Tips For Vacationing & Family Fun At Duinrell Amusement Park – Wassenaar, Netherlands

NOTE: This ORIGINAL post was published in 2018 and has since been updated in September 2020 after a recent day visit. With corona and our current situation, I thought one afternoon of fun would be amazing for the kids! Duinrell is the most economical park in the Netherlands and there are MABY day pass deals to ge had at Social Deals and Tripper.nl. Unlike Effteling, you can go for as low was €14 per person!

Here in the Netherlands, the kids have off two full weeks of school during Meivakantie and King’s Day. Having only lived in the Netherlands for a couple months and Nila had to go away AGAIN and for the ENTIRE time – the thought the three of us sitting around the house in the middle of the woods again bored is so dreadful.  Therefore, I looked around to find a place for the kids and I to have a mini-escape. I booked myself and the kids for a 4-night break staying in a Duingalow at the amusement park Duinrell in Wassenaar/ Den Haag.   We have been having GREAT weather last week (27 degrees!!) but it is now back to being chilly – too bad as we would have loved to make a visit to the beach during this trip as it’s right there!!

Duinrell is a family friendly holiday park, with a theme park and water park located in South Holland. It is surrounded by woodland, and just 4km from a sandy beach, Wassenaarse Slag, Duinrell is also a great base from which to explore Holland if you are coming from Ireland or UK for a week. If you are local, you’ll probably only spend a day or a few nights there as a getaway!

OUR ACCOMMODATION

There are several types of level of accommodations available – from camping, to safari tents to lodges with jacuzzis.  Depending on budget and need/desire, there are tons of options.  When we arrived, our Duingalow #9 was ready for us so we could go straight there.

I was actually pleasantly surprised! (Well, one issue – had trouble parking our big car with that terrible tree – but all in all – we had a fine spot. You can’t usually check into your accommodation until 3pm but are free to visit the theme park and check out the facilities from as soon as you arrive.

ENTER AND EXIT AS OFTEN AS YOU WISH

From our lodge, we could go immediately into the park. One great thing about this holiday is that entry to the theme park is included in the cost of your stay, so you don’t need to pay anything additional to get in when you are there – a great bargain, right? Also the theme park is about a 5 minute walk from most of the holiday homes and you don’t need to show a pass to get in – you just come and go as you please (during op. Except ours – we were the farthest duingalow but it was quiet so we didn’t mind. Each time we took a different route 🙂

It is also great for families with small kids so you can go visit the park for a few hours, nip back to your holiday home for a nap or lunch (or whatever) and then go back in the afternoon and enjoy a few more rides or even to the two giant playgrounds.

TWO GIANT PLAYGROUNDS

There are two really large playgrounds (with sandy floors) at the start of the park which feature slides, climbing frames, swings and roundabouts. These playgrounds are open all the time – even when the rides are closed. So at the crack of dawn, you can bring little ones there for a play or alternatively right before bed to burn off any spare energy they may still have.

TIKI BAD

There is a HUGE water park located inside the Duinrell theme park. It has over 1km of indoor water slides including a wave pool (with a gentle sloping entrance), a lazy river and a toddler swimming pool and waterslide inside a large covered complex – it really caters to EVERYONE! There is a large outdoor swimming area which is open from May to September – so it was closed when we were there.    Entry is discounted if you’re staying on the site to €5 per person (adult or child) for 2 hours and children under 12 years of age will only be allowed entry, if accompanied by an adult.

Lockers at the pool are free… just get one and remember the number we got two and then realised I still had a bag on my shoulder. Instead of opening our existing one, we got another.  But when we returned, we totally forgotten the number of the third. We were also convinced it was at a different set of lockers. Two workers, Denis and Zahid helped us tremendously. They are able to enter your security code to determine your locker number (but only if you are looking in the right area). In our case we were certain, it was in that area. They opened EVERY SINGLE LOCKER only to see we were WRONG!! We were in the original area where they found our two existing and third with the same code !! Grrrr we felt like idiots!!! We had a 2 hour limit included in our stay but didn’t go every day. With two kids in arm bands who can’t go on the large slides and being only one adult, it was not easy.  Getting the kids in, find unoccupied changing rooms, enjoy the wave pool a few times and the lazy river and kids poll area, we were out of time and with the locker mess up we were over by 45 minutes!!

AMUSEMENT PARK

The park itself has about 40 attractions – a combination for smaller kids and older kids/adults.  .  Adrenaline lovers and children aged 10 to 18 would get the most out of all the roller coasters and other rides. Of course some were way too scary for our youngest but not for our oldest. Some of the larger rides, which she would have gone on, she was just too short.   Also as I was here with just the two kids and I the one adult, it was admittedly harder than it would have been with two adults. That I would change in the future!!

Our kids really liked bombing people in the row boats. Especially ones who were unsuspecting ….

Soren liked the Dragonfly roller coaster, Rollerbaan and Wild Wings – all three Maebh couldn’t go on for height restrictions.

FOOD OPTIONS IN THE PARK

To me the food at the park was not the best and expensive.  The first night we had pizzas at La Place – not the brick oven pizza I was hoping to have. One time we got three french fries and two slushes for €17. I think that is expensive. Kids ate ice cream, churros, cotton candy and a chocolate covered banana with sprinkles as treats during our time here.  

MY TIPS FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS

  • You are going to need to take photos (passport-type photos) at one of the MANY booths all around the park – at €4, per person here is a money saving tip:  Take a photo copy of your passport, cut out the photo – DONE!  At check in, they’ll give you small paper cards and plastic clear stickers to put over the photo – you’ll need those to enter and exit the park and Tiki Bad.  No need to spend €4. per person on passport photos which you’ll never use again. Of course, if you have old ones laying around – bring them.  They are not fussy!!
  • Tips: bring towels (shower & some beach for pool) dish towels and a bath mat.
  • Travel size shampoo for Tiki bad – avoid having to re-shower at your duingalow.
  • Leave the park – go walk over to Wassensar (drive in pouring rain or if you are lazy).  Eat at the local restaurants and skip dessert – then enjoy the amazing ice cream parlor – Lucianos Ijssalon– you won’t regret it!   
  • Enjoy the Natural Market in Wassanaar each Saturday.
  • Pack a cooler with ice from home to pack loads if items you already have. Like for example – make a batch of bolognese and freeze it. Then when you arrive stick it in the fridge and have that the first night. The sauce is already made so all you have to do is boil some pasta! There is a grocery store onsite (not super expensive yet not Lidl prices) which has a lot but why do spend extra when unnecessary. You have to carry it!!! Of course, if you come from abroad and flying your hands are tied but if local and driving or even as many Brits do, pack up your car in the UK.
  • Bring zip lock bags or tin foil to make up sandwiches and bring to park. Food is expensive and not the best in my opinion! Portions are not the best either – skinny fries x 3 and two slushes = €16.95. Or you could easily take a break from the park – walk back your duingalow have lunch and return to park.
  • In our duingalow, we had a machine which used Senseo pads or coffee with filter (#4) if you need coffee. I brought a small container with a small sauce pan with frother only as I love a morning coffee with warm milk.
  • Bring extra trash bags if cooking, but they give you one to start. Also, dish soap a sponge, wipes and a few dish washing tablets – I don’t see the need to buy full boxes of these items. Salt and pepper from home or can take a few small packages from the restaurant in the park.
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Toilet paper & a roll of kitchen towels
  • Potato peeler if you use that cooking – didn’t see one in the drawer.
  • I read elsewhere their unit had UK plugs but ours didn’t – our plugs were local to The Netherlands only so I suggest a travel plug for your phone.
  • Change your pounds in advance – closest place to change is Leiden Station.
  • There was no blow dryer in the unit – and only two hand dryers in the pool area.  I can do without but for some might be a nice thing to have in their room.

BE SURE TO LEAVE THE PARK – VISIT WASSENAAR & SURROUNDS  

On Saturday, we left the park and visited Wassenaar. The town center was cute.  We of course made a mandatory visit to Kelly’s Expat shop was in order for some extra processed junk which we would not be able to find elsewhere – do no we really “need”.  

The village itself had all the typical shops, Intertoys, Zeeman, HEMA and Jumbo, etc and then lots of independent shops. We first had croissants in a local bakery and then walked around the Natural market. We ended up buying three pots of different sambal from an Indonesian man – Oma’s recipe, two others Madaam Jeanette and Indian. And then we had a stop at the French sausages where we bought blue cheese, congac pheasant and one more which I now forget.  One evening we wen back and ate sushi! 

I knew of a kids kringloop which truthfully was a bunch of junk – unless you wanted horse riding boots those were great. But Maebh’s recent horse riding lessons was a big flop, we didn’t need them.

LOUWMAN’S MUSEUM

As it was raining, we then decided to visit Louwman’s Museum. With our Museumkaart, it was free entry.  We did have a bite in their cafe before going through the collection.    I did a complete blog post on this – read it here:  Louwman’s Museum – home to Netherlands largest collection of private cars. 

ZWARTE PAD AT SCHEVENINGEN BEACH FOR OYSTERS 

We drove over to Scheveningen Beach and it started raining so we nipped into a restaurant where as I promised Soren at the seaside he can have oysters. The place we chose was the Patagonia Beach restaurant. The food was good, the decor was lovely being so close yo the pier but the service was awful!!!  Actually, I really think the worst I ever had in Europe. I think the only reason why the waiter got the job was that he was a gorgeous model-looking guy and could speak German to the bus load of old ladies who ordered decaf coffee and complained about their cakes being frozen inside.

RENT BIKES AND GO SEE NATURE

You can rent a bicycle, go-kart or a fun trailer during your holiday which allows you to go enjoy the surroundings on a beautiful day. The bicycles are rented through the Duinrell reception which is situated at the entrance of the holiday park.  All hired items are offered on a ‘seven for six’ basis: hire them for seven days and pay for just six!  There are also several sizes of gas cylinders available if you are interested in hiring for a BBQ.   For us we didn’t do this during this holiday, but will do it when we return and stay again.   There are suggested cycle routes listed on their site which bring you to Den Haag, up to Katwijk Aan Zee or to the Meijendel – kids will love the Monkey Bos. 

ARCADE FUN

Another fun thing for the kids was the arcade – the place where we spent a total of €50 over the course of 4 nights and got cheap, made in China plastic toys and a lollipop!!  But they had a great time!!!! I even got in on the action a few times and won a bunch of tickets for them. 

MINI BOWLING ALLEY & PUB

Below the Marketplace is a pub and mini bowling alley. While we didn’t spend too much time there we did have a drink once and played some air hockey in the game hall next door.  Next time we might consider bowling?!  

On the last night, Soren came in SECOND place in the FIFA 2018 tournament beating out 10 kids – only to loose to the oldest kid in the group!  Very proud!! 

IN SUMMARY

Overall it was a nice trip, but I’m glad to be home in my house, my kitchen, my food, my shower and my BED – but I’m like this at the end of all my trips. The bigger rides were a bit too restricting for our youngest who is a bit of a peanut for her age but it’s not the fault of Duinrell. The smaller rides were just that too small for our oldest. We did have a LOT of fun and I’d highly recommend Duinrell to families looking for a good value holiday with plenty to do. Staying here is a fantastic alternative to a traditional beach holiday. If you are coming from abroad, it is in an excellent location to explore other parts of Netherlands, so can easily be your base for a week.

We really want to check out the Efteling and then perhaps some parks in Germany in the future but will definitely be back to visit Duinrell for a day trip and a future stay – only I’m bringing another adult with me – doing this all as a single adult with two children can be very exhausting and not fun at times. A trip like this should be fun for Mom too!  

VISIT TO DUINRELL #2 – July 2020

My previous post was from 2018 – so hard to believe it’s been that long.   

We were looking at fun days out with the kids during the summer holidays and thought why not head over to Duinrell for a day of rides and fun.  With the kids being taller (well, Maebh not quiet tall enough for all the rides), it was still worth it.

First off it’s important to note that we are now visiting during COVID times.  If you are specifically interested in knowing what exactly they are doing at the park to ensure a safe holiday for guests read their measures on their website.  Only overnight guests were allowed to visit the Tiki Bad.  I get the reasoning but was a bit disappointing because it was HOT and the outdoor pool looked SOOOO inviting!   

We also made one mistake – we brought our lunch in a cooler bag and put it in the lockers near the entrance – which were €7.00 per day.  Not knowing there are two different sets of lockers inside the park – by the LePlace and by the candy store for .50 cents!!  So don’t be like us – choose the right lockers.  🙂

RIDES WHICH WERE A HUGE HIT

The kids continued to enjoy the rides…. both kids are a bit taller now and this time Maebh was brave enough to try out the Dragonfly roller coaster and more impressively she went on the Falcon.  Which I at 46 would NOT even go on… so for her it was her first time ever going on an upside down roller coaster.  A HUGE DEAL for her!

Soren and she waited in line for the Rollerban and Funs went on the other line so they could “race”.  Turned out Maebh was TOO short and had to come join me and unfortunately the boys didn’t quite line up perfectly, so one was a couple people behind and the race didn’t happen.   Would have been fun! 

Soren was thrilled to be able to go on Wild Wing again – and as he was the first person in the ride for his turn, he was told to go to the American flag – he was happy about that!  After he confirmed it was still hard to flip around – need to work on his strength! 

While both kids still enjoy bombing people (especially unsuspecting ones) in the Rowboats. 

They even went to together this time in a rowboat and allowed me to bomb them!

The kids together went on the Kikkerachtbaan, leaving me to not have to pedal Maebh the entire way like I did a couple years ago.  It was enjoyable to watch them go together… and not have to always go on the rides with them. 

SHOOTING GAME

As it was over two years ago, the shooting game is a HUGE hit especially with Soren.  If he can soak someone – even better!   We gave them a few Euros to play a couple times – and as they cannot do much with few coupons they received, they passed them along to a small kid inside the arcade before we left. 

WASSENAARSE SLAG FOR DINNER

As we are not living near the sea, I always take advantage of hanging out by the ocean.  As the park is so close to Wassenaarse Slag, we decided to head over there for dinner before heading out for the 1.5 hour drive home.  It’s only a matter of time before these gorgeous warm evenings are gone so it was nice to eat outside on the terrace by the sea at Beachclub BAIT Wassenaar.

An evening meal by the sea was a lovely way to end a nice day and we were all exhausted!  

VISIT TO DUINRELL #3 – Oct 2020

Now the kids are a bit taller, braver, have Dutch swim diplomas and I return with another adult – yippie! 🙂

Have any tips for when we return? Perhaps restaurants in Wassenaar or surrounds?  Or even tips relating to the TIki Bad – pm me or leave a comment below.  Our kids visited last time without swim diplomas, so we mostly spent the duration in the wave pool – they are so looking forward to returning in October and doing a bit more. I’m not a dare devil, so the most I’ll do is the wave pool and the lazy river – I certainly won’t go down any waterslides, but will certainly watch huge smiles on their faces as the splash down like they did at our vacation to Center Parcs.

Speelland @ Beekse Bergen

As we have season pass for the Beekse Bergen Safari Park and the play park, we set out to check out what Speelland park was all about. The weather was a but nippy but dry and as the park just opened for the season we thought we would visit. The kids enjoyed it and will be back on a warmer day!

When you walk in the first thing you get is this water pistol thing – which on the way out our kids soaked each other so making the drive home a wet one!

They had some giant balls filled with air which were covered by a rope. Fun for about 5 minutes – I thought it would hold them longer.

A few rides on areas.

A big playground on sand with lots of water.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a water area without a floating bridge which requires the kids to pull themselves across.

A bar of course.  If Nils was with us, we’d surely be there.

A set of ride on go carts for smaller kids – €1 a ride.

A smaller kids ride for little kids.

And proper go carts at €2 a turn. These petrol fueled carts are for older kids of a certain height (1.40-1.70 I think) which our 10 year old LOVED.

 

The kids also liked a ride over the water.

 

 

Trampoline park which one minute it’s packed then next minute it’s empty.

 

 

There was also a larger water slide which was closed – but same deal without the diploma no going on it.

We did have lunch at the cafe – sandwich, smoothies and fries but you can bring your own stuff.

Overall it was nice day out but definitely a place where it is better in warmer weather where the kids can cool off in the water.  Our kids at 8 and 10 are a bit too old for a lot of this park. I’d say 4-6 is the ideal age.

We have a season pass this year so we will visit for the water area but not sure we’ll renew next year.

Beekse Bergen Safari Park, Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands

Yesterday the kids were off school (it was a planned day so not sure if they were striking as I read on the internet but they had the day off and we needed to do something outside of the home). The weather was nice (about 14 degrees and sunny – celsius – we’re not mad). After doing a bit of searching for something fun to do outside, I remembered the Beekse Bergen Safari Park which is about 11 miles from our house (but driving it’s about 30 minutes. I know you can go the back roads, but I find the highway much easier.

When we arrived the main gate looked a bit like Disney World – and I actually thought it was closed at first, but then decided to follow a few people who drive into the main gate area and glad we did – we had a fantastic day out!

There are various ticketing options available including tickets only to the Safari park or only to Speelland (which was still closed for the season) or a combi which is entry to both! As we now live nearby, it hard to justify spending €24,00 p.p. for me and the two kids to visit the park once when we could get a YEAR LONG pass (called jaarkaarten for both parks for €62.50 each. Just attending three times in the course of a year, pays for itself. We do still have to pay for parking but instead of €9. it’s €3 and in mid-March they are running an offer buy 10 tokens, receive 2 free – so we’ll do that. I also received three booklets with coupons for 50% off entry tickets to other attractions like Blijdorp in Rotterdam, Apenheul, Zoopark Overloon, Aquazoo, Dierenrijk, Klimrijk and Aquafun at Sportium and Icefun at Sportium in Den Bosch and a lot more discounts including food in the park.

There are four ways to see the Safari park. 1) Self-driving in the car through the free-roaming animals. 2) On a bus which stops at various spots allowing you to see the animals. 3) By boat, which is seasonal so closed yesterday. And finally 4) by walking in the park (safely on paths of course. So with our new cards printed, we set out to visit the park. We agreed to first drive through the animal park.

As we started to drive into the park, I was telling the kids about the only one other time I was in a self-drive safari park in France where lions and bears were able to come up to the car. Here there were cheetahs free roaming but in the grass resting. Inside the park behind a cage, there were jaguars – but they all look alike to me 🙂

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Of course, there were zebras and giraffes and camels and deer – the gentle animals all roaming around and able to come near the cars.

Happily the lions were not able to walk up to our car but within distance to see them.

At 3:00 pm, we watched the Birds of Prey show on the far end of the park – which was cool. Unfortunately it was 100% in Dutch, so we didn’t quite get the whole thing but we’ve been to a few of these shows, we get the idea. Plus we were there to see the beautiful birds, right. My favorite was the owl – he was cheeky.

There is not a bad seat either, as there are two bird handlers so one guy walks at the top of the viewing area so the birds fly over each section.

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bird show2

bird show1

bird show

Throughout the park are playground areas for kids with slides, large jumping pillow and these wooden obstacle courses with ropes, which is prefect with kids full of energy. Our kids LOVED them…

There were other animals which we saw like rhinos, hippos, monkeys, goats. I personally found it comical there were black bears and otters sharing an area. The place is really big so I’m sure we missed some animals. Now that we have our annual pass, we can return again soon.

Apart from a snickers bar we bought at the vending machine, we didn’t eat anything but there are some places for meals and snacks in the park. Next time we’ll have an ice cream oh and claim our free churros from our discount booklet which we discovered when we got home. 🙂

Overall it was an awesome day out and we look forward to future trips and visiting Speelland when warmer. Two afternoons a week they get out of school early at 12:30 pm, so will surprise them by going straight from school as we’re already half way there.

Here are some tips:

  • Dress in comfortable shoes and in layers.
  • Drive into the safari and then you can easily park at the top of the park in the Congo.
  • Bring your own food if you want to save money.  [Unlike some parks, here you can bring your own lunch/drinks/etc]
  • Parking is €9.50 but they run deals where you buy 10 tokens you get 2 free! With your membership – it’s less than this price – but I’m not 100% the exact amount.
  • There is a holiday resort being built so consider staying in the park – camping, safari lodges, and something really cool called a JUNGALOW are available.
  • Try your best in Dutch, but everyone speaks English and their website translates into English too.
  • If you plan on visiting more than 3 times in one year, buy the jaarkart!

Apenheul Primate Park: Apeldorn, The Netherlands

On Friday, we first had breakfast at Bagels & Beans in Apeldorn.  I loved this cafe!!  After we had laughs with the “Cheeseman” before stopping in HEMA one of my favorite stores in Holland.

We then headed to the Apenheul Primate Park in Apeldorn for a day of fun.  Apenheul Primate Park is a zoo in Apeldoorn, Netherlands which specializes in apes and monkeys. It opened in 1971 and was the first zoo in the world where monkeys could walk around freely in the forest and between the visitors.

It is basically a zoo with almost only monkeys!  I am not even sure how many different versions they had but as your rounded the corner there was a new one which was even cuter than the previous. I especially liked all the babies.

When you first walk in you met up with what we called the little yellow monkeys which were all over the place.

In the past, these guys would jump on you and try to get to your food, etc. so now they have “monkey safe” bags.  One guy near us tried to feed them small white flowers and so they climbed up on him.

Around every corner, you come to something new including a carousel and a few awesome playgrounds one with a huge climbing structure (with some shitty dangerous unsupervised kids) and each have a concession stand selling BEER!   I know that is probably normal for those who live here in the Netherlands, but coming from the US it’s not normal.

As we didn’t have a buggy and knew Maebh would be complaining that her legs were tired in no time, she rode in a pull buggy around the park for a while.  Of course, Soren had a go, but was looked at funny! lol

Jambo the silver back gorilla and his crew were pretty interesting to me.  Someone recently was telling me that gorillas do not swim, but they can be taught.  Here you were only about 10 feet from them and the only thing separating you and them was some water.  The smaller gorillas were spending a LOT of time in the water, splashing and clapping. So for now, I’ll say it’s only a matter of time.  And if you saw Jambo grab several of the apes to either pick bugs off them or do whatever it was he did to them around the corner out of our view, you do not want him to cross the water!!!

We took Soren for a quick visit when he was not even two nor walking, so now being 4 & 6, we knew they (and we’d love it) which we all did.  It was a GREAT day out!  Super clean, great educational opportunities, etc.  If we lived nearby, we’d have a membership!

That same evening ,we went over to the hotel bar/restaurant and had dinner and perhaps play a little bowling. Turned out we had dinner followed by drinks with a much larger group quite late – though the kids loved it. SO nice to be close by their family here in the Netherlands.   Back to Ireland in a couple days… so taking it all in and enjoying it.