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The Seven Wonders of the Theme Park World

Mount Prometheus

Over the years, many lists of the "Seven Wonders of the World" have been put together, starting with the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that dates back to the first or second century BC. There's even a list of modern wonders compiled by the American Society of Civil Engineers that includes the CN Tower, the Channel Tunnel and the Panama Canal. There are, of course, some pretty amazing structures at theme parks all over the world. Just for fun, we thought we'd propose a line-up for the Seven Wonders of the Theme Park World, including some of the most audicious feats of theme park design and engineering ever accomplished. Of course, we knowyou're going to disagree with this list - and that's just fine. Why not propose your own list in the comments section?

7. Kingda Ka tower, Six Flags Great Adventure (world's tallest roller coaster AND tallest drop tower)

Image: Six Flags

Towering an incredible 456 feet above Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is Kingda Ka, a ride which put the park on the map when it opened in 2005. As well as being the world’s tallest coaster, it’s among the fastest, too – you’ll be blasted to a top speed of 128 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds.

The enormous tower that hosts Kingda Ka isn't a one-trick pony, though. From 2014, it now hosts the world's tallest drop tower - Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom. Extra supports were added to handle the weight of the new ride, which lifts riders some 415 feet in the air, before sending them plummeting back towards the ground below at 90 miles per hour.

6. Tokyo DisneySea (world's most expensive theme park)

Mount Prometheus

Image: Peter Lee

While Disney fans in the US were lamenting the underwhelming debut of Disney California Adventure, visitors to the Tokyo Disney Resort were enjoying the 2001 opening of Tokyo DisneySea. It was everything that California Adventure wasn't: packed with expensive attractions, extensively themed and boasting incredible attention to detail. No wonder it was the most expensive theme park ever built, at a cost of some $4 billion. Now the fourth most popular theme park in the world, it continues to expand, with a version of the smash-hit Toy Story Mania! being installed in 2012. As its name suggests, the Tokyo Disney Resort's second theme park features a nautical theme. After entering via Mediterranean Harbor, guests can explore six themed "ports": American Waterfront, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery and Mysterious Island. Whereas neighbouring Tokyo Disneyland borrows most of its ride concepts from Disney's US parks, Tokyo DisneySea features many original rides of its own. This includes the Journey to the Center of the Earth dark ride, the StormRider simulator and the innovative Aquatopia boat ride. Look out as well for unique versions of the Tower of Terror and Indiana Jones Adventure, along with the park's take on the Fantasmic! pyrotechnic show concept.

5. Studio Tour, Universal Studios Hollywood (world's first movie studio theme park)

Studio Tour

Image © Universal Studios Hollywood

In 1956, Gray Line Bus Tours began whisking paying customers on a tour around the backlot at Universal Studios in California. In 1961, Albert Dorskind, the then-president of parent company MCA, decided to boost business at the studio’s commissary by inviting tours to stop off at the restaurant during quiet periods. At first, the tours were outsourced, but a feasibility study led by Harrison "Buzz" Price – the consultant who had helped Walt Disney select the location for Disneyland – led to a decision to develop the site into a full-blown tourist attraction. Universal Studios Hollywood threw open its gates in July 1964, with the studio investing some $4 million in a fleet of trams as well as dining locations, parking lots and toilet facilities. The pink-and-white striped GlamorTrams toured the backlot, with guests paying $2.50 for adults and $1.50 for adults. A tiny staff of tram drivers, tour guides and stunt men held the operation together, while audience members were invited to play roles at various points in the tour. As it does today, the tour route had to change frequently so as not to interrupt filming on the backlot. It may be by far the oldest attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, but the world-famous Studio Tour remains its biggest draw. In addition to taking guests on a trip around a number of working movie sets located on the studio's backlot (still one of Hollywood's leading production facilities), the tour also packs a number of mini-attractions into its lengthy 45-minute running time. There are few other theme park attractions that offer so much entertainment in a single package. After boarding the Studio Tour's iconic trams, guests are whisked around locations from movies including Psycho, War of the Worlds and Back to the Future (the mixture of other sets can vary depending on the studio's production schedule). Set-pieces include an attack by Bruce the shark from Jaws, a collapsing bridge, an earthquake and an encounter with King Kong. King Kong 360 3-D

Image © Universal Studios Hollywood

The last element, added during the recovery from a disastrous fire in 2008, is almost a separate attraction in itself, and is dubbed King Kong 360 3-D. Based on the Peter Jackson's 2005 remake of the original King Kong movie, it replaced the previous Kong attraction, which was burnt to the ground.

4. The Seas aquarium, Epcot (once the world's largest aquarium)

Living Seas

Image © Disney

An enormous budget of $90-million made The Living Seas Pavilion the most expensive attraction ever built at a Disney park when it opened in 1986. It took 22 months to build, with 12,000 cubic yards of concrete and 900 tons of reinforcing steel being used to build the main aquarium. This became the largest aquarium in the world at the time, holding an incredible 5.7 million gallons of water. The rest of the pavilion consumed 8,000 cubic yards of concrete and 850 tons of structural steel. The recipe for the artificial saltwater called for 27 truckloads of common table salt. DiveQuest

Image © Disney

The Living Seas has since undergone a makeover to become The Seas with Nemo & Friends, but the gigantic aquarium lives on. It is so large that the park's icon, Spaceship Earth, would fit comfortably inside it.

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