Favourite theme park entrance experiences?

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
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?
 

JAperson

TS Member
That's a difficult one.
I'm a big fan of Alton Towers entrance experience particularly when the monorail is in action. I rarely take the monorail know as the queue is usually too big but when I do it just feels to magical. I can't think of any other parks entrance I particularly like. I do have a few I dislike though but I won't get into that.
 

AT86

TS Member
Before they ruined the view from the monorail windows at Alton Towers, I would say that ‘entrance experience’ was hard to beat.

Gliding past all the attractions you were going to experience that day was the best ‘weenie’, as Walt Disney would have called it.

Wish they would remove the wraps from the windows to bring this experience back.
 

Skyscraper

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Very surprised that no one has mentioned the Corkscrew track above Towers entrance plaza. Entering the park wouldn't feel the same without it. :)
 

Tim

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Air / Blue Fire
Animal Kingdom.
I love the Oasis and think it's a really cleaver way to isolate the entrance and carpark from Discovery Island (the main street and hub). It creates a great sense of adventure when you arrive at the park and have to choses from a series of winding paths. Ultimately it doesn't matter which you take but it feels like you've gone off the beaten track.
There are even a few animal exhibits at this point which add a bit of mystery.
 

Rick

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Crux
Efteling is great walking up the main path towards the giant entrance structure, however I always feel a bit let down when you get inside the building, with is rather cold and empty. You then get in the park and there’s not really anything to see as toy enter, other than a toilet block and the shop. (Of course I do love Efteling)
Agree with this.

I am not sure if it counts as an 'entrance experience', but driving down the causeway to Cedar Point never gets old.
 
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Danny

TS Contributor
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
I feel like the Efteling entrance arch should have been turned 90 degrees to the right, and given views straight over onto the lake rather than some trees and the toilet block. It's quite absurd that the park prides itself on all the charming theming and having one of the most eye-catching entrance arches, arguably on the planet, yet misses the entrance experience entirely.

Going to pop Legendia into the ring. A quaint, themed entrance street with views out over the lake and onto Lech.

I would have said also IoA, but I feel like Velocicoaster detracts from the vista rather than adding to it.

Oh, and obviously Towers. Authentic ruins vista and all that jazz.
 

Rob

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
I am not sure if it counts as an 'entrance experience', but driving down the causeway to Cedar Point never gets old.

I was going to say Cedar Point. Not because of the entrance experience as such, but just because you know when you go in that you are entering a park with a plethora of outstanding coasters!

Disneyland is a special entrance experience for me. Knowing it is the place where it all started, and looking up to Walt's apartment above the fire station.
 

geo4chg

TS Member
Disneyland is a special entrance experience for me. Knowing it is the place where it all started, and looking up to Walt's apartment above the fire station.

Totally agree. Disneyland Paris may be the more beautiful park with the stunning castle (my personal biggest ever "wow" feeling was turning the corner onto Main St and seeing the castle for the first time when I was 7), but you can't beat the original Disneyland for the nostalgia and feeling of history when you walk down Main Street, knowing it is pretty much exactly as it was when Walt Disney first opened the gates over 66 years ago and began the modern era of theme parks.
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
Controversially, I'd go for Disneyland Park at DLP. The reason for this is going back before the entrance. The plaza beforehand is absolutely beautiful with the pathways, and little bridges over water features. Some don't like having the hotel above it but I think it's great. Then getting in, I love both the Arcades on either side of main Street and Le Château de la Belle au Bois dormant is an absolutely beautiful thing to behold, the most best one in my opinion.

Regarding Towers Street, I'd agree with what has been said about the view across the lawns and lakes to see the Towers in the background. Very British, very beautiful, very iconic and gets me every time. I also love the way it all opens up when you're past the turnstiles. Everything seems to get wider as the street slopes down to reveal the view.

But I just can't take my eyes away from the state of it. The dull patches of grass surrounded by rocks where flowers and water features once stood. The primary colours slapped on rotting buildings that were clearly not designed to look that way (with visible gaps between the building facade and the paving). Lifeless buildings with vinyls on the windows, behind which used to be shops and facilities. The empty bar and grill. In the entrance plaza, a lime green monorail station and a completely flat piece of MDF painted purple with "Welcome to Alton Towers Resort" on it that's clearly just been nailed up on the cheap. I really wish they'd restore Towers Street properly. Tussauds vandalised it (and Talbot Street for that matter) and it's just got worse ever since.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Regarding Towers Street, I'd agree with what has been said about the view across the lawns and lakes to see the Towers in the background. Very British, very beautiful, very iconic and gets me every time. I also love the way it all opens up when you're past the turnstiles. Everything seems to get wider as the street slopes down to reveal the view.

But I just can't take my eyes away from the state of it. The dull patches of grass surrounded by rocks where flowers and water features once stood. The primary colours slapped on rotting buildings that were clearly not designed to look that way (with visible gaps between the building facade and the paving). Lifeless buildings with vinyls on the windows, behind which used to be shops and facilities. The empty bar and grill. In the entrance plaza, a lime green monorail station and a completely flat piece of MDF painted purple with "Welcome to Alton Towers Resort" on it that's clearly just been nailed up on the cheap. I really wish they'd restore Towers Street properly. Tussauds vandalised it (and Talbot Street for that matter) and it's just got worse ever since.
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but wasn’t much of what Towers Street is today caused by Tussauds/Pearson in the early 1990s as opposed to Merlin?

Also, what was TS actually like back in the 80s? I know it had far more shops, and it had brick ponds and flowerbeds instead of the grass verges it has today, but what was it actually like, for anyone who was there to see it?
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but wasn’t much of what Towers Street is today caused by Tussauds/Pearson in the early 1990s as opposed to Merlin?

Also, what was TS actually like back in the 80s? I know it had far more shops, and it had brick ponds and flowerbeds instead of the grass verges it has today, but what was it actually like, for anyone who was there to see it?

Correct. It was ruined in the early 90's, way before Merlin. I'm sure someone else will know the exact year, from my childhood memories I'm going for 1992. Possibly 1993 or 1994 as the rocks may have come from the Nemesis pit? Be interesting if someone knows for sure.

You have to bear in mind, I was young at the time. I do remember the waterwheel in Towers Street restaurant (not sure what it was called though back then) but I don't have many memories of the shops, just the fronts and people walking in and out of them. It was full of life and had an authentic feel to it all. Felt very British, not sure what architectural time period they were going for but the buildings kind of felt like a romantised version of a British country village high street, a bit like how MSUSA was a romantised version of Walt Disney's home town. The brick ponds and flower beds were beautiful in the middle of the street. Again, very British, red brick with pretty iron railings I think? The frogs used to squirt over them at each other above the pathways and kids used to stand underneath them getting wet (now relegated to being watched from afar with no interactive element). It was a great place to be and was more like a park area that people spent time in rather than just a walkthrough to get to all the rides.
 

djtruefitt

TS Team
Towers Street opened in 1986 originally, with its original style, shops and restaurants on both sides, lots of planters, and brickwork flower beds, etc.

It was tussards who didn’t like this, originally closing the majority of the shops down the right hand side in 1992, and turning towers trading in to one large store.

I think it would have been 1993 or 1994 when they re did the street to what it is today.

You can find out more about it, and the old shops here:
https://towersstreet.com/theme-park/area/towers-street/#areahistory
 

Ian

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Dizz, Bobby’s Yarn Land 🧶
I’m surely not the only one who thinks Efteling’s “The House of the Five Senses” entrance is actually a really intimidating structure? It looks like somewhere the evil villain from a Disney film would live. Only a true supervillain could pull off the curse that makes the entrance get further away as you walk towards it down that bloody car park.

Animal Kingdom has a great entrance for all the reasons Tim has already listed. It really feels like you’re going on an adventure into the jungle.

Disappointed there isn’t any love here for Berggeiststraße Bus Station Phantasialand’s main entrance. Nothing says magical like 70s brown marble and brushed steel…

59401727_1489498476-768x432.jpg
 
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