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Citizen Enfants

How To Do Theme Parks In Style

Is it possible to add a theme park into your holiday itinerary, but not compromise on style and luxury? Absolutely, if you stay at a chic family-friendly hotel close by.

All children love a trip to a theme park. Whether they are riding on a sweet little merry-go-round, a thrilling rollercoaster or whizzing down an exciting water slide, it’s a day out all ages can enjoy. From Disney and Universal to Europe’s best parks – and even one in the UK – here’s how to combine a visit to a theme park with a stylish stay that will keep grown-ups happy too.

Walt Disney World, Orlando, USA

It’s the big one. The one all children everywhere dream of visiting: Disney World, Orlando. Packed with all the classic characters, cartoons and films that we have all grown up with, Disney World is truly magical for children, and let’s be honest, adults too. Whether you are a fan of Buzz Light Year, The Little Mermaid or good old Mickey Mouse, there is something captivating about Disney, who have been entertaining kids for over 100 years. Disney World in Orlando is a great place to visit and is made up of four parks, The Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. All are packed with rides that are suitable for all kids, usually measured by height, either accompanied with an adult or for older kids they can go by themselves. From thrilling rollercoasters such as Space Mountain that teens will love, to the much smaller merry-go-rounds and play areas for babies and toddlers. Try a super-safe safari or meet Moana at Animal Kingdom and check out the latest the epic ride Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios.

Where to stay

There are plenty of onsite Disney hotels to stay in, but if you don’t fancy having breakfast with Donald Duck and Goofy, book into the Four Seasons, Orlando at Walt Disney World. Just down the road from the parks, this five-star property is completely focused on families. This includes the convenient Disney Planning Centre in the lobby to complimentary transportation to the parks, plus daily early entry to the park (by 30 minutes) – a real queue-beating treat. Add to this an onsite water park, excellent family suites, wonderful spa and a top-notch menu (big consideration as theme park food is rarely healthy or great quality) and you have the perfect base from which to explore Disney while avoiding the crowds when you want to.

Universal Studios, Singapore

Since opening in 2011, Universal Studios Singapore has become a firm favourite with families visiting Southeast Asia who can combine a holiday in the area with time at the mega theme park. An outpost of the original Florida park, it offers all the same great rides and attractions plus a few more. There are six zones to explore, including The Lost World where you’ll find tons of Jurassic Park themed fun; Sci-fi City which is packed with futuristic rides and Transformers shows; and New York to experience life in the Big Apple just as you see it in the movies. The S.E.A. Aquarium is a must-visit, one of the world’s largest aquariums, and home to more than 100,000 marine animals and species from every ocean. Then it’s on to more watery fun at the Adventure Cove Waterpark with slides and rides for all ages.

Where to stay

When it’s time to leave the parks behind, make the 15-minute car journey to the Shangri La Singapore which is renowned for its child-friendly ethos. The hotel has a dedicated programme offering a range of luxury family experiences, including the outstanding Buds interactive indoor play area and an outdoor water playground where children can play in a huge state-of-the art space. Stay in a family suite and access the Family Pantry that is equipped with everything parents might need for a hassle-free stay including costs, buggies, and sterilisers. And make sure you speak to the specialist family concierge who will cater to your every request and ensure you make the very most of your time at Universal and in Singapore overall.

Parc Asterix, Paris, France

For a unique take on how the French do theme parks, check out Parc Asterix. Full of great rides and interactive fun, it’s also somewhat quaint and charming with its own unusual theme and style, and home to the biggest wooden roller coaster in Europe. It is designed around the historic cultures of the Romans and the ancient Greeks, based on the popular Asterix books which see Asterix (the main character) living in France in the time of the Roman occupation (circa 50BC) where he and his friends spend most of their time irritating the Romans, always to humorous effect. Reflecting the history of the times, the park is set up in zones: Gaul (ancient France), Rome, Egypt, ancient Greece, the land of the Vikings and a more up to date Travel Through Time area. There are rides and play areas for children of all ages, making it the ideal place to take kids for the day if you are visiting Paris, as it’s just 30 minutes away from the centre by car.

Where to stay

For a family-friendly hotel in the heart of the city opt for The Hoxton. Whether you’re travelling with tiny babies, toddlers or older kids, the hotel’s  ‘Tiny Hox’ programme has you covered. Children under the age of 12 can share a room with their parents and they provide welcome touches including a kids’ welcome tote, containing a Smallable x Hox colouring book and pencils, and a family-approved neighbourhood map. There are child-friendly menus, nappies and bottle warmers on hand and board games to entertain everyone. This is a winning combination if you want theme park fun and a chic city break.

Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE

There are theme parks… and then there is Yas Island. Abu Dhabi’s out-of-this-world island dedicated to leisure and entertainment, it is the stuff of dreams for kids. Enjoy the thrill of some seriously impressive roller coasters or try your hand at go-carting at Ferrari World where you’ll find the Yas Marina Circuit, one of the most technologically advanced Formula 1 tracks in the world. Cool down at Yas Waterworld, where you can ride waterslides, surf the wave simulator or brave the longest suspended rollercoaster in the world. With more than 40 rides, slides and attractions, there is something for everyone – from toddlers right through to teens. Or explore the region’s first Marine Life Theme Park and discover eight immersive realms with over 15 interactive experiences and rides and over 100 animal experiences including up-close encounters with marine animals and fish.

Where to stay

At the end of an adrenalin-packed day here you are bound to need somewhere for all the family to properly relax and the W Hotel Yas Island is just the place. This futuristic hotel with its floor to ceiling windows and cool, calm open spaces, is a quiet step back from the buzz of the island’s attractions, and only minutes from all the action. Families can book interconnecting rooms that can be filled with everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay with children.

Peppa Pig World, The New Forest, UK

When we think of theme parks, we tend to conjure up images of far flung destinations, but in fact there is an excellent one just a short journey from London. Peppa Pig World in the New Forest has been a huge hit with fans of the famous cartoon since opening in 2011. Perfectly suited to toddlers and younger children, this is a buggy-friendly paradise for parents of under-fives who will love riding on a pastel-coloured carousel and hot air balloon Ferris wheel that all look as if they are straight from the set of the show. Peppa, George and all the well-known characters are on hand to do say hello or head to the sand and water play area with its café and picnic area.

Where to stay

When you’ve had your fill of cartoon-themed activities, make the short 30-minute drive to an altogether more grown-up oasis that’s as geared up for junior guests as it is their parents. Chewton Glen is a stunning five-star hotel nestled in 130 acres on the edge of the New Forest. With an award-winning spa and fabulous restaurant, its the super-cool tree houses that are the biggest draw for families (including daily breakfast hampers delivered to your door). During the holidays, they have a great selection of activities for children (think cookery classes, tennis lessons and a kids’ club), so you’ll just as much fun staying on property as you will leaving for Peppa Pig World.

PortAventura Park, Barcelona, Spain

Just a one hour drive from Barcelona you’ll find PortAventura Park, one of Spain’s most popular family attractions and a great option for those who want the sunny theme park experience without flying long haul. The first of its kind in the county, the park is set across 105 hectares and divided into six country themed areas, including Mediterrània, Mexico and China. All have rides and play areas for all ages: from classic rollercoasters to toddler trains and merry-go-rounds, plus an amazing water park that is perfectly suited to days in the warm Spanish sunshine. Fun shows and plenty of cafés make it a great day out if you fancy a break from the beach to take the kids somewhere different while in Spain.

Where to stay

For a luxe stay nearby check in to the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona where you can stay in a two-bedroom family suite with an attentive personal butler at your disposal. A Michelin-starred restaurant, fantastic spa and stylish roof top bar with city views will appeal to parents, while kids will love the exciting family excursions that the concierge can arrange such as stadium tours of Barcelona Football Club and nearby zip lining. This hotel would make a great base from which to explore not only the PortAventura Park, but the whole Catalan region.


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