Last Sunday, we headed off for a family day out at Dennlys Parc, which is a theme park in the Pas-de-Calais area of Northern France, 80km from our Dunkirk home and 70km from Calais, making it a totally feasible destination for a day trip from the UK. It's been open since 1983 but we've never visited it before, which is silly really as we've been to see Mickey at Disneyland Paris several times even though it's much further away.
We arrived at the park at about midday and left at 5pm, which was perfect. The first advantage that we immediately noticed is that there are picnic tables all over the place and you're more than welcome to bring your own packed lunch with you. You can buy food on site (the standard burgers and chips) but you'll still be eating outside on the picnic tables so it's probably not really worth it.
The park has about 20 rides, which is plenty to keep you busy for the day but a small enough number that you can actually do the whole lot, unlike the bigger parks where you have to pick and choose, knowing you won't have time to do everything. We were slightly off-season so I don't know what it's like during peak time but it was great to have reasonable queues. For many of the smaller rides, you only have to wait literally a couple of minutes. The longest wait we had all day was for the water chute which was about 1/2 hour.
You won't get the white knuckle rides that adrenalin-junkies will want to seek out at the bigger parks but for family-oriented fun, it's ideal. There are gentle rides that the whole family can go on - old fashioned cars, a little train, helicopters (which actually go up really high !), mechanical horse riding, bouncy frogs ... - and a couple of relatively scary roller coasters to keep the older kids happy.
There's a fairly high big wheel too and if you look closely at the picture, you can see Madhouse Daddy Mike and the kids queueing up to have a go on the bumper boats - like bumper cars but dinghies !
They had great fun (I opted to sit this one out and take photos instead !) and didn't actually get as wet as I expected. Some people came off totally soaked but that was because they had been splashing each other on purpose. You can tell the people who have been before because they had their kids' swimming costumes and towels with them - there is one area with dancing fountains and squirty lamposts, as well as a whole wagon full of water that suddenly appears and dumps its contents on the heads of the unsuspecting people below - a great place to sit for a rest to laugh at them ! - where the kids (not ours, other people's !) loved running about getting soaked.
Juliette finally got to have a go on the Derrick, which is the name given to the slightly tamed-down version of the Hip Hop that Sophie had several goes on during our recent trip to Hastings. (See the Silent Sunday below.) They managed to fit in at least six rides on this, luckily only needing to queue for a few minutes each time. Juliette's face was a picture every single time and had me in hysterics because her eyes kept coming out on stalks !
They had a great time and Pierre crashed out before we left ! As it was a hot day, I decided to brave the refreshments stall and was impressed to see that you could get Capri Sun drinks for €1 and the cheapest Lemonade Sparkle-type ice lollies for €1.30 which is very reasonable. Other ice creams like Cornettos were more pricey though, costing about €3.50 which I thought was a bit steep.
What you don't get is the Disney characters or the really big rides but what you do get is a nice day out for a family, especially with younger kids, that avoids the huge queues. It's a bit rough around the edges - although they are constantly adding new rides, some of the older ones could do with a lick of paint or some new leather seats - but the kids didn't notice at all so maybe it was my Mystery Shopper mode that automatically switched on ! I thought the entry prices were very reasonable too - €14 per adult, €12 per child (over 1m tall, up to age 11) and free for kids under 1m tall.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : €14 per adult, €12 per child (over 1m tall, up to age 11) and free for kids under 1m tall
for more information : http://www.dennlys-parc.com/ (top right corner if you want to turn off the very loud, annoying sound effects !)
Disclosure : This isn't a sponsored post, we paid for the entry tickets ourselves.
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