Top 7 amusement parks in Europe
Whether you are looking for a winter break or planning ahead to summer 2017, there are some extremely highly-rated amusement parks right across Europe to satisfy many a leisure traveller.
Reviewing website Trip Advisor has grown into one of the most trusted consumer knowledge sources, helping millions to plan holidays and have their say on where they have stayed. But which theme parks emerge at the top of the pile of reviews? Here is a rundown of the seven that rank highest among visitors.
7 – Gardaland Park, Castelnuovo del Garda, Italy
Situated in central northern Italy, around 15km west of Verona, Gardaland Park offers visitors a range of thrill rides, family attractions and even a fairy-themed hotel. More than three quarters of visitor ratings are either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’, with 10,739 reviews producing a four star overall rating. Evening tickets are recommended, especially in the summer months.
6 – Paultons Park, Romsey, UK
Home to Peppa Pig World, a massive favourite with young children and parents alike, Paultons Park is based in the New Forest National Park in Hampshire. With 60 rides and attractions in total, the site caters for various interests, from the exclusive Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride to Water Kingdom Splash Park. In terms of reviews, two thirds of visitor ratings are ‘excellent’ with the 4,629 reviews producing a four and a half star average.
5 – PortAventura World, Salou, Spain
Visitors to Spain’s northeast coast may wish to take a trip to PortAventura World. Praised for offering attractions suitable for all ages, The Shambala, Tutuki splash, the Stampida and Khan are rides which have proven particularly popular among the park’s guests. The resort offers more than just family entertainment – fine restaurants, sport, stunning scenery and business facilities are all on offer. Again, evening passes are recommended over daytime tickets to avoid queues and extreme summer heat. A brand new park, Ferrari Land, is opening in April 2017 and is sure to lure many a motoring fan to the resort.
4 – Disneyland Paris, Paris, France
Arguably Europe’s most well-known theme park, Disneyland Paris celebrates the stories and characters which have helped shape the upbringings of generations of book and movie lovers. Its special shows and fireworks displays are unrivalled, with the reviewers’ consensus being that the steep expense is worth it. It is also one of the most reviewed amusement parks, with almost 24,000 visitors providing feedback, generating an average rating of four stars. The park opened in 1992 amid protest, however it is now responsible for bringing millions of tourists to France and is a significant economic contributor.
3 – Le Puy du Fou, Les Epesses, France
Opened in the 1970s in Les Epesses, western France, this historical theme park draws in two million visitors a year making it France’s fourth most popular attraction. It is split into five separate show-based attractions lasting around 30-40 minutes each, exploring different periods of history. The main show, The Cinéscénie, tells the story of 700 years of history in the area and is set on a massive outdoor stage behind the ruined castle. Guests can experience the different centuries surrounded by unspoilt countryside and can stay in one of the Puy du Fou's four original hotels. It has been immensely well reviewed on Trip Advisor, averaging four and a half stars and having more than 80 percent ‘excellent’ ratings.
2 – Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
Open from the middle of April to the middle of September, Tivoli Gardens comes to life in the centre of the Danish capital city. Between 20 and 30 rides are on offer along with live entertainment and more than 30 different places to eat. Tivoli has been praised for its appeal to consumers who are not natural amusement park enthusiasts, helping it receive 12,400 reviews at a four and half star average. It is also conveniently located versus other theme parks, which often require transport from the nearest city centre.
1 – Europa-Park, Rust, Germany
Rated as “the benchmark for theme parks”, Europa-Park’s 6,800 reviews average out at five stars. The park is one of the most scenic in the world, set between the Black Forest and Vosges, and houses more than 100 attractions and shows. The park is unique in the sense it has numerous themed areas based on different countries in Europe, from Iceland and Austria to Greece and Russia. There are 13 rollercoasters and 23 hours of shows every day, drawing in more than five million visitors each season. The park has been open since 1975, the themed areas being added throughout the 1980s and 1990s with more being added in recent times. A measure of its success can be found in the park’s hotel occupancy rate which is constantly above 90 percent all year round.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”