A day out at an amusement park is hard to beat. Whether it’s rollercoaster-packed theme parks or waterparks with dozens of slides and flumes, they’re not just for the kids – grownups can get in on the action, too. If you can tear yourself away from the pool for a day, here are some of our not-to-be-missed amusement parks. Ready, set, go…
The theme parks
Gardaland, Lake Garda
It may come as a surprise to hear that tucked away in Italy’s placid and picturesque lake region is a thrill-seeker’s paradise. Gardaland, the country’s star amusement park, regularly features in top 10 lists of the best theme parks on the planet, pulling in a huge three million visitors every year.
Located on Lake Garda’s southern shores, Gardaland is around an hour from most resorts and half an hour from Verona. Older kids can enjoy riding the loop-the-loop rollercoasters, while there are mini rollercoasters for the younger ones. Other highlights include an aquarium and Transgardaland Express train, and new for 2017 is Shaman, a virtual reality rollercoaster through native America.
Universal Studios, Singapore®
Universal Studios is known all over the world as the place where movies come alive. Universal Studios in Singapore is the latest park in the brand, opening in 2010, as well as being Southeast Asia’s only theme park.
The park is more than just rollercoasters – submerge yourself in seven unique movie-themed areas; everything from Ancient Egypt to modern-day New York City. Ride the world-famous Transformers experience, which showcases the latest technology, and enjoy the Shrek 4D Adventure with the whole family.
For water babies
Aquaventure, Atlantis the Palm
If you need just one reason to visit Dubai, Aquaventure at Atlantis the Palm is it. This waterpark is one of the best outside of the USA (the spiritual home of the waterpark). The heart of Aquaventure is the Tower of Neptune, where there’s a world of water experiences for all ages.
For the real thrill seekers, take the Leap of Faith – if you dare. This almost-vertical slide is as a tall as a nine-storey building and slides you to the depths of shark-infested waters – glass walls are separating you, of course, but it’s terrifying nevertheless. Younger guests can enjoy mini-slides and water cannons at Splasher’s Children’s play area.
Siam Park, Tenerife
Siam Park is without a doubt one of Europe’s best waterparks. Set in a lush and leafy part of Tenerife, this Thai-themed parks has ‘coasters for all levels of bravery. Adrenaline-seeking teens will be dying to ride the Tower of Power, while mum might fancy whiling away hours on the Mai Thai lazy river. The Mekong Rapids is a fantastic ride enjoyed with the whole family – fit four in a boat and ride the twists and turns down to the bottom. When you need a break, hit the white sands of Siam Beach or pull up a pew at the park’s teahouses (or bars…).
For an adventure
Dubai Parks and Resorts
Not one to be outdone, Dubai launched the Dubai Parks and Resorts in December 2016, and it immediately took the title of the Middle East’s largest integrated theme park. It’s home to MOTIONGATE Dubai, a theme park based around Hollywood’s leading movie studios; Bollywood Parks Dubai, a larger-than-life Bollywood film studio and entertainment hub; and Riverland, packed with restaurants, activities and performances.
Our Head of PR, Naomi, was lucky enough to visit the park with her 10-year-old daughter earlier this year. We asked for her top pick…
LEGOLAND is a must for the slightly younger, less thrill-seeking child, with some truly impressive structures that make it all the more fascinating than our LEGOLAND in the UK. It is home to the world’s tallest LEGO building structure, as well as 15,000 LEGO model structures that occupy the park along with 40 interactive rides and shows.
If you stay at Dubai’s JA Palm Tree Court, you can catch a free shuttle to the park daily.
Xcaret and Xel Ha, Mexico
Mexico’s family-friendly eco-archaeological parks offer a different twist on water and theme parks. Xel-Ha is a snorkeller’s paradise, with hundreds of colourful fish to spot and water activities taking place in cenotes (natural underwater swimming holes), caves and lagoons.
Xcaret is set along the exquisite Riviera Maya, and has adventures on and off land. Mayan archaeological sites and a natural network of underground rivers are ripe for exploring, with a genuine focus in Mexican culture – just take a look at the full replica of a Mayan village with real artisans at work for the educational angle. You can find out more about why we love Mexico for families here.