By Alison Smith
The six week school holiday is great for kids but can be challenging for parents who, by the fourth week, have run out of responses to “I’m Bored”. BritSoc to the rescue. We’ve put together a list of the best three amusement parks in NL, so get your comfy shoes on, take a motion sickness pill and treat the kids to a day of dizzying rides, junk food and long queues. Ah, but it’s worth it!
Efteling – Charm and thrills.
The good thing about the Efteling Park is that there is something for all ages so if you are trying to entertain a spread of age groups, this is a good day out for all concerned.
For the little ones there is the famous Sprookjesbos (Fairy Forest) plus lots of easy rides such as old fashioned carousels, train rides, a monorail, old-timer cars to “steer” around a track and a pretty show called Droomvlucht (Dreamflight) which has won an award, probably for being the prettiest show.
For the whole family to enjoy they offer a boat lake, a Haunted House, 3D films, and a variation on the Disney Teacups where, instead of cups, you sit in a large casserole pot and are stirred around fairly gently. As if that wasn’t enough, you can get a good soaking and wander around for the rest of the day in wet clothes after a go on The Piraña raft ride. Marvellous!
Older kids will enjoy the stomach-churning roller coasters such as the award winning Baron 1898, or the Vliegende Hollander (Flying Dutchman) or the Python, or they may prefer to lose their lunch on the Halve Maan pirate ship or on a bobsleigh ride called, simply, Bob. For those who like to feel disoriented and dizzy, there’s also a cursed house called Villa Volta whose floors and ceilings move about as you walk round. Oodles of fun.
The Efteling won the award for the best Food and Drink. They certainly have more variety than the average amusement park and go beyond the usual greasy chips and fricandel type snacks. There is a pancake house, a restaurant called Het Wapen van Raveleijn, which serves lunch and dinner, and plenty of sandwich, panini, snack options. Of course if you prefer croquette and fries, that’s also on offer.
Diamond Theme Park Awards 2016 for Best Amusement Park in NL, Best roller coaster for Baron 1898, Best attraction for Droomvlucht (Dreamflight) Most Child Friendly, Best Food and Drink concessions.
Cheapest price € 34.50 Children under 3 yrs – free entrance.
Europalaan 1, Kaatsheuvel. www.efteling.com/nl
Walibi Holland – High speed thrills.
Slightly less charming than the Efteling, Walibi theme park is big on rides and less on theme. This is heaven for older kids who like thrill rides and roller coasters. Just to name a selection; Speed of Sound sends you on a musical loop-the-loop, six times! Goliath boasts the highest and fastest roller coaster in the Benelux, and Xpress Platform 13 launches you to 90km/h in 2.8 seconds. Meanwhile newly opened Lost Gravity tips you upside down so often, you no longer know if you’re up or down. I have vertigo just writing this.
Walibi also offers plenty of opportunity to get soaking wet. The Rio Grande raft ride and the Crazy River Log flume will guarantee you wet trousers for the rest of the day….unless the sun shines of course.
Smaller kids and scaredy-cat adults are not left out at Walibi with tamer rides available such as Spinning Sombreros, Dodgems and Go-Karts and the really small kids have plenty to keep them happy with train rides and mini roller coasters.
The food available is the usual offering of hamburgers, kebabs, fries, wraps, sandwiches and ice cream, with one place specialising in pizza and pastas. My advice? Big rides first, kebab later.
Cheapest is to book online. € 29,50.
Spijkweg 30, Biddinghuizen. www.walibi.nl
Duinrell & Tikibad – 2 for the price of 1
This is in the top three simply because you get the best of two worlds. Duinrell has all the trappings of a theme park with roller coasters and wild rides and, for a few euros more, you can buy entrance to the Tikibad waterpark, with slides and watery fun
For thrill seekers there is the Falcon rollercoaster, the Dragonfly, which is a bit tamer, but scores as the longest roller coaster in NL, the Mad Mill, where you can be spun senseless while being swung backwards and forwards, all at the same time and, if your inner ear mechanism can still handle it, try their new attraction ‘Wildwings’, which is a good ride for budding pilots. There are more attractions for the younger kids and the park has a real old fashioned family feel.
Food-wise Duinrell have partnered up with La Place, which has a good reputation for decent food and healthier options. Of course the usual deep-fried nonsense is also available as well as a buffet restuarant, but it’s good to see something different on offer.
With the option of access to the waterpark, this park gives the best value for money and is a good option for a two day stay. Hotels are available on-site. Just don’t forget your cozzie.
Best value is a combi ticket Themepark and unlimited use of Tikibad € 28,50
Theme park only € 22,50. Theme park and 3 hours use of Tikibad € 27,50
Duinrell 1, Wassenaar. www.duinrell.nl