Death-defying rides and an abundance of sugary snacks make most theme parks a veritable child utopia, yet that doesn’t mean parents have to either like it or lump it. Ferriswheel fatigue can be difficult to avoid but these alternative theme parks offer a great day out for kids and their parents*.
Futuroscope in Jaunay-Clan, France
Dancing statues at Futuroscope
As France was the birthplace of cinema it makes sense that one of the world’s first and most successful cinematic theme parks would be based here. Futuroscope was established in 1984 and quickly became known for fast-changing attractions on the marvels of multimedia and cinematic innovation.
With 3D and 4D cinemas, a planetarium, an amusement arcade, rides, and evening performances by Cirque du Soleil, family members big and little are catered for. All this and the majority of activities are indoors, making it a great destination whatever the weather or season. Stay the night at Appart Hôtel Futuroscope.
Playmobil FunPark in Oberasbach, Germany
Mini-golf, followed by a cup of real coffee
Revisiting favourite childhood toys may seem like a bit of no-brainer when it comes to booking a family theme park holiday but not all toys have aged as well as their owners (Barnyard Commandos, anyone?). Thankfully Playmobil has withstood the test of time and the Bayern-based Playmobil FunPark is still a hit with kids and parents.
Family activities include mini-golf, the Water Area and Playmobil Knight’s Castle. Kids will love the Adventure Tree House and there are plenty of onsite restaurants and cafés for flagging parents. After a fun-fuelled day out, retreat back to Hotel Knorz.
Warner Bros Park in San Martín de la Vega, Spain
There's no shortage of superheroes in these parts
If your family is team Marvel then the Warner Bros Park in Madrid probably isn’t the best holiday destination, but for everyone else, especially DC fans, it’s a great place for kids and parents. The park is divided into five sections: DC Superheroes World, Warner Bros Studio, Cartoon Village, Old West Territory, and Hollywood Boulevard.
Regular shows and screening throughout the day offer parents an opportunity to take a load off and introduce the kids to their own childhood favourites. Meanwhile restaurants dotted around the park offer a wide variety of healthy snacks and comfort food. Alojamientos Turísticos Rurales La Barataria apartments are a 15-minute drive from the park.
Astrid Lindgren’s World in Vimmerby, Sweden
It's all about family time at this theme park
Devoted to beloved children’s author Astrid Lindgren, this Swedish theme park is open from May to August and has an impressive roster of outdoor productions at the largest open air theatre in Sweden. There is also a Tiny Tiny Town, a larger-than-life-size Simon Small house, and daily forest walks.
Characters like Pippi Longstocking and the Six Bullerby Children (aka Children of the Noisy Village) are on hand to entertain younger children and it’s a great place for parents to revisit their own childhood favourites and introduce them to a new generation. When you're done, return to bucolic Smålandsbyn i Vimmerby.
Kings Dominion in Doswell, United States of America
Quality Inn and Suites Ashland, Virginia
This cinematic theme park is open all year round, with over 60 rides, 13 rollercoasters, exhibits like Planet Snoopy, and a 20-acre water park (Soak City) drawing in visitors from all over the world. But it’s the annual Halloween Haunt that really puts Kings Dominion in the parent-friendly category.
The Haunt includes nightmare fuel like The Doll Factory, Zombie High, a haunted Victorian House, and a Steampunk Scarezone. Horror hounds will also be interested to know that large parts of the 1977 disaster-suspense film Rollercoaster were filmed at Kings Dominion. Quality Inn and Suites Ashland has family rooms for when it's time to call it a day.
**Our data scientists searched for popular theme park destinations endorsed by our reviewers as “family-friendly” and “relaxing”.