Everybody knows the Disneylands and the Universal Studios. You’d probably have seen a gazillion pictures of them on your friends’ social media feed as well. So how about swapping out the parades and rollercoasters for something a little less conventional? Plus, the photos that you’ll eventually post on Facebook and Instagram will earn you extra hipster credit!
Buckle up and let Rojak Daily take you on an adventure of unexpected thrills…
Osteria Ai Pioppi
Where: Nervesa della Battaglia, Italy
Admission fee: Free for diners of the restaurant
This unassuming 30,000-square metre forest area is the location of a theme park unlike any other. The rides in the park—about 40 to 50 of them—were built by hand and do not run on electricity. Instead, they are manually activated using one's body weight and human-powered energy. Impressively, we're not talking about just simple rides such as slides and trampolines—there's even a rollercoaster!
The brain and creator behind the park is 79-year-old Bruno Ferrin, who first set up Osteria Ai Pioppi to attract more customers to his restaurant, which is located on the same grounds. Inspired by nature's movements, the man, who had no training in engineering and construction, taught himself how to turn recycled materials into fun rides for children and adults.
1984: Išgyvenimo Drama (1984: Survival Drama)
Where: Naujasode, Lithuania
Admission fee: €30 (RM132.50)
Not for the faint of heart, this attraction takes you back to the difficult days of the Soviet Union. The three-hour experience begins with participants being 'ambushed' in a forest and stripped off all their possessions: money, cameras and phones. Under the watchful eye of the Soviet guards (played by VERY convincing actors) and guard dogs, they are then led to an actual former Soviet bunker that is buried 6m underground.
Throughout the duration of the experience, participants will have to watch TV programs from 1984, learn the Soviet anthem, eat food from that era, and be subjected to interrogation and medical check. And just to prove how difficult things can get, participants are asked to sign a waiver. In the waiver, a clause states that "in case of disobedience, participants may receive psychological or physical punishments". In fact, it is uncommon for someone NOT to faint during each program. Ruta Vanagaite, the creator of the attraction, explained, "Someone always faints—our record is five people fainting in one show."
Those who are able to survive unscathed will get to walk away with one heck of an experience, and in true blue Soviet style, be treated to a shot of vodka!
Haw Par Villa
Where: Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore
Admission fee: Free
Established in 1937 by the brothers behind Tiger Balm, Haw Par Villa is essentially an open-air museum dedicated to Chinese folklore. Decorated with about 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas, the park’s key attraction is its 10 Courts of Hell, also known as the place where children’s nightmares are made of. A recreation of the Chinese mythological version of the afterlife, it features scenes of bloody torture and kids being eaten by beasts.
More recently, an escape game operator has launched a large-scale outdoor escape game on the grounds of the Haw Par Villa. Titled Journey to the End and Back, the hour-long game sees players attempting to stop an unconscious friend from being sent for reincarnation. Those who are feeling brave enough can sign up for the challenge here.
Where: Holme Olstrup, Denmark
Admission fee: Free for children under 90cm; From DKK149 (RM87.60)
Quirky and slightly perverted—terms that we would use to describe this candy-inspired children's theme park. Instead of the usual cartoon characters, Bonbon Land is home to farting dogs, cows with exposed honkers, and animals that look like they've had one too many to drink.
Having been in operation for 24 years, the 32-acre park is the brainchild of Michael Spangenberg, the owner of a candy factory that produced sweets with bizarre names such as Seagull Droppings and Pee Diapers. Currently, it houses over 60 rides with some of the most popular one being the Dog Fart Switchback. This rollercoaster sends riders soaring over mounds of dog poop, while loud farting noises boom from a giant dog statue. Other rides available include a log flume ride, drop towers as well as a swinging ship.
Suoi Thien Cultural Theme Park
Where: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Admission fee: US$4.5 (RM18.20) for adults; US$2.5 for children (RM10.10) -- Rides and attractions will be charged separately
Think of this theme park as a giant Buddhist temple, but with a water park, amusement rides and other attractions thrown into the mix. Prior to its official opening in 1995, Suoi Tien Theme Park was initially a small python farm before investment capital flowed in and turned it into the 105-hectare attraction is is today.
Walking through the park, you can expect to come across multiple statues of Buddhist figures and sacred animals. Too boring for you? How about taking in a dip in a man-made salt water pool while being watched by the giant head of an angry-looking ancient Vietnamese ruler? Then there's also the Palace of Unicorns. Don't be deceived by the name--its four walls hold a gory surprise within. The most iconic attraction at Suoi Thien, though, is its crocodile pond, where you can feed raw chicken to over 1,500 of the reptiles using a fishing pole.
Intrigued yet? Here's to wishing you a fantastic journey on a road less travelled!
For something closer to home, check out a list of upcoming theme parks--including a Jurassic Park themed one--in Malaysia here.