You are probably familiar with Disney, Universal and all the other big theme park names in the US. But do you know where it all started?
Europe is where theme parks started and the parks will completely blow your mind! Europe has been perfecting the theme park for almost 500 years. It’s time you catch up.
Check out these 5 theme parks in Europe that you MUST add to your bucket list
Bakken was founded in 1583, making it the oldest theme park in the world. Bakken is right outside of Copenhagen, Denmark. Because of its location and history, the park maintains the same kind of ambiance as it did for centuries. They offer a mix of modern rides and attractions, but they also have cabaret shows and a 200 year old mascot: Pjerrot!
Number of Attractions: 33, plus 78 carnival games
Number of Roller Coasters: Six
Cost: Free Admission
Added Bonus: Because the park wants to maintain its culture and quirk, they don’t allow big brands to set up shop – so it’s truly a unique experience – with unique stores and shops. This park is one of a kind, and that makes it really special
Efteling, in the Netherlands, is fantasy themed. Literally every aspect of this park is about fairy tales and fantasy. Instead of lands, this park is divided into realms. Efteling was built into a forest, which adds to it’s overall enchanted atmosphere. Some rides you’d recognize are ones based on Pinocchio and Cinderella. The designer of the park Ton van de Ven, is said to be one of the best “imagineers” in the world, behind Walt Disney
Number of Rides: 35
Number of Roller Coasters: 6 (+4 water rides}
Cost: There are different price packages, ranging from 39 USD to 73 USD – including wide ranges of meal plans
Added Bonus: The park is so imaginative and far reaching, that they included fairy tales from non-western cultures too. The fairy tales are either more European (read: Not Disney) versions of the classic fairy tales, or from different points in history and/or different places in the world. For example, there are attractions based on the pre-Columbian cultures: The Piraña and even ancient Arabic cultures!
PortAventura, in Spain, is home to the second and third fastest roller coasters in Europe: The Furius Baco at 83.9 mph and Shambhala at 83.3 mph. The park is split into 5 areas, all based on ancient civilizations (Mediterrània, Far West, México, China and Polynesia) and one based on Sesame Street.
Number of Attractions: over 55
Number of Roller Coasters: 7
Cost: Prices vary, and there are package deals, but for a basic ticket you can expect to pay between 40-60 USD
Added Bonus: They are going to be opening a Ferrari Land at the end of 2016, so if you can’t make it to Abu Dhabi, you have an alternative.
Denmark has a knack for starting amusement parks, and Tivoli is the second oldest amusement park in the world. It also houses the oldest working Roller Coaster in the world, Rutschebanen aka Bjergbanen, built in 1914. It is said that after visiting the park, Walt Disney was inspired by its atmosphere of imagination and joy. So much so, that he tried to emulate that atmosphere in his designs for Disneyland. The story is that Disney visited Trivoli 1951″Disney walked through the amusement park scribbling down notes about the seats, gardens, rides, food, and every other detail he noticed. Disneyland opened in California four years after the trip.”
Number of Rides: 27
Number of Roller Coasters: 4
Cost: about 15 USD
Added Bonus: Not only is Tivoli an amusement park, but its also a cultural hub. Tivoli is home to classical music concert halls and dance halls where professional ballets and modern dance performances are preformed.
Europa-Park, located in Germany, is the second most popular theme park in Europe. The park is divided into lands, each one is themed around a different European country. Each ride is meticulously detailed. For Disney World fans, some of the ideas may seem a bit…familiar, but that doesn’t take away from the charm. Europa-Park drew inspiration from the Brothers Grimm stories and other classic European folk tales to create its magical designs.
Number of Attractions: 82
Number of Roller Coasters: 12 (+10 water rides)
Cost: The cost fluctuates between seasons, and different criteria, but the average ticket for an adult is about 45 USD
Added Bonus: Europa-Park really takes its coasters seriously, and has even included some hybrid dark ride-coaster combos like Arthur from the movie “Arthur and the Invisibles”, and the Silver Star, Europe’s second highest and fifth fastest roller coaster, standing 239 ft tall with a top speed of 78 mph.
There are about 300 theme parks in Europe, following closely behind the US’s 400. European theme parks predate American theme parks, and their rich history and years of experience come through the spectacular themes, and amazing attention to detail. European parks should be a top destination for theme park lovers worldwide.
Have you been to any of these theme parks? Tell us about your trip and send us some pictures! We love hearing about these great European gems
Theme park enthusiast, world traveler, film and animation buff