TPT logo

Your guide to theme parks in Orlando and beyond


Main menu

9 Rides OUTSIDE of Disney Parks We Think Walt Would Love

7. Chiapas

Image: Phantasialand

Location: Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)
Opened: 1978
Video: Chiapas

Germany's premier theme park is Phantasialand, a truly astounding park packed with thrills and theme smashed together in a way U.S. regional parks would kill for. The park's themed lands include Berlin (with the astounding Hotel Tartüff 3-story walkthrough fun-house and the impressive Maus Au Chocolat, re-using Toy Story Mania's ride system but arming guests with pastry piping bags set loose in a mouse-infested restaurant) and Africa (featuring the park's signature thrill ride, the Mamba roller coaster that dives and twists through the immersive scenery).

Image: Phantasialand

One of the park's most impressive lands, though, has to be its Mexico area. That portion of the park (also home to the insane Talocan top spin) hosts Chiapas, certainly one of the best flume rides on Earth. The ride is sprawling and beautiful, whisking guests through russet-red South American canyons pouring with waterfalls and into ancient temples... one of which even contains a disco ball dance party with lasers. Okay, it sounds wild.

But Chiapas is consistently praised, and is one of the few rides on Earth outside of Disney Parks to have a literal mountain range built for it, with thousands of plants growing along the course. And like any of Disney's best, it even features its own official score, recorded by the Budapest Film Music Orchestra.

8. Monster Mansion

Image: Six Flags

Location: Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, Georgia)
Opened: 1981 / 2009
Video: "Stay outta the Marsh!"

Opened in 1981 and extensively, lovingly refurbished in 2009, Monster Mansion stands on this list representing the beloved, classic, family dark rides that populate regional theme parks across the U.S (and the many that have been lost to time). In the case of the Six Flags Over Georgia favorite, riders board 6-passenger boats and float into a good ole' fashioned antebellum plantation populated entirely by monsters. The 2009 refurbishment brought on the Goddard Group (original creators of the ride, since ballooning into international theme park industry veterans) to create 107 from-scratch mechanical monsters, replace every speaker and light fixture in the ride, and freshen up its effects. 

The end result is a festive journey into the flooded manor, and an ill-advised trip into the dreaded dark Marsh outside of town. Colorful, creative, and classic, we like to think that Walt would approve of Monster Mansion (and the dozens of similarly-scaled dark rides at seasonal parks) because of how it connects to locals. Literal generations of riders have experienced Monster Mansion, and by recieving the "TLC" that these rides need from time to time, Six Flags has shown a commitment to keeping things fresh that Walt doubtlessly would've loved.

9. Symbolica

Image: Efteling

Location: Efteling (North Brabant, Netherland)
Opened: 2017
Video: "Illumina fantastica!"

We're back to the Dutch fairytale forest of Efteling for our final entry on this list... Symbolica. If the ride's facade recalls images of Disney's own Modern Marvel: Mystic Manor, that would undoubtedly be correct. Symbolica, too, is a trackless dark ride; one that, in places, exceeds even Disney's standards. The attraction is set up as a visit with King Pardulfus gone awry when court jester Pardoes (the park's longtime mascot, finally given his own attraction) interrupts the tour, literally splits a grand staircase down the middle, and sends queuing guests into the secret passage there.

Image: Efteling

Here's where the strength of the trackless ride comes in: guests select which tour of the castle they'd like: the Hero Tour, the Music Tour, or the Treasure Tour. And while the vehicles stick together for much of the time, each tour accesses unique experiences along the way. The tour includes stops in the grand Observatorium, a visit to the Panorama Salon overlooking the kingdom, a moment in the kitchen's champagne stocks, and (probably most impressively) the unbelievable Botanicum greenhouse which transforms into... well... you've got to see it to believe it.

Admittedly, Symbolica is weighed down by a few awkward moments when guests are meant to turn their attention to screens in each vehicle to play inconsequential mini-games. But altogether, the ride's brave, unusual, and almost-abstract fantastical spirit make it something Disney fans the world over should be eager to see in person... and we think Walt would be, too.

Go to page:


There are no comments so far.

Connect with Theme Park Tourist: