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March 2014

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No matter how old or young you are, theme parks are places where you can let loose, have some fun and get your routine adrenalin boost! If you’re looking for a wild ride or just somewhere to take the kids in 2014, these amazing parks are a must visit: 

1. Efteling Park (Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands) 

Considered the largest theme park in the Netherlands (and one of the oldest in the world), Efteling Park is a fantasy themed wonderland featuring rides and attractions based on myths, fables and fairy tales. High speed highlights include the thrilling Pegasus and Aquanova rides, while the Alternative Realm is a must for those looking for a good scare.

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2. Everland Resort (Yongin, South Korea)

Everland Resort draws over 6 million visitors each year and consists of an ideal mix of action and relaxation – perfect for the whole family! Here, you can ride the world’s steepest roller coaster, the T-Express, body surf in Caribbean Bay, test your driving skills on the Speedway Circuit or relax and enjoy the serenity of the Hee Won Gardens.

3. Europa Park (Rust, Germany)

Europa is Europe’s second most popular theme park (after Disneyland Paris) and this spectacular destination is very much Euro-centric, with imitations of iconic European buildings and sculptures everywhere you look – http://www.europapark.de . You can visit “countries” in the park, like Italy, Russia or Spain and there are 11 terrifying rollercoasters here to get your adrenaline pumping, including the bone chilling Silver Star. 

4. Legoland (Billund, Denmark)

Lego lovers will be in heaven at this fantastic Lego themed park, which is located right next to the original Lego factory in Billund. The stand out highlight is Lego Miniland, where 25 million Lego bricks have been used to create replicas of some of the world’s most famous landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty and Amalienborg Castle. Other highlights include the 4D Imagination Zone, Pirate Land and the epic Lego Polar X-plorer freefall ride.

Millenium Falcon

5. Dreamworld (Gold Coast, Australia)

Australia hit the big leagues in 2014 when Queensland’s Dreamworld was named by Adioso as one of the top parks to visit this year. Dreamworld has something for everyone and highlights include Whitewater World, Skypoint, the Australian Wildlife Experience and Kung Fu Panda’s Land of Awesomeness. The park is also home to 40 thrilling rides, including the blood curdling Tower of Terror and the insane Pandemonium.    

Dreamworld Trip 2007

6. Disney World (Orlando, USA)

The world’s largest theme park, Disney World in Orlando, Florida, consists of 6 distinct areas, each bringing to life their own unique and magical theme park atmosphere alongside heart-thumping rides and attractions. The wizarding world of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley and the Breakaway Falls ride at Aquatica are two of the newest attractions to open in 2014.

7. Ferrari World (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Considered the world’s biggest indoor amusement park, this impressive destination is a car lover’s paradise, especially for fans of Ferrari. Must-dos include the Junior GT driving school for kids, the Racing Legends history exhibit and the epic G-Force ride where participants are launched over 200 feet into the air!

8. Cedar Point (Ohio, USA)

Cedar Point is the second oldest theme park in the USA and this amazing wonderland is widely considered to be the rollercoaster capital of the world. It is home to 17 rollercoasters, 4 of them in excess of 200 feet tall! To get your thrill on, we recommend having a go on the Millennium Force, Mean Streak, Corkscrew and Iron Dragon. In 2014, two new family rides – Lake Erie Eagles and Pipe Scream – were also opened.

Maverick at Cedar Point

 

 

Australia’s an exciting destination for families, with its unique wildlife and sunny beaches. Where else can you feed a koala, take a surfing lesson, and try your hand at opal mining? Although the urban areas and beach towns are prime destinations for families, the harsh and rugged Outback region can also be a fascinating place to take the kids. Explore the underground town of Coober Pedy, or view Aboriginal rock art at the incomparable Uluru. Older children in particular will be fascinated by the beautiful landscapes and rich culture of the Outback.  

Uluru or Ayers Rock

It would be a crime to bring your kids to the Outback and not let them see Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock.

This looming rock formation pushes its way out of the middle of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and is sacred to the local Anangu aboriginal tribe. The traditional owners of this land request that you don’t climb Uluru. Even at a distance Uluru will capture their attention with its changing colours depending on the time of the day. Close up intriguing rock paintings depicting the history of this land can be found all around the base.

Karijini National Park

You may spot red kangaroos and rock-wallabies on a visit to the unspoilt Karijini National Park in the Pilbara region in northwestern Western Australia. The landscape is dominated by massive mountains and high plateaus bisected by steep, breathtaking gorges.

Massive mountains and escarpments rise out of the flat valleys. The high plateau is dissected by breathtaking gorges, and stony, tree-lined watercourses wind their way over the dusty plain. – See more at: http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/karijini#sthash.cmRgYIxC.dpuf
Massive mountains and escarpments rise out of the flat valleys. The high plateau is dissected by breathtaking gorges, and stony, tree-lined watercourses wind their way over the dusty plain. – See more at: http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/karijini#sthash.cmRgYIxC.dpuf
Massive mountains and escarpments rise out of the flat valleys. The high plateau is dissected by breathtaking gorges, and stony, tree-lined watercourses wind their way over the dusty plain. – See more at: http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/karijini#sthash.cmRgYIxC.dpuf

There are hiking trails to suit all levels of ability, as well as scenic picnic spots and clear streams for little ones to splash about in. Don’t miss the spectacular Fortescue Falls or views of the Dales Gorge, but take care as rocks can get slippery and depending on the time of year, the water can be very cold. Pay attention to the seasons if you are visiting – the temperatures here are regularly well over 40 degrees Celsius and during the wet season rainfall can be very heavy.

Coober Pedy

Kids will love a visit to Coober Pedy, also known as the opal capital of the world. You can get there by taking a turn off of the Stuart Highway in the heart of the Outback in South Australia.

The temperatures outside can soar throughout the year. As a result, a good percentage of the town is actually located underground, and these cool dugout homes are open for touring. Visitors of all ages can also try their hand at opal mining, or stay the night in a unique underground hotel.

Kakadu National Park

Are your kids animal lovers? You won’t want to miss a trip to the massive Kakadu National Park, which boasts one of the world’s most diverse natural animal populations. There are over 300 species of birds, and 117 types of reptiles, including the iconic frilled neck lizard and a variety of freshwater crocodiles. In addition to the local wildlife, you can also enjoy cascading waterfalls, swampy marshes, and more Aboriginal rock art.

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

You don’t have to venture as far off the beaten path as Kakadu to view the wildlife. You can pay a visit to the Alice Springs Reptile Centre, which has the largest collection of reptiles in the Northern Territory. Reptiles include venomous snakes, gigantic lizards, and pythons of all shapes and sizes. Kids will love the interactive exhibits and creepy crawlies on display here.

Travelling through the Outback with children can be an unforgettable way to see Australia, but if you’re leaving well-populated areas like Alice Springs you’ll want to be sure to follow basic safety tips. Be sure to check road and weather conditions before departing. Know how far it is to the next petrol station and carry water. You can’t count on having phone reception between towns (and sometimes in towns!) so make sure you are driving a reliable car and always tell someone your itinerary before departure. Due to this intriguing region’s remoteness, many areas are still quite wild. This is all part of the thrill for visitors of all ages!

Walking in the Gibbston Valley

As a parent, you are likely far from a frequent jet setter, but it’s common to take the family on a trip once in a while.

However, holidays can be expensive so a little preparation is always useful. Parents are natural savvy shoppers, doing everything they can to reduce costs and keep within budget, so why not apply this to your next holiday? At the very least, doing some of the following can help open up potential you might have even realised.

Break it down

Every little can help and, when you know the dates, it’s easier to plan ahead. Why worry about a large cost when you can cut it down into weekly payments? If you have an end goal, saving this way is much easier. It’s also quite rewarding too, since you (and the family) can literally watch the savings collect up.

A little help throughout the year

Of course, if you can get free money or discounts along the way, this will always. Air miles are a well known concept, so why not earn these for something you were going to do anyway?

An American Express Qantas Frequent flyer credit card, for example, offers flyer points as you spend, so even the local weekly shop can turn into a small part of your next trip. Considering the prevalence of flights taken by Australians – with official figures explaining that overseas travel rose to 6.8 million trips in the 12 months to June 2010 (a drastic increase from 2.1 million recorded the year before) – the significance of these sorts of benefits is clear.

Qantas card holders can even get complimentary travel insurance for both international journeys and trips across Australia itself. Again, it’s all about knocking small costs off, one by one, to reduce the larger whole.

Avoid extras

Since one of the main problems with getting away is the sheer cost, have you tried cutting out all the extras you don’t need? Many airlines like to charge for extra luggage and other additional features which are not always needed.

If you have young children, for instance, their clothes can often fit into one bag, and entire families can downsize into smaller luggage to ensure nobody has to pay extra fees. The same thing can also apply to hotels and other options throughout your stay – always consider cheaper options or if it’s even necessary at all.