I never wanted to go to Gardaland, but my son kept insisting, and off we went. I loved the place; they had to drag me away. Now we visit all the time, and I'm excited to share some of the "secrets" of the park with you too.
This is Italy’s biggest theme park and one of the biggest and best in Europe. It is where the young and young at heart from all over Italy come to play!
It will take you at least two days to see everything, but in July and August, with the long lines, you might even need another day.
Try to avoid these months if possible. The lines are long, and the heat and humidity can be oppressive.
If you do visit during these months, make sure you get to the park well before opening time and try to visit during the week rather than weekends.
In July and August, gates normally open at 9 a.m. or 9.30 a.m., although it does vary a little. The best is to check on the the official Gardaland site before you go. Plan on getting there an hour before official opening time.
Gardaland has its own hotel, the Gardaland Resort Hotel, which allows a "total immersion" theme park holiday.
It is wonderful and all that, but like the hotels at Disneyland, the rates are fairly high and perhaps not worth the price. I'm not sure to tell you the truth... it's up to you!
If you would like a just as good, and cheaper alternative, then my suggestion would be the Parc Hotel (click here for more), a family-style resort hotel that is very near Gardaland.
The Parc Hotel offers swimming pools, a nearby golf course, tennis, and endless activities for the children.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the rides, yet I must say I LOVED most of them but hated a few.
The ones I liked most were the more tranquil ones, like Corsari (pirates cave) and the 4D Experience. My favorite ride, though, is Fuga da Atlantide (Escape from Atlantis), which absolutely amazed me.
For thrill seekers, there are plenty of heart-stopping rides. I quite enjoyed the water ones like Jungle Rapids and Colorado Boat, and I enjoyed the kiddie roller coaster Ortobruco (generally only thrilling for those under eight and those over fifty).
If you are of sound body and mind and a lot braver than me, then try the Blue Tornado. I was twisted into trying it, and I have never been quite the same since. If you enjoy the sensation of your body being torn apart and if severe whiplash is your thing, then you will love it.
Oblivion is another one I'll never try again—like Blue Tornado, but worse!
A fairly new one (it's a couple of years old) is Jumanji. They've hyped it up a lot, but last time I was in the park, the line was long, so I didn't get to try it.
Most of the best rides for younger children are in the Fantasy Kingdom.
Two very popular ones that have been there forever are the Funny Express and the Doremifarm rides (see photo of my son, taken many years ago, shouting at the cows at top of page). Don’t tell anyone but I like them too – very peaceful and relaxing – and a lot better than the Blue Tornado.
The live shows, which change regularly, are in the main excellent though the dolphin show was not as good as I had hoped. I heard that most of the seals and dolphins have been transferred to the nearby Aqua Park but I don’t know how true this is.
Don't miss L'Albero del Prezzemolo. This huge fake tree was amazing with the little rabbits room inside a favorite. The tree itself reminded me of a wonderful book I read as a child called the Magic Faraway Tree. If you've children get yourself a copy of the book - they will love it and so will you.
Recently, a year or so ago, they added a new Kung Fu Panda section that's wonderful for the younger kids. There are rides, interactive shows and lots more.