Top Theme Parks in Europe
Great Theme Parks to visit with Kids around Europe
Did you know that there are several amazing theme parks around Europe? Certain American theme parks get all the attention, but there are fantastic fun parks to visit around Europe with the kids. While traveling with the kids, we make a point of visiting some of these amazing places.
This is probably one of the best theme parks I have ever visited with the kids. It was very fun and child-friendly. Did I mention fun? First of all, it’s in an incredible location- on the Costa Dorada in Catalonia, Spain. While it’s only one hour from Barcelona, I recommend you look to stay somewhere close to the theme park. We stayed in Salou. The complex actually has three theme parks- Portaventura Park, Caribe Aquatic Park, and the recently-opened Ferrari Land. Portaventura has 5 on-site hotels, caravan site, golf courses, and a beach club with access to the beach. If you go during high season, it would be good to plan a few days, so you have time to enjoy all the rides and the local beaches. We went to PortAventura Park towards the end of May when the weather was warm, but the park wasn’t too crowded.
At the time we went Chupa Chups offered discounts to the park, so have a look to see if it’s on offer when you go. The park does offer excellent packages and promotions, so have a look to see what suits your family. Great website in English and several other languages.
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Our first experience with a European theme park was the super fun, northern Italian theme park, Gardaland. It is located in the north-eastern part of Italy near Lake Garda. It’s about a 30 minute drive from Verona. The park’s mascot is a friendly dinosaur called – Prezzemolo (meaning Parsley). There are rides for all ages – from the little ones right up to those who love the thrill rides. For some familiar faces you can go to Kung Fu Panda Academy. When we went to Gardaland our girls were quite young (the youngest being a toddler at the time) and we had a wonderful time here. The atmosphere was great too. There are two Gardaland hotels and a Gardaland Sealife aquarium as well.
There is a user-friendly website in English.
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If you are a fan of Asterix, then this is the place for you! Parc Asterix is a great amusement park just outside of Paris, France. It caters to all ages and as my kids are fans of Asterix and Obelix they had a great time. While there are plenty of staff that speak English, all signs and information at the park are in French. We visited another popular park while we were in Paris and our family preferred this one because it was better organized, cleaner, friendlier, and less touristy. If your children are not familiar with Asterix, then check your local library to see if they have any Asterix comics. Also, you could watch the latest Asterix cartoon movie- Asterix: The Mansion of the Gods.
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Imagine a theme park based on enchantment and magic with a fairytale forest, thrill seeking rides, and an enchanted palace- this is Efteling. While we haven’t been yet, Efteling has been on my list of theme parks that I really want to visit. Apart from a wide range of outdoor and indoor rides, it also has several shows, but the water show is not to be missed. It’s open 365 days a year and they have a user friendly English website. The park also has a wide range of accommodation options for guests; hotel, apartments, and holiday homes.
Plopsa Indoor Hasselt
First of all, who doesn’t love a name like “plopsa”- the name alone made us want to go here. However, the name comes from Kabouter Plop (Gnome Plop) a Belgium children’s show. The park also has other characters like Maya the Bee and Vic the Viking which have been quite popular in our home. If you are after a large theme park with big roller coasters, than I would go to Plopsaland de Panne.
While there is more than one park, the park we visited was indoors which makes it an ideal escape for cold and rainy weather. It is a small park but plenty of fun activities when you need to take a break from sightseeing or crazy weather. Our children had a great time. There is also an outdoor area with some rides and a water feature.
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The biggest theme park in Germany and second in all of Europe (after Disneyland, Paris), this fantastic park caters to everyone. The park has 13 roller coasters, so it’s a great place to visit with adventurous older children and teenagers. However, being one of Europe’s largest parks, it has so many fun family and toddler rides and activities that it would take more than one day to do them all! It also has several shows ranging from Flamenco dancing and ice-skating to magic and fairy tale shows-- so many options! It’s also located in a convenient area of Germany- it’s in the southwest corner, so it’s 45 minutes south of Strausbourg, France, 1 hour north of Basel, Switzerland, and 2 hours from Stuttgart, Germany.
The question is probably more along the lines of why wouldn’t you visit such a fun, family-friendly place?
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While most theme parks consists of rides, this park bases itself on exciting shows and themed areas based on French history. Don’t think--- oh, just some shows put you off going. The park is the second most popular in France after Disneyland and has over 2 million visitors a year. These shows are unlike anything you have ever seen before. You will feel as if you have been transported in time when you watch an action-filled Viking adventure or Medieval knights fighting it out. There is even a coliseum where you can feel what it was like to witness a Roman show! Also, while the shows are in French, you can rent headsets to translate for you, if you wish.There are also period villages where you can see what it was like to live in a medieval town or small French village circa 1900. There is also a large animal park with with more than 1500 animals. Also, during peak season they create the world’s largest night time spectacular in the world- Cinéscénie. If you plan on going you’ll want to book this way ahead of time as it’s a separate ticket and books out quickly. So, if you are looking to visit the Nantes region of France and would like to experience French history, then you will definitely need to make time to come here!
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Tivoli Gardens is one of the world’s oldest theme parks and when you enter you feel the magic of old world charm. The park opened in 1843 and has been a popular family destination ever since its doors first opened to the public. Here, you can experience riding one of the world’s oldest wooden roller coasters or you can ride the more recent The Demon- a wildly fast roller coaster with an optional 3-D component. The Fatamorgana is the newest ride which offers varying levels of thrill and excitement from the bumper cars at the bottom for the youngsters to the stomach turning brave souls swinging at the top! If you have a young family, Tivoli has plenty of gentle rides suitable to younger children as well as the beautiful Pantomime theatre- where no multi language skills are necessary. So, if you are travels include a visit to Copenhagen, you’ll want to make time to visit Tivoli.
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Japan does a great job with its theme parks and Universal Studios is super fun. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is absolutely amazing and after hearing so many rave reviews was the real reason I really wanted to visit.
Visiting Sicily, Italy, during Easter with the kids is a real treat as there are so many festivals and parades happening around the island. The only problem you will really have is deciding where to go.