Theme Park, Thrill Park, Amusement Park – What’s in a Name?

As you are probably already well aware, at RexandtheBeast.com, Rex and the
Beast will be referring to and discussing various destinations that we visit.  A basic question that we are asked from time to time is:  What is the difference between a “Theme Park”, a “Thrill Park” and an “Amusement Park?”  The answer to that question can be different based upon who you ask, but for purposes of RexandtheBeast.com, the
answer is discussed below.  Also, Rex and the Beast feel that all three types of parks have
their place, and our discussion is to classify them for you so that you will understand the references on RexandtheBeast.com, not to rank them or otherwise state one type of park is better than the other—those type of arguments will come later!

Theme Park

A Theme Park is a park that is based substantially upon an overriding theme or “feel.”  The theme does not have to be the same theme throughout the park, but there is no doubt that a “theme” exists.  Examples of this are Animal Kingdom, where the theme is, not surprisingly, the animal world, and Holiday World, where the theme is different holidays, and various portions of the park are centered around those holidays.  Compare those parks to Cedar Point, which although it has various “areas” throughout the park, does not have an overriding theme—except of course, the greatest collection of coasters in one park (can you say, Thrill Park?).  Although it is more of an art than a science, usually you will know when you walk out of a park whether it should be classified as a Theme Park.  Rex and the Beast can ordinarily tell within 10 minutes of entering a park whether it should be called a Theme Park, but this is due to an innate feel that we have
developed over many years of visiting various parks—we cannot promise that you will be able to do this immediately; however, after continuous review and study of
RexandtheBeast.com, we are confident you will ultimately learn this skill.
One important factor to understand with regard to Theme Parks is that they can still have
a thrill aspect.  Many people automatically throw any parks with roller coasters or other exciting rides into the Thrill Park bucket, but that is not always correct.  The issue of being a Theme Park does not preclude excitement or certain thrill rides.  The classic example of this is Islands of Adventure.  Although IOA has a few of the great thrill rides in all of Parkdom (i.e., The Hulk, Spiderman, Dueling Dragons), there is no doubt that IOA is a Theme Park, in fact, the island theme is one of Rex and the Beast’s favorite set of themes in all of Theme Parkdom.
Classic Theme Park:    EPCOT at Walt Disney World 

Adrenaline Theme Park:   Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando
P.S. If any RexandtheBeast.com readers have a good, unique suggestion as to how to
refer to Classic Theme Parks and Adrenaline Theme Parks, drop us an email, if we decide
to use your suggestion, you will get a mention on RexandtheBeast.com and who knows
what other great things might happen to you!

Thrill Park

A Thrill Park is a park that is based upon roller coasters and other thrill rides, which rides dominate the discussion when the park is the subject of any conversation.  There is quite often some level of theming at Thrill Parks, but the theme is not a large feature (or in some cases, even relevant) to a decision to go to the park or in enjoying the park.  When you enter a Thrill Park, rather than feel like you may be entering into a different world—as in a Theme Park—you are usually just planning the speed at which you can get to the first set of thrill rides.  The Beast lives in Louisville, Kentucky near a RexandtheBeast.com favorite Thrill Park–Kings Island.
Classic Thrill Park:  Six Flags Magic Mountain

Amusement Park

In some ways an Amusement Park is the most difficult park to quantify.  Usually it has attributes of a Theme Park and attributes of a Thrill Park but really doesn’t fit squarely within either definition.  Often, but not always, an Amusement Park is a smaller park that has great history behind it.  Also, this is probably the default type of park.  If you can’t decide if a park is a Theme Park or a Thrill Park, then it is probably not either of those types of parks but is an Amusement Park.  Rex lives near a couple of classic
Amusement Parks in Denver, including Elitch Gardens (formerly Six Flags Elitch Gardens) and Lakeside Amusement Park.
Classic Amusement Parks: Elitch Gardens, Lake Winnepesaukah
Until next time.

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