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Micro parks: The most exciting new trend in theme parks


There’s a reason so many people refer to a theme park trip as a “once-in-a-lifetime vacation.”

Unless you live in Florida or Southern California, you are likely hundreds of miles away from a major theme park. On top of the distance, there’s also budgeting, extensive planning and time away from work or school to consider. And if you’re looking for the first time at how much it really costs to go to a major park like Disney World, well, be sure and sit down first. While there’s no denying theme park vacations are magical and memorable, these real-world factors make them something most families can only undertake a handful of times, if ever.

But the newest trend in theme parks is poised to challenge the notion that theme park vacations are only for families who have the time and money to travel across the country and spend a week in the happiest place on earth.

Welcome to the “small world” of micro theme parks.

Related: How to start traveling for less with points and miles

What is a micro theme park?


A micro theme park is a small-scale themed amusement park that offers the same high-caliber attractions and entertainment as a major theme park but with a much smaller footprint. For example, Peppa Pig Theme Park in Winter Haven, Florida, covers only 4 1/2 acres. When I visited with my family last year, we were able to enjoy the entire park in a single day, with time to spare.

To put it in perspective, Walt Disney World‘s four theme parks span approximately 1,000 acres. You could fit about 220 Peppa Pig Theme Parks into that space. While micro theme parks are designed for one-day visits by locals or as a stop-off for visitors during a longer visit to a destination, major theme parks like Disney and Universal are destinations in and of themselves.

And while it was becoming increasingly common to find these micro parks close to major parks, such as Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World, they are now beginning to blaze a trail all their own.

Where are micro theme parks being built?



Even though it is geographically in the middle of the country and has a population second only to that of California, Texas lacks a major theme park that draws significant crowds across state lines.

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But micro parks may fill some of that void in the coming years. A Peppa Pig Theme Park is being built in the Dallas area with a planned 2024 opening. The park will be located in North Richland Hills, a suburb northeast of Fort Worth, with a similar size, layout and attractions as its Florida counterpart.

Related: 8 quirky US theme parks you have to see to believe

Less than an hour away in Frisco, Texas, Universal is in the planning stages of a 100-acre kid-friendly theme park designed for families with young children.

Ground has not yet been broken, nor have any attractions or an opening date officially been announced, but concept art shows a hotel, play areas, a splash pad and a collection of land- and water-based rides that families can enjoy together.



In 2024, Mattel Adventure Park will open in Glendale, Arizona. With attractions themed to Barbie, Hot Wheels, He-Man and more, the 9-acre theme park will be part of Vai Resort. Vai Resort will be Arizona’s largest resort, with an outdoor concert venue, more than 1,100 hotel rooms and a 5-acre pool complex, in addition to the Mattel-themed park.


Sesame Place San Diego sits on just 17 acres and opened in the spring of 2022. At the family-friendly park, you can visit with “Sesame Street” characters, splash at a water park, ride attractions like Super Grover’s Box Car Derby roller coaster and spend time on the stoop of 123 Sesame Street, the address made famous on the long-running show.

Why are micro theme parks good for travelers?


The benefits of a micro theme park’s smaller size are multifaceted. You can usually see and do it all in one day, leaving more time to explore other area attractions. Peppa Pig Theme Park’s Texas location, for example, is close to the NRH2O Family Water Park, the Legoland Discovery Center and the Sea Life Aquarium, among other family-friendly attractions.

These parks also have a major appeal to a regional audience that can visit for the day without having to travel a long distance or find a hotel where they can spend the night. If you live in the Midwest, you may not be able to wake up on a Saturday morning and decide to spend the day at Disney World, but you could drive an hour or two to a smaller regional park and be back at home before bedtime.

Because of their smaller size, micro theme parks also tend to be less crowded than traditional theme parks. This means shorter lines, lower wait times and more opportunities for a positive overall experience. We all know that spending hours in line can significantly reduce a theme park’s fun factor.

In addition to being easier to navigate, micro theme parks are also more affordable. One-day tickets to Florida’s Peppa Pig Theme Park start at just $29 per person. A one-day ticket to Disney World starts north of $100. We all deserve to experience these spaces, and micro theme parks appeal to a broader demographic with more budget-friendly ticket prices.

Why are micro theme parks good for major theme parks?


If you are picturing a run-down amusement park with little to no theming and only a few rides (all of which are begging for a coat of paint), you’ve got micro theme parks all wrong. “Micro” is not a euphemism for cheap or bare bones. The parks listed above are highly immersive parks with exciting attractions, beloved characters and popular theming that appeals to kids and adults alike.

These parks give travelers many more options when planning their family vacations. While the experience of spending a day at a micro theme park can’t replicate the experience of a weeklong vacation at a major theme park, it does challenge traditional theme parks to provide even more value to their customers. When you have the choice to visit a smaller theme park that’s affordable and close to home, big players like Universal and Disney find ways to excite potential visitors and entice them to plan a trip.

That’s a big win for theme park fans, no matter which park they end up visiting.

On top of that, having a fun day at a smaller park closer to home can give a family the confidence that they are ready to level up and plan a bigger trip to a larger park.

Related: These are the best hotels at Disney World

Bottom line

The new crop of micro theme parks popping up across the country means travelers have more choices than ever before when it comes time to look for a day spent with roller coasters, shows and beloved characters. These parks are more accessible and affordable than traditional theme parks and provide a memorable day out without sacrificing quality, immersive theming or, most importantly, fun.

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