Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Gardaland with a 2 year old

We were in Gardaland recently having received tickets as a gift from a friend some of the questions I'm asked by any other mums and dads I mention it to is 'did Sera enjoy it / did you have fun / how was it?' so here goes:

Gardaland is Italy's biggest and well known theme park located next to a whole bunch of newer theme parks by Lago di Garda, a 1.5 hour drive from Milan.  The lake in itself hosts a billion reasons for visiting, but the theme park attracts even more tourists to the area and those who are looking to spend part of the day getting away from all that natural beauty.

The park itself boasts loads of rides and attractions for teens and adults and I think that that's really it's main draw.  There are a whole load of thrill rides and roller coasters and the yearly investment seems to be in those types of attractions. I guess the target audience isn't parents of little kiddies, but rather the 6 and over crown, and especially the 14 and over crowd.

In terms of the little guys, there is an area called fantasy land with a few train rides, a banana 'boat' which spins, but not on water, some horse ride, a few plane rides and other really really boring rides for the parents but which toddlers really enjoy.  Sera was frightened by one of the plane rides but I was on it with her so it was fine.  In other areas of the park you can find shows including a Madagascar branded circus act, a magic show with bubbles and a puppet show that the little ones can enjoy. There are also two carousels, a Pirates of the Caribbean copy and a magic house that gives the illusion of flipping upside down, all of which a 2 year old can ride on.... though at times on some of the rides I was thinking that we were being quite irresponsible parents subjecting Sera to strong images and ideas. I was terrified of the sea monster at the end of the pirate ride and Sera just said 'again!'.

We had lunch at the burger restaurant Covo dei Bucaneri near the pirates ride and later, after Sera fell asleep from all the fun we had a surprisingly good dinner (I had steak) at the Locanda di Corsaro Nero, also near the pirate ride.  Though the prices are more expensive than outside the park, both lunch and dinner exceeded expectations and far surpassed anything I ever ate at a Disney resort.

Sera really enjoyed the day and we had a great time watching her enjoy herself.  Her favourite by far was one of the carousels where every time it stopped she got to choose another animal or seat without having to get off and get back in line. She liked the princess carriage the most.

Seeing how it's so close I figure we'll probably go back another time, maybe when she's 6 or so so that she can enjoy more of the rides and have a stronger memory of the day.  I'm happy we didn't pay for the tickets however as there was a vast majority of the park we didn't get to see or enjoy yet.  All in all it was a really lovely day and I'd give it a 8 out of 10 and recommend it to friends.

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