Every time I have visited Europa-Park previously, they have just got it right. From walking around an impeccably presented theme park and admiring some of the best operated rides in the world, to enjoying fabulous cuisine in any number of their restaurants and experiencing Rulantica, one of the most phenomenal water parks around, Europa-Park and the Mack family absolutely know how to provide a top tier guest experience. As a big fan of Christmas in general, I couldn’t wait to experience the resort and its festivities during December, so join me, Chris, as I explore what the event has to offer.
On this trip we chose to stay at Hotel Colosseo, the beautiful Italian themed hotel based on the world-famous Colosseum in Rome. Europa-Park has six hotels – Bell Rock, Castillo Alcazar, Colosseo, El Andaluz and Santa Isabel which are accessed via a resort entrance at the rear of theme park, Krønasår which is situated opposite Rulantica, and Camp Resort which is located a short walk away from the main theme park entrance.
All the hotels are thoroughly decorated for the festive season, with fantastic attention to detail everywhere you look. Colosseo is no exception, featuring an impressively large Christmas tree in the main foyer, a Christmas fountain show in the central inner plaza, and plenty of Christmas trees and decorations as far as the eye can see. A nice touch was replacing the usual summer clothes on the washing lines hanging on the buildings with garments that Santa and his Elves would wear. We stayed in a ‘Standard Room Plus overlooking the Piazza Roma’, and as expected for a four-star hotel, the room was perfectly fitted out with everything you could need. The Italian theming continued throughout the bedroom and bathroom, but not to the point where it became annoying or impractical.
Europa-Park’s Winter Magic event has one of the most extensive festive line ups of any theme park in the world. Just some of the seasonal attractions include the special Magical Circus Revue show, Ed’s Starlight Parade, projection mapping show on Eurosat – CanCan Coaster’s geodesic dome, two Christmas markets, ice rink, children’s ski school, and the impressive 55m high Bellevue Ferris wheel that provides spectacular views over what becomes a complete winter wonderland.
Expecting a fair amount of rides to be closed during the Christmas season, I was pleasantly surprised that every attraction that I would want to experience at this time of year was open, including all of the major roller coasters. It was only Fjord Rafting and Atlantica SuperSplash that were closed, and instead of diverting guests away from these areas, the park installed the incredible looking ice rink in the main lake of Fjord Rafting, and the Bellevue Ferris wheel in the central ride area of Atlantica SuperSplash, which is a great use of the respective spaces.
German cities and towns at Christmas can be magical in themselves, so having a full traditional market in two sections of the theme park is a wonderful feature. All the traditional festive drinks and snacks were on offer, alongside arts, crafts and plenty of souvenirs to purchase. Although Christmas markets are now a common sight in the UK, there’s definitely something more genuine and authentic experiencing them in the country of origin, and Europa-Park’s are a great example.
During our visit we swung by the construction site of the park’s highly anticipated new for 2024 coaster. Located in a new Croatian themed area and set to be the largest Mack Rides BigDipper model to date, the construction site was a hive of activity with the majority of the concrete station building, foundations and footers now complete. Shouldn’t be long before track and supports arrive on site and are placed into position.
We spent one day at Rulantica, Europa-Park’s huge water park which opened in 2019 and is named and themed after the fictional Norwegian sea island. With the connected Hotel Krønasår and numerous expansions to both the accommodation and water park offering since our last visit in 2020, Rulantica very much now feels like a complete second gate experience, and on par with the theme park itself. Recent additions to the water park include Hyggedal; containing three saunas, an outdoor terrace and a varied culinary offer which fulfil the wishes of those looking to relax and unwind. Svalgurok extended the outdoor offering significantly with the installation of a large play structure and slides, and a very fun addition was Tønnevirvel; a Mack Rides Twist ‘n’ Splash interactive flat ride. During our visit the weather didn’t really warm up over 1c the whole time, so you may be wondering how on earth Europa-Park managed to keep this ride open during the winter season? Well, they literally installed a heated tent over the attraction, which solved any issues of guests being cold, and could potentially be a test to see if a permanent structure should be installed over the top of it to maintain year-round operations. The neighbouring outdoor pool bar area also had a tent over the top – there’s nothing like sipping on a gluhwein from a warm pool in freezing weather. There weren’t many other notable changes to the water park for the Christmas season, but we had a great time regardless, and very much rate it as one of the best water parks we have experienced, right up there with the likes of Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando.
Back over to Europa-Park, it’s hard not to be in awe of the effort they make in turning the theme park into a complete winter wonderland. I don’t think I have ever visited an attraction where absolutely every inch of the space is decorated as thoroughly. There’s just so much to do for every member of the family, including adults like us. I do feel that the Christmas offerings from the UK theme parks are some way behind those in Mainland Europe, in terms of how much investment is made into the decorative elements, seasonal food and beverage offerings, and generally the lack of thrill rides open. Ultimately, Winter Wonderland in London caters for everyone, including the adults who enjoy celebrating Christmas as much as the little ones do – so why wouldn’t they want to compete with that?
If the theme park wasn’t magical enough during this time of year, heavy snow fell on the park during the night before our last day. Although this did impact the operation of the outdoor rides, there was still so many indoor attractions open, it did not affect our enjoyment at all. Taking a ride on the Bellevue Ferris wheel was just breath-taking, and I’ll let the following photos explain why…
So, did Europa-Park’s Winter Magic event meet our expectations? Absolutely. It’s everything a fan of Christmas could want from a festive event. It has a universal appeal to everyone in the family, whether you are looking to enjoy the nearly full attraction offering, the seasonal food and beverage options, the countless shows, decorations, markets, or just the general atmosphere – which is only an enhancement on the regular park experience.
Have you visited Europa-Park’s Winter Magic event? Let us know about your experience via our social media channels.