Ever dreamed of driving diggers and dump trucks? A rollercoaster ride over enormous plastic dog poo tickle your fancy? Apparently, there is more to the humble theme park than Ferris wheels and fairy floss. Check out these wacky family-friendly amusement parks in Europe – we’re amused just at the thought of them!
Fans of Bob the Builder and his crew will love this series of construction-themed amusement parks in Kent, Devon, Durham and Yorkshire. Activities on offer include getting behind the wheel of diggers and dump trucks, enjoying the Dig-Around carousel and watching stunt shows performed by the machinery. The Spindizzy is a family favourite for the brave-hearted as it involves strapping in to a huge digger scoop and getting thrown and spun around. Prepay for your tickets online and you will save. Pay-on-the-day tickets cost 19.95 pounds for juniors and grown-ups, and 9.95 pounds for over 65’s. Children under 90 centimetres in height go free, but be warned that their access to rides and attractions is limited. Diggerland is a proud part of ‘Connect to Autism.’
High Chaparral, Sweden
Sweden might seem an unusual location for a Wild West frontier town pulled straight from the pages of 1800s American history. But this theme park, open on special dates throughout the year, grabs onto the gold-panning, paddle-steaming historical era with two hands. You can pan for gold, take an old train or paddle-steamer, go horse riding, try out the shooting range, visit the bisons, do line dancing and help build a house. Follow the stories of local characters and enjoy the amazing spectacles at the six performances, including a Zorro show.
Popeye Village , Malta
Is your family full of picky eaters? You’ll leave Malta’s Popeye Village encouraged to gulp down your spinach. This theme park was built in 1979 as the set for the 1980 Popeye Musical starring Robin Williams as the pipe-smoking, muscular sailor. Found near Mellieha, the set is now open as a major public attraction, in all its intricate detail. Some activities include meeting Popeye at his cabin, watching shows and playing games at the Sawmill, strolling through the Popeye Comic Museum and taking a 20-minute boat ride around Anchor Bay. The village, also known as Sweethaven Village, is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm from November to February, from 9.30am to 5.30pm March to June and from 9.30am to 7.00pm in peak tourist time in July and August.
Bonbon Land, Denmark
Bring your sense of humour along with you to this unusual theme park that was once a humble candy factory. Now, you’ll see statues of dizzy turtles, vomiting rats and ants doing a wee! Hitting the toddler toilet humour nail on the head, this cheeky park in Holmegaard (about 100 kilometres from Copenhagen) will have you all giggling. You’ll especially love the Hundeprut or ‘dog fart’ ride. Henry the dog suffers terrible wind, which he uses to propel the rollercoaster as it flies over enormous plastic dog poos to explosive sound effects. There is a reason Bonbon Land call themselves “Denmark’s funniest amusement park.”
Mini Europe, Belgium
Don’t have to time to race around Europe and tick off the continent’s most famous monuments? Relish the chance to get your photo taken with their mini-me replicas in Brussels. This park is full of Europe’s proud history, culture and 350 models of significant sights such as Big Ben, the Berlin Wall and Venetian canals complete with gondolas. Some encourage interaction, such as the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. Mini Europe tickets cost 11.50 euros for under 12’s and 15.50 euros for adults and seniors. You can also purchase multi-attraction packages combining Mini Europe with nearby Oceade, Atomium or Planetarium.
Ferrari Land , Spain
Seek out the sleek, high-octane thrills of this car-mad theme park in Tarragona. A ticket to Ferrari Land costs 20 euros for adults and 16 for Juniors in the low season, and 22 euros for adults and 18 for Juniors from mid-June to mid-September. At an extra cost, you can purchase a multi-pass covering Ferrari Land and Port Aventura, the neighbouring entertainment resort. Test your courage on either the free fall or bouncing Thrill Towers, on a 570 metre racing track and in the Junior Championship arena. The show-stopper is Red Force, which will get you from 0 to 180 km/h in five seconds. There is also a dedicated Kids Area.
Liked that crazy list? Check out this story about the World’s Greatest Theme Parks.
You might also like to read about real-life Disney locations you can visit as a family.