Family

The World's Wackiest Theme Parks

by Colleen Clark

Pedro Land (a.k.a. South of the Border)
Dillon, South Carolina

The roadside theme park Pedro Land feels like Coney Island went to Chi-Chi's for fried ice cream with the Minutemen. More than 175 different interstate billboards lure you to this shining sombrero of stereotypes just south of the border—the North Carolina border, that is. (Our favorite slogan: "You never sausage a place. You're always a weiner at Pedro's!") Visitors are first greeted by the park's mascot, a 97-foot-tall pancho-clad Pedro. In addition to the regular assortment of rides—Ferris wheel, carousel, bumper cars—you can ride a glass elevator 200 feet up to the top of the Sombrero Observation Tower or even have your wedding vows witnessed by a "Pedro of the Peace." Perhaps you'd like to do a little shopping? Get your fill of Mexican jumping beans and souvenir tequila at the gift store. Finish your trip with a bang at Fort Pedro, the park's supermarket of fireworks. The specter of political correctness has put a dent in the piñata of ethnic clichés and bad puns (no more putt-putting on the "Golf of Mexico" course) but Pedro Land remains as far removed from actual Mexican culture as it is from the actual Mexican border. More authentic, though just as questionable, is Mexico's own Parque EcoAlberto, about three hours northwest of Mexico City, where you can pay $18 to experience a make-believe illegal border crossing, complete with patrol chases, fake gunshots, and barking dogs.

Next: A good old American freak show ›

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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