Being married to a TN’er (typical nederlander) means I’m constantly on the lookout for a bargain. And there’s no better bargain than a holiday one! So when I heard through the powers of facebook that BreakFree Holidays were offering cheap breaks in my adopted homeland I knew exactly where I wanted to book. Duinrell.
What is Duinrell?
Duinrell is a holiday park, theme park and water park all rolled into one. We visited here in the October half term, staying for 4 nights. We had booked through BreakFree Holidays for the bargain price of £230. Looking on the official website for the same dates (albeit staying in chalets as opposed to a caravan) we wouldn’t have seen change from £600!
Bearing in mind how little we had paid my expectations of our holiday were considerably low. I’d never visited the theme park before though my husband had visited both the park and water park about 25 years previously and remembered it being ‘ok’.
But I needn’t have worried. Our trip more than surpassed my expectations and we ended up having a truly wonderful holiday.
The whole complex is located on the edge of the dutch village Wassenaar. It is situated in Western holland so very handy if travelling by boat to the Hook of Holland or flying in to Amsterdam Schiphol airport.
Being on the west side means you have access to some great beaches such as Scheveningen, Katwijk, Noordwijk and Wassenaar Beach.
It is also only a 15minute drive to The Hague, where the dutch parliament buildings are housed. Leiden, a beautifully historic town, is only 20 minutes drive. And perhaps our favourite of all day trips was Madurodam. Located in The Hague, this is more than just a miniature village. It’s a fully immersive tour through dutch history and a celebration of all that is great about The Netherlands.
The holiday park is located on the outskirts of the amusement park, though it’s handy to know that when the theme park closes you are still able to walk through the park to access facilities on the other side, without having to take a massive detour.
The theme park itself is great fun for all ages. We especially enjoyed the Dragon Fly roller coaster, which my youngest was just tall enough for at 100cm. Being a huge DisneyWorld fan I set my expectations quite high when it comes to theme parks and whereas Duinrell is no where in that league, it does have some pretty decent attractions, and no I wasn’t brave enough to go on ‘Mad Mill’!
There are a number of food places available, such as snack bar that does takeaway pizza, La Place restaurant, buffet restaurant and also a well stocked supermarket. We personally found the food to be quite expensive and not the best quality.
The on site shop was very well stocked (except for one morning when they ran out of pain au chocolates) but we found it to be also overpriced. So we took the great advice of many before us and ventured into Wassenaar village and shopped at the local Jumbo.
The arcade is good fun and not badly priced at 1 euro per game. We never got to go bowling or hire bikes, but both are available at Duinrell.
Don’t forget to take a passport size photo of yourself which you need for access into the holiday park and water park. It doesn’t actually need to be a proper passport photo, I just trimmed up some photos I had lying around of us all into roughly the same size as a passport photo!
As we had booked through BreakFree Holidays we were allocated a Eurocamp 3 bed 1 bath Esprit. Having read that these were somewhat older models, I was apprehensive. And yes the caravan was starting to show its age but it was spacious for our family of 5 and it had a huge deck which I can see in warmer weather being a fantastic addition.
What I loved most about the accommodation was how much room we had outside! Now we could have been just lucky but looking around, no one is crammed in. Every caravan or lodge/chalet had plenty of outside space. You are allowed to drive cars on the site but are expected to park them at the ample group parking spaces located all over the park.
Our caravan was opposite one of the entrances to the park, which meant we could roll out of bed at 9:50 and be on our favourite DragonFly at opening.
It seems that the cheaper the accommodation, the closer to the theme park you are. This absolutely did not bother us as we were happy to be able to nip back to use the toilet or grab something to eat, and we never had any problems with noise. However I can imagine that is not the same for all caravans, and those located nearer to the plaza may have some noise at nighttimes.
This is perhaps the only slight disappointment we encountered on our trip. The food offerings, whilst ample, were not the best quality and over priced.
We ate at the La Place restaurant, which is a self service type eatery, and also ordered food from the snack bar. Both experiences were a let down. Many tourists coming from the UK do so using only public transport, so leaving the site to do a big food shop or eat out is not possible. In my opinion Duinrell need to up their game when it comes to food offering. I don’t mind paying a slight premium but then I expect good quality. However there’s nothing to stop you hiring bikes and cycling off site in search of decent food!
We ventured out twice into Wassenaar for dinner and ate at two very nice Italian restaurants. My advice would be to utilise transport and eat out of Duinrell!
The Tiki Bad
Worthy of it’s own paragraph, the Tiki Bad is quite possibly the best water park in the Netherlands. With 16 different water slides, a dedicated kids and baby area, as well as a wave pool, this pool caters to everyone.
Be aware that there are height restrictions for many of the slides, and also for the use of armbands. My 6 year old son, who has his Swim Diploma, had to wear armbands due to being under 120cm. You can imagine his older brother’s delight when this happened!
The swimming pool opens at 10am and as we had booked through a third party (Eurocamp/BreakFree) we had to pay. We opted for 3 hours pool use for 6.50euros per person. If you book your holiday direct through Duinrell you are entitled to two hours free pool time (during certain hours) per day.
My advice would be to get there early! We were in the pool at 10:05 and my oldest son and husband had done most of the rides without queueing, in the first 30 minutes. Leaving at lunchtime we could see just how busy the pool had become and were glad we got here early to enjoy the relative peace.
Despite the disappointment with food we really enjoyed our stay here. There is literally something for everyone. We were very lucky with the weather which meant we usually spent our mornings in the theme park and the afternoon’s exploring the surrounding cities and attractions. And despite it being a school holiday the park didn’t feel too busy due the clever lay out of all the attractions.
The kids still talk about Duinrell and can’t wait to go back and make more rude gestures in the Shadow House!