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Remember those wonderful dreams you had when you were a kid? When you played pretend with your friends as you imagined different worlds and acted out different roles? How about those times when you built your Lego city or put up a tent and called it your fortress? Being a child again is so wonderful. Your imagination can run wild, free of any obligation or worries just for a day.

If you were given a chance to live those days again, would you take it? If yes is your resounding answer then the theme park would be the first thing on your mind! Many think theme parks are a recent concept popularized by Walt Disney. But they’ve actually been around since the 1100s. In the early days, they were called state or town fairs. It’s a travelling bunch of acts that set up shop on a vacant piece of land to provide entertainment to the locals. Freak shows, carnivals, and cabinet of curiosities were the main attractions in these fairs.  They were not permanent fixtures you could visit any time of the year. They would pop up occasionally in certain areas as a part of a town’s celebration. It is still much practiced today especially in rural areas.

When mechanical rides were introduced in the 1800s to 1900s, amusement parks were born (in America at least). The oldest amusement park in the world is said to be the Bakken in Denmark which opened in 1583 and continues to operate today. In the US, it’s Lake Compounce in Connecticut which opened its doors in 1846. The famous Coney Island amusement park did not open until 1895 which became the first enclosed amusement park and the most recognizable one due to its colorful designs and structures. Other countries followed suit with Australia opening Luna Park in 1912 with its iconic gaping mouth entrance.

The first theme park, which was obviously Disneyland, opened on the 17th of July 1955 in Anaheim, California. This would mark the beginning of a theme park franchise that would take over the world. Today Disneyland theme parks (not including resorts) are in 12 different locations with overseas flagship parks in France, China, Hong Kong, and Japan. Major film studios like Warner Bros. would catch up by building a theme park outside the US (in Gold Coast, Australia) while Universal Studios would establish its name in the Asian region in Singapore.

It’s almost not impossible to find a theme park in every country nowadays and even if you’re stuck in a far flung town, local fairs or amusement parks still provide the same joys as if you were a kid again.

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