There can’t be many amusement parks that list relaxation as one of their USPs. But the forest-flanked Duinrell, in south Holland, features birdsong, flowers, trees and quiet paths.
Duinrell sits on the site of an old farm, in Wassenaar, a leafy seaside suburb of the Hague in Holland which includes a royal residence and the most expensive street in the country.
If you’re driving to the amusement park, your approach is via pretty tree-lined streets, where well-dressed people in business suits and families ready for the beach sail past on bikes.
Duinrell first opened its doors to the public in 1935. The one million square metre estate has developed to include an amusement park with 40 attractions; the indoor Tiki Pool, with over 1km of slides; and a holiday park area with chalet-style accommodation and camping pitches.
I’ve made a little video about our day there:
On the week we visited, a school half-term in the UK but not a holiday in the Netherlands, Duinrell was quiet, with barely any queues.
Its rides and attractions are quirky, if not downright baffling. There’s Rick the Frog, the park’s mascot, and Lelli, his girlfriend. An apt choice: the Netherlands is nicknamed ‘Kikkerland’ (frog land) by its inhabitants because a lot of its terrain is wet soil, and amphibians thrive there.
On entry to Rick’s Adventure Castle there’s a take on Brussels’ mannequin pis; a tiny boy-statue revolves around, trying to squirt you with water from his penis. A giant man sitting at a table will, if you feed him a Euro, groan gutteral sounds, and spit out bouncy rubber balls at you. Maybe he heard the place was going to be full of Brits that week (it was).
It’s all a bit bizarre, and marvellous.
On our day trip, it was difficult to do more than just sample Duinrell’s 40 attractions. The weather was fine, so we missed out on Rick’s Fun factory indoor playground, for younger children. Our daughter did spend a lot of time on the indoor carousel, though. The ride itself was a beautifully reconstructed model from 1864, set next to a pancake restaurant, which sent out a Willy Wonka-esque smell of chocolate into the air of the large conservatory building. The ride went slowly enough for children to be able to climb on and off the horses themselves in safety; this would be a good place to spend a rainy afternoon with the papers, a coffee and pancakes while the kids played.
There were also rides for older children, and adult thrill-seekers. Some, like the pirate ship and ferris wheel, allowed children under 1.2m if they were accompanied by adults. Others, like the brand-new Wild Wings, were just for taller people.
Perhaps fitting for a country where 26% of its land is below sea level, water featured quite heavily at Duinrell. A ride on the monorail took you over all the amusement park’s small lakes and streams (note of caution: you had to pedal the monorail yourself. Perfect for a nation of cyclists, but if you have jelly legs it’s probably not for you). Water pops up everywhere: as well as the mannequin pis, there are hidden fountains dotted around the park, with water jets that leap up to sprinkle you at random. The bumper boats were a hit with our children. Apart from Wild Wings, the only other ride we had to queue for longer than a couple of minutes to ride was Splash, a big dipper where you can opt to sit in a covered boat, or cover yourself with just a rubber sheet, and get drenched.
The Tiki Pool is the largest indoor water slide complex in Benelux, with over 1km of slides. This was the only part of Duinrell that was busy on our visit. We entered towards the end of the day, after local school closing time, and the place was teeming with people shouting into the chlorine-infused air while bombing their way down the most fear-inducing slides. These included the pelican dive, with a vertical free-fall, and Blits and Flits, where you reach a speed of 60kmph. We took a wrong turn at the top of some steps and accidentally slid down Blits and Flits with our kids (6 and 4); when we hurtled out of the end, stunned and screaming (but also rather pleased with ourselves), we found a crowd of concerned-looking lifeguards at the bottom, who’d spotted us on the CCTV. They’re pretty strict on safety in the Tiki Pool, with armbands being compulsory for anyone under 1.2m.
For younger children there’s an indoor lazy river, a toddler’s pool and mini slides. There’s also a deeper swimming area, with a wave machine, and a take-away area for snacks and drinks.
Eating and drinking
Along with the Carousel pancake restaurant, the Tiki Pool’s takeaway and a stall selling delicious poffertjes (traditional bite-sized Dutch pancakes) there’s La Place restaurant. La Place is the biggest restaurant chain in the Netherlands but if you’re imagining a Dutch-style McDonalds, you’d be mistaken. Think Pret a Manger, but with fresher, more wholesome food that’s prepared right in front of you. As well as hot or cold sandwiches, fresh smoothies and lemonades you can watch a chef cook your burger or pizza, and sample scrummy cakes.
Duinrell is easy to reach in Holland. It’s a 15-minute drive north of the Hague, and 45 minutes south of Amsterdam. Regular buses run to the estate from the Hague or Leiden. We travelled to Hook of Holland from Harwich via the Stena Line Ferry; from there, it was around 45 minutes by car to Duinrell. Ferries also operate between the north of England and Amsterdam; or, if you prefer, flights to Amsterdam Schiphol can be reasonably priced. There’s also the Eurotunnel from Dover to Calais, from which point Duinrell is only a 3-4 hour drive. From early 2017 the Eurostar will run direct services to Rotterdam and Amsterdam, making the place even more accessible.
Need to know
Entry to Duinrell’s amusement park is 22.50 Euros per person; under-3s go free. An evening ticket to the Tiki Pool, after the amusement park has closed, is 16.50 Euros. If you want to combine a visit to both, a number of different tariffs are available here. Duinrell’s amusement park is open from March to November, and the Tiki Pool is open all year round. Specific opening hours are available here.
On our trip to Holland, we stayed nearby, at Strandpark Vlugtenburg, and there is also accommodation directly stay on-site at Duinrell. With Wassenaar beach nearby and Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague only a short drive away, Duinrell would make a good base for a holiday that keeps the children happy and lets you see the rest of Holland. You can book accommodation at Duinrell directly through the owners, or through other travel operators.If you’re interested to read more about south Holland, you may like these posts:
Pin for later:
We were given tickets to Duinrell and the Tiki Pool for the purpose of this post. All views are my own.