Which came first, the campsite or the amusement park?
As is often the case, my question fell on deaf ears as we arrived at the fabulous Duinrell Holiday Park in the Netherlands, courtesy of Canvas Holidays.
To be fair to Janet and the boys, after an hours flight from Manchester and 45 minute drive to the holiday park, this was their first opportunity to walk away from my inane questions so I can’t really blame them. Questions such as, ‘what’s the origin of the phrase going Dutch’, ‘what’s the difference between Holland and the Netherlands’, and ‘for the love of God, how many times do I have to tell you, Hollandish is NOT a language!”
Duinrell Holiday Park sits on the edge of the beautiful town of Wassenaar. A picturesque suburb of The Hague and a stones throw from the coast, Wassenaar plays host to King Willem-Alexander and his family and is known locally as the Beverley Hills of Holland*
(*source: An overheard conversation in a restaurant and the gorgeous jacket I saw in one of the designer shops, which at 50% off still left my jaw 500% nearer the floor after I saw the price tag.)
The holiday park is like few others. Alongside all the usual facilities you’d expect from a Canvas Holidays campsite, Duinrell also boasts an amusement park and water park.
We arrived early. Very early. The result of a, ‘if we fly out at ridiculous o’clock in the morning we can save a tenner!’ conversation. The same conversation also included ‘do you reckon we could just take hand luggage?’, and ‘do you think we could pay not to sit with the kids?’
The answer to both questions is yes, although a quick call to Easyjet confirmed they would sit us together whether we liked it or not, so without paying for any extras, the four of us flew Manchester to Amsterdam for less than £200 return, car seats included.
Too early to check in, the ever helpful staff at Canvas gave us our theme park passes that would allow us free access to the park for our entire holiday, and off we went exploring.
With over 40 rides/activities, there really is something for everyone. It never felt overly busy and the longest we had to queue for any ride was just ten minutes.
Another bonus is after the park closes to the public, some of the facilities stay open to guests, including the trampolines, amusement arcades and the boys favourite part, the large playground.
But there was a problem. You see, in Luca I have a thrill-seeking six year old who despite wearing his thickest socks, spiking his hair and walking on tiptoes, still falls an agonising 2cm short of the minimum height restriction for the biggest rides. I know, tough on him and everything but save some of that sympathy for me. Billy no mates here wanted someone to accompany him on the fastest roller-coaster!
But I had a plan, and when I say plan, I mean bribe. Because in Sonny I also have a risk-averse seven year old who does meet the minimum height restrictions and more importantly, was prepared to go against his better judgement on the promise of 10 euros if he hated it.
Now, I may be up for a little blackmail but I’m not cruel. We’d start on the smallest roller-coaster and work our way up. By the end of the day he’d be hurtling round the largest rides, hands in the air, thanking me for showing him the fun to be had from hanging upside down while your life flashed before you. Right? Wrong. So wrong. And it cost me far more than 10 euros.
Here’s a before and after shot….
What, you can’t see him on the smallest roller-coaster? Look closer. Closer still. Behind me, head between his legs, screaming for it to stop. And the after photo? Well, that’s him on the trampolines, still giving me his ‘you’re-not-forgiven-old-man’ death stare an hour later.
Venture beyond the various types of accommodation (bungalows, mobile homes, caravans and camping) and you’ll discover a toboggan run, football pitch, volleyball court and Adventure Mountain where you climb through the tree tops on ropes and bridges before abseiling back down to solid ground to try your hand at some archery.(There’s an additional cost for some of the outdoor activities. Prices start from £5 p.p.)
The surrounding forest and sand-dunes make for a lovely walk, and for those choosing to exercise (as opposed to me who felt obliged to because of an impending 10K run when I got home) there’s also a great running circuit with numerous exercise activities dotted along the way.
Tiki Pool Water Park
Who doesn’t love a water park? This one is massive and comes with twenty slides of varying type/terror, a wave machine and a kids section with water warmer than the warmest of baths.
Unfortunately, unlike the amusement park, it’s not included in the holiday price, although guests do receive a discount.
It costs £5 per person, per hour, but there’s also a lovely outdoor pool that’s free to use with its own slides and sun loungers.
Now, far be it from me to comment on other tour operators accommodation (I may or may not have had a sneaky peek into some), but these new Canvas homes are right up there with the best of them, and perfectly positioned for walking to the amusement park or nipping back for a cheap lunch.
And for all the fun we had in the amusement park and beyond, some of our happiest holiday memories were made in the mobile home. Sat outside sharing breakfast. Playing badminton on the front. And long after the sun had set, dragging the kids away from the playground to play cards, reminisce on today and plan our tomorrow.
I say meander. After just a handful of riding lessons before we left, for Sonny in particular it was more of a wobble. A wobble that included bruised ankles, a comedy fall and during one particularly funny tantrum, the line, ‘why am I on two wheels when we have a car with four?’
The soft sandy beach stretches for eight kilometres so finding a quiet spot is never difficult, and the shallow waters make for great paddling,wave jumping and when accidentally-on-purpose pushed over by a seven-year old, swimming.
If we’d asked the kids to describe their perfect holiday, this would be it. But it’s also a great base to explore more of the Netherlands too, because with Amsterdam only a 45 minute drive away and Rotterdam and The Hague closer still, there’s so much more to explore; if you can persuade the kids to leave the amusement park that is.
We extended our holiday by a few days to do just that, spending a night in Rotterdam and two nights on a boat near The Hague, but I’ll save that for a separate post.
Suffice to say, we left Duinrell with a heavy heart but some amazing memories from a fantastic week. As the boys both agreed,
“Best holiday EVER!”
Answers to the questions you’d forgotten I’d asked…
Which came first, the campsite or amusement park?
The present owner, Count van Zuylen van Nijevelt, developed the site into a recreation park and campsite some time after 1962, so I guess they came together.
Saying that, the estate has been open to the public since as far back as 1935 when it was also the site of Holland’s first ski slope. So if your idea of amusement is donning a pair of ski’s and hurtling down a hill where the snow has been substituted for pine needles, you could say the amusement park was technically first.
Origins of ‘going Dutch’.
Turns out there’s more than one possible source. A popular one is that Dutch farmhouses had doors that consisted of two equal parts.
But being a child of the eighties and fan of Malcolm McLaren’s song by the same name, I prefer the suggestion that it originated from Double Dutch, where you skip with two ropes and everyone jumps in simultaneously.
What’s the difference between Holland and The Netherlands?
The Netherlands is the name of the country. Holland refers to just two of the twelve provinces, North-Holland and South-Holland. Historically, before The Netherlands existed in its modern form, these two provinces were home to the most famous trading cities of the Dutch Golden Age, namely Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, and therefore sailors would say they were from Holland. Since then, Holland and The Netherlands have been lazily interchangeable, at least to ignorant foreigners like myself, although it can also be deemed insulting to those from the other ten provinces.
As to why my World Cup memories include Ruid Gullit in a Holland shirt rather than a Netherlands shirt, I’m still none the wiser?
How many times did I need to tell the kids Hollandish wasn’t a language?
Too many. Not helped by their insistence that they once had a Hollandish sauce, which I can only assume was actually Hollandaise.