A Week At Duinrell, Wassenaar 2016

We’ve just returned from a week’s holiday in Duinrell, Wassenaar, Netherlands. It was a bit of an unusual holiday for us as we took the overnight ferry from Hull to Rotterdam and stayed on a Dutch theme park for 7 days.

I booked this break directly with Eurocamp shortly after a friend had returned and in all honesty I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I needed something that wouldn’t break the bank though following last year’s super expensive trip to Orlando. At just over £1,000 for 4 of us (during the school holiday) Duinrell ticked the right boxes.

The Ferry

The journey from Hull to Rotterdam was really smooth. There was a short queue to get the car on board and after that we went and dropped our bags in the cabin. The cabin was small but clean with pull down bunks beds for the kids, a bathroom with a shower and a desk and chair. The kids were pretty excited by this point so we went to explore the ferry.

Ferry View
Waiting for the ferry to depart

On board, the ferry had quite a bit to offer: a cinema, arcade, shops, restaurants and a bar (or maybe two). Plenty to keep you occupied before heading back to the cabin to sleep through the journey. One word of warning though. The ferry is pretty expensive so go prepared. We took some snacks and had the kids tablets charged to help keep them amused.

We all slept pretty well but were awoken at around 6ish the next morning from the ferry announcements straight into the room (take some earplugs, they’re loud and annoying).

Departing the ferry we headed out onto the Dutch roads for the first time. I’ve not driven much abroad in the past (a couple of times in Spain and once in America) so was a little apprehensive. With my trusty Navmii loaded up on my phone, we headed away from Europort and off to Wassenaar. The driving was a breeze and 40 minutes later we were checking in to our accommodation at Duinrell, Wassenaar.

Accommodation

We’d booked the 3 bedroom Esprit (think static caravan) which was quite small and tightly packed. It had one double bedroom and two twin rooms with a central living/dining area. Functional I guess you’d call it. Whilst it was clean and had most of the things you’d need (no TV though) it wasn’t exactly the kind of place I like to relax in. It was very basic and it suffered from the fate that most caravans suffer: when it’s hot outside it’s too hot inside and when it’s cold outside it’s too cold inside. It did the job though and as time went on it grew on me but it wasn’t somewhere that we spent a lot of time.

Duinrell Theme Park

The theme park itself was a pleasant surprise with plenty of rollercoasters and rides all set in a scenic forest. It had a completely different vibe to that of a UK theme park. It was much more condensed, the queues were much shorter and the whole layout was quite unique.

Around Duinrell
The kids riding go karts around Duinrell

Between my 11 year old and 5 year old sons they found plenty of rides to go on over the course of the week and where my wife and I at the end of the 7 days had our fix of the theme park the kids were disappointed to be leaving.

The Falcon
One of the best rollercoasters at Duinrell

For the older children there’s the Falcon, Wild Wings, Mad Mill, Toboggan and quite a few more. The younger kids have plenty of options too from Kikkerachtbaan, Bumper Boats, Traffic Garden and Bumper Frogs. It’s also worth noting that it seems to be a more lenient on minimum heights for riders than it is in the UK so younger children are able to go on some of the bigger rides too.

The Mad Mill
Waiting for the Mad Mill to start

Generally there was a good mix of things to do inside the theme park and it’s great to be able to wander in and out whenever you like, meaning that if you didn’t want to eat on site, you didn’t have to.

Around The Park

Aside from the theme park Duinrell has a plaza with a couple of restaurants, supermarket, bar and arcade/bowling. All of these are charged at a bit of a premium for convenience and whilst the food wasn’t amazing, for the most part it was decent. To feed a family of four we were generally paying around €50 (with alcohol that would be more though).

Whilst on site you can hire bikes, go-karts and scooters to get around. These can be hired per day or for the week. We opted to get the kids go-karts or the days we were staying on site. These cost €13.50 per day which I thought was pretty good value as the kids absolutely loved driving around Duinrell on these. At night, after the theme park rides close you’re actually allowed to ride the go-karts and bikes around the theme park which seems a little strange but again the kids really enjoyed this.

Tikibad/Waterpark

One of Duinrell’s main attractions is the Tikibad waterpark which you do have to pay for although the rate is discounted if you’re staying on site. I have to say I was hugely disappointed with the waterpark though. It was incredibly busy with huge queues for the slides and felt a little bit more like a council run pool to me than a private waterpark. In hindsight we probably picked the worst time to go in. We went in the evening when the theme park was closed which meant more bodies in the pool and it felt a bit like an under 18s night club.

The queues for the slides were particularly slow moving and unlike the theme park the height restrictions seemed a little bit over cautious here with my 11 year old son unable to go on some of the slides that were tiny in comparison to those that we went on at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Seaworld’s Aquatica.

Things To Do Around Duinrell

Amsterdam

We figured we would break up the madness of the theme park a little with a few trips out. Amsterdam was calling so we hopped in the car and headed to the capital. Let me start by saying that it’s incredibly expensive to park in Amsterdam. The first car park we arrived at was €50 for the day. We rejected this one and found a place not far from the centre for around €30. None of us had ever been to Amsterdam before so this was a bit of a new experience for us. Whilst we were there we took the obligatory boat ride (around €30 for the hour) did a spot of shopping, had a bite to eat and explored a little.

Amsterdam
Ben shielding the sun from his eyes in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is quite a difficult city to navigate so I’d recommend planning your visit beforehand if you do decide to take a day trip there. It’s also quite tough to drive through, particularly the central part as bikes are coming at you from all angles.

Leiden

Being only 5km from Duinrell, Leiden is a beautiful town that’s worth a couple of hours of your time. It’s similar to Amsterdam in many ways but without the hustle and bustle. There are some great restaurants and bars overlooking the river and it’s a nice way to pass the time.

Wassenaar

Wassenaar itself is just a short walk out of the theme park. It has some great bakeries and cheese shops so if you’re looking to pick up gifts it’s worth a look. There are a few supermarkets here too so I’d recommend picking up your groceries here rather than the on-site park market.

Final Thoughts

We had a great holiday at Duinrell which was amazing value for money. The kids really enjoyed themselves and never got bored. 7 days was probably a bit too long though by the end of it my wife and I were ready for home. I doubt we’d return to Duinrell purely because we felt like we’d done it to death. If you’ve never been though and are looking for a budget holiday that the kids will love, I couldn’t recommend it enough – maybe go for a long weekend though.

Tips

If you are planning a trip to Duinrell here are some tips to help you out…

  • Take passport pics with you as these are used for your passes
  • Take snacks with you on the ferry to save money
  • The Tikibad waterpark is quieter during the day (when the theme park is open)

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