One of the fun parts of running Theme Park Insider for all these years has been discovering so many great theme parks outside of Orlando and Southern California. For almost all of these parks, I din't discover them by traveling. I first heard of them from the descriptions of passionate fans here on the site.
That's why I encourage everyone on the site to submit reviews, not just ratings, on our listing pages... and to put up trip reports on the discussion board. (Register here to do both.) The more fans we attract to our favorite, overlooked parks, the more success they might enjoy that can translate to investments in new attractions and experiences in the future. A decade ago, the only park in Europe I ever considered visiting was Disneyland Paris. But thanks to the Theme Park Insider community, a bunch of other parks have moved onto my personal "must visit" list.
Two of those are last year's winner of our Theme Park Insider Award for the world's best theme park, Efteling, and the most-visited theme park in Europe besides Disneyland Paris, Europa Park. These independently-owned parks provide exquisite theming and customer services, along with some world-class rides, propelling them alongside Disneyland Paris as the most-visited theme parks in Europe.
We invite you to read more about these parks on their Theme Park Insider listing pages. As always, your ratings and reviews of these parks' attractions on their listing pages are encouraged and welcomed.
Which one of these parks should move on to face Disneyland Paris in the second round? It's time to vote!
Tomorrow, we conclude the first round of the 2018 Theme Park Insider Tournament. First, we vote on the best theme park for sun-starved Europeans. Then we will ask you to pick the best theme park in Southern California. Thanks to everyone for participating!Tweet
I can't speak to what Robert sees in terms of traffic here for PortAventura - but as for picking a remaining 2 in a tournament like this, I'd say Efteling and Europa is the right match. In a European Top 5? Sure, PA earns a place alongside Phantasialand and the others already in competition. But though PA boasts one of the continent's best coaster line-ups and some above-average theming, it lacks the uniqueness and distinctly European flavour of these two. And as we get into the later stages of the tournament, it's those qualities that are going to give them a chance to hold their own against the Disney/Universal big dogs.
I'd also say that PA is diminished by the underwhelming resort package around the park. Some of the hotels are lovely, yes, but outside of the Summer season, there's little to do after the park has closed - and even getting from one hotel to another after hours is a pain. Efteling and Europa however offer an interconnected resort with year-round entertainment offerings and significantly better dining options that allow them to stand as complete holiday packages. Which I think, at least in part, drives a lot of goodwill on TPI.
Where are the dining options in Efteling or entertainment after the park has closed ?
Other than staying in the Efteling Hotel all the other on site places are a 20 minute walk minimum. Places outside of the resort consist of a Mc Donalds a Chinese and buying food in Lidl.
Not so of Portaventura a number of hotels on site and ten minute walk into the heart of Salou or five by taxi with all the entertainment and dining options you can think of.
The resort also now boasts 3 parks with the addition last year of Ferrari Land.
Other than being a pain to get to, Europa Park is our favorite Park to visit. Great onsite Hotels with excellent but overpriced restaurants. Extremely well themed lands in the park. Reasonable and varied food choices in the park itself. Fantastic and varied coasters. Its just a beautiful park. Staying in Rust is more affordable and has some great and inexpensive restaurants but you really need a car unless you love walking everywhere (no real public transportation in town) Now adding a water park and a 6th on site Hotel.
As you might have seen by now, Port Aventura is in the next vote.
While I can only speak to personal taste here, I'd rather eat at the Raveleijn restaurant, Pinocchio or De Proeftuyn than any of the PA hotel restaurants - which I find to be over-priced and depressingly canteen-style in comparison.
Salou offers more than Kaatsheuvel, true, though I'd ague that the latter still has some good (and refreshingly non-touristy) options. Definitely not just McDonalds! For the purposes of this tournament, however, I think we're focussing just on the on-resort offerings. (Otherwise Disneyland Paris wins hands-down, right?)
I was under the impression that the Efteling Theatre hosted shows for most of the year - but just checked and seen that might not be the case anymore. So between whatever the schedule for that is and PA's very limited Cirque du Soleil season, I suppose it's a baseline draw on that front.
Port Aventura also has a show on the lake in the summer months to finish off the evening.
This show is one of the best shows I have seen falling only behind Fantasmic in my opinion.
Port Aventura also tends to open much later in the summer months 12 O clock being the closing time.
I didn't find the food great in Efteling nor Port Aventura but the likes of the Guinness Tavern is a short taxi ride away in outdoor surroundings overlooking the Sea.
This is hard to beat on a warm summers evening.
Just to say I do like Efteling.
As much as I love Efteling, they do need to work on their after-hours entertainment. Other than the hotel bar, theatre shows and some story time for the kids, there is none.
The town is pretty dead at night and the resorts don’t offer much either. With the exception of summertime when there are a few festivals in the park.
Efteling doesn’t really cater to big loud nightlife, however wouldn’t it be awesome to have a few themed fantasy taverns and music stages?
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Just wondering why PortAventura is not included ?
I have been to Disneyland Paris and Efteling numerous times although I have not been to Europa park yet.
But PortAventura is equally as good.