While we were spending time exploring Germany we were extremely lucky to be invited to spend the day at Europa Park in Rust near Freiburg. Keeping it a secret from the kids, we woke them early, loaded them in the car and told them we were off to visit castles for the day. You can imagine their surprise and utter delight when we drove into the Europa Park car park, already spying numerous roller coaster tracks and rides. It was a bright sunny day and the car park was already filling up so we knew that it was going to be a busy day. Having got our tickets and a map we quickly realised that this place was HUGE!!! Making a quick plan to take it slowly and stick together as much as possible we were off. A day of fun, thrills, spills, rides and shows awaiting us!!!
Europa Park was voted 2016 Best European Theme Park and we very quickly realised why. The park is set up as a mini Europe with 15 different countries represented within 18 different adventure lands. Now we are not just talking about the odd flag or certain landmarks dotted around the place…. this was full immersion!!! Each countries adventure land was unbelievably well done with streets, rides, food, shows and areas all done in country theme. The Matterhorn Blitz roller coaster looped over the cobbled streets and Swiss chalet styled shops in Switzerland while the Poseidon water ride splashed down in the clear waters of Greece. The streets of France showcased a mini Effil Tower surrounded by a French bakery and cafe where you could sit next to a water feature and watch dancers strut their stuff on the stage.
Of course the big kids wanted to make a beeline straight for the thrills of the roller coasters but they were also happy to go on some of the more family friendly rides with our littlest guy. On visits to previous theme parks, we have generally always had to split up with one parent going in one direction with the big kids and one getting stuck on the “baby” rides with our 3 year old. We were so excited that we didn’t have to do this at Europa Park. It has been designed in such a way that a large roller coaster is always surrounded by 2 or 3 rides which suit younger kids and are a bit more tame. That way one of us could go on a big ride with some of the kids while the rest of us went on the other rides. The beauty of this was that we were always within the same area and could often see each on different rides. We never got lost from each other and could easily swap around kids for different rides. Another really impressive aspect was the queuing and waiting in line. It was a Sunday, it was hot and it was super busy which naturally made us think we would be waiting in lines for hours at a time. Not the case at all. All the rides allow for a lot of riders each time. The big roller coasters all had 2 or 3 trains running simultaneously while the smaller rides were fast moving with plenty of carts, cars and trains on offer. This meant that we never queued for more than 20 minutes for any ride all day. Most rides have an electronic timer at the start of the queue telling you how long the waiting time was which was fantastic. Another fun feature was that the actual queues didn’t just snake back and forward around a metal barrier, they often took you on an adventure all of its own. Twisting through caves, ghettos and around corners complete with lights, music and moving figures, the queue was often just as exciting as the ride.
Lunchtime came and we chowed down on classic burgers and fries but you could literally choose anything you wanted. Pizza or pasta from Italy, traditional pork gyros from Greece or you could grab a Guinness from the pub in Ireland. The smell of he freshly barbecuing meat from Germany was also very tempting. There was also restaurants, coffee shops and a delicious looking London sweet shop. There was no shortage of places to sit in the shade with a cold drink or ice cream while taking a well deserved rest.
Shows, music and dancing also features heavily at Europa park. A timetable for shows is included in your park map. Its offers everything from 3D, 4D, dancing, singing and a fantastic parade featuring all the parks characters and dancers. If you get stuck on one side of the park and need to get to the other side quickly for a show then the park has a train and a monorail to transport you to all areas of the park. Fantastic for tired little feet that need a break from walking.
With hundreds of attractions on offer, we ran out of time (plus Mum and Dad ran out of energy) to see and do everything. Come 6pm, we were pretty much all exhausted. We had seen and done as much as we could. We had laughed harder than ever, had smiles brighter than the stars and had all pushed ourselves to our roller coaster limits. Europa Park is a huge stand out in every aspect. Its exciting, its fun and it has given us precious family memories. If your in Europe and thinking Theme Parks then make sure you put Europa Park at the top of your list. I promise… it won’t disappoint.