Hello and welcome to part one of our 2 part article on our favourite European theme park foods. Today myself (Emma) and James will be talking all about our favourite foods, snacks and restaurants. We want to dive into the best food in Europe and share with you, and find some more theme park gems along the way. We sadly haven’t visited all the theme parks in Europe (wouldn’t that be a dream) so these are our favorites that we have personally experienced.
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James: In my opinion, food can make or break a theme park experience. Theme parks which offer a mixture of sit down restaurants and take-away cuisine cater the best for the widest audience. Today we’re going to take a look at some of Europe’s most popular parks and the best food offerings out there. A delicious snack or a relaxing meal can really uplift your day in a park and therefore it’s really important that theme parks offer a memorable culinary experience for guests. A memorable experience can be created by food being great value, having a particular theme or perhaps resembling a signature regional or national dish. Joining me today is Emma. So, Emma, why do you think food is such an important part of theme parks?
Emma: I totally agree with you! Going for a day out at a theme park has to include food, after all you’ve got to eat! If I’m honest sometimes I think the food is just as important as the rides inside the parks. I love traveling to other countries’ theme parks and trying new regional and national dishes. Take Europa-Park for example, you can have breakfast in France and lunch in Greece and everything in between. Traveling all over Europe can open your stomachs to a whole exciting range of foods to try, well cover some of our favourites here and ones we’d love to try in the future.
James: I completely agree with all of your points! Europa-Park provides an amazing experience as there’s so many different cuisines to try in different themed lands, which makes for endless exploring! However, we’ll get to Europa Park in a bit, as we’ll be starting our tour with a different theme park in Germany which is well-known for its exceptional food offering.
James: That’s right. We’re starting our theme park food-tour in Phantasialand, located in Bruhl, Germany. As a resort, Phantasialand is home to nine different sit down restaurants and four bars. One of them is even a roof-top bar on the top floor of the Hotel Ling Bao! Phantasialand won the parkscout.de award for best theme park food in Germany in 2020. I completely agree with this result, which makes it the perfect place for us to start our food tour. So, Emma, what exciting food should we start with? And do you agree that Phantasialand offers some of the best food out of all the theme parks in Europe?
Emma: I couldn’t agree more! I have sadly only spent one wonderful day at Phantasialand but in that one day I ate so many fantastic foods! I think we really have to start with the beautiful Heino’s Kaffeehaus (Sadly we’re unsure if this is now permanently closed or just undergoing refurbishment.) On my long drive to Phantasialand I was so desperate for a coffee and breakfast, so desperate in fact that this was our first stop. Sat right beside a beautiful double decker carousel (Pferdkarussell) and relaxing in the warm morning sunshine you really can’t go wrong. Beautiful cakes, waffles and other café style foods were available as well as hot and cold drinks. I really loved it for its location and we sat there for a little longer than we would have normally when a completely new park needs exploring. James I know you have been to Phantasialand a few more times than me, perhaps you can tell us more about the options available and what you have been lucky to enjoy?
James: You’re right, Phantasialand is like a home to me! I probably could make my way round now with a blindfold on! Phantasialand is like a paradise when it comes to food as everything is high quality and there’s so much to choose from. Not only is all the food delicious, however in my opinion it’s good value too. There’s loads of other snack choices in the Berlin area and the Mexico, China and Fantasy areas too. However, I wanted to talk about the mystery area next and one of my favourite restaurants in the park. Located in the medieval village Klugheim, you can find a quaint little restaurant run by the villagers themselves. It’s known as Rutmor’s Taverne. This restaurant is known for its hearty cuisine and typically large, filling and delicious portions. One thing is for sure, you won’t be leaving hungry. The cuisine is inspired by traditional German dishes, meaning you can order anything from Käsespätzle to veal schnitzel. There’s other traditional dishes such as Flammkuchen and different soups to choose from too. For dessert you can order fresh apple cake or Kaiserschmarrn pancakes fried fresh to order in the pan. The drinks menu has lots to offer as well, with a range of hot drinks, soft drinks and cocktails to choose from. All of this can be enjoyed in a medieval themed setting with carved wooden tables and benches as well as candles lighting up the restaurant. The atmosphere is really quite charming inside.
Emma: Sounds delicious, I really love Flammkuchen! There’s honestly too much food to enjoy all In one day! When I visited I ate a lot of snacks, mainly as it was a quick day visit and we really didn’t want to spend time sitting down to eat. Phantasialand is perfect for snacking too! Over in Mexico we enjoyed a generous amount of churros with chocolate sauce, there they also sold fruit and marshmallow dipped in chocolate! Heading into China you can sample a huge selection of street food, perfect for eating and walking! We grabbed a candy floss to keep our sugar levels up! For lunch that day we enjoyed curried bratwurst with chips, I dream about this still now, it was delicious! There are lots of other flavours available too. And did you really go to Phantasialand if you didn’t visit Annie Himmelreich for one of their ice creams?
James: I completely agree! It’s not a trip to Phantasialand without a stop at Annie Himmelreich for a scoop or two of homemade ice cream. Whatever season it is, it’s ice cream weather at Phantasialand. I say that because the park is open from March until January so during winter time the park is decked out with thousands of lights and christmas decorations. The main square in Berlin is decked out into a Christmas market with plenty of enticing food options on offer!
It also wouldn’t be a trip to Phantasialand without visiting the brand new themed world, Rookburgh, which is located in a passageway off the main street in 1920’s Berlin. Rookburgh is decked with steampunk theming, smoke effects and an immersive atmosphere. There’s plenty of culinary highlights in Rookburgh too. Grab a spot of lunch at Zum Kohleschipper, which is a boiler house selling sandwich creations with warm toppings and homemade bread. Alternatively, visit Emelie’s Chocoladen & Candy Werkstatt, where you can marvel at the handmade chocolates, made on sight and decorated with delicious toppings. Furthermore, a stay in the Hotel Charles Lindbergh can be accompanied by a visit to the Restaurant Uhrwerk and a nightcap in the Bar 1919. The Bar 1919 specialises in an abundance of choice of different craft beers and cocktail bowls to share and enjoy.
If you want to know more about Rookburgh and the Hotel Charles Lindbergh, including a more detailed description of the food on offer, check out our article here.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Emma: So one of my favourite parks in the UK has to be the lovely seaside Blackpool Pleasure Beach(BPB). It’s a great day out with a huge variety of rides and I try to go at least once a year. The UK isn’t greatly known for its theme park food but here at BPB there is a wide variety to choose from. With lots of stalls for snack foods, ice creams and of course doughnuts (a staple of any UK theme park visit!). There is also an all you can eat buffet style restaurant (a common thing to see at UK parks) with pizza, pasta and a salad bar. It’s a great price and easy to eat whilst at the park. When visiting the seaside in the UK it’s pretty much the law to have fish and chips and at BPB they serve them in a bucket with a spade, you can’t get more British than that! My favourite place to eat in the park however is Madame Crevettes! Madame Crevettes is a fresh seafood bar where I usually opt for the prawn cocktail salad. I usually finish up my meal with a huge slice of cream cake and a coffee to keep the energy up for the rest of the day.
There are so many places to choose from on your visit to the park, from hot dogs to oysters with champagne! You can sit down for a meal or grab and go. There are also some fancier options if you do want to sit down and enjoy a break or perhaps celebrate an occasion, such as The White Tower restaurant. Situated in the penthouse of the casino building this fancy restaurant boasts a carefully designed menu with fantastic local produce, (although I don’t think they’d appreciate your flip flops and shorts combo!)
It’s also worth remembering about the sponsorship that BPB has with Tango Ice Blast. Their tower called Ice Blast reaches up to 80mph and on a hot day you’ll definitely need a Tango Ice blast!
What about you James, do you have any highlights from the UK theme parks food scene?
Other UK theme parks & attractions
James: I have to say I agree that Blackpool Pleasure Beach is a highlight in terms of food when comparing all of the UK parks and attractions. There is a very different culture in theme parks in the UK compared to those in Europe as most of our parks only offer fast food options rather than specialising in sit-down restaurants. In my opinion, a lot of theme parks in the UK could improve their food offering as the fast food offerings can sometimes be poor quality or overpriced. In terms of sit-down restaurants, these are a rare occurrence but can be found in the form of buffet restaurants such as at Thorpe Park. These buffet restaurants are often marketed at a cheap price and offer “all-you-can-eat” food, usually pasta, pizza or salad. In terms of future developments in UK theme parks, I’d love to see the quality and range of food offerings improve across the UK industry as a whole. The integration of more sit down restaurants such as those at Phantasialand or Disneyland would be ideal and create more choice for people visiting the parks. At the moment I sometimes choose to bring a packed-lunch to parks if I’m not feeling fast food.
Nonetheless, I do have a couple of personal culinary highlights from the UK attractions industry. The first is from Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, which is an annual winter festival taking place in the heart of London every year. Winter Wonderland offers ice skating, a christmas market, rides, games, shows and even a magical ice palace. A massive highlight of Winter Wonderland has to be the sheer amount of choice in food and drink. From churros to waffles to hot chocolate, there’s something to wet everyone’s appetite. There’s also plenty of bars where friends can gather round a log fire or dance to live music in the evening. One of the absolute highlights of Winter Wonderland has to be the “Bavarian Village”. The setup from the Bavarian Village comes from Germany and is designed to mimic the classic Oktoberfest. In the Bavarian Village you can party all day and all evening to live music acts and grab a beer or a glühwein to see the night away. There’s also a massive selection of delicious food options including traditional German Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes) or pizzas.
Moving back to theme parks, a park which I discovered this year for the first time is Drayton Manor family theme park. Drayton Manor is home to both a theme park and a zoo and contains some classic attractions such as Shockwave and is home to Thomas Land. I’m not going to lie- the food inside the park was pretty disappointing. All the options were fast food and also not particularly appetising. Therefore, we decided to head over to the Drayton Manor Hotel for lunch. The Drayton Manor Hotel is a pretty corporate venue which hosts conferences and accommodates business as well as park guests. The restaurant in the hotel was the highlight of our visit to Drayton Manor. The restaurant had a very modern and stylish feel and the staff were friendly and attentive. Although the menu was limited, the food was absolutely delicious. We couldn’t resist a dessert!
I’m sure you’d love to tell us some more about your personal highlights from food in the UK theme parks, Emma!
Emma: Well like you have mentioned the UK theme parks aren’t really known for their food choices but there are a few gems hidden amongst our parks. I think it’s also important to remember that our parks are all easily done in one day, unless it’s busy of course. The need for sit down restaurants is probably not there. If our theme parks were to expand, with hotels and more rides and experiences, people would be inclined to stay longer. Thus creating the need for better food options or nicer restaurants to enjoy your time more, instead of grabbing a hot dog and running to the next ride.
One of my gems has got to be The RollerCoaster Restaurant at Alton Towers. Now for those of you who don’t know, the restaurant delivers your food via miniature coasters tracks (I know pretty cool!) I was completely amazed by this on my first visit, watching it zoom down the track and then onto our table! It’s an experience I would recommend enjoying. The menu is mainly burgers, steaks, mac and cheese etc. It offers pretty standard options but they have themed a few of the burgers to the park’s coasters which is pretty fun. I ordered the Nemesis Burger which came with chips and was £16/€18.50/$22, not a bad price for in park dining. I also got to watch it fly through not one but two loops so I guess that’s all part of the price. A visit at lunch time is usually a walk in but perhaps with the current global situation it’s best to book. The experience is definitely recommended and the service was quick so did not interrupt my day.
Let’s talk about the highly anticipated Tornado Springs at Paultons Park. I am super excited to return to Paultons after not visiting for about 15 years. We obviously are excited about the new rides but I am also looking forward to trying out their American diner called Route 83. I’m a fool for a good burger and a thick milkshake so when I saw that they were opening a diner I said I’ll have one of everything! So far they haven’t released a menu but have hinted that they will have all your favourites from the diner. Here’s to hoping for a great experience soon!
For this year I have personally decided to try and visit the rest of the parks I haven’t visited in the UK. Let’s hope they have some great food on offer! Please let us know if there’s something we must try!!
James: The next park we are going to look at is one which we both couldn’t wait to get into a discussion about. We’re taking a look at Efteling Theme Park Resort in the Netherlands which is known as one of the most magical and awe-inspiring theme parks in the world. It’s the perfect visit for every fairytale lover and a visit to the fairytale forest is a must- where you will be taken out of this world and discover stories of dozens of fairy tales, including those written by Brothers Grimm. Efteling also has plenty of rollercoasters, themed walkthroughs, museums, shows and dark rides to discover. However, Efteling simply wouldn’t be so magical without an abundant selection of sweet treats to takeaway and restaurants for a relaxing sit down meal.
Efteling is actually home to a grand hotel as well as two separate holiday-home style resorts. I haven’t stayed in any of these myself and have always opted for cheaper alternatives nearby. Therefore, I can’t comment on the food in the hotel restaurants. However, in the park there’s plenty of restaurants to choose from. These include the recently refurbished Fabula restaurant and the Panorama restaurant where you can enjoy magnificent views over a lakeside setting whilst dining from an a-la-carte restaurant or a canteen style selection. Furthermore, there’s the Het Wapen van Raveleijn restaurant, which in my opinion is Efteling’s equivalent to Rutmor’s Taverne at Phantasialand, although perhaps not quite as intriguing. A trip to Efteling wouldn’t be complete however without plenty of Dutch sweet treats. They’ve got it all, from cupcakes to Poffertjes and Oliebollen. They also have a Wall’s happiness station where you can enjoy an ice cream swirl. Emma will tell you some more about the other snacks on offer in a minute.
In all honesty, Efteling isn’t my favourite park for food offering. They do have a wide selection and I think that there are some really good quality and delicious choices, however the park food can be a little inconsistent between outlets. Nonetheless, it’s definitely one of the top parks in Europe when it comes to food offering. There’s one restaurant which truly makes it stand out from the crowd which I can’t resist visiting every time I go to Efteling. This is Polles Keuken, a Dutch pancake house which has an amazing atmosphere and immersive theming. In the morning you can treat yourself to American style fluffy pancakes and in the afternoon and evening sweet and savoury crepes await. You can even watch the pancakes being made in front of you. I’m sure you will enjoy some of our photos from Polles Keuken below. A little tip: Polles Keuken can get long queues on busy days, however will always be open for last orders at least 30 minutes after the park closes, so you can avoid the crowds and go once the rides are shut! I’m sure Emma will have plenty to tell us about Polles Keuken and other snacks in Efteling too..!
Emma: I was lucky enough to take a trip to Efterling a few years ago now and what a place it is! Not only do you feel completely immersed in the fairy tales but the entrance is possibly the grandest thing I have ever seen! Plus they gave me a first time visit badge and were so welcoming which is a crucial part to visiting a park for me! Walking through that entrance, map in hand me and my sister were starving!!!! We walked up to Polles Keuken having absolutely no clue what it was, just looking for breakfast but I think breakfast found us! The lady waiting at the door said good morning and then ‘do you like pancakes? Because that’s all we have!’ Before I knew it I was determined not to have one of everything off the menu! The inside of this place is crazy and we’ll to be honest it set us up for our day here at Efterling. I ordered the pancakes with bacon and maple syrup (I can’t resist it!) All of a sudden the pancake house came alive, the oven and pots and pans all started spinning and going crazy! If you’re going to visit Efterling you really have to make a stop or two here at Polles Keuken!
We were really lucky to visit on a quiet day, most of the rides were walk on and we got to experience some of the best dark rides in Europe multiple times. When visiting theme parks, especially for just a day I like to snack my way around the park. Efterling was great for this as James said plenty of sweet treats and food available. We were lucky to have put aside an amount of money purely for snacks so we could try as many as possible. A few that stick out for me at Efterling were their Potato Swirl – basically crisps on a stick with a variety of flavours! Huge bags of popcorn – honestly they were almost as big as me! Cute cakes from deep inside the fairy tale forest, near the donkey that fires a coin out of its butt… (confused me too!). They also had a variety of coffee, I ordered a gingerbread latte. You can also buy a lot of sweets in the park but be prepared for the end of day sugar slump!
James: Staying in the Netherlands, we’re going to be taking a look at a park which isn’t located too far from Efteling. Toverland is an up and coming park which is one to watch out for. In the past few years they’ve done a massive expansion of two areas of the park. The first, Port Laguna, is home to the park’s brand new entrance and is filled with magical and relaxing vibes. The second, Avalon, is also particularly mystical and arguably the best themed land in the whole park. Avalon is home to a B&M wing roller coaster, known as Fenix as well as a charming dark ride, known as Merlin’s quest. Furthermore, hidden in the green hills of Avalon lies a little building with glass windows and a grass roof. This building looks charming and inviting and is home to the Flaming Feather restaurant. This building is actually an old inn full of myths and ancient legends. For centuries, it’s been a meet-up spot for wizards and magicians to gather and enjoy delicious food and drinks. Park guests are invited to sit in front of a crackling fireplace and choose from an extensive menu. On the regular menu, you can choose from meat to fish and a selection of salads. On the dessert menu there’s even a Crème Brûlée which arrives on fire! The menu in the Flaming Feather also changes seasonally, so during Halloween and Christmas there will be different options to choose from. We visited during Halloween and opted for a black burger!
Toverland is one of the smaller family-run parks in Europe, however they are continuously looking to evolve and grow their park. The recent introduction of a summer camp where you can stay overnight, enjoy cocktails and listen to live music from a dj in the evenings is a perfect example. Whilst the Flaming Feather is currently the park’s only table service restaurant, I am sure they are looking to expand this offering as they expand the park. Despite this, the park is home to a wide selection of other food outlets where you can have something a little less fancy to eat. There’s the Solaris lighthouse, where you can enjoy a delicious ice cream sundae, although this was unfortunately closed when we visited. There’s also the Waldstube in the indoor complex, where you can treat yourself to pizza, sandwiches, soups or coffee and cake. We had a really interesting cake from here- if I remember correctly it had a delicious apricot filling. In the Ikatha land, home to Troy, you can also enjoy soft whip ice cream or donuts. So on the whole there’s plenty of choice to keep you going during your day in the park!
Emma: Can we really talk about food without mentioning Disneyland Paris? Of course not! DLP is absolutely packed with food, drinks and snacks and is my kind of paradise. I stayed for 3 nights at the Santa Fe Hotel and enjoyed their quick dining package. Although this package didn’t include a lot, I did get to try a variety of restaurants during my stay. We thought we would grab breakfast at The Santa Fe. This was a self-service continental breakfast. Great to start the day but we soon realised we could grab food in the park so for the rest of our trip we did that instead! This was my first ever trip to DLP and I was obviously in awe of its beauty and attention to detail in every corner. This is even down to their restaurants in the park and out of the park. One of my favourite restaurants is tucked away in Adventureland and serves up a delicious varied menu. Agrabah Cafe is a buffet style restaurant themed to Aladdin and takes you on a magic carpet ride right to the heart of Agrabahs middle eastern cuisine. This unique dining experience makes you feel like you are eating in Agrabah’s bazaar surrounded by rugs lamps, all sorts for sale in the marketplace. Endless amounts of hummus, olives and a taste of the middle east awaits you! Booking is essential as I had to beg our way into the restaurant!!
During my visit, the park was celebrating its 25th anniversary. There seemed to be a lot of decorations and celebrations throughout the park. This was also shown in their food too. Most of their desserts had little decorations which showed it was their birthday. On our last day we stopped at the beautiful Cable Car Bake Shop, a traditional bakery themed to the American bakeries of San Francisco. Set on Main Street, it is an easy stop for a morning coffee and a pastry or an afternoon pick me up. You can spend your time relaxing in the ornate booths listening to the honky tonk music, eating a doughnut or a big slice of cake. It’s definitely worth a visit just to see how pretty it is inside!
There are a lot of options here at DLP, I think even if you visited often it would take you a long time to visit them all! One I can’t not talk about but sadly haven’t been able to enjoy myself is Chef Remi. Next to the incredible Ratatouille Ride is this fantastic restaurant themed around the film. The entire restaurant is bigger than it should be, the table and chairs are set amongst huge dinner plates, oversized cocktail umbrellas and wine bottles. You really do feel like you have shrunk down to the size of a rat to experience the world through their eyes. The food based around the film’s Parisian setting and yes you can enjoy the famous ratatouille! Next time I visit I’ll be sure to book my table!
If you have a sweet tooth, like me then be sure to stop at Victorias! They serve up tasty treats like waffles which you can enjoy with an alcoholic drink or a milkshake!
There really is something for everyone at Disneyland Paris!
Part 1 Summary
Thanks for joining us for part 1 of our 2 part article about our favourite theme park food from around Europe! Emma and I (James) will be back in a week for part two. We will be taking a look at the food offering in the European region of Scandinavia, one of Europe’s largest theme parks, Europa Park, and many more! Please join us and let us know in the comments below and via social media what your favourite theme park meal or treat is and where it’s from- so that we can check it out on our future travels! See you next time!