Europa Park, nestled in the forest-blanketed lands of Southwestern Germany, isn’t just another theme park; it’s the largest seasonal theme park in the world.
Its sheer size and offering of 11 rollercoasters and over 100 attractions, all set within 13 European travel themed areas, can only function with the efficiency and innovation the Germans are known for. Combine that with immaculately choreographed seasonal events like Halloween, and you’ll soon find yourself traversing a sensorial adventure playground.
I spent my entire childhood eagerly awaiting my annual trip to one of the three big UK theme parks, and I’ve never grown out of my addiction. Despite having sampled various fairgrounds and parks around the world, from North Korea to Canada, Europa Park has literally topped them all.
You are never too old to be teased by grown-ups in mascot outfits
The park attracts thrill seekers from the neighbouring countries of France and Switzerland, as well as fans from around the world, priding itself on being accessible to more than just its countrymen. However, the approach of the end of year sees a significant drop of warm weather chasing UK visitors.
Considering autumn and winter at Europa Park are filled with some of the best themed events of the entire calendar year, it’s a shame to stay away. Autumn marks the start of spooky season, before Santa comes to ride the rollercoasters in December and visitors swap ghoul chasing for bobsleighing, tubing and ice-skating.
Just your average spooky day at Europa Park during Halloween season
Experiencing Halloween and Horror Nights
I was invited by Tourism Baden-Württemberg and Europa Park to experience the prank-led, pumpkin filled Halloween days and its heart racing, adrenalin pumping, scream filled Horror Nights (adults only). From late September to early November, eery figures lurk around the pumpkin filled park and hundreds of zombies and menacing creatures flood every dark nook and shadowy cranny of the chilly night.
Hundreds of actors, many with full-time day jobs, help make this annual event a top scare attraction
A separate ticket is required for those wanting to experience the dead of the night, but it is worth the extra cost of 14 Euros (25 Euros for a Fast-track ticket on top) for the added adrenalin kick. The atmosphere is charged when the sun goes down, with people pumped up in anticipation of the fright.
This year saw the addition of four horror houses, adding to last year’s stand-alone experience. Starting with the ‘Horror on Ice V – Hellfire’ ice show, I took on and survived all five scare zones, including ‘The curse of the werewolf’, one about our most common nightmares, the ‘Lab’, ‘The Dead Inside’ and the spiders in ‘The Crypt – reborn’. Think creaking floorboards, evil lurking in abandoned spaces, and hoards of zombies trying to escape. I’ve been to a handful of ‘live experiences’ like this, but Europe Park’s attention to detail is incredible – especially considering it is all built within the grounds of the rides, broken down during the daytime and resurrected again for the new dawn.
Whether it’s Summer, Halloween or Winter, Europa Park ensures that every year sees the introduction of a new attraction to entice people back, be it a rollercoaster or other grand ride, or an entertainment addition such as ’Spook Me!’ – the first Europa-Park Musical alongside the new horror houses. It’s not hard to spot the die-hard fans that continuously return in anticipation, and the general child-like excitement that radiates from theme park enthusiasts, like myself.
So while my day was spent riding The Eurosat ‘Pumpkin Coaster’, the Blue Fire ‘Megacoaster’ and high-speed Silver Star, and wandering through the traditional houses, alpine villages and cobbled alleys of Germany and Switzerland, sipping a latte in an authentic café in Italy, wandering the white and blue island facades of Greece, relaxing by the plazas and fountains of Spain, browsing the cosmonaut themed Russia, or checking out a pub in England… the night belonged to another, hair-raising world.
Where To Stay
Europe Park’s 4 star resort hotels add to the European themed feel. Attention to detail can be found at the New England “Bell Rock” hotel with its 18th century style 35m high lighthouse, the Roman-style ‘Colosseo’ or the medieval Spanish Knight’s Castle that is the ‘Castillo Alcazar’. I stayed one night in the Spanish ‘El Andaluz’ whose traditional architecture, music and courtyard transported me to a different country, and my last night lapping up the calm and serenity of the Portuguese monastery style ‘Santa Isabel’ in my cosy studio-style room, before an early morning journey to the airport.
Think of it as two theme parks in one which, when combined with the region’s greater offering, makes for a fun and active getaway. Europa Park isn’t just a standalone break; close to the three charmingly traditional cities of Basel, Strasbourg and Freiburg, it’s just two hours from scenic valleys and the incredible Black Forest Highlands.
So with adrenalin and active adventure all within easy reach of Stuttgart airport by a matter of two hours, when will you be heading over for heart racing autumn and winter fun?
Things to Note:
- Admission Prices:
– Children, 36 Euros (67.50 Euros for a two-day ticket). Those under the age of four go free
– Adults, 41 Euros (77 Euros for a two-day ticket)
– Groups of 20 or more, 35 Euros
- For a full list of year-round events including the Miss Germany grand final, the Euro Dance Festival, Easter Village, the Summer Night party, Oktoberfest, alongside other European themed festivals, check out the Park’s comprehensive events listing
- Europe Park’s signs, materials and announcements are provided in a bilingual German, French and English language mix, making all aspects of the park accessible to all
- Further information on Horror Nights can be found here
Special thanks go to the staff at Europa Park for allowing me sample the best rides and rollercoasters via the ‘magic key’ that accessed secret doors for queue jumping (you have no idea what a dream that is), for the Fast Track entry into Horror Nights and for allowing me to sample two of the beautiful themed hotels. You are never too old for childlike fun.