The World's Wackiest Theme Parks

by Colleen Clark

Oita, Japan

When it comes to themed attractions, Japan is an embarrassment of riches, whether you want to go around the world in your birthday suit or spend dinner chained up in a dungeon. But for a real taste of Japan, you'll need to delve into the nationwide obsession with kawaisa, or cuteness. The crown princess of cute, of course, is Hello Kitty, and Japan has two entire theme parks devoted to this magical feline: the indoor Sanrio Puroland in Tokyo and the outdoor Harmonyland, a one-and-a-half-hour flight away in Oita. Any Hello Kitty fan worth her hair bow favors Harmonyland, which has more pink fuzzies and sparkly rainbows per square foot than a Care Bear convention. The formula is basically to re-create the amusement-park standard bearers in the likeness of Sanrio characters—you've got your Hello Kitty spinning teacups, your Hello Kitty Ferris wheel, your Hello Kitty variant of "It's a Small World." But where Harmonyland really shines is in its parades and stage shows. Hello Kitty and friends become fairies of water, and according to the Web site's translated descriptions, there is "A powerful fountain blowing up! Fantastic mist spring up! This show is full of coolness!" You'll end your journey through adorable happy cuddle land with a spectacular show involving—what else?—lasers!

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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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