Theme Park Movies and Scenes

This weekend, director Brad Bird takes into a whole new world with the Disney sci-fi adventure Tomorrowland. The film starring Britt Robertson and George Clooney is influenced and inspired by the real-life Disney theme park attraction of the same name (even if references to Walt Disney were cut out of the movie). Therefore, this seems like the perfect time to take a look back at some of our favorite theme park movies and scenes from the big screen.

Below we have a countdown of the Top 15 Favorite Theme Park Movies & Scenes. Frankly, there aren’t an overwhelming number of theme park-based movies before you start getting into bad movie territory (such as Beverly Hills Cop III or Final Destination 3). That’s why we’ve included some great scenes from films that might not be entirely set at a theme park. We’ve also expanded the concept to include carnivals, fairs and water parks, because it just makes sense. Check out the list after the jump!

#15. Westworld


Have we got a vacation for you!” With artificial intelligence becoming more of a reality as technology advances everyday, this sci-fi, western, thriller might not be too far from predicting the future. In the movie, an amusement park called Delos, populated by androids very close to being human-like, immerses adults in three different worlds: Medieval World, Roman World and West World. In this final world that malfunctions in a gunslinger android, as well as the other “attractions,” begin to pose a fatal threat to attendees. It’s this kind of scenario that would probably keep me from ever messing with an android populated theme park, especially for $1,000 a day. Don’t forget, we’ll see this concept updated in a new series on HBO.

Fun Fact: This film marked the feature directorial debut from author Michael Crichton, the man whose book inspired another dangerous theme park adventure you may have heard of called Jurassic Park. But more on that later.

#14. The Notebook – Ferris Wheel Scene

Yeah, we’re going to get a little cheesy with our first scene on this countdown. There’s plenty of ferris wheel scenes in romance movies out there, but this one takes the cake. There are plenty of men and women out there that wouldn’t be able to resist Ryan Gosling threatening his own life by hanging from a ferris wheel, unless he’s given the opportunity to go out on a date with them. But let’s be honest, Ryan Gosling is probably so strong that he can hang there for awhile, so you’d have some time to think about it.

#13. Escape from Tomorrow

Escape from Tomorrow

You can probably count the number of movies that have been shot in Disneyland but not officially sanctioned by the Walt Disney Company on one hand, and then the House of Mouse would probably slap your hand for even bringing them up. But none received as much buzz or interest as the peculiar indie psychological horror flick Escape from Tomorrow. The entire film was secretly shot at Disney’s theme parks, and it makes for quite a unique viewing experience that you’ll likely never see in a large scale film production that isn’t made by Disney. While the quality of the story leaves something to be desired, the movie must still be seen to be believed and is quite the surreal trip.

#12. Saving Mr. Banks – Welcome to the Magic Kingdom

Speaking of being able to shoot movies at Disney theme parks, Saving Mr. Banks is one of the few major motion pictures that actually shot on location for some scenes. For two days, Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson walked around part of Disneyland that had been touched up to look like it did back in 1961. Disneyland Resort attendees were made up as extras, and many park employees were allowed on set in various park extra roles as well. The result is a pretty magical time capsule in a movie that really does capture the charm of Walt Disney.

#11. The Jerk – Navin’s Special Purpose

It was tough to choose between this and Steve Martin as a weight guesser at the carnival, but nothing beats finding out what your special purpose is. There’s a good chunk of The Jerk that takes place at the carnival, and it’s not only where Navin (Martin) becomes a man, thanks to the rough carnival personality Patty (Caitlyn Adams), but he eventually finds his dream woman Marie (Bernadette Peters), who also takes an interest in his special purpose. If you haven’t seen this comedy classic, take the time and check it out.

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