This past week was spring break for the kiddos. Usually, we try to do something fun and get the heck out of dodge for the week. Last year, we hit up Rome and Paris; the year before that, Walt Disney World. This year? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Sorry kids, mom had to work. Except for one. glorious. day. Rather than sit at home and sleep in, we unplugged ourselves and hit the park. Europa-Park.
Europa-Park is the largest amusement park in Germany, and second only to Disneyland Paris in visitors in Europe. It’s approximately 2.5 hours south of us, just across the Rhein River from Strasbourg. It’s separated into 17 differently themed areas, 14 of which are countries. It opened in 1975, after the developers took a trip to Disney World and were inspired. If you don’t want to get up at an ungodly hour to make it a day-trip, there are two hotels on the properties. However, since we were working on a time crunch, we chose the latter — crack of dawn wake up + 2.5 hours of driving = let’s do this.
Trip win #1: Go in the middle of the week.
Even though we were off for the week, the rest of Germany wasn’t. Parking was a breeze, and buying the tickets was a super easy. We couldn’t purchase them ahead of time, so we had to buy them at the park. There were virtually no lines or crowds the entire day. I’m sure that changes during the summer, but it was almost eerie how empty the park was.
Trip fail #1: BYOF — Bring Your Own Food.
Since there are 14 countries to choose from, one would think that there would be a plethora of food choices. Nope. Pretty much all of the food options are the same. Since we weren’t smart enough to pack a lunch, we ended up eating at the park. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good either. Outside food is allowed, so be sure to pack some of your favorites and have a picnic at one of the spots inside the park.
Trip win #2: There is something for everyone.
Girl Child is slowly overcoming her fear of roller coasters. Boy Child, on the other hand, has jumped in with both feet and will try just about anything once. Europa-Park had rides for both of them and everything in-between. We were able push Girl Child a little past her comfort zone, and Boy Child definitely wasn’t bored. However, we didn’t get the chance to try some of the crazier rides (read: high-speed, inverted coasters). The good thing is that since there weren’t really any lines, we were able to ride our favorites multiple times.
I think the hardest part about Europa-Park, especially if you’ve grown up around or with Disney parks, is that you will automatically draw comparisons. Let’s be honest … Disney is in a class all its own. You can’t replicate its magic. While many attractions were original, there were quite a few that were blatant Disney knockoffs. I think the best examples (okay, seriously the worst) are the Pirates of Bavaria and Koffiekopjes (spinning teacups). Even the mascot is mouse … Ed the Mouse.
Regardless, we had a fantastic time. It’s definitely doable as a day-trip, but if you’re not big on road trips, then I’d look into staying at one of the hotels nearby.