Thrills and chills at Germany's amusement parks
Hands down, Halloween is one of my favorite seasons of the year. I label it a season as the scary movies start popping up on Netflix at the beginning of Oct., pumpkins burn orange in the fields, and amusement parks turn into Halloween wonderlands.
Head out to one of Germany’s 40 themed amusement parks. Lose yourself in haunted houses, feel your blood run cold on terrifying coasters and catapults, run from zombies, or just enjoy the ambiance and pageantry of it all. There is something for everyone, from family fun to nerve-shattering, heart-pounding rides for the thrill-seeking enthusiasts.
Although open year-round, the spooky events at Europa Park run until Nov. 5. Located in Rust, Germany - Europa Park is the country’s largest theme park with 11 rollercoasters and more than 100 attractions and shows. The 15th century Balthasar Castle sits as the park’s focal point, providing a castle garden landscape. The park includes 16 unique and beautifully themed areas that represent countries or regions of Europe.
Premiered in 2012, Wodan takes the traditional wooden rollercoaster to new heights with a tumultuous journey into Norse mythology. At 115 feet tall with speeds exceeding 63 mph, you’ll be disoriented and thrilled until the end. Reach for the sky on the Silver Star, Europe’s second tallest coaster at 239 feet, and initial drop of 219 feet with top speed of 75 mph.
Smaller ones will enjoy Children’s World and its Viking ships, vintage cars and conduct trains. Or, they can wander through the Enchanted Forest, escape the Witch’s house of Hansel and Gretel and see Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Cinderella’s slippers and the infamous apple eaten by Snow White.
Infamous for innovative roller coasters, northern Germany’s Heide Park offers more than 50 rides for the whole family, but a fair share for coaster enthusiasts. Far more frightening than any haunted house, find your way through a shipwreck while trying to escape certain death on Krake Lebt!, or Kraken Alive!, Germany’s first dive coaster. Experience the acceleration of six Gs of force as you dive toward the open jaws of the mythic sea monster.
After narrowly escaping Kraken’s jaws, dry your clammy hands and shaky head for other notable rides such as Limit, Desert Race, or Collosus, one of the steepest wooden coasters in the world. And don’t forget Scream — at 338 feet high, you’ll share your own shrieks on one of the tallest free fall rides in the world. Located within a wildlife preserve, the park provides the opportunity to watch the region’s animal species while taking a break from riding. For more information, you can download the Heide Park Resort app. The app lets you buy tickets, avoid lines, and provides detailed park information.
Half an hour from Mannheim is Holiday Park, the dead are coming to life as Halloween Fright Nights take over. There are events for the whole family, enclusing 16+ years and up "Scare Zones" to calmer events for littles.
Visit Falkenstein Castle, an indoor adventure that uses animatronics to bring the Middle Ages to life. Slay dragons, share feasts with kings, or battle evil knights. Cool off on Thunder River and Devil’s Barrel, two water adventure rides bound to get you soaked. End the day with a bird’s-eye view from 260 feet above the park on Germany’s tallest carousel, Lighthouse Tower.
Holiday Park is open weekends and most weekdays through early November. Stop by any USO location in Germany for discounted tickets.
With 50 attractions themed around the popular children’s construction blocks, LEGOLAND Deutschland is a unique family experience. Ride on the back of a dragon, explore the lost city, Atlantis, and be amazed by miniature cities of Germany and the Netherlands constructed of more than 50 million LEGOS at 1/20th scale.
The weekend can be even more special with a cabin or cottage stay at LEGOLAND Holiday Village, a 5-minute walk from the park. For a true camping experience, pitch a tent or park your camper at one of 165 sites within the village. Electricity and showers are provided, and several restaurants are in the village. For added entertainment in the village, challenge yourself on the high-ropes course, relax on the lakefront beach or enjoy a round of mini golf.
When planning your trip to a theme park in Germany, always check the park’s Web site for the most current information regarding special promotions, opening times and attraction height and age restrictions or closures. Check out www.themeparkcity.com for a full listing of Germany’s fun parks. Whether reliving Norse mythology, riding a dragon or running from a sea monster, get ready for a gut-clenching, jaw-dropping, palm-sweating adventure. Barf bags not included.
How to get to the thrills and chills:
Fellbach 1, 94419 Reisbach
Europa-Park-Str. 2, 77977 Rust
Rodewischer Str. 21, 08485 Lengenfeld
Heide Park 1, 29614 Soltau
Holiday-Park-Straße. 1-5, 67454 Hassloch
Wilhelm-Maybach-Straße, 89312 Günzburg-Bayer
Warner Allee 1, 46244 Bottrop-Kirchhellen
Berggeiststraße 31-41, 50321 Brühl