I feel like there are two types of people in this world: those who love amusement parks, and those who will go to great lengths to avoid spending a day at one. I fall into the former camp, and have been to more theme parks than I could list out. My trips to Disney and Six Flags and Universal Studios (and when I was younger, Cedar Point, Kings Island, Busch Gardens and more) are highlights of my year, every year.
To me, amusement parks are an incredible form of escapism, where I can forget about my problems and the world’s problems and just ride rides, see cool shows and step out of reality completely.
What’s even better is when an amusement park is in a movie — that’s like double escapism! Here are 6 movies that are at least partially based in a theme park:
Wonder Park – New to the Box and Redbox on Demand, this animated film revolves around a smart little girl named June (Brianna Denski) who stumbles upon a fully realized version of the amusement park that used to be the center of her make‐believe time with her ailing mom (Jennifer Garner). June must help the park’s animal inhabitants (voiced by a cast including John Oliver, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong and Mila Kunis) battle the “Darkness” in the sky, which threatens to envelop the park and destroy everything.
National Lampoon’s Vacation – “Walley World” is the destination for the goofy Griswolds, whose father Clark (Chevy Chase) is hell‐bent on taking a cross‐country family road trip from Chicago to California. While just about everything that could go wrong does go wrong, they do eventually make it, and … well, you’ll just have to see what happens once they finally arrive at the park.
Zombieland – Like the Griswolds, an amusement park — specifically “Pacific Playland” — is the destination for a band of travelers (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) attempting to survive the zombie apocalypse. Which is honestly just as tough as surviving a family road trip, right? Actually, now that I think about it, Vacation and Zombieland would make a most excellent double‐feature!
Final Destination 3 – In the third of this five‐film franchise (which is now in the process of being rebooted, because of course it is), a group of high school friends are celebrating graduation at an amusement park when one of the teens, Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), has a vision of their roller-coaster derailing and killing everyone. Wendy refuses to get on the ride, and is horrified when her premonition comes true minutes later. On top of that, she eventually realizes that her and all of her friends who skipped the ride are still marked by Death. Is there any hope they can escape their fate?
Beverly Hills Cop III – In this 1994 action‐comedy that closed out the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy, Eddie Murphy plays an officer whose investigation into his boss’s murder leads him to the local “Wonder World” amusement park. And I assure you they find a way to get him onto a ride in the process.
Jurassic World – One of the most terrifying scenes in this continuation of the Jurassic Park franchise is when the dinosaurs break free and lay absolute waste to the theme park from land, water and air. But really, can you blame them?
What’s your favorite movie that takes place at an amusement park? And don’t forget that the characters of Toy Story 4 — in theaters this weekend — get to visit one, too!