The World's Best Movie Themed Parks

It's Oscar season and you can't seem to move for film posters and ads everywhere you look. I'm a bit of a film buff myself so I absolutely ADORE this time of year, and to celebrate the awards season last year I took a look at some of my favourite movie themed rides. This year I thought I'd step it up a notch and delve into the world of movie themed parks! For someone like me who loves both all things film and theme parks, this type of park is one of my absolutely favourites - you literally get to be a part of all of your favourite movies, walk through the sets and meet the characters. So grab your popcorn, here's the low down on some of the best.

Let's kick it off with the grand daddy of the movie themed park: Universal Studios. Note I haven't specified WHICH park, but instead I'm going to talk about the brand as a whole otherwise we'll be here all day. Originally opening as an attraction in 1964, Universal Studios Hollywood allowed guests to walk onto a real working movie set and get a taste of Hollywood behind the scenes for themselves. Universal used this model to open their first purpose built park in Orlando in 1990 before later also expanding into Asia with Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Singapore.

The parks are now renowned for being industry leaders in the latest dark ride technology. They're known for really pushing the boat out in epic proportions and bringing some of our favourite kick ass IPs to life in ride form. If Disney is the father of theme parks then Universal are the cool uncle that lets you swear when your mum's not around.

A fairly new kid on the block, Cinecitta World took the successful movie theme park model to Rome in 2014 to try for themselves. Instead of focussing on big IPs and bringing popular characters and franchises to life, Cinecitta World instead centres around the essence of film and studio backlot style. With areas themed to genres such as Sci-Fi, Western, Horror and Wartime Epic, the park really excels in its representation of the larger-than-life Hollywood film sets of old, before all this green screen nonsense!

Whilst there is clearly a focus on classic theme park hardware like coasters and drop towers, Cinecitta World have taken a leaf out of Universal's book and included their own version of the marriage of coaster and SFX technology in their Intamin Family Drop coaster Darkmare.

I've blabbed on on this blog many times about how I love weird mainland Europe parks, and Movie Park Germany falls straight into that category. It's got all the stylings of a movie themed park, hell it has MOVIE in the title. It's got the IPs and on paper the ride line-up looks pretty fab, but look a little closer and there's something that just doesn't quite...gel. It's all a little bit higgledy piggledy and you get the feeling that they don't care WHAT IP they get, as long as they get something. Hence you'll get the likes of Van Helsing (who even saw that movie?) and a random Nickelodeon land (technically a TV IP, but fine...)

Then on top of that there's a bunch of 'genre' themed stuff - Western, Dinosaur/Adventure, Fantasy, but they're not done up to look like a film set so they kind of just feel more like themed rides rather than movie themed rides. Don't get me wrong, I really love the rides at this park and like I said, on paper they're good and individually all the rides are above average, but they just don't quite fit together that well and it ends up all being very strange indeed.


This park opened in 2002 under the lovely fellas at Six Flags and BOY can you tell! Every Six Flags staple is present, from classic Marvel characters to cartoony turn-of-the-century buildings and walkways to Looney Tunes characters. There is a very vague 'Hollywood' theme so it gets away with being called a movie park but realistically it's more like a comic book/Saturday morning cartoon park whose characters just so happen to have starred in movies at some point.

And it's not a bad park by any means. It's just a bit...dated I guess? All the stuff we take the piss out of Six Flags for gets away with it because as much as we love to hate them they do continually add new stuff pretty much year or year, but this park has kind of been left to stagnate. That and it suffers a little from Movie Park Germany syndrome in that some things are just themed to something that just also happens to be a movie genre. If you love 90s American cartoon characters you'll love this park and I'd by lying if I said it didn't have SOME redeeming qualities (it's got one of the best rapids rides in the world). Definitely missing that extra dash of movie magic though.

Sneaky, sneaky Disney. We see you, with your slap dash movie park thrown together and opened as quickly as possible as a rival to Universal. Weirdly enough though, this place has turned out to be one of my favourite movie parks in the world! Originally meant as just a half day park admittedly there's not TONS to do, but there's no denying that this place just OOZES Hollywood glamour and really encapsulated what a movie park should be - it makes you feel likes you've literally stepped into La La Land in its hey day, how can any film fan not love the idea of that?

And it transcends into other types of entertainment media and all are very well represented: Film, TV and Music. Each 'studio' actually feels like it has a purpose and not just there for show and every piece of signage, every design of a shop, every character meet and greet is stylised to be memory-inducing and wonderful. And then you have the centrepiece of The Great Movie Ride - a literal love note to movies through the ages. Where Universal is epic and current, Disney's Hollywood Studios is elegant and nostalgic.


Any time somebody tells me they're visiting Lake Garda I implore them to visit the ridiculous Movieland Studios - a place so completely blasé about giving a fuck it's almost impossible to describe. But I'm going to try anyway. Imagine you love movie themed parks. You've been to a few, the ones in Florida most likely, and liked what you saw. You have a bit of money, enough to build something respectable but not enough to pay for any recognisable or awesome IPs. Imagine now that you couldn't give a shit about the law and went ahead and included them all anyway. NOW imagine you also don't give a crap about Health and Safety and simply want to build the most high octane and outrageous movie themed rides ever. And that is basically what Movieland Studios is.

Every blockbuster you can ever imagine has been ripped off here and it's amazing. We've got Dirty Dancing, we've got Titanic, we've got Rambo, Terminator, Back to the Future and Tomb Raider. Every horror character you can name. It's all in there. And it's not just movies they've ripped off either, oh no. Front and centre is a full blown homage to the Hollywood Tower Hotel, but this time in the form of an Intamin First Generation drop tower. They've also got some of the most adrenline-pumping special effects based rides ever including a ride in an off road vehicle (without seatbelts of course) with fire, explosions and gallons of water being dumped on you and a speedboat stunt show where you get to ride in the stunt boat. I am not kidding. Basically what I'm saying is this place is amazing and you need to visit immediately.


Finally, and in almost complete contrast to the above, is Motiongate Dubai. The newest park on this list, Motiongate Dubai is the world's biggest indoor theme park and features a TON of big Hollywood IP inspired rides. The park was actually backed by a trio of Hollywood movie studios themselves and is the antitode to outdated movie park IPs the world over. Boasting loads of recent and well-loved IPs such as The Hunger Games, Ghostbusters and the one I'm probably most looking forward to, Hotel Transylvania! The park is also host to five coasters including a Gerstlauer infinity coaster themed to Madagascar and a Mack Inverted Powered Coaster themed to How To Train Your Dragon.

Yh, I haven't had a chance to visit yet and whilst I'm not expecting anything mind-blowing on the thrill scale all of the rides at this park look well designed and modern but play on that classic dark-ride 'going past familiar scenes in a cart' style which, in a world of VR and 3D screens I actually kind of miss!

So while this list has made it clear that the world is in no short supply on movie themed parks they're not without their charm and whilst they all have a movie theme in common it's cool to see how different parks interpret that in their attractions.

Talk later xoxo,