Are you planning your next theme park visit? Have you spent enough time at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios enough and are ready to try something new? Some less heralded parks feature some of the most impressive rides on the planet. Let’s spotlight seven destination attractions.

Boulder Dash – Lake Compounce

When you think about great theme park destinations, Bristol, Connecticut admittedly isn’t at the top of the list. It’s primarily known as home base for ESPN, but your favorite sports anchors almost assuredly have spent time at the theme park that pre-dates them by more than a century. Lake Compounce is the oldest continually operating theme park in America, and its anchor attraction is Boulder Dash.

This wooden roller coaster has won awards as the best in the world on a near-annual basis since its opening in 2000. Part of the appeal is the lush landscape that provides the backdrop as you zoom down the tracks. The trees limit your view, maintaining the element of surprise as you twist and turn around the various corners. It’s like wearing a blindfold on a roller coaster, which is also something you should try at some point.

Cannibal – Lagoon

Imagine riding an elevator 20 stories up in the air. Next, think about entering a small building, only to realize that you have but one way down. You must board a coaster cart and drop off the face of the Earth.

This setting isn’t mythical. It’s the backdrop for Cannibal, the violently named roller coaster that chews up and spits out many theme park tourists. Hosted at Lagoon in Farmington, Utah, this ride is one of the most visually interesting in the world. From a distance, it looks like a shack sits 200 feet in the air and occasionally vomits coaster carts.

The people riding Cannibal are the ones who want to throw up. It's a super-intense coaster with a top speed of 70 miles per hour. The terrifying part isn't the velocity, though. The maximum drop angle is a mathematically improbable 116 degrees! Yes, you'll drop 26 degrees beyond a right angle as you explode out of the pages. It's a life-changing sensation.

Euro-Mir – Europa-Park

The most popular non-Disney theme park in Europe is located in Rust, Germany. The park’s name plays up this fact, but visitors adore Europa-Park for more than just its European pride. Many of the attractions here will take your breath away with their ambition and daring.

Euro-Mir is a blueprint example of this fact. This attraction brings the motion simulation of the Mir Space Station to Earth. And did I mention that it’s a roller coaster? A spinning roller coaster? Yes, a lot's going on here. In fact, the first half of the attraction will remind you of Spaceship Earth combined with the movie, Gravity. Then, you'll exit into the light and feel like someone has thrown Mad Tea Party onto roller coaster tracks. It's insane. The Netherlands is a pretty incredible place to visit, too. 

Fata Morgana – Efteling

With all apologies to Disney, Efteling legitimately might be the coolest theme park on the planet. The catch is that you must travel to Kaatsheuvel, a lovely village in The Netherlands. And that’s going to take a lot of frequent flyer miles. Assuming that you have a chance to visit Europe – or are already there – Efteling will blow your mind. It actually dates back to 1952, making it three years older than Disneyland.

Think of this park an entire Fantasyland, with all of your favorite folklore explored in attraction form. One of the best attractions is Fata Morgana, a dark ride that tells the story of 1001 Arabian Nights. It’s a boat ride with 140 Audio-Animatronics. Clearly inspired by the structure of Pirates of the Caribbean, Fata Morgana is a sumptuous, engrossing attraction with immaculate attention to detail.


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