Facebook Twitter

4 religious theme parks you have to see to believe

Tired of typical vacation spots like the beach or New York City? Check out these four faith-filled theme parks

SHARE 4 religious theme parks you have to see to believe
Visitors take a selfie as a replica Noah’s Ark stands in the distance at the Ark Encounter theme park, in Williamstown, Ky.

Visitors take a selfie as a replica Noah’s Ark stands in the distance at the Ark Encounter theme park during a media preview day, in Williamstown, Ky.

John Minchillo, Associated Press

Summer may be over, but it’s never too early to start dreaming up your next family vacation.

If you’re active in a faith community, you may be interested in traditional religious sites like Vatican City, the Holy Land or Mecca.

But another option is lesser-known faith-based theme parks, which are attractions designed to entertain visitors of all ages while imparting moral wisdom.

For religious folks seeking faithful fun for the whole family, here are four of the world's most divine theme-park destinations:

The Ark Encounter, Williamstown, Kentucky

This full-sized replica of Noah’s Ark is a one-of-a-kind attraction. The big boat was built using the dimensions provided in Genesis 6, making it 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, according to the website for the Ark Encounter.

The grounds around the boat house additional attractions. Visitors can go to a zoo, play on a giant playground or even ride on a zip line.

The Ark Encounter is a “sister attraction” to Kentucky’s Creation Museum, a religious tourist attraction in its own right.

Suoi Tien, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Vacationers seeking a more exotic adventure could consider Suoi Tien Cultural Theme Park in southern Vietnam. The site, dubbed the world's first Buddhist water slide park by Atlas Obscura, aligns with the animistic style of Buddhism practiced in southeast Asia.

"The amusement park, which opened in 1995, is full of huge sculpted dragons, tortoises, phoenixes and Buddhas. Employees dressed as golden monkeys scamper around the grounds, tasked with creating mischief," reports Slate. Visitors will enjoy water slides that "emerge from the beards of sculpted Buddhist sages."

Suoi Tien is not all fun and games, however. Its Palace of Unicorns presents the Buddhist vision of hell, a house of horrors that's not meant for the faint of heart. The crocodile pond is also a dangerous attraction, although the opportunity to feed raw meat on fishing poles to the beasts may be too tempting to resist.

Tierra Santa, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tierra Santa, a Spanish phrase meaning "Holy Land," is billed as the world's first religious theme park. Vice reported in 2011 that the site, which was a soccer field in its previous life, offers an eclectic mix of faith-affirming attractions.

The park focuses on the figure of Jesus Christ, telling the biblical stories of his birth, crucifixion and resurrection.

"It's not all plaster and fiberglass at Tierra Santa," wrote Ella Morton for Slate. "Human employees in era-appropriate garb weave among the mannequins (of religious leaders) to serve food and change trash bags. During Easter a team of actors performs the Stations of the Cross."

Haw Par Villa, Singapore

Haw Par Villa is the most ominous option on the list. This theme park is famous for its depiction of the 10 courts of hell.

“You will be treated to a very graphic, up close and personal account of what you have to look forward to as a result of your transgressions in this life,” according to Atlas Obscura.

If that sounds too depressing, you can stick to other parts of the park, which features unique dioramas, statues and koi and turtle ponds.

“You can easily spend an entire afternoon losing yourself in this plaster maze of mythology posing with the Monkey King and Sumo wrestlers, or the very, very bloody battle between rabbits and rats,” Atlas Obscura reported.