USA (aka Exactly What It Sounds Like)
WHERE: Putney, Vermont
Santa’s Land has been offering Christmas cheer to guests from summer until Christmas Eve, though in spurts, as the small attraction is privately-owned.
The Good: “So Santa came down and gave all of us a private tour, we rode all the rides and had what was going to be a horrible day turn out to be one of the best times we have all had.” – Lance N.
The Bad: “The website was lacking any real info, just exclaiming SANTAS LAND IS OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK!! So we loaded the kids in the van and away we went!! 2 1/2 hours later after driving from CT we pull into SANTAS LAND, AND IT WAS EFFIN CLOSED!!!! NO UPDATED INFO ON THE WEBSITE!!” – Jim S.
The Weird: “The park offers a petting zoo, a new steam antique train, store, and all kinds of classic exhibits such as Humpy Dumpty. Hump Hump. It’s magical for the kids, and fun for the biggies too as it brings you back. The petting zoo poop stinks.” – Mattew A.
The Takeaway: If you leave a positive Yelp review, chances are Santa will still bring you lots of toys.
Gatorland (aka Also Exactly What It Sounds Like)
WHERE: Orange County, Florida
The self-proclaimed Alligator Capital of the World, Gatorland is a privately-owned wildlife preserve where guests can also enjoy zip lines, feeding shows, and even a swamp vehicle tour.
The Good: “If you love reptiles and being tacky, this is your Disney.” – Grace D.
The Bad: “This place was actually really really cool. I loved everything up until I walked into the back and saw that there was a ‘show.’ I walked back and sat on the bleachers and saw that there was a huge crowd of people waiting to sit on, what I would say, was quite a small alligator. His mouth was taped shut and people were paying to sit on him and take a picture. They were pulling his head back way too far (they shouldn’t have been doing it at all), and the alligator kept squirming and trying to get them off his back. Alligators are quite scared of humans and have a natural fear of them.” – Hailee D.
The Weird: “Adventure hour.” – Gatorland [not a review, per se, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around who allowed this photo to be taken.]
The Takeaway: It’s still unclear who this park is for. If you like alligators, theme parks, and were not discouraged at all by this year’s Crawl, you may be the target audience? Actually, if “The Bad” section of this entry is indeed accurate, PLEASE steer clear of Gatorland.
The Land of Oz (aka The Yellow Brick Road That’s, More Often Than Not, Closed)
WHERE: Beech Mountain, North Carolina
Yes, this Land is based on the books by L. Frank Baum. Yes, it opened in 1970 with Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. And, yes, it’s experienced a storied past that’s included arson and the vandalism of Dorothy’s house. Regardless of its blemishes, though, The Land of Oz has retained its fame thanks to visitors thirsty to post a photo on social media of the yellow brick road.
The Good: “Dorothy and her Oz companions were fun and entertaining, and certainly brightened a day spent over the rainbow.” – Renee L.
The Bad: “The condition of Oz was very sad. It felt very Flea Market-ish.” – Amanda W.
The Takeaway: If you’re a fan of The Wizard of Oz, this seems like an attraction that’s definitely worth checking out. If you’re not, well, that’s a shame because it’s classic and the photo opportunities here could make for excellent Instagram fodder.
INSIDER TIPThey’re now only open for private tours and special events, so keep an eye on their website for any updates.