Disney blood runs deep in my family.
If there was a Godfather of Disneyland, who do you think it would be?
Nope. Not the mouse.
The answer is obviously Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother — and get this.
I KNOW her.
So naturally, we couldn’t help but compare our next stop with Disneyland — at least a little bit. And though this post won’t be a comparison of the two theme parks, I’ll say that Gardaland is awesome and we were pleasantly surprised.
When they open the gates to Gardaland, there’s a short show that includes the Italian national anthem and a few characters dancing, music, and a big burst of confetti at the end.
Let me repeat — a big burst of confetti at the end.
Annie was sold before we even entered the gates.
What you would normally call a line in the US, I like to call a smoosh here in Italy. They just don’t really do lines. Everyone squishes forward, filling in the cracks on the way to where everyone else is going. So when you’re an American traveling through Italy, you have to take a lot of deep breaths and understand that they aren’t really cutting — they’re just doing what you do. . . smooshing to the front.
Once we were inside the park, we started to wander through the different lands including castles, Arabia, Fantasy Kingdom, Rio Bravo (a western land, complete with an actual church), and so many fun rids. Here’s a quick (and very amateur!) video tour:
Legoland Water Park
Gardaland also has a small Legoland Water Park and we were thrilled to spend our afternoon there after walking through an amusement park all day and the next morning.
The entrance to the water park had these incredible replicas of places all over Italy — and it was so fun to look at because we’d seen so many of the landmarks along the way during this crazy summer.
The water park itself had plenty to do for all ages and we had a blast. The first thing we did was took a tube ride through the lazy river that has giant rubbery LEGO blocks floating along with us.
We also loved the insanity of the main area that had water spraying all over the place, hoses you could aim at family (or strangers!), and water slides all over the place. But the biggest spectacle was the giant bucket that you could see outside the water park, but become even more intense when we watched it right up close.
Annie especially loved the penguin glacier area which was leisurely and fun with a few short slides and polar bear sprinklers.
The whole thing was a ton of fun for all four of us and such a nice reprieve after so many hot days.
Gardaland Magic Hotel
The kids knew we were going to Gardaland, but what they didn’t know was that we’d booked three nights at the Gardaland Magic Hotel. As big Harry Potter fans, the surprise was pretty epic because everything was wizarding-themed — including the bedroom with giant books, a huge wizard hat, and lanterns.
It was all definitely cheesy, but the best possible kind of cheesy. The breakfast dining room was woodland themed and had an incredible buffet — complete with espresso machines that still made a pretty good cappuccino.
Even The Blue Lagoon pool was pretty incredible and fun to surprise the kids with, too. Swimming caps are more commonly required in Europe, so we all donned our blue caps and went swimming by the waterfall.
I’m so glad we made the extra effort to get to Gardaland during this trip. I know that over the years when the kids are looking back on this summer, Gardaland is going to stand out in their minds a lot. And I’ll be honest, it’ll stand out in mine, too!