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9 Rides OUTSIDE of Disney Parks We Think Walt Would Love

4. The Flying Trunk

Image: Tivoli Gardens

Location: Tivoli Gardens (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Opened: 1993
Video: "Once upon a time..."

If there's any park on Earth with a story as fascinating as Disneyland's, it must be Denmark's Tivoli Gardens. It's founder, Georg Carstensen, gained the park's land simply by telling Denmark's King Christian VIII, "when the people are amusing themselves, they do not think about politics." The park opened in 1843 – more than one hundred years before Disneyland – at which time Georg eloquently said, "Tivoli will never, so to speak, be finished." Sound familiar?

Though he may not have visited Efteling, Walt did visit Tivoli and it's often cited as a formative ingredient in the making of Disneyland. The park is beautiful, still renowned for its lantern-lit gardens, Orient-stylized architecture, iconic entry arch, and the historic H.C. Andersen Castle, named for Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish author and poet who wrote The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, and many more.

Image: Tivoli Gardens

Those stories are among the 32 fairytale scenes brought to life aboard The Flying Trunk, an elevated Omnimover attraction wherein guests are seated in... well... flying trunks. The ride carries guests through charming scenes stylized as if in a pop-up book, recounting Andersen's beloved stories and narrated by the author throughout. The magnificent family ride (revitalized in 2010) is just the sort of charming dark ride that proably would've inspired Walt with its simplicity and heart.

5. Hershey’s Chocolate Tour

Image: Hershey's

Location: Hersheypark (Hershey, Pennsylvania)
Opened: 1973
Video: "You can taste the love!"

Located just outside of Hersheypark is Hershey's Chocolate World, a visitors center complex loaded with chocolate-themed attractions and shops, all open to the public! There's no ticket or admission fee required to get into Chocolate World, nor to step aboard the Hershey's Chocolate Tour attraction. The nine-minute dark ride (featuring a ride system developed by Arrow Dynamics, but similar in operation to an Omnimover) provides a tour through a stylized chocolate factory. Along the way, riders are serenaded by Audio Animatronics cows that tell the story of how cocoa, milk, and sugar create Hershey's signature chocolate.

Though the Hershey's Chocolate Tour predates EPCOT Center by nearly a decade, the attraction might as well stand among its classic industry-focused Omnimovers in an imaginary chocolate-themed pavilion. It stands to reason that Walt would be fascinated by this industrious look into the making of chocolate, and it's a delightful dark ride open to the public even today.

6. Verbolten

Image: SeaWorld Parks

Location: Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
Opened: 2012
Video: "Brave the Black Forest"

The only outright roller coaster on our list, Verbolten accomplishes something otherwise reserved mostly for Disney and Universal: it uses a roller coaster to tell a compelling story. Located in the Oktoberfest land at the Europe-themed Busch Gardens in Virginia, Verbolten begins in Gerta and Gunter’s Tours and Rentals, a festive business run by the eponymous sister-brother duo.

In the ride’s queue, guests get the sense that something is up with Gunter, who appears to have an odd obsession with Germany’s Black Forest – “strictly verboten” on our tour – and a pass through his makeshift shed-turned-laboratory behind the tour center signals that past tourists have found their itineraries unknowingly set to bring them too close to the legendary stone wall outside of town that keeps the Black Forest at bay.

Image: SeaWorld Parks

Naturally, the roller coaster picks up with riders being sucked through a hole in the wall and catapulted into the darkness of the Black Forest, dodging vines, branches, and more en route to the ride’s secret and unexpected maneuver. Suffice it to say that Verbolten offers three unique ride variations, either trapping riders among a pack of wolves, stranding them in a lightning storm, or drawing them in via a deceptive spirit of the Forest. An explosive finale launches riders to their only means of escape: a broken down covered bridge on the edge of the forest, diving toward the Rhine River below and following in the literal footsteps of the park’s Lost Legend: Big Bad Wolf.

Even if it doesn’t have the budget of Disney’s best, Verbolten is a perfect example of Walt Disney’s formula living on… It dresses a family roller coaster in story, detail, and mystery, creating a one-of-a-kind attraction you have to see to believe.

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