Family Fun at Duinrell Wassenaar, a quirky theme park in Holland

Family Fun at Duinrell Wassenaar, a quirky theme park in Holland

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:

Amusement Park

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.

Duinrell

Duinrell

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.

Duinrell

pirate ship

Duinrell

ferris wheel

Duinrell

Wild Wings, which opened on 21 April 2016

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.

Duinrell

bumper boats

Duinrell

Duinrell

aqua swing

Duinrell

riding the monorail

Tiki Pool

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.

Duinrell

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.

La Place

La Place

Getting there

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:

A week at Strandpark Vlugtenburg

Windmills at Kinderdijk, near Rotterdam in Holland

A morning at Gouda cheese market

Music boxes and Old Masters at Mauritshuis, the Hague

  • Gouda
    A morning at Gouda cheese market

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Duinrell

We were given tickets to Duinrell and the Tiki Pool for the purpose of this post. All views are my own.

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33 Comments

  1. June 30, 2016 / 10:19 am

    My family would absolutely love it there.

    I’m most impressed with the food I think though – how different from the greasy fried fast food offerings you get at a British theme park!

    • Nell
      Author
      June 30, 2016 / 6:53 pm

      The food really was impressive. All that healthy stuff helped balance out the pancakes and pofferjes!

  2. June 30, 2016 / 10:20 am

    Ooh I feel like I need to go back now for Wild Wings, my kids would love it! I can’t believe you did all that in one day! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. It really is one of the few places I would go back to. Everything about it was brilliant for families.

    • Nell
      Author
      June 30, 2016 / 6:54 pm

      I agree – we’d definitely so back there. As well as Duinrell itself, there’s so much in the surrounding bits of Holland for families. I’ve fallen in love with the place!

  3. June 30, 2016 / 11:03 am

    haha I nearly ducked on that video where the boy statue was having a pee!! So did you get in trouble with the lifeguards for falling down that slide?
    It looks like a fun family place to go and I’m glad you enjoyed yourselves!

    • Nell
      Author
      June 30, 2016 / 6:56 pm

      Yes the statue was a funny greeting to Duinrell! The lifeguards looked stern, but when they realised we were just a bit dim rather than being deliberately naughty, they let us off the hook 🙂

  4. June 30, 2016 / 11:51 am

    It looks like you all had a brilliant time Nell – Duinrell really is a great place for all ages.

    • Nell
      Author
      June 30, 2016 / 6:57 pm

      We certainly did Gretta! I can see it would really suit the kids when they’re older, too.

  5. June 30, 2016 / 1:21 pm

    This place sounds utterly bonkers! I love original theme parks, we have one near our gite and I send all our guests there and without fail they all love it. This one is right up my street though the water slides look too scary for me!!

    • Nell
      Author
      June 30, 2016 / 6:58 pm

      Those slides were terrifying! I’m usually pretty brave with that kind of thing, but I used looking after the kids as an excuse not to go on the more frightening ones 🙂 Your local theme park sounds good – I like anything that’s a bit different to the norm.

  6. June 30, 2016 / 2:48 pm

    What an amazingly quirky place. From the little weeing boy to the giant I think my kids would be thrilled. I’m no so sure about cycling the monorail though, I’d have to be a passenger. It all looks wonderful though.

    • Nell
      Author
      June 30, 2016 / 6:59 pm

      I was had work on the monorail! Especially because I had to cycle for my son too, as his legs were too short. Still, it was a great way to get an aerial view of the park.

  7. June 30, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    Oh my goodness, a model that squirts water out of his penis!! My boys would find that absolutely hilarious! It sounds like a wonderful place to spend a day, the Tiki Pool looks like the best bit although I would prefer the food.

  8. June 30, 2016 / 10:09 pm

    What a wonderful family adventure. My kids would be straight on all those stomach churning rides. What a fantastic view you must have had from some of them looking down over the park. It really looks like there is something for all ages here. No wonder you had a good time.

    • Nell
      Author
      July 1, 2016 / 11:19 am

      The views were gorgeous. So many trees!

  9. July 1, 2016 / 11:37 am

    What an amazing place! It looks like you had a wonderful time!

  10. July 1, 2016 / 2:29 pm

    I’ve heard quite a bit about this place and I’d really like to go there.

  11. July 1, 2016 / 7:49 pm

    Loved your in-depth review N! 🙂 Looks like a brilliant place to spend the day! I have been to a couple of Dutch theme parks as my Granny’s Dutch so we would stay with family when we were young and go to these kind of places… The Dutch do this kind of thing really well! 🙂

    • Nell
      Author
      July 1, 2016 / 8:05 pm

      This is my first one in the Netherlands. If they’re all like this, I’d definitely go back for more 🙂

  12. July 3, 2016 / 9:25 pm

    This is just what I needed to read. We are off for a week in October. I am sure my boys will have THE BEST time.

  13. July 5, 2016 / 2:47 pm

    This looks like so much fun! I guess you need to bring a towel and spare clothes with you for all that excess water! I’m not a big fan of amusement parks but I think even I’d enjoy this. I like the way it looks quite old-fashioned. #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      July 7, 2016 / 6:02 pm

      Yes, there were some beautiful vintage rides. The carousel in particular was gorgeous, but I didn’t have my camera with me to take a picture of it. We were about to go on Splash, so it was safely stowed away in a locker!

  14. July 6, 2016 / 12:06 am

    This place looks like such a great spot for families – we love Holland so it takes very little to persuade us to go but how fantastic does that funfair look for the kids!

    Laura x

    • Nell
      Author
      July 7, 2016 / 6:01 pm

      It was fantastic Laura. You must go if you get the chance!

  15. July 6, 2016 / 11:59 am

    Looks like the perfect destination for a family day out. Thanks for the honest review x

  16. July 8, 2016 / 2:43 pm

    Ah, my two would love it here, although I wonder if they’re a bit young yet (almost 2 and almost 4) – was there much for littlies, would you say? Looks so nostalgic and lovely. #MondayEscapes

    • Nell
      Author
      July 10, 2016 / 7:16 pm

      There were a lot of more gentle rides, and apparently a soft play area indoors, which we didn’t have a chance to explore. The play areas were also really good, with swings, slides etc. I think your two would have tons to entertain them.

  17. July 11, 2016 / 9:24 am

    Wow, the park opened in 1935? That’s amazing!
    I love water rides, so I’m sure I would have lots of fun there, I’d love to go someday!

    Thank you for linking up with #MondayEscapes 😀

  18. July 15, 2016 / 3:43 pm

    Nell I want to go it looks so different, that carousel is incredible the colours are stunning and we would love the water slides ,and the general quirkiness of the whole place. I love visiting unique places x

    • Nell
      Author
      July 17, 2016 / 12:38 pm

      It really was fab, Sarah.

  19. September 30, 2017 / 2:59 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading this as I’m just about to book for a week therewith friends next year.

    • Nell
      Author
      October 2, 2017 / 1:33 pm

      ooh, I’m envious! We’re dying to go back.

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