Fasten your seat-belts and get ready for an action-packed tour around 12 of Europe’s most awesome theme parks…
Second only to Disneyland Paris in terms of popularity, Germany’s Europa-Park is a rollercoaster filled ode to Europe’s countries. A thrilling 50 attractions await, which side-by-side would cover the size of eighty football pitches. The park is located around 35 km north of Freiburg, close to the village of Rust, making it the perfect day trip destination if you’re heading between Strasbourg or Karlsruhe and the Swiss Alps.
Visitors to Copenhagen have been falling under Tivoli’s spell ever since it opened its gates in 1843. With its cute-as-a-button mix of amusements, attractions and performances it’s easy to see why. Stepping through its famous arch, you enter a world of fairy tales, exotic lands and exhilarating rides. Even Hans Christian Andersen was a fan. There are big thrills to be found too – the park contains one of the world’s highest chain carousels and a number of show-stopping rollercoasters.
Malta’s Popeye Village was originally built as a film set for the 1980 Popeye movie, starring Robin Williams. These days, the cartoon town of Sweethaven is an open-air museum and family entertainment complex. Visitors can check out sets and props from the film, take a 15-minute boat trip around Anchor Bay and snap the thoroughly instagrammable scenery from the sea. As far as amusements go, there are audio visual shows (including clips from the actual film), a 9- hole mini golf course, as well as water trampolines and numerous Popeye-based games.
Look forward to adrenaline-fuelled adventures on six epic rollercoasters – all in stunning surroundings. Gardaland has one of the most privileged settings in Europe. Located on the banks of the glorious Lake Garda, the park offers entertainment for all ages. Younger children will adore Gardaland’s Fantasy Kingdom, with its Toy Town and treehouse of Prezzemolo, the park’s mascot, while thrill seekers can up the ante on the fast flowing Jungle Rapids water ride or the hair-raising Blue Tornado rollercoaster.
Once upon a time there was a theme park where all your favourite fairy tales were brought to life. Efteling, a dark and enchanting world of princesses, pixies, fairies and trolls is located in Kaatsheuvel in the Netherlands. Cinderella, Rapunzel as well as numerous folk tale characters are represented in the park’s attractions, which feature 35 rides including six rollercoasters and four water rides. Top billing goes to ‘Joris en de Draak’ a wooden rollercoaster offering extreme thrills. The park’s pièce de résistance though, is Aquanura, Europe’s biggest watershow.
Just a short hop from beautiful Poitiers, the Futuroscope park in Charente Maritime, uses cinema, 3D and 4D technology to create a futuristic sensory experience, alongside fun educational elements. Very few of the attractions operate height restrictions, meaning young and old can share the experiences – this truly is fun for everyone in the family, from tiny tots to grannies and granddads. The park is open all year round apart from January.
Little did local inventor Kirk Christiansen know he’d put Billund on the map when he came up with the Lego brand in the 1930s. Today, the Danish town is home to the global headquarters of Lego, as well as the Lego factory, and most famously, Legoland, where 9 themed Lego ‘lands’, four rollercoasters, two water rides and over 40 other attractions built from a whopping 60 million bricks provide bucket-loads of fun for all ages.
Sun, sand, sea….those spectacular Gaudi buildings…. just when you thought a trip to Barcelona couldn’t get any better, PortAventura beckons with its six magical, action-packed ‘worlds’ filled with everything from Sesame Street characters to wild west- themed adventures and exhilarating rollercoaster rides. Situated just over an hour from the city, PortAventura is the perfect day trip for city breakers or families visiting the sun-drenched Costa Dorada.
Toddlers of the world rejoice! Everyone’s favourite pig family has its very own theme park – Peppa Pig World, located within Paultons Family Theme Park, right on the edge of New Forest in leafy Hampshire. Entry not only covers all things pink and Peppa, but also includes access to 60 different attractions and rides. Thrilling rollercoasters, gentle carousels, monstrous dinosaurs, museum exhibits, animated shows, colourful play areas, exotic birds and other fun activities await, all within a picture-perfect garden setting.
A theme park based on a crisp? Only in Ireland. Dedicated to probably the world’s best dressed potato, Mr Tayto, Tayto Park is just a short 30-minute drive from Dublin and features its own zoo with meerkats, buffalo and Amur tigers as well as thrilling rides such as the Zipline Extreme, Rotator and the Cu Chulainn Coaster, (the largest wooden rollercoaster in Europe to offer up-side down thrills). Between its zoo, factory tour, water features and rides, Tayto Park makes for an action-packed day out for families or groups visiting the Irish capital.
Fact: The world’s first theme park was founded in 1583, is just a 10-minute drive from Copenhagen and is kind of a hipster’s dream. Located in the pretty woodlands of Dyrehaven, Bakken is a unique amusement park that combines modern and fun amusements with vintage nostalgia. Due to its history and unique location, no big brands are allowed to set up stalls at Bakken and neon signs are banned. Instead you’ll find a charming hodgepodge of colourful wooden structures and small independent shops. The park’s star attraction is an 82-year-old wooden rollercoaster, but there are 33 other thrilling rides to choose from as well as 78 other attractions including shooting stalls and gaming arcades. Best of all, the entrance is free.
- Fiona Hilliard