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The Best Theme Parks in Europe, And Where to Stay Nearby

PortAventura theme park, Spain

Thrilling, heart-racing rollercoasters, spectacular shows, character parades, and breath-taking firework displays await you in the best theme parks in Europe. 

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or prefer the slow pace of a carousel, the best theme parks in Europe are full of options to suit all the family. The fun-filled atmosphere of a theme park is something many of us are craving right now, and luckily we have no shortage of parks to choose from – most just a short flight away. So, fasten your seatbelts while I take you on a whistle stop tour of what I think are some of the best theme parks in Europe, and give you tips on where to stay too.



1. Disneyland Paris, France

Disneyland Paris is one of the best theme parks in Europe

Undoubtably the most popular theme park in Europe, Disneyland Paris attracts an average of 12 million visitors annually. With two amazing parks – Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, there is so much to discover that you will easily need to spend two or three days here. 

Read: My top tips for visiting theme parks


It goes without saying, there is a ride for every age, interest, and level of adrenaline you are seeking at these parks, from the tummy churning Tower of Terror to the gentle spinning of the Mad Hatters Tea Cups.

Tea cups ride at DIsneyland Paris

For the little Princesses in your house, be sure to visit the Princess Pavilion for a photo opportunity they’ll treasure. The famous Disneyland Parade takes place on Main Street usually at 5.30pm (check your timetable), it’s normally good to grab a spot at the beginning of the parade (opposite Belle Notte restaurant),  and then scoot off to the rides once it has passed. Finally, the nightly fireworks display is an absolute must to finish a magical day at Disneyland.


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We visited at Christmas time and loved it. You can read all about our trip here:

Read: Top tips to visit Disneyland Paris at Christmas time



Where to Stay:

There are eight resort hotels in Disneyland Paris, each with a different theme.  We stayed in the Disneyland Hotel, and while it was magical, I felt it was overpriced. We also stayed in the New York Hotel previously and felt it was very similar, and a much better price point. This hotel is due to be reimagined this year as The Art of Marvel hotel.

Another popular choice is Newport Bay Hotel. One of the main benefits of staying in a Disney resort hotel is the extra magic hour you get to enter the park before the public, and in many cases you are able to walk to the parks.

Book Disney hotels & park tickets here


However, don’t overlook some of the nearby hotels, as they are much lower in price and most offer a free shuttle bus to the parks. The Explorers Hotel, located just 10 minutes away have large family rooms sleep up to 10 people, as well a swimming pool with slides onsite. 

See Explorers here


See Park tickets here



How to get to Disneyland Paris

The quickest and easiest way to get to Disneyland Paris is to take the TGV train from Charles de Gaulle Airport, you will arrive in Disneyland Paris in just 12 minutes. Disney’s Magic shuttle bus is also available, approx. 1 hour, or alternatively take a private taxi. 

Read: The best time to visit Disneyland Paris



2. PortAventura & Ferrari Land, Spain

PortAventura World is one of the best theme parks in Europe

For most families, a visit to PortAventura is an added bonus for an exciting day or two, during a summer holiday to the Costa Dorada region of Spain. However, we enjoyed a fabulous few days when we stayed on site a few years ago. Not only is PortAventura one of Europe’s largest theme parks, I firmly believe it is one of the best theme parks in Europe. I recommend visiting as a stand alone trip too, perhaps a long weekend away, or a getaway over the mid term break.


PortAventura features six distinct worlds with an exciting theme associated with each. The two most thrilling rides in the park are Shambhala, the parks tallest rollercoaster at 76m and reaching a speed of 134km/h, and Dragon Khan which will take you through 8 loops in 69 seconds! When we visited our children were too young to try these (that’s my excuse anyway!), but we loved the water rides.

A family stay at the Gold River Hotel, PortAventura World

Grand Canyon Rapids is perfect for kids of all ages while Silver River Plume is more like a coaster with one big drop, and you will need to factor in that you will get quite wet. PortAventura is also home to Caribe Aquatic Park. This is seasonal and usually opens from May to September.


Younger children are well catered for also with Sésamoaventura, the Sesame Street themed world that offers lots of gentle fun rides, and even the possibility of bumping into Bert and Ernie along the way. As well as the incredible selection of rollercoasters and rides, the park also offers impressive shows, a great fireworks display, and a huge variety of restaurants.

Read: Top 10 reasons to visit PortAventura World


Opened in 2017, Ferrari Land is the newest addition to the PortAventura World resort. The main attraction here is the terrifying Red Force and at 112 metres high, you won’t have to search to find it. It’s not only the tallest rollercoaster in Europe but also the fastest, accelerating you from zero to 180km/h in just 5 seconds. I was brave or daft enough to try this, and to be honest, I’m still not over it!
You will get around Ferrari Land in just over half a day so I would definitely opt for a combination ticket to include both parks.


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Read: My guide to Ferrari World, Spain



Where to Stay:

We stayed in PortAventura’s Gold River Hotel and loved it. It is located next to the park, boasts large family rooms and suites, and has a great restaurant on site. A stay here will include entry to PortAventura during your stay and a 1 Day entry to Ferrari Land.

Book PortAventura hotels here


You could also stay in the nearby holiday resorts of Salou, La Pineda or Cambrils. Depending on the time of year you visit, why not combine a sun holiday with some time in one of the best theme parks in Europe?

View all hotels here


Book tickets here



How to get to PortAventura:

PortAventura is located 15 minutes from Reus Airport or just over an hour from Barcelona Airport.




3. Gardaland, Italy

Gardaland is one of the best theme parks in Europe

Taking top spot for the largest and most visited theme park in Italy is Gardaland, sitting on the shores of beautiful Lake Garda. The park boasts 32 rides which includes 7 rollercoasters and 3 water rides, perfect to cool the family down on a hot Italian summer’s day.


Conveniently they have categorised each of the rides into three groups, so you know what you’re getting in advance! Fantasy is aimed at younger children with lots of colourful gentle rides, as well as exciting adventures such as driving a tractor through the park’s crazy farm. 


Adventure has rides to suit all ages, most of which you don’t have to be too brave to take on! Finally, there is Adrenaline which is made up of the highest, fastest, and most thrilling rides in the park. There is possibly a perception that Gardaland is a family day out for younger children, but take one look at these rollercoasters and you’ll soon realise older children and adults will be left pretty impressed.


We visited Gardaland about ten years ago, but it has changed so much since then, with lots of new attractions and parks added. Two of the newer additions to Gardaland are Peppa Pig Land, and excitingly for the first time in Europe, Legoland is due to open their Lego themed water park this year. With all these new additions, this must surely make Gardaland a contender for one of the best theme parks in Europe.


Also to note, Gardaland’s Magic Halloween experience runs from 8th October into early November and with flights operating throughout October to Verona, this is certainly a trip to consider.

Peppa Pig Land at Gardaland



Where to stay:

Gardaland Hotel is located just two minutes by complimentary shuttle from the park. Campsites are generally one of the more popular accommodation choices for families to Lake Garda, and Del Garda Village & Camping is one of the closer to Gardaland just 3km away. 

Book tickets here

How To get to Gardaland:

The closest airport is Verona, a 25-minute drive from Gardaland. Venice (Marco Polo Airport) is approx. 90 minutes drive.



4. Legoland Windsor, England

Legoland is one of the world's most popular theme parks

One of the UK’s most well-known theme parks is Legoland in Windsor. The park is designed mainly for children aged between 3 – 12 years featuring over 55 interactive rides, live shows, and spectacular LEGO creations. Some of the highlights include the new DUPLO brick Dinosaur rollercoaster, the thrilling LEGO Dragon ride, and the 3D behind the scenes animation of THE LEGO MOVIE set.


With its popularity with the young (and young at heart), for the last decade, Legoland Windsor may not be one of the best theme parks in Europe, but it is certainly one of the most popular. If you are planning a trip to Legoland, it is worth taking a look at the events organised throughout the year particularly the Halloween and Christmas themed weeks. This is either a destination on its own where you could easily spend two full days exploring the resort, or as an exciting day trip during a family city break to London.

Read: The top things to do in London with kids and where to stay



Where to stay:

Legoland Resort hotel has rooms that will sleep up to a family of five, and offers packages with park tickets included. Alternatively, the 4-star Castle Hotel is located in the heart of Windsor, less than a ten-minute drive from Legoland, a short stroll from plenty of shops and restaurants, and just a two-minute walk from Windsor Castle.


Book tickets here

How to get to Legoland:

Legoland is located 20km from London Heathrow Airport, and also accessible from other London airports.



5. Alton Towers, England

Alton Towers is the UK's most popular theme park and one of the best theme parks in Europe

Spread over 500 acres, Alton Towers is the UK’s biggest theme park and impressively appeals to all age groups and levels of bravery, with its offering of over 50 rides and attractions. It won the theme park of the year at last years theme park awards, and is undoubtedly one of the best theme parks in Europe.


For thrillseekers, the infamous Oblivion and Nemesis rides are sure to leave you speechless. Or if that hasn’t scared you enough, you won’t know whether to laugh or cry as you make your way through the dark and terrifying Alton Towers Dungeon.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, Alton Towers is also home to CBeebies Land which opened in 2014 and is hugely popular with children from 1- 6 years, where they have the opportunity to interact with their favourite characters. Daily shows include the Teletubbies Big Band Show, which is sure to have your little ones singing and dancing along.

Postman Pat at Alton Towers theme park

In addition to the incredible selection of rides and rollercoasters, Alton Towers also has a water park located within their Splash Landings Hotel.

Downloading the Alton Towers Resort App in advance will help you get the most out of your visit, allowing you to check current waiting times, the option to purchase Fast track and the ability to set reminders for the shows taking place.



Where to stay:

Alton Towers’ Resort has a host of accommodation options, including rooms that will sleep up to six. Hilton Garden Inn, Stoke-on-Trent is 20km from Alton Towers, and with a central location it is within easy walking distance to explore the city.

If you are taking the ferry, a stopover in Chester might be worth considering. Check out the beautiful Crowne Plaza Chester with indoor pool located right in the heart of the historical walled city. 

Book tickets here



How to get to Alton Towers:

The closest airport to Alton Towers is East Midlands, approx. 45-minute drive. Car rental is the most convenient option.
Alternatively, it is also popular to take the ferry to Holyhead and drive 2 hours 45 minutes to Alton Towers. Consider an overnight stop in the lovely town of Chester and a visit to Cheshire Oakes outlet centre or a visit to Chester Zoo.



6. Phantasialand, Germany

Phantasialand, Germany theme park

Germany is probably not the first country you think of when you think of the best theme parks in Europe. It may surprise you that Germany has in fact two parks ranked among Europe’s top theme parks, Phantasialand being one of them.


During a visit you will be transported all around the world ,from the savannah plains in Africa to the Aztecs in ancient Mexico. Through the six themed areas, you will have the option to take in more than 40 attractions. A couple of the more noteworthy rides to mention are Black Mamba – the inverted design will see you travel at high speed through loops and corkscrews, and Mystery Castle – an award-winning terrifying bungee drop and Chiapas – taking you on the steepest log flume descent in the world.


The restaurants in each zone continue the theme of the region, for example, enjoy noodles and spring rolls in China Town or Churros and Nachos in Mexico. There are also a number of shows including the breath-taking Fantissima Dinner Show.



Where to stay:

Phantasialand have three ‘experience’ hotels on site, which you can see here. Alternatively, H+ Hotel Köln Brühl is located under 3km from Phantasialand and close to the centre of the pretty German town of Brühl. Search all hotels close to Phantasialand here.

Book tickets here


How to get to Phantasialand:

Phantasialand is approx. 25-minute drive from Cologne Airport.



7. Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens at night

Tivoli Gardens holds quite a few impressive accolades that most other theme parks cannot take claim to. The park dates back to 1843, with fairy tale writer Hans Christian Anderson being one of the first to visit. Walt Disney also visited many times, and it was here he found the inspiration for Disney World. Also, the unique location in the heart of a Denmark’s capital city sees Tivoli Gardens surrounded on each side by the town hall square, the main train station, and Hans Christian Andersen’s house.


The beautiful layout of the park has led to plenty of open space with gorgeous, landscaped gardens, a lake, and a pantomime theatre. Although most of the rides are more gentle than thrilling, there are some attractions to get your pulse racing. Try out Vertigo where you take 360 degree turns at 100km/h, or ride through the 3 loops of The Demon at high speed.


Music is also a popular feature with the Tivoli Concert Hall offering many events throughout the summer. It is also a fabulous place to visit at Christmas time. The park is covered in over 1 million fairy lights, with numerous Christmas market stalls and carol singers, even Santa pays a visit. See more here.


You only need to check out the TripAdvisor reviews to see the love people have for the atmosphere, setting, and the nostalgia that Tivoli Gardens evokes, and why it is considered one of the best theme parks in Europe. I had the pleasure of visiting Copenhagen a few years ago and loved it. It is a small city that is very easy to navigate and ideal for a city break.

Read: My city guide to Copenhagen

The Travel Expert in Nyhavn, Copenagen



Where to stay:

Eric Vökel Boutique Apartments are less than a 10-minute walk from Tivoli Gardens, and within easy walking distance of most of Copenhagen’s main attractions. 1 Bedroom Apartments will sleep up to 4- and 2-Bedroom Apartments up to 6. 

Buy tickets here


I would highly recommend buying a Copenhagen Card – this allows access to more than 70 of Copenhagen’s top attractions including Tivoli Gardens. 

How to get to Copenhagen:

Fly to Copenhagen Airport, journey time by taxi approx. 20 minutes. There is also a train station at the airport with a regular service into the city centre taking approx. 15 minutes.



8. Efteling Park, Netherlands

Efteling Parkis one of Europe's best theme parks

Four realms make up this unique fairytale-like theme park, which is the largest theme park in The Netherlands. Let’s start with Fairy Realm where fairy tales are brought to life – from the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel, to Rapunzel’s tower. Next we have Adventure Realm, this is where the daredevils should head for.


Baron 1898 rollercoaster will plunge you free falling at 90km/h into a mineshaft, or how about Python, a steel rollercoaster with double loops and corkscrews. For more heart racing action, make your way to Alternative Realm where you should be prepared for plenty of screams at the Spookslot Haunted House.

Efteling Park rollercoasters

And finally, journey around the world in 8 minutes in the Travel Realm at the Carnival Festival attraction. Check out the times for the park’s daily shows and don’t miss out the spectacular illuminated water show at Aquanura at the end of each day. You could easily spend 2 days exploring Efteling Park.



Where to stay:

Efteling Hotel is located a 5-minute walk away from the entrance of the park and includes unlimited access. A nice option if you wanted to extend your stay in the Netherlands would be to base yourself at Beekse Bergen Campsite, a four-star campsite with holiday homes and a safari park onsite. Beekse Bergen is located less than 20 minutes from Efteling Park.  

Book tickets here

How to get to Efteling:

The closest airport is Eindhoven, a 20-minute drive from Efteling Park. Amsterdam is 80 minutes away.



9. Futuroscope Theme Park, France

Futuroscope theme park, France

Not your usual theme park, Futuroscope’s main emphasis is on multimedia, and offers a totally immersive experience full of 3D and 4D special effects. The park offers 25 fun experiences including Dances with Robots – a dancing lesson you’ll take with giant robots who will send you waltzing 23 feet in the air!


Destination Mars – a train journey that will take you to outer space with stunning evening shows with a display of 3D aquatic effects and dancing lights. It’s not difficult to see why this is one of the most popular amusement parks in France.

For its size, the park offers a great selection of restaurants, and prices look quite reasonable by theme park standards with lots of meal plan options available. For a family visiting during a French camping holiday, parking is available for the day for €9.



Where to stay:

For a one- or two-night stopover near the Park, the Appart Hotel Futuroscope 2 is an 8-minute walk from the park. 1 Bedroom Apartments sleep up to 4. La Roche Posay campsite is a 40-minute drive from Futuroscope. 

Book tickets here


How to get to Futuroscope :

Depending on whether you fly or take a ferry, the closest airport is Poitiers, but many families will take the ferry to France, and drive to Futuroscope.



10. Europa Park, Germany

Europa Park is one of Europe's best theme parks

After Disneyland Paris, Europa park is the second most visited theme park in Europe, although probably not as popular on the Irish market as there are less direct flight routes to that part of Germany from Ireland. Nonetheless, the park attracts on average 5 million visitors per year, incredibly offering more than 100 attractions.


The park is made up of Europa Theme Park and Rulantica Water World. A couple of the main features of the theme park are Wodan Timburcoaster, which is a giant wooden ride reaching a speed of 100km/h, and Swiss Bobrun which is a take on a bobsleigh where you speed down a metal ice run at 50km/h – with no tracks!


These are just two of the thirteen rollercoasters at Europa Park, but not only are adrenaline seekers catered for, young children also have an abundance of suitable rides, shows and playgrounds to choose from. These are spread throughout 18 themed areas, each of which are named after a different country.

rollercoaster at Europa Park.

Ireland even has its own themed area for younger children where they can take a ride on Ba-a-a Express and visit Limerick Castle. The Rutlantica Water World opened in November 2019 and includes an indoor waterpark the size of five football fields!

Europa Park is considered one of the best theme parks in Europe, and with two parks, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained for 2 or 3 days.



Where to stay:

Europa Park have six themed hotels which you can see here. Alternatively Eurocamp have a campsite, Campingplatz Herbolzheim Campsite, located 10 km from Europa Park.

Book tickets here



How to get to Europa Park:

Strasbourg Airport is less than an hour away, but flights currently are indirect from Ireland. The closest airport with directly flights from Ireland is Zurich which is approx. 2-hour drive from Europa Park.  


I hope you enjoyed this post on the best theme parks in Europe and it inspires you to travel overseas again soon. Prices and attractions are taken from theme park and hotel websites, but are subject to change. Please check with individual park or hotel for clarification. Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.




Amazing Disneyland Paris Offer: Save Up to 20% & Get Free Dining!


Save up to 20% off hotel and park tickets and get free dining throughout 2020 – even during school holidays! This amazing Disneyland Paris offer is not to be missed.


Imagine your kids faces when you tell them you are going to Disneyland Paris – the magic starts right there✨. Picture the parades filled with their favourite characters, firework displays over Sleeping Beauty’s castle, as well as rollercoaster rides and amazing shows – Disneyland Pars is magical. I visited twice with my family and loved it. We had breakfast with our favourite Disney Characters, enjoyed the rollercoasters and simulator rides and were completely blown away by the shows and fireworks. A trip to Disneyland Paris is the ultimate family break away, and one that provides lasting memories for many years to come! 


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I have teamed up with Breakaway.ie, who have been Disney’s official distributor in Ireland since the park opened in 1997. All of their staff visit the resort regularly, and know all the insider tips. You can rest assured they will recommend the right hotel and attractions to suit your children’s ages and needs – and offer you the best value too!


From time to time Breakaway release special offers that should not be missed – believe me when I say: this is one of those times! Not only will you receive up to 20% off Disneyland Paris hotel and park tickets, but you will also receive FREE dining, if you book by before the 12th of February. This amazing Disneyland Paris offer is available throughout 2020, so whether you want to join the Frozen Celebration, the Marvel Season of Super Heroes or experience Disney’s Enchanted Christmas season – Breakaway have you covered.

disneyland paris offer from ireland for chrismtas


Free Dining at Disneyland Paris 

As well as great value hotel and park tickets, I love that this Disneyland Paris offer includes free dining – this means you will need very little spending money. However, it is important to note that the meal plan you receive depends on the standard of hotel you choose, and that half-board and full-board arrangements allow you dine in your choice of 15-20 restaurants throughout the Disneyland Paris parks. I recommend you choose a 3-star hotel or above to avail of this. The Free Dining promotion is available on the following hotels and is explained fully in this short video:

    • 2-Star: Cheyenne or Santa Fe: FREE Buffet breakfast.
    • 3-Star: Sequoia Lodge: FREE Plus Half Board in 15+ restaurants.
    • 4-Star: Newport Bay Club or New York The Art of Marvel Hotel: FREE Plus Half Board in 15+ restaurants.
    • 5-Star: Disneyland Hotel: Free Premium Full Board in 20+ restaurants.



When is this Disneyland Paris offer available?

This amazing offer is available for all arrivals from the 2nd April 2020 until 31st March 2021, even during Disney’s Enchanted Christmas! But that’s not all… For arrivals after the 3rd of July, you will also receive €100 Disney gift voucher, which can be spent throughout Disneyland Paris parks!

There are so many festivals on in Disneyland Paris that there is something to suit kids of all ages. I have highlighted some prices from various dates in 2020 to give you an idea of cost. All prices are based on two adults and two children sharing, but you can get prices on the Breakaway.ie website to suit your own party size, across all hotels and dates throughout the year. If you prefer to talk to one of their dedicated Disney experts, simply call them on 01 607 9900 .

free dining at disneyland paris


Disney’s Enchanted Christmas Season – Mid November 2020 – Early Jan 2021

Can you think of anything more magical than Disneyland Paris at Christmas time? We went two years ago – and I loved it as much as the kids! Read my blog about Disneyland at Christmas time to find out why. It just may be ‘the most wonderful time of the year….’

  • 3 nights in the Sequoia Lodge
  • 4 days parks tickets
  • FREE Plus Half Board 
  • €100 Spending Money
  • Total cost based on 2 adults & 2 children sharing from €250pp

Upgrade to the NewPort Bay for just €12pp  


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See more here


Lion King and Jungle Festival – Mid June – September 2020: 

Let the kids be enthralled by Simba, Pumbaa and their amazing friends at the Lion King and Jungle Festival. Need to travel during school holidays? Hakuna Matata – this festival is on throughout the summer months!

  • 3 nights in the Santa Fe Hotel
  • 4 days parks tickets
  • FREE Buffet Breakfast
  • €100 Spending Money
  • Total cost based on 2 adults & 2 children sharing from €371pp

Upgrade to the Sequoia Lodge with FREE  Half Board Meals Plus for just €70pp

lion king festival at disneyland paris

See more here


Marvel Season of Super Heroes – 24th March – 7th June 2020:  

Your spider-sense will be tingling when you see your favourite Marvel legends in Disneyland Paris!. See Spider Man, Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk, as well as Thanos – the supreme Marvel villain. For the ultimate Marvel adventure, why not stay at Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel. Completely reimagined, this contemporary 4-star hotel retains its New York style, with the added benefits of  Marvel artwork – a must see for any Marvel fans.

  • 3 nights in the Santa Fee
  • 4 days parks tickets
  • FREE Buffet Breakfast
  • €100 Spending Money
  • Total cost based on 2 adults & 2 children sharing from €335pp

Upgrade to the Sequoia Lodge with FREE  Half Board Meals Plus for just €96pp

disneyland paris offer for marvel festival

See more here


Frozen Celebration – 11th January  – 3rd May 2020:  

The first Frozen movie was released when we were in Disneyland Paris and we loved spotting Anna, Elsa and Olaf throughout the park and the Frozen sing-a-long show. With Frozen 2 just released, the Frozen Celebration of 2020 will no doubt be a huge draw for children of all ages. 

    • 3 nights in the Sequoia Lodge €345pp
    • 4 days parks tickets
    • FREE Plus Half Board
    • €100 Spending Money
    • Total cost based on 2 adults & 2 children sharing from €405pp


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See more here


No matter when you choose to travel, visit Breakaway.ie for the best offers and expert advice. This Disneyland Paris offer has to be booked before the 12th of February, but if, like most of us, you had an expensive Christmas, you don’t need to worry – a deposit will secure your booking! 


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Note flights and transfers are not included in these price but with so many flights all available from all Irish airports, getting there is hassle free. You may wish to add on a night in Paris and choose to book your own flights, however Breakway have flights inclusive packages that can be booked on their website or with their Disney Experts.  

Search & Book Here


This post was sponsored by Breakaway. All views, as always, are my own.



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Halloween Festival at Disneyland Paris, Flights, Hotel & Passes, 3 Nights, 2ad & 2ch, €2139

Disneyland Paris Halloween

Imagine your kids faces light up when you tell them you are going to the Halloween Festival at Disneyland Paris. The journey starts there!

The Halloween festival at Disneyland Paris is full of fun, mystery and mischief! Scary attractions like Phantom Manor and Tower of Terror have some spooky surprises in store, while Main Street U.S.A is full of pumpkins, flickering lights and creepy sounds.


The impressive Illuminations Show at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle takes on a Halloween theme, and will surely leave you feeling bewitched. This is the ultimate family weekend break away and one that will bring you lots of memories for years to come.

Read: The best time to visit Disneyland Paris.

halloween festival at disneyland paris

I found a good deal staying in the popular Explorers Hotel. Not only is this hotel less than 10 minutes from the parks, but it has great onsite activities as well.


A pirate theme runs throughout the hotel and the star of the show is the massive pirate ship in the swimming pool. Complete with numerous slides and an aqua play area, this indoor heated pool is a favourite with kids and adults alike. A regular shuttle bus runs from the hotel to the parks, just ten minutes away. 

explorers hotel disneyland paris

I have priced this deal based on 2 adults and 2 children but the Explorers Hotel have large family rooms that can cater for six. They also have even larger rooms accommodating up to ten people, if you happen to be travelling with your extended family. Simply edit the search when you click on the links below to re price this deal for the number in your party. 


Fly from Dublin to Paris on the 26th of October with Aer Lingus, and enjoy the Halloween festival at Disneyland Paris! Price for flights and a three-night stay on a bed and breakfast basis is €1337 based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing.

Price for 3-day, 2-park hopper tickets is €210 per adult and €193 per child. Note this hotel rate offers free cancellation, so you can rest assured if you travel plans change, you can simply cancel or change your date.


Check flights here €760

View hotel here €577 (refundable rate)

Book Park Tickets Here €802


Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Note that some links above are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.



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15 Top Tips and Tricks for Visiting Theme Parks


I have visited many theme parks, thankfully without enduring massive queues or spending a fortune. Check out my top tips for visiting theme parks and maybe you can too.


1. Book your tickets in advance

This may sound obvious but booking tickets in advance is one of the top tips for visiting theme parks! Tickets are ALWAYS dearer at the entrance to a theme park, and you won’t have to queue. Attraction Tickets.com have the LOWEST theme park ticket rates on the web, with free delivery and no credit card fees 😎
Attraction Tickets.com also offer many combination tickets that are not available to buy at the gate. You may get 2 days for the price of 1, or get discounted tickets to multiple theme parks, that are only available on their website. 

2. Research, research research.

I can’t stress this enough. You WON’T be able to go on every ride, no matter how fit you are, or how small the theme park is. Check the height and or age restrictions before you go, so you can rule out rides that are not applicable for your children. Not only will this save you time, but by preparing your kids in advance you may avoid any upset, if they are too small to go on a top attraction.

top tips for visiting theme parks
Mark the attractions that are ‘must see’ and go for them first. Check the times of shows or parades and decide what you want to see. Rides are usually quieter during parades, so bear that in mind if the parade is repeated and take advantage.



3. Parking tips:

Before you decide to drive, check the price of the parking. In some cases it can be exorbitant. It may be quicker and cheaper to take a shuttle bus or UBER to the park. If you do decide to drive, take note of where you parked. You will probably arrive at the park early, when the car park may be somewhat empty. Leaving however is a different story, so if you don’t know you where you parked your car, you could be in for a long night…



4. Bring supplies.

tips for visiting theme parks

If there are water rides, bring swim suits, and if you don’t want to get wet bring a poncho. A waterproof casing for your phone is also a good idea, as is a powerbank for your phone. You will probably take hundreds of pictures so you will want to re-charge it.


Bring snacks, they will come in handy when you are waiting in line for a long time, and will be a lot cheaper than buying snacks in the park. Most parks also have free water dispensers so I suggest bringing your own water bottle.


A lightweight back pack is ideal as sunglasses and phones are not allowed on some of the fast rollercoasters. Most parks have lockers available, take advantage of this rather than carrying a bag around all day. If travelling during the summer time – don’t forget your sunscreen!



5. Arrange a meeting place if you get lost.

Hopefully this won’t happen, but having a meeting place pre-arranged will alleviate some of the stress if you manage to get separated from your friends of family. Remember there will be rides that only some of the family will go on, and on some occasions the rides finish in a completely different place to where they started from. Having a meeting place is essential.



6. Plan your route

tips for visiting theme parks

Don’t follow the herd. Most people tend to turn right when they go into a theme park. Why not go anti-clockwise, or go to the rear of the park and work your way towards the entrance. Another good option is to go straight for the rides that you really want to go on.


The most popular rides will have the longest queues, so go on them first when you have more energy and don’t mind queueing. Trust me, this is a much better than standing in line for an hour at 5pm with exhausted children.



7. Check out express passes / fast track

Express passes vary from park to park. Disneyland Paris for instance has a great ‘free’ fast pass system. You simply go to a ride and get a time slot for later that day, then come back to a shorter queue. Other theme parks are not so good, or indeed free.


Fast pass tickets in some parks can be a Godsend if you are travelling during peak season, and if you want to go on the most popular rollercoasters. If however, you happen to be travelling off peak and/or you have small children who are unable to go on the big rides, they may be a waste of money. Fast passes in many parks are not valid on the top attractions, make sure you check each park for their individual offering.



8. Use the single rider lanes

tips for visiting portaventura

There may be one or two people in your group who want to try the fast coasters. Make use of the single lanes where there is usually little or no queue. It may mean that you wont be able to sit next to your partner, but you may be seated in the row behind them, and if that means saving a half hour in the queue, it might be worth it!



9. Use the baby swap.

The baby swap facility is not available in all theme parks, but if you see it – take advantage. They are used primarily for people who are travelling with a small child. You all queue together, one person stays with the baby in a room at the top of the queue, while the other goes on the ride. When your partner is finished the ride, you simply swap places.



10. Go at night time

tips for visiting theme parks
Not only are queues way shorter at night-time, but many parks offer discounted tickets for evening visits. You may also catch a parade or fireworks display.



11. Bring ID

This is one of the top tips for visiting theme parks in America. You have to have picture identification if you want to buy alcohol, regardless of what age you are in America. A nice cold beer after an exhilarating (or terrifying) ride might be needed, so make sure you bring ID with you.



12. Consider staying in one of the theme park hotels for a few nights.

tips for visiting universal studios

Many theme parks including Universal Studios, Disney World and Disneyland Paris have hotels on site. These can be handy if you are planning on spending a lot of time in these particular parks. You will usually have early access to the park before the general public, so you can go on top attractions without large queues.


It can also be handy at night time for dining options, and for easy access to the park for firework displays, parades or shows. Some of Universal’s top hotels include express passes in your stay.

Read: My top things to do in Universal Studios Orlando



13. Check the shows are in English

We got caught out in Disneyland Paris when we queued for 45 minutes for the French version of Frozen! Many shows in theme parks are shown in different languages. Make sure the show you are planning your day around, is the English version. Sometimes there is a small icon on the park guide showing which language the show is in, failing that, check in with the information centre beforehand.



14. Pre-purchase Disney’s Fast Pass+ and Memory Maker.

tips for visiting theme parks - disneyworld

Disney’s Fast Pass+ allows you to pre-book your favourite rides and attractions online before you go. This is automatically included with Disney tickets purchased through Attraction Tickets.com. Similarly Disney’s ‘memory maker’ which normally costs $199 is free if you buy your Disney tickets through Attraction Tickets.com. This allows you to keep ALL photographs that are taken of you in the park.



15. Download the App

Many theme parks have their own free apps with tips for visiting theme parks, as well as wait times for rides, showtimes and availability in restaurants. Download the app before you go.


Remember to pre book your theme park tickets through Attraction Tickets.com , who have the LOWEST theme park ticket rates on the web, with free delivery and no credit card fees. If you prefer to book by phone or are confused about what tickets to buy, why not call the expert staff in Attraction Tickets Dublin office. They are open from 9am-9pm, 7 days a week, call free on 1800 936 640. All they sell is theme park tickets and hotels, so they know all the theme parks inside out.


I hope you enjoyed my top tips for visiting theme parks. If you have any to add, just comment in the box below I would love to hear them.  This post was sponsored by Attraction Tickets.com but all views, as always, are my own.


Like this post? You may like:


The best tickets to buy for PortAventura

The best tickets to buy in Orlando

10 things to know about Universal Orlando before you book






DestinationsEuropeFamily Holidays

Top Tips for Disneyland Paris at Christmas time

Disneyland Paris

“Just hear those sleigh bells jingle-ing, ring-ting tingle-ing, too, come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you…” Walking into Disneyland Paris at Christmas time, the first thing we noticed was Christmas songs bellowing from overhead…


We were mesmerised by the enormous Christmas tree and fairy lights as far as the eye could see. The attention to detail was incredible, even the Christmas wreaths were in the shape of Mickey Mouse. Looking down at my kids faces, I knew this was going to be a weekend to remember. Getting the opportunity to visit Disneyland Paris at Christmas time was a bit like sensory overload for me. Christmas time is one of my favourite times of the year. Even before I had kids, I loved everything about it, the lights, carols, fun times and even the crisp cold air. I contemplated bringing the kids before Christmas to meet Santa, but time was against me. I settled for the next best thing and went for New Year.

Walking down Main Street set the tone. Christmas songs playing, Christmas decorations everywhere and Disney characters were all around. We quickly spotted Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the distance and went straight there. My six year old daughter, Alex, was hyper. She couldn’t believe she as actually going to go inside the castle that was at the start of every Disney movie she had seen. The look on her face as we walked towards it was priceless. I could have gone home right there and it would have been worth the trip!

The Disneyland Park was easy to navigate, we ticked off ‘must see’ places on our maps and set off exploring. Alex, like most 6 year old girls loves Frozen, so to see the interactive sing-a-long Frozen show was at the top of our priority list. We planned our day around it only to discover when we got there that it was in French.

TOP TIP: It is stated on the map but not very clearly, so make sure if you are planning to visit a show, you pick the English version. Luckily for us we were able to come back the following day and catch it in English. We were glad we did. We were all singing-a-long happily and in typical Disney style, they even made it snow in the auditorium!

Speaking of snow, it was freezing and it did actually snow on a few occasions. While this added to the winter wonderland atmosphere, it wasn’t helpful when we were queuing for rides.

TOP TIP: When checking weather forecast check Marne la Vallee and not Paris – you probably find it is a few degrees colder. I noticed many French people were dressed in ski gear. They were obviously regular visitors to the Park. We, on the other hand, were Frozen (excuse the pun) the entire time.

The Disneyland Park is perfect for young children. There are rides suitable for children of all ages, but particularly for younger kids. The Mad Hatter’s tea cups, Buzz Lightyear’s laser blast and Peter Pan’s Flight are all excellent. My 9 year old Luke, loved Thunder Mountain, we went on it three times – it’s a roller coaster but thankfully doesn’t go upside down! There are rides for older kids and daredevils too, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, to name but a few.

DIsneyland Paris at Christmas time

The Walt Disney Studios park is situated beside the Disneyland Park and your park tickets usually cover both. I would recommend a hopper pass so you can go in and out of either park at any time. There may be times when you miss a show, parade or there is a large queue, so it is handy to be able to go in and out of both. We went for two nights / three days and spent one day in the Disneyland Park and another in Walt Disney Studios and then used our last day to go back to rides we loved or ones we missed the first time around.

Our favourites in Walt Disney Studios were Ratatouille, a great simulator ride for all the family and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which was terrifying, but thankfully over very fast! A ride in the Disney cars is a must and the Disney Junior live show is excellent for small children but remember to check the times for English shows. We loved the stunt show, even Lightening Mc Queen made an entrance! It lasts about 45 minutes so make sure you are well wrapped up.

Disneyland Paris at Christmas time

As good as the rides were, they were not the highlight of our visit. The parades and shows were fantastic. On our first day we watched the Royal Christmas Wishes show . This is an outdoor show on the stage beside Sleeping Beauty’s castle. The setting was perfect. Twice daily Disney’s Christmas Parade comes through the park, which is an incredible spectacle. Alex and Luke were constantly shouting out when they saw their favourite characters. It was definitely one off the bucket list and something I am sure we will all remember for many years to come.

We also saw Mickey’s magical Christmas lights show, where the giant Christmas tree’s lights get switched on – and I thought Grafton Street was good! The icing on the cake however was the New Year’s Eve fireworks and laser display – ‘Disney Dreams of Christmas’. The music and laser show reflected Disney characters on to Sleeping Beauty’s castle, followed by a fireworks display that I had never seen anything like before. Lasers beamed to Disney songs like ‘ let it go’ but the strange thing was, all the kids were silent. We were all silent. For thirty minutes our eyes were transfixed on to Sleeping Beauty’s castle, with each rendition of lasers and fireworks better than the last.

It is hard to express how incredible the fireworks display really was or how magical the weekend was overall, suffice to say Disneyland Paris at Christmas time is sensational. Go see it.




Time saving and queuing tips!

1. Measure your children’s height before you go and check online beforehand which rides your children are able to go on. This will save you time and allow you to prepare your kids for unsuitable rides.

2. Download the Disneyland Paris app so you can see the waiting times for all rides instantly.

3. Most people tend to go right when entering a theme park, go left and you may find shorter queues.

4. There is a Disneyland Railroad train which circulates the park. Don’t get on at the Main Street USA station, go to one of the other stations where queues are a lot shorter.

Disneyland Paris at Christmas time

5. Use the baby switch facility. If one parent needs to stay with a toddler, they can swap places with the other parent and go on the ride without having to queue again.

6. Use the fast pass system. Collect a ticket at the entrance to the ride and come back later that day and go straight to the fast pass queue. We had fast pass tickets and never spent longer than 30 minutes queuing for any ride, without them you could be queuing for 90 minutes for the most popular ones. These are valid at the Indiana Jones, Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain Rollercoasters, Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast and Peter Pan’s Flight. They are also available at some of the rides in Walt Disney Studios Park too.

Where to stay:

We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, and while it was great being so close to the Park (literally at the entrance) there are many hotels which are less expensive that I would be as happy to stay in. I particularly like the 4* New York Hotel, it is only a few minutes walk to the Disney Village and a ten minute walk to the park, although they do have a free shuttle bus if you don’t fancy walking. It has a great atmosphere, a massive indoor pool and the Manhattan restaurant serves a great evening meal, albeit buffet style.

The great thing about staying in one of the Disney hotels (there are several) is you have access to the park before they open and after they close, times vary but it can be one to two hours additional to the general opening hours. This can be handy in peak season, although if I’m honest, we didn’t use it, we were never up that early! You can also enjoy character breakfasts, where you children can meet the characters and get pictures without having to queue in the parks.


Love #pluto and think he loves us too! @disneylandparis #disney #disneymagic #familytravel #disneylandparis #mumanddaughter

A photo posted by The Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

Where to eat:

This is something that I am asked regularly about. The general perception is that food is not good in Disneyland Paris. Yes there are tons of fast food joints and many of the restaurants inside the parks have the same food but if you look a little closer there are some good finds. Inside the Walt Disney Studios Park, Bistro Chez Remy is a must for lunch. Based on the movie Ratatouille, the setting and food are great. You can even see the Ratatouille ride from the back of the restaurant. Disney Village has a wide selection.

Kids will love the Rainforest café in Disney Village, complete with fish tanks and stuffed animals as well as an indoor shop. You can not book this in advance so leave the park early if you want to get a table. If you fancy a good steak, the Steakhouse in Disney Village is excellent and you can pre book. It’s a little pricey but worth it, especially if you have had your fill of fast food. No matter where you want to dine, try to pre book restaurants in advance. Many can get booked out quickly or have long queues.

Disneyland Paris at Christmas time

How to get there:

Aer Lingus and Air France fly daily to Charles de Gaulle and there is a ten minute train service from Terminal 2, which brings you straight to the park. You will need to change terminals if flying Aer Lingus. Check the times beforehand as you could have a long wait. If taking the train back to the airport, book your tickets in advance as they can be sold out, something we found out about the hard way. Shuttle bus transfers are an easy option and will go directly from all terminals which takes approximately 45minutes. Price is €20 per adult and €16 per child, one way. Alternatively a taxi costs approx €90 one way and takes about 30 minutes.


Like family holidays? See more here.


 The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery
Best Travel Deals

Disneyland Paris, Halloween Break, Flights & Explorers Hotel, 3 Nights, 2ad & 2ch, €1138!


Imagine your kids faces light up when you tell them you are going to Disneyland Paris. The journey starts there!


Picture the parades filled with their favourite characters ( frozen no doubt!) and the firework displays over Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Have breakfast with Mickey Mouse, drive Disney Cars or if you are feeling adventurous try the rock ‘n’ roller coaster. This is the ultimate family weekend break away and one that will bring you lots of memories for years to come!  There will be lots of extra spooky characters around at Halloween and lots of festive activities in Disneyland Paris. For more information on Disneyland Paris read my blog here. I found this great deal flying with Aer Lingus and staying in the fantastic Explorers family hotel.

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Not only is this hotel less than 10 minutes from the parks but it has fantastic on site activities as well. A pirate theme runs throughout the hotel and the star of the show is the massive pirate ship in the swimming pool. Complete with numerous slides and an aqua play area this indoor heated pool is a favourite with kids and adults alike. There are large family that can cater for six or if travelling with friends they have even larger rooms accommodating up to ten people. A regular shuttle bus runs from the hotel to the parks, just ten minutes away.

disneyland paris

Fly from Dublin to Paris on the 28th of October and go for the bank holiday weekend or spend Halloween night at home and fly out on the 1st of November  – the price is the same! Price for flights and a three night stay at this hotel on a bed and breakfast basis for only €1138 based on 2 adults and 2 children or €1468 based on 2 adults and 3 children. Use my promo code TRAVELEXP20 to save €20 off this, or any city break with ClickandGo.com. Current price for 4 day park tickets is €174 per adult and €159 per child.

Click here for 2 adults and 2 children :

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Click here to book Disneyland park tickets:


Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Note that some links above are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.



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