So, we got back last weekend after having the most amazing time. It feels like a total lie to actually say we were in Germany, although technically that’s where we were. But we spent the entire time at Europa Park, an amazing amusement park that has to be seen to be believed. I do not feel like I have any greater insight into the German culture or environment whatsoever. That will have to happen another time. For the moment, what we did have was a rocking time for both kids and grown ups (but primarily kids).
My very first impression of Europa Park is that it is a cross between Disney World and Vegas. So obviously: amazing. Our hotel was called “Colosseo,” with a very subtle Roman theme. Just kidding about the subtlety. Here’s part of the colosseum ruin in the courtyard. This is totally my kind of place. Our room was in the Roman villa part of the establishment, with Roman numerals over the door I took WAY too long in reading. The rooms themselves are set up for kids (re: separate rooms for them!)
We joined three other couples with their kids for our weekend adventure. Our group included eight adults and nine children, from the ages of six months to six years. Three babies. And seven of the kids were boys. If you’re thinking: yeegads, well, that’s what we all thought as well. Time to start drinking.
We arrived later than the others and found them comfortably entrenched in a hallway off of our hotel lobby. The table was heavy with cups, both full and empty, so we knew the party had started already. The main attraction was this beauty:
What is essentially a cage for children. It is the most awesome four-story play structure, full of ramps, cages, slides and weird pulley systems. Kids could be kept happy there for hours, so we let them. All you had to do is poke your head in once and awhile and yell their names until they answered, wine sloshing in hand, in order to feel like an adequate parent. I like it when things are set up this way. Asides from one escape attempt by three little boys to the outdoor courtyard, there were no issues (yes, X was one of the boys, and he was the only one who decided it would be a good idea to run through the fountain.)
The next day we woke up later than some of the others. Some were super gung-ho to get to the park early, where people staying on property could get in earlier than the gates opening to get on some of the big ticket rides. To them I say: have at ‘er. We didn’t really sleep in, but we tried. After a character-filled breakfast the kids went nuts for, we wandered over to the park.
The park itself is a mix of the World Showcase and the Magic Kingdom (if you are an afficianado of Disney World, as I am). Each of the different “lands” was based on a European country, with architecture, food and music to let you know where you are. There were rides and food shops everywhere, as well as plenty of booze (because this is Europe, and far superior to boring sober North American parks).
Above is “Scandinavia.” Sorry, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, you didn’t cut it for individual lands!
This is Russia, and it’s intense roller coaster. Because everything has to be bigger in Russia, I guess. This seems very cosmonautical, although we did not get onto this ride.
And this is Iceland, where houses are inexplicably on fire.
There was also a very random safari-type boat ride in “Adventureland,” with bizarre racist undertones. This reminded me of Disney World more than anything. I think we all felt a little uncomfortable on that ride.
Ok, that one weird ride aside, everything was really nice. There was so much attention to detail! Everything was set up so beautifully, and one of my favourite parts of it was Halloween was a MAIN EVENT here. The whole park was set up all harvest-y. A worker told us there were hundreds of thousands of pumpkins set out throughout, which I would believe. EVERYWHERE you looked there was a pumpkin. One family even found that one of their children smuggled a pumpkin into their room, although no one fessed up to actually having done this. I wish I’d thought of this, because pumpkins in Switzerland cost an arm and a leg. Clearly because Germany bought them all.
And there was lots of really creepy stuff. Skeletons everywhere, but I forgot to take a photo of any of them, I guess. I didn’t want to point out any of this stuff too much because I didn’t want X to get scared. He thought the giant tarantula was pretty cool, though.
So the one thing we had to account for is how incredibly tiny X is. He could not get on barely any rides, because he wasn’t “old enough” or “tall enough.” Okay, German workers, I thought these things were just guidelines. We totally straight-up lied about his age, which in fact is not three yet. But we couldn’t really lie about his height. We kept on being told “nein” and X would be sadly pulled out of line to watch others go on very basic rides that he clearly could have been on. That didn’t stop me from gamely continuing to try to smuggle him onto some older rides.
But, there were huge advantages to being stuck on the little little kid rides, like this car. There were virtually no line ups, so while we waited for others, X would run around and get back on the little ride, doing this over and over. He rode around in this sweet little car on his own four full times while our friends were stuck in a 40 minute line up for the “bigger” car ride – described as a slow, glorified lawnmower. Hah! Tiny kids for the win!
This awesome London bus was one of the few older rides we managed to sneak X into. And he loved it.
For me, my favourite part of the day was after lunch when we took off with a family who’s kids were around the same age as ours. We went on some slower rides, and there was less just standing around for us. My favourite land of all was France, where we splurged not only on ice cream cones, but also the most delicious glass of champagne. The champagne was made all the better because you couldn’t get it just anywhere, so I got to sip this precious glass in the sun with new friends as our kids giggled around us. It was pretty awesome.
X with his favourite dinosaur, the triceratops! He is such a rambunctious and active boy that I sometimes forget how sensitive he is. This dinosaur ride was open to everyone. We thought: fantastic! I don’t know what we were expecting. There was literally no lineup and we wandered for a long time through a fake rock set-up, which I realize now is for a waiting queue if anyone had wanted to get on it. We arrived to the actual ride really suddenly, there was no one in front of us so we just had to jump on. You travel in these half egg things that turn and go up and down (think the Haunted Mansion, Disney fans). Except you’re looking at weirdly lit scary dinosaurs.
I was there first with X so I grabbed him and settled us in. He didn’t like how sudden it was, and that he didn’t know where Z was, and got nervous. Then he saw the scary dinosaurs and leapt into my arms, wailing for Papa. I had to hold him against my shoulder, covering his eyes and singing lullabies as loud as I could into his ear. He did not enjoy the experience. However, he got over it quick, because sensitive two-year-olds are still pretty resilient.
I added this because I never post photos of E. It’s because she doesn’t do anything on our trips. Usually if she’s in her stroller, she’s either sleeping or chewing on something. But I wanted to let you know she had an excellent time as well. This trip was entirely kid-approved. I think one day there was enough with kids our age. If they were older and got more out of it, maybe we would have gone for another day. But as it was, we all had a fantastic time. Would do this again in a heartbeat.