Those travelling further afield could visit GTW’s pick of group-friendly European theme parks, ideal for inclusion in a short break itinerary

With Europe’s top theme parks set to become even bigger and better this summer, now is the ideal time to hop over the Channel and book a group-friendly short break.

Port Aventura celebrates its 20th birthday this year

Port Aventura celebrates its 20th birthday this year

 

No stranger to crowds – with more than four million visitors every year – Efteling Theme Park in the Netherlands has grown to become the Netherlands’ most visited daily attraction, making it one of Europe’s most successful theme parks. In addition to the park itself, the World of Efteling also comprises a hotel, holiday park, golf course, theatre and a wide range of facilities suitable for business events. Although growing year on year, Efteling remains true to its roots – namely the telling of fairytales, sagas, legends, myths and stories.

With so much on offer, one day at Efteling wouldn’t be enough to fully explore the park’s rides, shows and attractions – especially if you’re travelling from the UK. Its fairytale-themed hotel – The Efteling Hotel – and self-catering accommodation in the Efteling Village Bosrijk, are within easy walking distance of the theme park.

This summer will see the launch of Baron 1898, a rollercoaster that’s not for the faint-hearted due to its 37.5metre free fall.

In addition, Efteling Village Bosrijk is set to acquire hundreds of new beds and new group accommodation in 2015, making it the ideal short break destination for families and thrill-seekers. Find out more at www.efteling.co.uk

For the ultimate fairytale experience, take the short coach drive into France to visit one of the world’s best-known theme parks; Disneyland Paris.

A must for families with young children keen to stay in the iconic pink palace that is the Disneyland Hotel, alternative accommodation options are also available, ranging from the high-end Disney’s Hotel New York to the more purse-friendly Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch. All are located a short walk away, with details of Disneyland’s partner hotels available on the website (www.disneylandparis.co.uk), including the nearby Radisson Blu Hotel.

With rides, shows and attractions to suit all the family, Disneyland Paris is home to two main parks – Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park.

Single day and multi-day tickets are available with options to purchase a ticket and transport deal, ideal for groups preferring to base themselves in Paris.

Budget hotels in the Paris region include the Ibis (www.ibishotel.com) and the Logis (www.logishotels.com).

While you’re in Paris, you could go allout with a trip to Parc Astérix – just 18 miles from Disneyland Paris. Based on the French comic stories, The Adventures of Astérix, the theme park was originally built in the late 1980s and is themed around six ‘worlds’ – ancient Greece, Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Vikings, travel through time and welcome to Gaul. The park has a mix of rides to suit children of all ages, together with fun and entertaining shows.

Within the park itself is the luxurious Hotel des Trois Hiboux, so you can easily turn your group stay into a short break.

The website (www.parcasterix.fr) lists a number of partner hotels to suit all budgets and tastes.

Combined hotel stay-and-park ticket options are available for groups, with discounts if you book early. Find out more on the attraction’s website.

A TASTE OF GERMAN PARK LIFE

Celebrating its 40th birthday in 2015, Europa Park Theme Park and Resort has an array of events planned throughout the summer. Based in Rust (in South West Germany) the park is the largest of its kind in the country and the second most popular theme park resort in Europe, behind the iconic Disneyland Paris.

Germany’s Europa Park Theme Park and Resort

Germany’s Europa Park Theme Park and Resort

Home to rollercoasters and water rides – including the huge Atlantica SuperSplash – with thrill rides such as the Swiss Bob Run, the park also has daily shows and vast themed areas to explore.

Visitors can trek across the whole of Europe in just a few hours as they explore the French, English, Greek, Dutch and Italian-themed areas, to name just a few. This summer, the park is offering group travel organisers 20% off an overnight stay, including breakfast and admission to Europa Park.

Find out more at www.europapark.de, including details regarding the park’s onsite hotels, from the four-star luxury Bell Rock and Colosseo to Europa Park’s great value campsite.

VIVA ESPAÑA

Millions of visitors flock to northern Spain annually to enjoy its stunning scenery and rides, with PortAventura celebrating its 20th birthday in 2015.

Crowned the country’s most visited theme park, PortAventura is situated an hour’s coach ride from Barcelona. Groups can choose to stay in one of the park’s onsite hotels, opt for the budget option and enjoy the facilities available in the caravan park or choose a hotel in nearby Barcelona. Budget hotel chains in the region include Travelodge (www.travelodge.co.uk) and the Hotel Europark (www.hoteleuropark.com).

The park’s themed areas mix exciting rides with restaurants and shops. There’s the US-themed Far West, the oriental PortAventura China and the tranquil Mediterránia – reminiscent of a Mediterranean fishing village – as well as a whole host of other global themes, a water park and more. For more information visit www.portaventura.es