Amusement theme parks
What better way to amuse the family than a day riding stomach turning rollercoasters and free-fall rides?
If you have a family of thrill-seekers here's the low down on amusement and theme parks not a million miles from Luxembourg – including the big three: Disney, Europa-Park and Phantasialand.
NOTE: Some parks now require a Covid vaccine passport or a negative PCR/Antigen test (some are provided on site), so please check the websites provided in this article for the latest entry requirements.
Walygator Parc - Maizières-lès-Metz
Gentle rides on the monorail and carousel, or stomach-churning ones like the Anaconda rollercoaster and the free-fall Space Shoot, make this the ideal place if you have young children and teens to amuse.
Illusionist Tim Silver does two afternoon magic shows. Since you'll undoubtedly be here for the day, the park has several fast food outlets, kiosks selling drinks and snacks and a restaurant-grill.
Fraispertuis City – Jeanménil
Setting you back €24,50 an adult (over 1.40m), this park near Epinal does have some thrill rides, but not on the scale of Walygator. Still the Cactus, Timber Drop and Grand Canyon rollercoaster will get hearts racing.
There's a steam train, a number of water rides, and you'll sense a distinct pirate theme with Captain Fraisp and his parrot Coco ready to welcome you. There are lots of rides for younger children, and you can get Old Time photos or a fake tattoo.
Refuel on burgers, pizza and Mexican food. It's open from late April until the end of September.
Didiland – Morsbronn-les-Bains
If you're en route to the Black Forest or Strasbourg this park has everything from flying elephants to bumper boats, and a couple of thrill rides like the Mega Disc O. The park only has a self service restaurant and a snack bar so you might want to bring your own food.
Tariffs reflect the more limited number of big rides, with anyone over one metre paying €20,00 entry (adult €21,50).
Dinopark – Teufelsschlucht
Not technically an amusement park but so close by as to merit a mention. You can embark on an expedition through 620 million years of history to visit T-Rex and friends with 150 lifelike dinosaur models – perfect if your child is a Diplodocus fan. There's a research camp where you can make and paint dinosaur figures.
Open from the end of March to early November, tickets cost €12,50 for adults and €9,50 for children aged 4-12 years. This one is probably only worth it if your kids are dinosaur fanatics.
Eifelpark – Gondorf
If the stunning scenery of the Eifel region gets too much, head for this animal and amusement park.
Nothing much for older teens here beyond the Jules Verne Tower, but good fun for younger children, who can try out the flumes, disappear in the ball pit or watch a falconry display and stroke some animals in the petting zoo (although you can't pet the bears!)
Open from end February to end October and Easter and Halloween (and the wildlife section is open year round), tickets are between €27,50 to €30,50 depending on your height.
Holiday Park – Hassloch/Pfalz
Teens will love the Sky Scream and the BigFM Expedition GE Force rides, whilst toddlers will enjoy the dancing water fountains and wave rider, and if it's raining you can hide from the fire-breathing dragon in Falkenstein Castle.
A good selection of rides, there's also a water ski stunt show and themed events for Halloween and during summer.
Open from April to early November, tickets range from €15,50 to €39,50 per person.
Wild Park Klotten
Close to Koblenz this is another park that combines animals with attractions. The wildlife park is home to bears and raccoons, whilst the rides include rollercoasters and a wild-water flume. The latest interactive family ride, Kunibert's Castle, is a haunted house meets laser quest affair.
Many of the rides are self operating. You can also enjoy lunch at the park restaurant overlooking the Moselle.
Open from April to early November, with tickets costing €21,50 for kids under 14 years and €23,50 for adults. Each Friday is family day, when every family member will pay just €20,50 entry.
Movie Park – Bottrop
It's open from April to early November and entry is €29,50.
Plopsa Coo/Plopsa Hasselt
A visit to the Belgian Ardennes would not be complete without a day at Plopsa Coo. Rides are targeted at pre-teens, with flying bikes and small rollercoasters plus the chance to meet the crew from Paw Patrol.
Plopsa Hasselt has a giant indoor play area, plus an outdoor climbing mountain and aqua playground. Older kids might just survive with the free-fall lighthouse and the whirligig, but there isn't much for them.
Walibi – Wavre
NOTE: Walibi was badly damaged by the flooding in July and will not reopen until October 2021.
Close to Brussels, Walibi is not a bad option if you want to please everyone. Thrill rides include the Challenge of Tutankhamen, the Cobra rollercoaster, and Dalton Terror (say no more), but there are carousels, mini-trains and more gentler rides for the smaller ones.
You can try some traditional Belgian fare or pick up a burger or pizza and, of course, there are plenty of places selling frites and waffles.
Tickets cost €41,50 for adults and €36 (under 1.40m) for children plus the car park costs €8, but you currently cannot purchase them until the park reopens.
Mont Mosan - Huy
Entry to the park is just €10 per person with an additional €10 for the attractions (so essentially parents don't need to pay for this). It's open from 31 March to the 30 September (and at weekends in October).
Boudewijn Seapark - Bruges
Dolphin and seal shows, a wild river ride and old-time carnival carousel make this park near Bruges worth a visit. Most of the rides are for younger kids, but there's a couple like the Orca ride and the Pirate Ship that older ones will enjoy.
There's an indoor soft play and mini-golf and, of course, the sea animals to watch (dolphins and sealion shows). The worryingly named MacDolphin serves burgers (we are presuming not containing dolphins).
Online tickets cost €27,50 for anyone over 12 years and €25 for children over 1m up to 11 years and seniors (with discounts if you book online). It's open April to the end of August, at weekends in September and at varying times over the winter months for aqua shows.
Toverland - Sevenum
A pretty impressive amusement park in Limburg, Toverland is divided into different areas from the Land van Toos, with rapids and rollercoasters, to the Magic Forest, Troy Area and Merlin's mythical Avalon.
Dive vertically with Backstroke, take the fastest, tallest rollercoaster in Benelux, Troy, or go on Merlin's quest. There is plenty for all ages, including a water display and an interactive magic show, in addition to Arabic and Celtic restaurants.
Online prices include hefty discounts, but expect to pay €36 for anyone over 1.20 metres and €26 for children above 90 centimetres at the gates. You can check opening times here.
The Big 3
Yep, if this is a fun family holiday you want everyone to remember, picking one of the big three is a must. It will be hard work to experience any of these parks fully in one day, so look out for hotel deals that combine a two- or three-day ticket.
Phantasia Land – Bruhl
Some 2 million people visit this park each year, and it's not surprising considering it has the fastest multi-launch roller coaster in the world. The Black Mamba and Talocan are not for the faint-hearted, but there are plenty of less stomach-churning rides, including a new upside down ride through a Steampunk world. Not really a place for younger kids, this is the one to go for if you've got older teens who are seeking thrills (and don't mind going on the rides without you).
Europa-Park - Rust
The second most popular park in Europe and the largest one in Germany (which also feature a giant water park), Europa-Park houses more than 100 attractions including 13 roller coasters. Its top attractions include the Eurosat Can Can Coaster, the Paddington 4D ride, The Dome of Dreams secrets of gravity, and the Voletarium which makes you feel like you're flying.
If these all sound a little scary, there's spinning dragons and teacups, a 4D magic cinema, play areas, and food and drink establishments representing every corner of Europe. You can stay in a Spanish castle or in front of a replica of Rome's Coliseum.
There are illusionist shows, parades, cabaret, and puppet shows.
It's open year round with day tickets for those aged 11 years and over costing between €47 and €55 depending on the season. One day will definitely not be enough to see it all, but two day tickets are available to purchase online.
Disneyland Paris – Marne le Vallée
The number one amusement park in Europe, and the place to fly a Star Wars battleship, tumble on the Tower of Terror, ride with the Pirates of the Caribbean, or rock on the Aerosmith Rollercoaster. Smaller ones can spend hours in the Toy Story area, meet a Disney princess and see that "It’s a Small World" after all.
There are parades, shows, and fireworks. This is the mother of all theme parks and sometimes overwhelming even for adults. You can stay in one of the themed hotels or in the new Villages Nature (Center Parcs meets Disney), and it's recommended you book a two-day ticket to cover Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studios.
Expect two-day tickets to cost you €165 per child, €179 per adult, but Disney has its own offers and plenty of other suppliers offer combined hotel/ticket holiday packages, so shop around for the best deal.