Amusement parks evolved in Europe from fairs and pleasure gardens which were created for people’s recreation. The oldest amusement park in the world (opened 1583) is Bakken, at Klampenborg, north of Copenhagen, Denmark. In the United States, world’s fairs and expositions were another influence on development of the amusement park industry.
In common language, theme park is often used as a synonym for the term ‘amusement park’. A ‘theme park’ is actually a distinct style of amusement park, for a theme park has landscaping, buildings, and attractions that are based on one or more specific or central themes. A plurality of themes are not required to be considered a ‘Theme’ park. Despite the long history of amusement parks, where many parks have traditionally incorporated themes into the evolving design and operation of the park, qualifying a park as a theme park, the first park built with the original intension of promoting a specific (or exclusive set of) theme(s), Santa Claus Land (currently known as Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari) located in Santa Claus, Indiana, did not open until 1946. Disneyland, located in Anaheim, California, built around the concept of encapsulating multiple theme parks into a single amusement park is often mistakenly noted as the first themed amusement park.