A 2 ½-3 hour drive from Prague in the direction of Nuernberg, in western Germany, will take you to a unique theme park, where your kids will have an absolute ball playing with life-sized Playmobil sets and characters. We have already been here a few times with our two sons at different times of the year but since many of the areas involve water play, I would strongly suggest to plan your visit during the warmer months of the year.
It is possible to start early in the morning and return back to Prague on the same day but for a more leisurely journey, you could either find inexpensive accommodation in one of the small towns on the way or even sleep over at the park’s very own Playmobil Aparthotel.
Compared to other theme parks, the entrance fee to Playmobil FunPark is negligible, which may be due to its lack of automated rides. Don’t let this deter you because despite this, any child between the ages of 0-13 years of age is bound to find this place totally irresistible! In the words of the management itself, the emphasis is on “movement through play” and not on endless standing and waiting in long queues.
Upon entering the theme park you will be greeted by a large make-shift coal mine all set up for digging and exploring with the help of all sorts of Playmobil equipment. Your kids can also test out their skills as potential farmers by milking cows, looking after horses and tending to chickens (all playmobil, of course).
On a hot day, nothing beats playing around the artificial water-falls or huge sand pit (covered with a convenient sun shield) and interspersed with natural water pools.
Then there’s a wild-west area with a goldmine, rodeo, saloon, bank and another large sandpit for playing. Good climbers can try out the climbing walls that go to the top of the medieval castle, complete with a hall of mirrors, a real well, secret passage and a throne that belts out royal trumpet music each time that someone sits on it. There is also a large pirate ship for little explorers, surrounded by water and rafts for punting. A huge tree house area, complete with climbing frames, slides and a miniature mining pulley is another attraction.
For a quieter time you can retire to the plant-centre and pursue numerous arts and crafts activities with your little ones. Recently the park also installed an 18-hole outdoor mini-golf course, which we unfortunately did not have enough time to visit.
In case of rain, there is a huge indoor play area, complete with slides, tree-house-like climbing equipment as well as automated playmobil train sets with a ticket system and attendant that ensures that each child gets their turn.
Parents can sit around sipping their cappuccinos, while watching their offspring play train stations, airports, princesses and much more, all with the large array of Playmobil toys that is made available.
The indoor playground boasts a nice and inexpensive buffet-style restaurant, with a good choice of food and drink. As you pay at the cash register, you are given a receipt with special tear-off papers, which later give you a refund (Pfand), upon the return of your dirty cups and plates at the end of your meal.
Before you leave the park, much temptation awaits you in the massive gift store, with possibly the largest array of playmobil merchandise on offer under one roof.
One of the greatest things about the park is the absence of automated rides, and hence no long waiting queues that one often has to endure at other theme parks. Built with a German eye for perfection and detail, there are plenty of baby changing areas, a room for warming up milk and baby food, and even clothes dryers for drying up garments following water play.
With so many areas for playing both indoors and out, even if the park was overfilled with people, one never felt cramped in. Our 4-year-old gave it a rating of 10 out of 10 and I would not dare to differ!
Address: Playmobil FunPark; Brandstaetterstr. 2-10; 90513 Zirndorf; Info Hotline: 0911/ 9666-700; Web: http://www.playmobil-funpark.de (German only)
Opening times: The park remains open all year round but during winter, the weather will only allow your children to enjoy the indoor play area (which, incidentally, is very large). Winter Season: end of November to the beginning of March: (10am-6pm); Spring Season: beginning of April until the end of April: (9am-6pm); Summer Season: beginning of May until 13th September (9am-7pm); Autumnal Season: 14th September until the end of October (9am-6pm).
Cost: Children under the age of 3 enter for free. Prices for everyone else range from 2.50 EUR per person during the winter season to 10 EUR each during high season. Afternoon tickets (park entry after 3pm or 4pm (depending on the season) cost only 5.50 EUR per person. Small discounts apply to groups of 10 people or more. A child who can prove that it’s their birthday, enters the park for free and receives a small gift. Last entry to the park is granted one hour before closing time. In times of excessive rain or frost, certain outdoor areas remain closed and all outdoor areas are shut at night-fall.
Accommodation: The Playmobil Hotel is located right next to the park. More details can be found on www.playmobil-hotel.de. There are also other accommodation options in the small towns situated in the vicinity of the theme park. Hotel prices range from about 50 EUR to 100 EUR per room per night. For more information on hotels close to Playmobil FunPark go to: www.Booking.com
Directions: The distance from Prague is about 300km. The best way is to go by car. First, head west on the D5/E50 towards Plzen and then towards Germany. Enter Germany and continue on Highway no: A6 heading towards Nuernburg. After that, switch to highway no: A73 heading towards Furth, finally leaving the highway and using a normal road (Landstrasse, signposted with yellow/black signs as opposed to the blue/white of the highways) in the direction of Zirndorf. Print out an easy to follow directions page by typing in your address and your destination on http://www.viamichelin.com