Theme parks are the only a place a child can spend an entire day puking and still never want to leave. The rides, the funnel cake, the lights and the plush characters all combine into a perfect storm of overstimulation that will confuse ordinary children into waiting in lines for hours just to be scared out of their minds.
But not every theme park understands the formula completely. Some people only see the vomit and hear the screams of children and say, "Yeah, I could make them do that, too."
On the surface, there shouldn't be anything terribly disturbing about the Christian theme park Holy Land Experience, located just a few miles from Disney World. Just like Disney, Holy Land Experience has a cast of characters wandering among the children, making friends and posing for pictures, except instead of Goofy and Mickey Mouse, it's Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ.
But the park is not only staunch in its commitment to the lessons of the Bible; it is staunch in its commitment to the plot as well. So, twice a day, that lovable character with whom the kids shared hugs and laughs, and who told them to love their neighbors and turn cheeks, is reduced to a beaten, bloodied pulp and paraded through the park in a pageantry of suffering.
While the parades at Disney World, just a few streets over, consist of fireworks, floats and the promise of some candy thrown into the crowd, this one consists of one limping man tied to a plank of wood and the promise of some blood splattering into the crowd. The culmination of the whole thing, of course, is the mascot being hung from a cross and slowly dying.
It would probably be quicker to make a list of the people who wouldn't be offended by this reenactment. The park's kindest critics have called it "kitschy." The other critics who aren't too stunned to speak have called it a tasteless money grab through blatant exploitation of faith, probably. Surely at least someone has said that.
But hey, after watching Christ die, you can head to the Centurion Treats snack bar for an ice cream sandwich or to the "Celebrate Jesus - Karaoke" show to really take your mind off the public torture and murder you just witnessed. Oh, and did we mention there's a climbing wall?
Part of the thrill of paying to walk through a haunted house is knowing that while we may encounter chainsaw-wielding lunatics and demons, there's no actual danger of physical harm. Now, replace the supernatural creatures with Soviet guards and replace the "all in good fun" mentality with the very real potential that you will be attacked by a dog and you have the Soviet Bunker theme park in Lithuania. They nailed the terror aspect, but any spark of fun is smothered under the moldy, damp overcoat you're forced to wear during the three-hour tour.
"Don't be afraid. Seriously, don't. Fear makes him hungry."
Set in an actual underground bunker in the forests of Lithuania, the theme park recreates the conditions of 1984 Soviet oppression so that people never forget the tragic history of Eastern Europe. Each stage is meant to represent an aspect of life in the former Soviet Union -- "guests" are yelled at, interrogated, forced to sign confessions for crimes that never happened and, from time to time, psychologically and physically abused. Everyone who enters has to sign a safety waiver for all emotional and physical injuries suffered during the experience.
So basically it's a consensual version of Hostel.
Most terrifying of all, the park guarantees authenticity because several of the guards are retired KGB agents, and even those who aren't sometimes take it too far. The creator, Ruta Vanagaite, has said, "Be sure to answer the guards' questions promptly and clearly. They are mostly actors, but they can get stuck in that time and forget they are actors. We had to fire some of them because they were a little too hard on people. It's very easy to break people's will." She also mentioned that at least one person faints on every tour.
Wait, what the hell does she mean they're mostly actors?
Ultimately it's three full hours of marching through dark hallways six feet underground while wearing a gas mask as men with dogs scream about how insignificant you are. There are no rides and there is no cotton candy machine, so needless to say, you'll have to plan your family vacation in advance, because tickets go fast.
There's a legend in the village of Sinnam in South Korea that a young virgin engaged to be married was swept out to sea and drowned. Her fiance could only stand by and watch because the water was so turbulent. Soon after, the fish population dwindled and everyone in the village attributed it to a curse from the angry soul of the dead woman. So what's the best way to appease a bitter virgin?
With a park full of dicks, of course.
The fishermen erected wooden carvings of phalli all over the coast and held religious boner ceremonies on the woman's behalf. Soon, the fish started returning and everyone could rest easy again in their village now littered with dongs.
China still hasn't forgiven them for giving the whole Terracotta Army chlamydia.
Today, the island is covered in thousands of phalli carved from wood and stone and molded from metal. While it's still a sleepy fishing village, it's also become a theme park for tourists. There's something for everyone to enjoy in Haesindang Park, from big, veiny iron cast dicks:
If that doesn't shoot yogurt, we have failed as a species.
To dicks with their own faces:
"Hey hey hey, kids! Ready to have some fun? Remember, don't tell your parents!"
To guys with dicks wearing little dick hats:
Tourists have dubbed the village "Penis Park," for reasons we may never understand. But suffice it to say that it's a terrifying place for family picnics.