If you plan to stay for more than a day at Europa-Park, you'll need somewhere to stay, and you have basically 3 choices: You can stay in one of the Europa-Park themed hotels, which look very nice indeed but have prices to match, you can stay at the Camp Resort, also part of the Europa-Park experience, or you can book up with one of the independant hotels in the small town of Rust, (which one suspects has no function these days other than to service guests of, and provide workers to the park.)
Having worked out that the cost of staying in one of the Park's own hotels was going to bust the holiday budget, I went for the Camp Resort option. We were 2 adults, 1 thirteen year-old who was classed as an adult, and a 7 year old. Our package for 2 nights in the camp with breakfast, plus 2 days in the park was 532 euros.
The holiday destination was a surprise for the rest of family, as was the accommodation. The camp offers three types, all based on the Wild-West theme: Tipis, Covered Wagons, or rooms in Log-Cabins. I had read the other reviews on TA before booking and went for the covered wagon.
Well, my other half, not knowing what to pack for, had packed for every eventuality under the sun, EXCEPT 2 nights in a covered wagon. She was NOT impressed. The lack of en-suite facilities was not her idea of fun.
The kids were, I think, bemused more than anything. It was my turn to be surprised by the realisation that they had never had any childhood exposure to the Wild West. There are no western-type series on TV, no Lone Ranger, Bonanza or High Chaperal, they had never seen any cowboy films, (the elder vaguely remembered a bit of Carry-On Cowboy), assumed "Indians" came from India (logically) and so the whole theme was totally lost on them! The covered wagon, they thought, was where gypsies lived, and the elder one had seen Tipis on TV being lived in by "some eco-protesters or something" (leastways someone, for whom the lack of en-suite facilities would not, one assumes, present any great problem.) So, not a good start. Still, none of that is the fault of the Camp.
The surreal sense of the place is compounded by the mix of western movie slang and the German language used in much of the signage and official communication, and the noticeboard at the entrance reminded us that we were definitely still in Germany by announcing that "Even in the Wild-West there are rules", and detailing them at length.
And so we moved in to our wagon. I wish I had read the confirmation letter more fully as it clearly said that there was a socket, and that would have saved me the expense of a camping stove which I had packed for tea making purposes. The inside has 2 bunk beds set at right-angles, a table and small wardrobe. You need to take your own sleeping bags for all the Camp accommodation. Once the shock had subsided, we went exploring and everybody began to relax and get in to the spirit. Both sorts of music (country and western....) are constantly piped all round the camp. The car park was literally a 2 minute walk from wagon via the back gate. Over the road we found a swimming lake! (Not the lake seen in the photos of the camp, this is much bigger, and deep, an old quarry pit, we guessed. Great fun, though no lifeguard, so keep an eye on the kids if they are not decent swimmers.) The lake actually provided the nearest thing I had to a shower for the 2 days we were there (unless you count the impromptu drenching on a couple of the park rides.) There is a mechanical bull (1€ a go) and panning for gemstones for the kids, all really well thought out, though in all honesty they knackered themselves out so much in the park that once we got back to the camp, nobody was up for any more activity. The various sized Tipis sleep 6 upwards. This is your cheapest bed for the night, but you will find yourself saying "Howdee" to total strangers if your group does not number the same as the number of beds. The same rule goes for the log cabins. What was surprising, was that unless you brought a padlock along, there is no means of actually locking the wagon. And obviously there’s no way you are going to lock your new friends out of your shared Tipi! Anybody can walk on to the camp, security is pretty non-existent. But nothing got nicked, so there you go! (Maybe No Nicking was in the rules) The restaurant, or “Silver Lake Saloon” carried the western theme so far it should have been vanishing in to a golden sunset. We only used it for the breakfasts we had booked, and it was pretty busy, though the Franco-German breakfast buffet never looked in danger of being depleted, and we ate pretty well. There was also a kiosk offering fresh rolls and “stuff” for people of a more self-catering persuasion. There are also a couple of barbecue grills set up with plenty of logs to burn, so you can do your own outdoor meat-fest. You can order BBQ food packages from the camp, but not buy on the day. A lot of the park visitors who walked past the camp seemed to be far more impressed with the idea of sleeping in a wild west village than my family. At night the purpose of the white balls in the camp lake is revealed as they light up to illuminate the lake. I thought the whole thing was great. Big Chief Bag-packer described it as “fine” (though by day 2 even she was singing a ditty I didn’t know called “3 Wheels on my wagon”) The kids were too tired to offer too much of an opinion, but were definitely happy with the whole thing. The toilets and other facilities, needless to say, were spotless. I would be more than happy to use this as a base for another trip to the Park, which I suspect may be on the agenda. Tonight, we are going to watch "How the West Was Won" On DVD. There is a picture of a covered wagon on the front, just like the ones the gypsies use in Germany…….
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- One thing will strike you as soon as you set eyes on the Camp Resort: the tipis are not only named after Wild West legends, guests too will feel just like real heros of the West! Wooden signs point the adventurous in the right direction, past the stake to their log-cabins, tipis or covered wagons. Our Camp Resort, with a total of 458 beds, is perfect for an adventurous family holiday, for school outings and for nature-lovers. The Europa-Park entrance tickets can be obtained at the reception. In the summer season guests have the possibility to enjoy certain attractions of Europa-Park half an hour (in the winter season one hour) before the park officially opens. Europa-Park "winter season": 28th November 2015 until 10th january 2016 (On New Year's Eve open until 6.30 pm). Europa-Park "summer season 2016": 19th march 2016 until 06th november 2016 ... more less