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Favourite theme park entrance experience?

Matt N

Strata Poster
Hi guys. They say that first impressions count, and for that reason, many parks like to put a touch of magic into their entrances. Whether it’s the Disney parks with Main Street USA and the castle, or Alton Towers with Towers Street and its stunning view of the ruins, many parks have managed to make their entrances an iconic part of the experience. So my question to you today is; what are some of your favourite theme park entrance experiences?

I’ll get the ball rolling with some of my personal favourites…
  • Disney’s Magic Kingdom - I had to start with what is quite arguably the granddaddy of iconic entrances, didn’t I? The entrance view of the Magic Kingdom, or any Disney castle park for that matter, is possibly the most well-known in the world! In terms of the actual entrance itself, though, I’ve got to say I think that Magic Kingdom does a great job; the castle itself provides a rather iconic centrepiece, and I think Main Street USA has a great sense of atmosphere!
  • Alton Towers - Alton’s entrance experience also has a real sense of magic about it too, although in this instance, the ruins are a real structure! I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I do think that Alton’s entrance has a real aura and sense of magic about it that few parks can match, and I really love that!
  • Islands of Adventure - IOA’s entrance is another that I absolutely love! While it lacks a particular focal point like the two entrances above have, I think IOA’s entrance has a wonderful sense of ambience and mystique about it! I love the whole Arabian-type look it has, I think the entrance music is gorgeous, and I also like the way they’ve designed it such that the rest of the park gradually comes into view as you round the corner! Overall, IOA’s entrance gets a big thumbs up from me!
  • Thorpe Park - This might be a controversial one, but I do really like Thorpe’s entrance! The thing I like about it is that I’ll admit I find passing over the bridge onto the island itself and seeing all of the coasters laid out either side of you really quite magical, in a sense!
But what are some of your favourite theme park entrances?
 

Heth

Mega Poster
Good idea

Best:

Efteling - the Huis de Vijf Zintuigen building is incredible and is made better as it opens out onto Fata Morgana across the lake.

Disneyland Paris - essentially same reasons as you gave above for Magic Kingdom.


Worst:

Chessington World of Adventures - I don't dislike the park, but the Southern entrance is very underwhelming, coming out to look at a fasttrack hut and the immelman of Dragons Fury.

Phantasialand - the Berlin entrance is fine, if a bit dated, however the Mystery entrance is pretty much just a side gate around the back of the park.
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Thorpe Park would only figure ironically on my list. It starts off well enough: You go ahead from the turnstiles, cross the bridge, enter the dome straight ahead, exit on the other side of the dome ... and you're on a balcony of sorts, overlooking a waterslide. The actual park is way off in the distance. There's no way ahead. You must walk around the dome, backwards to the right or left, to find a path that will take you ahead into the park proper by going around the waterslides. That park entrance is a right royal mess.

My home park of TusenFryd deserves a mention, with the gates opening to a little plaza where big escalators take you into the park proper. They ascend through the Norwegian Loop of SpeedMonster, and you'll often get to see a train inverting over your head, diving underneath you, and come back up on the other side for a second inversion as you ascend. Granted, the park layout is a confusing mess once you get to the top of the escalators, but the experience is top-notch up to that point, at least.
 

Smithy

Strata Poster
Alton Towers - walking down the pathway and suddenly it just opens up into a vast expanse of greenery with the Towers directly in front of you - you'd think you'd arrived at a country house rather than a working theme park as none of the rides are really visible from there either.

Port Aventura - Easily my favourite here - ignoring the long stroll up to the park, once you're in it's like being in a classic Medeterranian old town, and suddenly it opens up into the lake with Baco flying over, Khan/Shambhala visible in the distance too. It's a cracking place to start/finish the day off.

Didn't think much of Efteling or Phantasialand in terms of entrances - nothing necessarily wrong with them, just don't recall anything stand-out either.
 

Projektion

Mega Poster
DisneySea - I feel like I'm cheating by choosing this. That entrance archway sightline. It is just perfection. The framing of it all and then how it opens out into the Mediterranean harbour section of the park.
If you haven't been, there's plenty of pics of it online and its talked about a lot, so you will probably know what I'm talking about, but I'm still being somewhat vague about it just cause it's something you don't really want spoiled and should experience when you enter the park for the first time yourself
 
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Kw6sTheater

Hyper Poster
Islands of Adventure - As Matt is saying, it's a fantastic main street that really sets the bar for Islands of Adventure's incredible and highly immersive atmosphere.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas - A shockingly well-themed, vibrant Mexican-inspired plaza, with a distinct charm that sets it apart from other Six Flags' generic entrance lands. This made for a great first impression of Fiesta Texas overall, and I'm so glad they haven't redone it since the Gaylord Entertainment days.

Busch Gardens Tampa - The Moroccan main street has a strange, curvy layout, but it's still very detailed and very nostalgic (to me at least).

Both Hersheypark's old and new entrance areas deserve a mention here as well. I absolutely loved the old Tudor Square (very kitschy and charming, was heartbroken when it got replaced), but I can't deny that Chocolatetown is the much higher capacity, truly grand entrance that Hersheypark deserves. The large, brick facades of Chocolatetown fit in better with the next-door Hershey's Chocolate World factory as well, and as a whole Chocolatetown was better than I expected.
 

Sandman

Hyper Poster
Not my fave park entrance but Toverland's new(ish) entrance deserves some love!

It's a nice area to first step into and perfectly fits the Toverland experience.
Lovely music and colours; a very positive welcome!
 

chainedbanana

Mega Poster
Toverland does indeed have a lovely new entrance way!

Hansa for me is pretty special for a moderate sized park ....the effort the park has gone to in the last decade to theme their entrance way into historic European facades is above and beyond..... also the floral clock and date arrangement - the jazz band that is often playing.....its all rather lovely!
 
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