We have always gone to Spain on holidays but fancied something different this year. A holiday that was less of a ‘sun holiday’ but still lots of fun, so we considered Holland. I’ve heard Duinrell mentioned before, but until I did some googling, knew very little about it. Our kids are 8 & 9 so up for lots of fun and activities.
Once I checked out the Duinrell website and read some reviews on tripadvisor (always to be taken with a pinch of salt, but you can get a feel for a place from the vibe), I knew it was the place for us for 2019.
So what is it? It’s a campsite with tents, chalets etc in Holland. The big draw for us was the theme park. The best way, that I can explain it, is to say it’s like staying at Tayto Park, without the animals! It also has a great swimming pool area. SOLD!
You can book with Duinrell directly or with various operators like EuroCamps. I checked prices with both and found, that for us, going in May, booking with Duinrell was a better option.
It’s worth taking some time to check and compare the small print. Eurocamp initially looked cheaper but then we had to pay for lots of extras. With Duinrell the price was the end price, which I liked. It seems less painful to have paid out for the holiday and extras before getting on site.
You normally get 2 hours access to the pool area each day, when booking directly with Duinrell. We booked well in advance and got the early bird offer – which is 3 hours per day. When I first read about limited pool access, I was a bit put off but honestly, that’s enough time there. More details about the pools below.
When booking with Duinrell, there are a few options. A standard chalet is called a Duingalow, then there are premium Duingalows & different types of tents. The Duingalows sleep 4 or 6 people. As we were travelling in May, we went for a premium Duingalow (aka we avoided the summer price hike).
Standard (or comfort as they call it) Duingalow – 2 bedrooms, small kitchen area, bathroom, dining and sitting room area.
Premium Duingalow – as above but bigger. There is more space between chalets, which was nice, so it felt quieter. We also had a big decking area with loungers, table and chairs. Our chalet was allocated by Duinrell, but you can pay extra to select a particular chalet number. We were actually very lucky with the chalet allocated to us (101 in case you are curious), we liked it a lot. It had a pretty river running beside it (kids couldn’t access the river as the decking blocked it off) and it was a short walk to the shop. Near enough to be handy, but far enough away, not to be disturbed by people.
I think if I was going again, I would pay to pick the location. Some accommodation is the far side of the park or very close to the shop/pub – neither of which I would like. My perfect location would be a short walk to Duinrell Plaza (shop/pub/restaurant) but not be able to hear the people hanging around the plaza from our chalet.
We got free WIFI, bedding was provided and had a nice flat screen telly in the sitting area. We also had 3 hours Tikibad access per day.
WIFI cost €7.50 per day for one device (there were deals for more than one device or for longer periods, but it was nice to have it included in the price of our holiday). Please do check carefully before booking – to see what is included.
While in Duinrell, I did check out a standard Duingalow. Smaller than a premium, obviously but we’d happily stay in one too. It had everything a family would need – more compact and closer together than the premium but does the job. Yes, I am that guest who walks into an empty unoccupied chalet to have a nose! My family were morto but I was curious…..
A lot of people use caravans and tents too, each to their own. As far as I know if you use the campsite facilities you get free access to the theme park but have to pay for any access to the pools. There are also lodge tents – fancy camping where the tent is provided. We saw these on our travels and they looked good.
The Tikibad is the pool area. The outdoor pool area was closed for major renovation when we visited (reopening July 2019). The indoor pool area had more than enough to keep us entertained. We had 3 hours Tikibad access per day – which was plenty. There are a few different pools and plenty of fun features. Waterslides (16 slides so the brochure claims, I didn’t count them!), a fab wave pool that everyone seemed to love and a lazy river which April (8) adored. There are also fun areas with smaller slides for younger kids and babies.
The water slides were great fun – three were two person rides (slide down on a two person seat), which we enjoyed immensely. I can’t say I loved carrying the seat yoke up a few flights of stairs though. Anyway, Triton, Starfright and Moonlight are worth the steps – trust me. They are all deadly but Triton was my fave.
The slides are graded soft, medium and turbo. Turbo is not for the faint hearted – think 60/70km speeds going down a waterslide. I did a few but will openly admit, that I’m more of a medium girl. That said Cycloon is worth trying, or if I can’t convince you to try it, then go to the Catwalk and watch people do it. Good craic for all the wrong reasons.
Kids under 120 cm have to wear armbands or a flotation device . April (8) is slightly over 120cm, but one lifeguard asked her to prove she could swim. She then got a pink bracelet to show she didn’t need armbands.
There are height restrictions on the slides and some are checked more diligently than others. I misread a turbo slide sign (the Tyfoon) and told Dylan he was tall enough – erm nope. We got corrected (in a very nice way) when he came flying out of it at high speed. Lesson learnt!
We went off peak (May) so the Tikibad was very pleasant, no big queues. It was busier at weekends and we got a glimpse of what it would be be like in summer. Busy but still fun – queues moved quickly enough but the wave-pool felt very congested at weekends.
We normally went to the pool at 10 am – it was mainly young families then (and the odd school tour). We did go later in the day on one occasion, but it had way more older kids and gangs of teenagers, it was fine but less laid back than mornings. Some of the older kids were very physical pushing each other around in the pool – harmless in itself but if you had very young kids, it would not be ideal, as they seemed oblivious to other guests.
Changing rooms were very clean and free lockers are provided. You don’t need a key either – it’s a combination code that you pick. The challenge is remembering the code and the locker number a few hours later!
You can pay to stay longer in the Tikibad, but we never did. Three hours did us. Two hours would also be plenty I think but maybe a bit of a rush to get out and changed within that time.
Note – pictures in the Tikibad were taken at 10 am when the pool first opened. It was busier than this a while later.
Small rides, adrenaline fueled rides, three roller coasters (two younger kids can go on and one full on rollercoaster), playgrounds – it has it all. There are a few different sections and it does take a while to get your bearings. The newer rides are in a forest and it’s so pretty. The roller coasters are surrounded by trees and greenery. There is no charge for the rides (bar one called the catapult which was €1 pp) – so its limitless fun.
When we visited the theme park was open 10-17.00 (closed at 18.00 at weekends) and you get unlimited access on rides. We went every single day. There were school tours at times there, so it had busy periods, but we soon got savvy and avoided them.
The best time to go to the big rides was the last hour of the day. No queues no excuses. The Falcon roller coaster put the fear of God in me, but I did it. More than once. Dylan (9) loved it so that made me kinda want to try it. Emphasis on kinda 😉
You can pay to get a photo of you on the rides . It’s actually a great set up. You pay €2 and the picture is emailed to you. We had great fun checking our pics, but actually only ever bought one – as we kept forgetting to have coins on us. It’s nice that they don’t rip you off for the pictures.
The Falcon is the big roller coaster and while only a short ride, aged me. That said I did it a few times. Scary but fun.
Rides have height restrictions. Being 140 cm means you can go pretty much on anything. Dylan was just above that so had free reign. There are plenty of rides that kids 100 cm plus can go on too. We saw plenty of families with very young kids, so there must be enough to keep them entertained too.
We did ‘midget golf’ (that name!) one afternoon for a change €6 for the four of us. That was the only supplement we paid and well worth it for the craic.
I didn’t tell our kids about the Theme Park before we went. I thought that it would be the ultimate surprise and that they would be gobsmacked. Not so, they took it all in their stride! Best laid plans and all.
If you do go to Duinrell, do try the Shadow House. It doesn’t look like much and we nearly didn’t bother entering it, but it was a surprise hit.
The watchtower (not a ride but an actual watch tower) and the toboggan ride (Rodelbanen) could easily be overlooked, as they are off to the side in the forest. Both are well worth going to to.
Facilities on site:
Restaurants: La Place in Duinrell Plaza seemed to be one of the main restaurants. I’ll be honest, we steered clear. It was a buffet set up, which I’m not a fan of. We got take away pizza (nice) and chips (from the snack bar) as an easy dinner and they were devoured. It was a bit mad having to go to two different restaurants to get dinner though. If you do want chips, the family size is massive and the medium size is quite small – go massive 😉
There are other options in the Theme Park but we actually didn’t try any. We ate at the chalet or in Wass
enaar instead. The carousel cafe is popular for pancakes, we went in to have a look but it was so hot, we ended up having our coffee outside in the sun instead. It’s like being in a (pretty) glass house!
We had coffee in the TikiBad each morning and ended up bringing our own snacks. They sold mainly burgers and chips – not a fan with my morning coffee! That said, the kids liked the churros there as a treat. It’s a shame they don’t sell pastries etc, totally missing a trick.
Pub: There is a pub, we walked in and back out again. It has arcade games and mini bowling on one side and a bar on the other. It looked quite popular but wasn’t that busy when we were in it. I reckon the mini bowling would be great for rainy days.
Go carts & Bikes: Can be rented on site. Both of which seemed very popular. A lot of people rent bikes and go explore the near by area. Wassenaar beach is around 4km away and where a lot of people go. I ran to the beach one day (yes I am the person who brings runners on holidays. Sad). It was actually a little bit hilly – I could well imagine serious moaning from my two but maybe other kids just get on with it.
My two rented go carts and LOVED them. It was €13.75 for the day. We went at 1pm to rent them and the guys told them we could bring them back at 3pm the following day. The kids were thrilled a whole two hours extra, for free. It’s the liittle things that can stand out as hightlights! Kids roam the campsite in the go carts. They can also go into the Theme Park when it is closed, which is very popular. My kids went off exploring together and loved it. There were gangs of kids whizzing around, I thought my kids might be a bit intimidated but they didn’t seem bothered. I had brought walkie talkies with us, so they took one with them when they went out, so that they could get in touch if they got lost etc. We mainly used them, to call them to tell them to come home for dinner.
Locks are provided for the go carts and must be used. We saw kids trying to use other people’s go karts, so the locks were needed to prevent the go kart going missing.
Entertainment: There is a notice board with Entertainment notices for the kids in Duinrell Plaza. I have to say we didn’t go to anything. The pool and theme park was more than enough for us. I’d say there is more entertainment in summer than when we went. It didn’t look like the kind of place that had fancy shows but I could be wrong.
Shop on site:
The supermarket on site was in Duinrell plaza. I’d heard it was dear and some stuff was, but other items were fairly priced. We did a big food shop in Jumbo Supermarket in Waasenarr, which is an easy walk away. We ended up buying milk, water and drinks onsite – mainly to avoid lugging it back.
The kids loved going there without us and spending some of their holiday money. One of the major perks of a campsite type holiday. It’s great for their independence and very interesting to see what they come back with! No shortage of funky sweets and little toys to keep them going back.
Wassenaar is a really quaint upmarket village a short stroll from the park. It’s so pretty. We ate in the village a few times and enjoyed each meal or treat.
- La Scala Pizzeria – lovely authentic Italian restaurant. Very enjoyable evening. The chef even let the kids make pizzas which was a treat. I reckon it was because it was a Monday night, can’t imagine that happening when it’s busy. They were flinging dough in the air, the works. Even without that perk, I’d recommend it.
- Pops – Classy American style diner. Food is very good quality and the staff and setting lovely. Note – prices go up after 4pm (a burger goes up by €5), so we ate there during the day.
- Legends Chinese – a nice change when you fancy something different.
- Luiciano’s Ice Cream – a must. Everyone raves about it. Lot sof flavours and very reasonable. It was €1.30 a scoop. One scoop is plenty for kids but sure it was the holidays, so sometimes we all had two. A lot of people stroll there for ice cream and coffee instead of having dessert in a restaurant. It’s very popular – aka can be mad busy, but they have lots of staff & worth the short wait.
- Pancakes – Wassenaar has two pancake houses very close to Duinrell. One across the road and one on the left. Learn from us. Do not leave it til the last day to try them. We left on a Monday and planned to go for pancakes. Hmm they were both closed. Downer. By all accounts the one on the left is the biz but both are popular.
We did none. Not one. There are plenty to do. The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam zoo, the beach, the list goes on.
By the end of the week, I saw why people were doing day trips, it would be nice to get a break from the routine of Tikibad, lunch, theme park. However, our kids were so happy doing just that we stayed on site.
What to Bring:
- Pool towels, hand towels, bath mat & tea towels. You can buy towels there but they were €8 each, in the shop.
- Mugs if you fancy a decent cuppa. We bought cheap mugs in Wassenaar as the mugs provided were teeny and we are big coffee fans. We also ended up buying two cheap cereal bowls as the bowls in the chalet were pasta bowls and it just felt odd eating cereal out of them.
- Rain gear – just in case. It lashed the last night of our holiday but apart from that it was dry. Holland has similar weather to Ireland and England, so rain can fall.
- Washing powder for one or two washes. There are machines on the site €5 per wash.
- Dishwasher tablets for the week, saves you buying a big box. There were only 3 provided in our Premium Duingalow.
- Walkie Talkies if you have them. Very handy for kids who roam.
Do you need a car?
Team yes – handy for day trips and getting to and from the airport
Team no – not at all, get a transfer or public transport. You can walk to the supermarket
We were team no, but a car would make exploring easier.
We flew to Amsterdam with Ryan Air. Nice flight times and stress free. We got a taxi to Duinrell. We had pre-booked it for €60 one way. I looked into public transport but it involved a train and a bus and decided a transfer was the best option for us.
Random Tips & observations:
- If you do book, bring photocopies of all your passports. You need photo id for each family member and you can use the photocopied picture. Saves you forking out €4 per person for the machine there.
- If you are on instagram, check thecakemum account. I have stored some videos and pictures from our trip as a highlight. You will get a better insight into the TikiBad, Theme Park and Duingalows from it.
- If you are on facebook, there is a Duinrell facebook group (its called Duinrell – chats and tips for Holiday makers). I joined it two weeks before our holiday and picked up lots of tips there. Well worth checking out!
- It’s a very active holiday. We did around 13,000 steps a day and that was excluding the few hours in the Tikibad. I carried snacks and drinks with us at all times, as my kids are snackers and it helped keep the moods good.
- Rick the Frog is the Duinrell Mascot. He is everywhere. On bins, in shops – he’s like their Mr Tayto! He comes out each day from 2.45-3.15 for a meet and greet and Dutch kids start screaming when they see him and yes we got our picture taken with him, ahem more than once…
- The theme park is great – plenty to see and great fun to explore. The Aqua Swing was much loved & oh so pretty. We sat and have coffee beside it while the kid went on again and again.
- Crowds seems to gather and hang out around Duinrell Plaza. There is plenty of space and lots of seating. It felt a bit too busy & chaotic for us, but is seemed popular. We just always got what we needed and split.
- Most random tip ever – bring really good eye make up remover. No matter how thoroughly I cleaned my face & removed my mascara the night before, I always ended up with black under my eyes after a few goes on the water slides. Not a good look 😉
LOVED it. We’d go again. Maybe not next year, but the year after. Great fun and nice set up. It is one of the cleanest places we have ever been to. Bins at every turn.
It would also be a great holiday for families with older kids – the older kids would really enjoy the theme park without parents and it’s safe.
Going in May is a gamble, but we were lucky enough with the weather. A few grey days and a few lovely warm days. It lashed rain on the last night, but apart from that it was dry. I think June would be an ideal month to travel in, better chance or warmer weather but avoiding the major crowds. Summer would be fun as the outdoor pool would be open but it would be busier – pros and cons to all options I guess. Oh and the minor detail of the price going up and up…..
This post is so long, there was so much to include and I know I left loads out! I hope you found it interesting or are still awake…. It’s my first holiday review, so a whole new world to me.
If you have any questions just ask!
De (aka thecakemum)
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