Last month we visited
Fake Disneyland Europa Park in Rust, Germany, just across the border from the Alsace region of France. Europa Park is Germany's largest theme park, and the second most popular theme park resort in Europe, behind Disneyland Paris.
|under 3 hours by car|
We are not "Disney People" or "Theme-Park People," but we thought we'd go anyway and surprise our kids with a trip on a day off from school. Unfortunately, because we are not "Disney People" or "Theme-Park People" the kids had no frame of reference when we told them, so the surprise didn't have much effect. It took a lot of explaining to help them wrap their little minds around the fact that they could go on as many rides as they wanted, as many times as they wanted. We strictly ration rides at the annual Schuebefouer in Luxville, for example. So we heard a lot of "Wait, you mean we've already paid for all the rides? All of them? Are you sure? ….. But will the rides be too big? Or too fast? Do I have to go on all the rides? I don't want to go any big rides. I think maybe I'll just choose one or two rides, Mom..."
See, we're just not very good at this.
But, it was a fun trip. We drove on Sunday afternoon to stay the night at a small "hotel" 10 minutes away from the park, visited the park Monday, and drove back that evening.
|Not an official Europa Park attraction. This was just an random garbage house with chickens across from where we stayed.|
We stuck to the simple rides.
|Elf / mushroom-themed boat ride|
|hot air balloons|
|had this area to themselves|
|Manually pull yourself up then let go. Watch out for rope burns when the ride suddenly ends.|
|Italy. I think.|
Then you've got your shameless-ripoff rides, like the
Mad Tea Party Koffie Kopjes...
Pirates of the Caribbean Piraten in Batavia
Pete and I haven't been to Disneyland since college, and I had only been a couple times before that when I was very young, so we're not really up on our Disney park knowledge. But I'd heard and read that Europa Park wins out over Disneyland Paris in many ways. I'm guessing that Disney Paris has less of that special Disney "magic" that people always talk about than Disney USA, and Europa Park probably has bit less than all of them. But Europa Park suited us just fine as non-connoirseurs-of-amusement. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Admission is much less expensive than Disney, which even our frugal kids can appreciate. As a bonus, the food was good and way cheaper than we expected for any amusement park. No doubt we're also accustomed to Luxembourg prices - Germany always surprises us on that account.
So overall it was a good introduction to
fake real amusement parks for our kids and we'll probably be back to try some bigger/faster rides.