Lake Garda boasts a large number of Theme Parks, including Movieland, Jungle Adventure and Gardaland – a whimsical Disney-style theme park with attractions for the whole family.
I must admit – now that I’ve reached a certain age in life – I can take it or leave it when it comes to theme parks. But as a kid, I remember begging my poor grandparents to drive us to the theme park in Margate, when we used to stay at their house on the Kent coast over the summer holidays.
And so it was decided, that on our penultimate day in Lake Garda, we would visit Gardaland. We’d chosen this particular day, as it was forecasted to be a few degrees cooler.
Luckily for us, Gardaland was a twenty minute walk from our Eurocamp Site in Pacengo, so we arrived there pretty early.
We paid 35 Euros each for entry into Gardaland. It’s pretty good value as once you’re through the gates, the rides are free – and there are plenty of them!
But like any theme park, there are plenty of shops, eateries and merchandise stands selling extras which can really ramp up the costs if you’re not careful. So if you want to save some money, take your own sandwiches!
Peppa Pig Land
As you enter Gardaland, one of the first attractions you reach is Peppa Pig Land. With it’s cheerful primary colours and gentle rides, it’s perfect for younger visitors – and we spotted lots of older visitors having fun too!
Most rides – even in Peppa Pig Land, require an adult (over 16) to accompany a child.
Gardaland operates a fairly strict height restriction on some rides – a child needs to be around 1 metre 10 and must be accompanied by an adult. And there are some rides that are just far too hair-raising for young children (and chickens like me!) This can prove a little frustrating for families where kids are mixed ages. There’s no choice but to split up for a while so that everyone is happy.
But there are plenty of places to amuse younger kids whilst waiting for older family members to get their thrill-seeking fix – like this sand-pit and playground area with benches nearby for parents.
With Emily measuring exactly 1m 20, we had a number of options, and were able to introduce her to her first ‘proper’ fairground ride – this Nepture themed water shoot!
I’m not sure who was more nervous, her or I, as we cranked our way up to the top of the shoot? Wow! It really made your tummy go over! Wahoooo! Thankfully, Emily absolutely LOVED it – and suddenly Peppa Pig Land was a thing of the past!
Next, we took a ride down the rapids, (not that rapid, mind?!) and a pretty whizzy runaway train through the mountains! Loads of fun!
The Blue Tornado – Aaaahhhh!
And then the inevitable happened. I thought I’d got away with it. But all of a sudden, Lydia asked me to go on one of Gardaland’s most notorious rides with her. It’s called The Blue Tornado. Well! I cannot begin to describe what happened next. I was absolutely terrified as a huge bar came down over my head, pinning me into my seat with my legs dangling beneath me!
This thing looped the loop and hurtled you around in every-which direction imaginable, until I had absolutely no idea which way up I was. It was more of an ordeal, than fun for me. But I’m glad I did it! It might just be the last time I succumb to such madness.
Storm in the Teacups
After lunch, which was pizza and pasta in a Western-style Cowboy Saloon, there was no way we were getting back on the Blue Tornado. And, and so we headed to the good, old-fashioned Carousel. Pefect!
All of a sudden, the skies went dark and a wind began whipping up – so much so that great twigs were snapping off trees, and Lydia and Emily’s aeroplane ride was cut short.
And then the heavens opened – and all of a sudden, it was fun over. Everything stopped. Lights, music, rides – everything ground to a sudden halt.
Nobody really knew what to do or where to go – so everyone began sprinting about like lunatics, trying to find shelter! It was a bit surreal – like a scene from an apocalyptic movie. We managed to take cover in a shop-type area. It chucked it down for a good half hour.
It was difficult to know whether to stick around, or get out while we could. But thankfully, the storm began to subside, and slowly but surely, Gardaland was up and running once again.
Gardaland must have made a lot of money that day – these anoraks were 5 euros a piece!
After the storm, we found a Kung Fu Panda Section, one of our favourite movies, with all sorts of related rides. It was brilliant!
By around 7pm, having been on the go since 9am, we were beginning to run out of steam – and it was time to leave Gardaland and head back to the camp site.
The skies were particularly broody as we walked alongside the lake. But none of that dampened our spirits – it had been had a really great day!
When we reached the camp site, we were amazed to discover we’d walked some 22,000 steps! We sat there, sipping hot coffee, and concluded that in many ways, the storm had been a blessing – it would have been a far more gruelling day in 30 degree heat. Also, the inclement weather forecast had kept the crowds away – so we hardly queued for anything.
In every cloud, there’s a silver lining.