Verona is a very popular base for families to see the surrounding area. One of the biggest drawcards is the Italian amusement parks located near Verona. Each has its own highlights and something for kids of all ages but prices to match.
I have the feeling that the local government offered special land prices or tax benefits to encourage the respective companies to build their parks in the area. The plan worked before there are four major parks – soon five – in the area, each with their own focus.
If you are thinking about visiting the parks, this review may be helpful
The biggest of the Italian amusement parks. Great for teens and very young kids.
Gardaland is the biggest of the Italian amusement parks. We were planning to see it again this visit. Gardaland opened in 1975 and currently has 32 rides and 9 shows spread over 33 hectares. Of all the parks, it has the most rides on offer.
Who’ it for?
Teenagers will love the number of rides at Gardaland. Those that are not suitable for pregnant women, people with back problems, heart problems or high blood pressure… you know the ones.
Small children will love Peppa Pig land with its three themed rides. Kids can visit the Peppa’s house and have their photo taken with Peppa and George.
Gardaland also has numerous other rides designed especially for smaller kids, with no height restrictions. If it is warm, take bathing suits. There are some lovely fountains/play areas and a water castle with numerous slides for small kids.
Eight to eleven-year-olds that have the hardest time at Gardaland. They are too short for many of the rides but too old for Peppa Pig land or some of the rides aimed at children.
Tickets cost EUR 42 for adults and EUR 38 for children (3 years old and older). Gardaland also has 2 day passes available and combi tickets with Sea Life, which also belongs to Gardaland. Parking costs an additional EUR 6.
Tips: Save EUR 3 per ticket by buying online.
If you are visiting Munich and/or Berlin with your child, you may also want to buy a combi-ticket which includes Gardaland and a number of other attractions. Legoland, near Munich, is included for example.
Newsflash: We will have to update this list of Italian amusement parks in 2020. Gardaland is currently building a Legoland Waterpark, the first of its kind in Europe. Presumably, like Legoland, it will be most suitable for children aged 10 and under.
Parco Natura Viva
The park is great for anyone who loves animals and dinosaurs, whatever the age.
While not strictly an Italian amusement park, Parco Natura Viva could be called a theme park. It is definitely not a normal zoo. We visited this park a year ago and had to go back this year, not least because of Miss M’s love of dinosaurs #littledinosauraficionado.
The park is a safari and zoo in one. This year, the park celebrated its 50th birthday, making it the oldest of the four parks.
You start by driving your own car on a safari through one part of the park. There are rentals available for a fee if you are on a bike or motorbike. Follow the path and watch for animals – they have right of way.
This is followed by a visit to a more traditional geo-zoo. Despite the heat, we had some great sightings this year. These included close-up encounters with a leopard, a kea, a rhinoceros and a very grumpy vulture.
Somehow, I had repressed the memory of the hills in the park. Some of the hilliest parts of the park are used for one of its highlights – at least according to Miss M: the dinosaurs. The ‘Extinct’ area of the zoo has numerous dinosaurs and other extinct creatures (mammoth, sabre-toothed tigers, dodo and thylacinids).
Tickets for both parks cost EUR 22 for adults and EUR 17 for children aged 6 to 12. Children under 6 enter for free.
Tip: During our last visit, the park was building a ‘house of giants’. Residents include various large reptiles, a dinosaur or two, piranhas and a Galapagos tortoise, among others. Over the last couple of months, animals have been moving into their new habitats bit-by-bit. We hope we can go and see the new exhibit next time we are in Italy.
A great park for anyone who is taller than 1 metre and is too old to really enjoy Peppa Pig.
It is particularly good for 4 – 11 year olds.
Movieland is a typical movie-based theme park, without the backing of a major studio. It does not have as many rides as Gardaland, but it isn’t normally as full as Gardaland either.
We decided that we would visit Movieland this year when we discovered that they had a new dinosaur ride: Pangea. Miss M loved the dinosaurs and the story behind the ride. Peter and I were quite amazed that one of the visitors actually had to drive the car for the ride. Our driver took a while to find his speed.
The stunt shows are very good, but the other shows are little reliant on understanding enough Italian. Luckily, we only got stuck in the middle of one that involved a lot of singing and dancing and we were able to follow along reasonably easily.
Tip: Don’t take your child to Movieland if they do not make the 1-metre mark. While children, who are not tall enough, get in for free, there are almost no rides for them.
A small number of rides are restricted to those over 1.40 metres tall. This includes all the roller coasters and ‘adrenalin’ rides in the park. If you or your child are adrenalin junkies or do not reach this height requirement, this is not the park for you. Gardaland has more high
However, if, like Miss M, your child no longer enjoys Peppa Pig and is taller than 1 metre, Movieland could be the right Italian amusement park for you. Miss M was able to go on most of the rides and thoroughly enjoyed herself. Some of the rides were even a little rough for her.
The advantages of Movieland
We liked the fact that:
- the park was neither huge nor too full
- there were only a couple of rides that Miss M could not go on
- a number of rides are new
- they have dinosaurs
- there was enough variety in the rides.
We spent less time at the park than we did at Gardaland, but we did not feel that we missed anything important. Apart from Pangea (for which we queued for about an hour), the wait times were generally minimal.
Tickets cost EUR 28 for those over 1.4 metres tall. People between 1 and 1.4 metres tall pay EUR 22 to enter the park.
Tip: You can save EUR 2 per ticket by booking online. Parking costs extra (I think it was EUR 6).
Obviously, this park is for anyone who loves water, preferably with at least
basic swimming ability. It is best if your kids are taller than 1.2 metres.
Why haven’t we been?
Aquapark is the one Italian amusement park that we have not visited yet, for two reasons:
- The day we decided to go to one of the Italian amusement parks was rather overcast. We didn’t think it was the right day to spend most of the time in the water.
- It seemed like there were numerous rides at Aquapark that Miss M could not go on (height restrictions). The ones she could, she would not have enjoyed that much (she hates having large amounts of water tip on her).
Aquapark is on the same site as Movieland and the same company owns both. You can buy two-park passes to see both on the same day or over two days.
What ages and heights apply?
Aquapark closes before Movieland. Numerous wet guests crossed over to Movieland part-way through the day. Interestingly, many seemed to have 8 to 10-year-old children (or older). This confirmed that Aquapark may not yet be ideal for younger visitors.
The park has a number of water slides (e.g. long-drop, iced, tornado and dark) as well as relax and wave pools and some kids water slides. Many have a 1.20 metre or more minimum height requirement.
Ticket prices are the same as those for Movieland. The online discount applies, too.
Which Italian amusement park will you choose?
If you are planning to visit Verona with kids, it is almost inevitable that you will spend at least one day at one of the Italian amusement parks. Which one will depend on your child’s interests, but also their age and height. With a fifth park opening soon, there is even more reason for families to holiday near Verona.