Amusement Parks

3 Cool Theme Parks in France
(You’ve Probably Never Heard of)

Okay, so you’ve already purchased your Paris Disneyland tickets online and are mentally preparing yourself for an overdose of le Mouse de Mickey. Chances are your kids begged you to take them, enchanted by attractions like Big Thunder Mountain, the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast and what’s arguably the best castle of any of the Disney properties: Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

But chances, too, are that your kids haven’t heard of all the other cool theme parks in France. There are some great ones. And some of them have creative features that will delight parents every bit as much as their children.

Here’s a rundown of Spot Cool Stuff’s three favorites:

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The Magical Way into Harry Potter’s Wizarding World

If you are planning a vacation to Central Florida with young Muggles, odds are high that they’ve tugged on your arm begging you to take them to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The attraction, a part of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, has been Orlando’s hottest attraction since it opened in June of 2010.

Nearly any kid who’s a fan of the J.K. Rowling books will eat up everything about the Wizarding World like so many Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. But what about the parents?

The good news for adults is that, while the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is far from mind blowingly amazing, it does have cool elements to it. There’s also one piece of advice that in itself can make your visit there turn out somewhere between tolerable and fun. For that, Dear Reader, continue on . . .

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The Largest Water Park in the Caribbean

Somehow, kids make it look easy the first time they hop on a SurfStream simulated wave.

For such a sun-drenched, humidity-soaked, tourist-filled region, the Caribbean has surprisingly few really great water parks. Perhaps the best of them, and certainly the largest, is at the all-inclusive Beaches Resort in the Turks & Caicos. It’s there that Pirates Island beacons the young — and the young at heart.

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The Water Cube Gets Happy Magic

You may remember the Water Cube as the venue for the swimming events 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The exterior of “The Cube,” with its translucent walls that seemed as though they were made of giant living skin cells, became one of the iconic images of the games.

The Water Cube received a lot of press at the time of the Olympics. But what most reports (including Spot Cool Stuff’s own review) left out was that the building was not designed to permanently host of swimming competitions. From conception, its real intended purpose was to be a water park.

Recently the Water Cube’s original destiny was fulfilled with the opening of the Happy Magic Watercube. (Yes, somehow “water cube” got truncated to one word during the transition). In doing so, the place where Michael Phelps once set world records in swimming is today setting the record as the world’s largest indoor water park.

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The World’s Steepest Roller Coaster

Any self-respecting world-class roller coaster enthusiast has to visit the Fuji-Q High Land at least once. The amusement park—in Yamanashi, Japan, almost literally in the shadow of Mt. Fuji—is home to many of the planet’s best rides.

The self-assigned goal of the Fuji-Q High Land park: To build a roller coaster every five years worthy of a spot in The Guiness Book of World Records. Thus far, the amusement park has achieved that goal:

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