Theme Parks are excellent destinations for some family fun, excitement and adrenaline inducing adventure. Although the USA is the country most renowned for its theme parks, Europe has some excellent options to choose from with world class amusement rides. These destinations are usually more accessible and cost effective for the budget conscious traveler than making the journey across the pond to the states.
Here is our list of Europe's Top 10 Theme Parks.
#1: Disneyland Paris
Probably Europe's most well known theme park, Disneyland (often referred to as Euro Disney) is located 32km from Paris in the eastern suburb of Chessy. The resort is accessible from Paris city centre via train.
The resort actually consists of 2 separate parks (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studio Park) and has over 50 attractions to choose from between the two areas.
Visitors can meet all of their favorite Disney characters, experience thrilling roller coasters and enjoy some delicious themed cuisine.
#2: Alton Towers (Staffordshire, England)
Alton Towers is England's largest theme park and spans over 900 acres in size. There are over 40 attractions for the family to choose from. Older kids and adults can ride over 10 thrill-inducing rollercoasters if they are brave enough and there are over 20 attractions aimed at younger children and families.
There is also a wide array of accommodation options for families to choose from including 3 hotels, woodland lodges, stargazing pods and luxury tree houses.
#3: Port Aventura (Costa Daurada, Spain)
Port Aventura is Spain's largest theme park and attracts over 4 million visitors a year. It is located on the Costa Daurada close to Salou. The theme park is split into 6 differently themed areas (Mediterranean, Mexico, Polynesia, China, Far West and Sesamo Aventura).
There are over 40 rides for thrill seekers to enjoy along with entertainment shows, shopping and delicious cuisine.
#4: Europa Park (Rust, Germany)
Located in Southwest Germany, Europa-Park is the largest theme park in Germany, and the second most popular theme park in Europe, after Disneyland Paris.
Europa Park is nestled between the Black Forest and the Vosges mountains. It attracts over 5 million visitors per year and there are over 100 attractions and shows, 15 European and 3 fantasy themed areas, 13 roller coasters, 45 themed restaurants and bars and 6 four star hotels.
There really is something for everyone at Europa Park, Germany.
#5: Gardaland Resort (Lake Garda, Italy)
Gardaland is Italy's largest theme park and is located on the southeastern tip of Lake Garda. It is accessible via either Milan Bergamo or Venice Treviso airports. It attracts almost 3 million visitors per year and visitors can enjoy eight roller coasters, three water rides, three dark rides and some fun themed family areas which include Peppa Pig Land and Kung Fu Panda Academy.
Sea Life aquarium and LegoLand water park are also part of the resort and there are 3 excellent hotels to choose from for your accommodation. However, you may want to stay outside the resort and enjoy the surroundings of the stunning Lake Garda instead.
#6: Efteling World of Wonders (Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands)
This fantasy-themed amusement park is located in Kaatsheuvel, the Netherlands, which is approximately a 2 hour journey south of Amsterdam.
Efteling World attracts over 5 million visitors per year, making it one of Europe’s busiest theme parks. It comprises of 4 realms, the Fairytale Realm, The Adventure Realm, The Travel Realm and the Alternative Realm. Each of which consists of its own unique attractions and themes. There are over 36 attractions to choose from including 6 rollercoasters and 4 water rides so there are lots to keep the thrill-seekers happy.
Visitors looking to stay overnight at the theme park can stay at the Efteling hotel or book one of the holiday homes in the Efteling Bosrijk holiday village.
#7: Tivoli Gardens (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Located in the heart of Copenganen, Tivoli Gardens first opened to visitors in 1843 and is the world's third oldest operating amusement park. It is also home to Rutschebanen, or as some people call it, Bjergbanen (The Mountain Coaster), built in 1914. It is one of the world's oldest wooden roller coasters that is still operating today. There are over 30 attractions suitable for a wide variety of ages.
The park is also known for its gorgeous, landscaped gardens, a lake, and a pantomime theatre. At night, thousands of colored lights create a fairy tale atmosphere that is completely unique.
#8: LegoLand (Windsor, England)
Although Legoland is more geared towards the younger cohort (ages 4-12) it is also a unique and entertaining attraction for the young at heart and Lego fans among us. It is easily accessible from central London by train, which takes less than an hour.
There are over 55 rides and attractions at the resort so there is plenty to keep the family busy from start to finish.
For those who want to make a 2 day trip out of it then a stay at either the Legoland Resort Hotel or the Legoland Castle Hotel is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
#9: Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)
Located in Bruhl Germany, Phantasialand attracts over 2 million visitors per year and is only a 1 hour train journey from Cologne.
Visitors will be taken throughout the world in 6 themed areas including the savannah plains in Africa to the Aztecs in ancient Mexico. There are over 40 attractions to choose from including 7 rollercoasters. Notable mentions are the Black Mamba roller coaster and the Chiapass water ride whose 53 degree drop makes it the steepest log flume ride in the world.
There are also 3 uniquely themed hotels onsite for those who wish to spend some more time exploring this exciting resort.
#10: Futuroscope (Poitiers, France)
Although not your traditional style theme park, Futuroscope is still certainly worthy of a spot on this list. Its attraction is based upon multimedia, cinematographic futuroscope and audio-visual techniques. There are over 40 shows and attractions to entertain the whole family throughout the day. Visitors can expect films in giant format, thrill-filled attractions, 3D rides with 4D effects, games, live shows, open-air activities, and much more.
It is slightly off the beaten track compared to other theme parks on this list. It is accessible by train from Paris (2hrs 30min) and Nantes (2hr 45min). However if you are looking for a unique experience with an emphasis on technology and visual effects the Futuroscope is certainly worth a visit.