Thrills and family fun at Euro theme parks

Thrills and family fun at Euro theme parks

by Genevieve Northup
Stripes Europe

Enjoyed your fill of museums and castles, but now seeking a little more excitement? Head out to one of Europe’s themed amusement parks. Lose yourself in fantasy lands, savor greasy park food, or hang on tight as you’re catapulted skyward. There is something for everyone, from family fun to nerve-shattering, heart-pounding rides for thrill-seeking enthusiasts. 


Alton Towers, Alton – This destination has it all – a theme park, water park, resort and spa. Adults can be pampered while the kids have a blast. If you have a need for speed, ride the innovative roller coasters Rita, Oblivion and Nemesis. And the whole family will enjoy the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” attraction.  

Chessington World of Adventures, Chessington – Discover 10 adventure areas and visit the aquarium to feed marine life. Also see more than 1,000 exotic animals at the zoo. Add Chessington to your to-do list for your next trip to London. 

LEGOLAND Windsor, Windsor – Choose from 55 exciting attractions built with 55 million children’s construction blocks. 

Thorpe Park, Chertsey – This destination is ideal for older children and those seeking an adrenaline rush. Strap in for Colossus’ four corkscrews; Stealth, which hits 80 mph in two seconds; and Swarm, which is new this season.  


Disneyland Paris, Marne-la-Vallée – It’s a bit of Americana in Europe! At Disneyland Park, watch parades, hang with Disney characters and hop on The Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean. In Walt Disney Studios Park, explore the studio lots and start your engines alongside Flash McQueen at the Cars Race Rally.


Europa Park, Rust – Germany’s largest amusement park boasts more than 100 attractions and shows. Top thrill rides include Wodan, a wooden roller coaster that opened in 2012, and the steel Silver Star, deemed a hypercoaster because of its 239-foot-tall steel frame.  

Holiday Park, Haßloch – Located just half an hour from Mannheim, this park is great for families with young children. With the exception of a couple of thrill rides, including a heart-stopping free-fall tower, kids can ride everything either accompanied by an adult or with parents watching from the sidelines.  

LEGOLAND Deutschland, Günzburg – Similar to LEGOLAND Windsor, this park features a variety of fun activities. Ride on the back of a dragon, see the lost city of Atlantis and be amazed by cities of Europe reconstructed of more than 25 million LEGOS at 1/20th scale.  


Aquafan, Riccione – One of Europe’s largest water parks, Aquafan offers loads of fun for the kiddos and parties for adults, so lather on the sunscreen and get going. Then spend a day in the nearby Republic of San Marino, a settlement nestled 2,100 feet above Italian villages that retains much of its medieval character. 

Gardaland, Castelnuovo del Garda – Among the most popular amusement parks in Europe, Gardaland is 20 miles from historic Verona and 90 miles from the City of Water, Venice. Enjoy a nice balance of thrill rides and fun for young children. Kids will love the circus show, “Madagascar Live!” 

Mirabilandia, Ravenna – In the midst of a serene tropical garden, you’ll find extreme roller coasters, kid-friendly rides and the Mirabeach water park.  


Isla Mágica, Seville – After sight-seeing in Seville, head to Isla Mágica, where you can play in eight areas, including the Isle of Children, ideal for little ones.  

Park Warner, Madrid – Get photos with Wile E. Coyote, Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird. Let the kids run amok in ACME Park, then hang on as superheroes and villains battle it out on themed thrill rides.  

PortAdventura, Salou – During a vacation to Barcelona, entertain the kids with a trip to PortAdventura, located an hour away. Enjoy some fun, sun and waves at the theme park and separate water park. Thrill-seekers should not miss Shambhala: Expedición al Himalaya, a steel roller coaster that has the tallest and fastest drop in Europe, clocking in at 83 mph.  

Whether stepping into the pages of comic books and fairytales, sailing with pirates or making a splash, get ready for a gut-clenching, jaw-dropping, palm-sweating adventure -- and the chance for everyone to be a kid for the day.

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