6 Thrilling Amusement Parks in Europe
Most travelers thinking about Europe have heard about Paris’s Disneyland. The resort, which opened in 1955, has seen a staggering number of visitors shuffling through the turnstiles. Some reports estimate more than 600 million guests have forked up the hefty entrance fee to hang out with Mickey and Minnie for the day. And while this is still Europe’s preeminent theme park, it’s by no means the only one. There are several more amusement parks in Europe worth visiting, many of which you can reach by rail.
Amusement parks in Europe
1. Disneyland | Paris, France
This list wouldn’t be complete without covering Disneyland Paris. The impressive resort features five lands, all of the classic characters, shows, attractions, street parades, and a handful of the continent’s most thrilling rides. You can also see a recreation of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Regular fireworks displays on a grand scale will entertain all members of the family. While many travelers to Paris may balk at the idea of a day not spent walking the Seine or marvelling at famous artworks, sometimes what you really need is just a good old adrenaline rush on Space Mountain. As a bonus, Eurail Pass holders get an exclusive 20 euro discount on pre-booked entrance tickets!
Don’t miss: Big Thunder Mountain, which hurtles through an underwater tunnel to reach an island at an alarming speed.
How to get there by train: There’s a direct TGV train from Charles de Gaulle airport to Disneyland. If coming from Paris, take the RER A train from Chatelet Les Halles to Marne La Vallée. Eurail Pass holders in London can take the Eurostar directly to the theme park, for only the cost of a seat reservation.
More info: www.disneylandparis.com
2. Tivoli Gardens | Copenhagen, Denmark
Unlike many amusement parks in Europe, getting to Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens doesn’t require you to leave the city. This action packed theme park, the second oldest in the world, is right in the heart of the city – right across from the train station. It also has the proverbial “something for everyone” formula locked down. If you’re not up for the gut-churning rides, then the landscaped gardens and beautifully constructed rides are a sight in themselves.
Don’t miss: The Ferris Wheel may not be the most exhilarating of rides at Tivoli Gardens, but the views over Copenhagen make this a top attraction.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains to Copenhagen from across Denmark, as well as long distance trains from Hamburg, Stockholm, Basel, and Amsterdam.
More info: www.tivoligardens.com
3. Europa Park | Rust, Germany
Europa Park is Germany’s biggest theme park. As the name suggests, it’s very much a mini-Europe. Many rides relate to specific countries or cultures, making it a fun addition to any European rail adventure. There’s a good mix of rides for all levels of adrenaline addicts – from the sedate Mediterranean section, through to the thrilling Silver Star coaster.
Don’t miss: Blue Fire – it’ll get you from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in a staggering 2.5 seconds.
How to get there by train: Take the train to Ringsheim station, and then connect to the 7231 bus service which runs regularly to the park.
More info: www.europapark.de
4. PortAventura | Tarragona, Spain
PortAventura, located just south of Barcelona, is the most visited theme park in Spain. With 4 million visitors each year, it’s also in the top 10 of all amusement parks in Europe. Apart from its perfect location, it also has six themed worlds and dozens of dramatic rides. The worlds (Mexico, China, Polynesia, Far West, Mediterranean, and Sesame Street) are fascinating to explore and crafted with meticulous detail.
Don’t miss: Ferrari Land Park. It’s “60,000 m2 of pure Ferrari pleasure” and includes a vertical accelerator roller coaster ride that’ll test even the toughest adrenaline junkies.
How to get there by train: Rail access from Barcelona is easy. The resort has its own stop on the R-16 line run by the company Renfe. You can also purchase an entrance ticket that includes your train fare.
More info: www.portaventuraworld.com
5. Gröna Lund | Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm’s Gröna Lund may be on the smaller side of things, but it’s amazingly central and still manages to pack in around 30 rides and attractions. It’s also a popular location for summer concerts. The amusement park started back in the 1880s, making it Sweden’s oldest. The interesting layout and surrounding architecture make this a firm favorite amongst locals and tourists alike.
Don’t miss: If you’re not up for the thrilling coasters, test your tolerance for terror at the House of Nightmares.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains to Stockholm from throughout Sweden and several international cities. From there, Tram 7 will take you directly to Gröna Lund.
More info: www.gronalund.com
6. Legoland | Billund, Denmark
Denmark is the home of Lego, and unsurprisingly, Legoland in Billund is one of the best versions of this popular amusement park franchise. You’ll find a selection of great rides, a haunted house, and even a bizarre mirror maze, as well as all of the classic Legoland attractions. Of course, everything has a Lego theme, so it’s a must-visit for fans of the legendary building blocks.
Don’t miss: Miniland may not equal the thrills of the park’s roller coasters, but it’s a fascinating attraction.
How to get there by train: There are hourly trains from Copenhagen to Vejle Trafikcenter, which take approximately 2 hours. There’s a direct bus to Legoland from the station.
More info: www.legoland.dk
These amusement parks in Europe may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they do offer a great way to spend a day, particularly if you’re on a long Eurail journey across the continent. Many people believe that a theme park is just a theme park. But each of these has its own local flavor and influences that will make them stand out from what you’re used to back home.