Updated January 15, 2024
Are you trying to decide if you should bring your kids to Gardaland while you’re in Italy?
Or maybe you’re set on visiting but are looking for some helpful tips for your visit?
Either way, I’ve got you covered. Our family just returned from another trip to Gardaland and we had a blast. Like all theme parks, Gardaland has its quirks, but my kids always ask to go back, and I enjoy my time there with them. I’ve been to other theme parks like Disneyland, Disneyworld, Universal Studios, LEGOLAND, and I find that Gardaland:
- is clean
- is fairly efficient (ride lines move quickly, food lines could be improved)
- is fun for all ages, from babies and toddlers to adults
- has a nice selection of rides to choose from
- is worth visiting if your kids really want to visit an Italian theme park (otherwise I’d spend time doing other things, like hanging out with David at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, checking out the Colosseum in Rome, lounging on the coast in Puglia, or searching out the best food in Bologna)
Quick Note: While our family enjoys visiting Gardaland, I personally wouldn’t choose to visit in July or August. I also wouldn’t visit if it was more than a few hours’ drive away (again, that’s my choice – you may be willing to drive further).
Gardaland is one of Italy’s most famous theme parks. It’s located in Castelnuovo del Garda, on the southeastern shore of Lake Garda (one of the best places to visit in Italy with kids), in Italy’s Veneto province.
It’s known as the number one theme park in Italy, and one of the most popular theme parks in Europe, reaching over 3 million visitors in past years.
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Let’s take a look at these 16 helpful tips to use before, during, and after your visit to Gardaland.
Andiamo – let’s go!
Gardaland – Before You Go
Check the Ride Height Requirements
When we visited with a four-year-old, there weren’t a ton of rides he could go on. If you have smaller kids, measure their heights and take a look at the ride height requirements. If your child is at the age when he/she really wants to go on ‘big kid rides,’ you may want to look at other Italian theme parks like Leolandia and Cavallino Matto – I found my son was able to go on so many more of the rides in those parks.
Decide if You’re Willing to Brave the Crowds
The busiest months at Gardaland are July and August, but in general, the crowds come as soon as Italian elementary school and up gets out (from around June 10th, exact date varies by year) and don’t let up until Italian schools start again (around mid-September).
If you must visit during a busy period, think about forking over extra €s for Gardaland’s version of the FastPass – the ‘Time-Saver Gardaland Express (Fast-Track).’ There are multiple options, depending on which rides you want to go on.
Buy Gardaland Tickets Online
Don’t wait in the long lines at the ticket counters on the day of your visit.
You can buy your Gardaland tickets on the Gardaland website.
Good To Know: You must choose your date when you buy your tickets.
Good To Know: On our most recent trip, I purchased my tickets through the Gardaland site and had some trouble getting my tickets to download on my phone (or computer), but I was eventually able to get them by connecting to faster WI-FI.
Alternatively, you can use GetYourGuide to purchase your tickets. I just looked at the prices, and they’re slightly less expensive than the Gardaland site, but you do need to purchase two tickets to get the deal.
A third option is to buy discounted tickets in some shops and tourist info centers in the area. For example, someone in our group found discounted adult tickets at the Peschiera del Garda tourist point (€5 cheaper than online).
Good To Know: Kids under 1 meter tall don’t pay to enter Gardaland!
Decide if You Want to Visit LEGOLAND Water Park
You can buy combo tickets to enter the LEGOLAND Water Park that’s attached to Gardaland. I’ve done both (we skipped it on our recent trip) and I think it’s important to read about Visiting LEGOLAND Water Park to decide if it’s a good fit for your family.
Good To Know: If you’re planning on going to Caneva Aquapark also, go to LEGOLAND Water Park first. It’s smaller in size and the rides aren’t as extreme as Caneva Aquapark. I was glad we brought my elementary age kids to Caneva after LEGOLAND – it would’ve been a letdown the other way around.
Choose Your Not-To-Miss Gardaland Rides
This is especially important if you have multiple age groups. Our group’s favorite rides were:
- Ortobruco Tour – roller coaster for kids
- Mammut – roller coaster
- Blue Tornado – epic roller coaster (adults)
- Volaplano – sit in an airplane and high above Prezzemolo Land (kids area)
- Jungle Rapids – water ride that’s fun for all ages
- Jumanji The Adventure – dark, adventurous ride in a vehicle
Gardaland – The Day of Your Visit
Pack Your Own Food
Gardaland does so many things right, but I think the food can improve. The food did look better than our last trip, but we chose to bring food in again, and I was happy we did.
Helpful Tip: In the area, you’ll find Famila, Migross and Conad superstores or regular grocery stores. We brought a small soft-sided cooler with sandwiches and drinks. Then we bought loads of treats like slushies (refillable too, and kids love them as a souvenir), caramel apples, and popsicles.
Allow Time for Traffic
Lakeside traffic is a given, especially around Gardaland in the hour or so before it opens (and when it closes at night). If it’s important to you to be there for the opening of the park, allow plenty of extra time. For example, from our family resort near Peschiera del Garda, the general driving time is about 15 minutes, but on our recent June trip, it took about 30 minutes (plus time for parking and the 10-minute walk to the park entrance). During busier months like July and August, the drive time will be even greater.
Decide If You Want to Enter When the Park Opens
Before the opening, huge crowds gather at the entrance. If you’re not a super Gardaland enthusiast (and you don’t enjoy rubbing against other sweaty park visitors as you shuffle your way to the front), hang back until the gates open and everyone enters. Or, think about arriving at the parking area when the park opens and missing the entire lineup outside the park. We’ve done both and I much preferred missing the whole crowd-at-the-gate experience. And know that I’m someone who does arrive early at Disneyland.
Start with Rides Further Inside the Park
When people enter in the morning, they tend to visit the closest rides first (for example, Peppa Pig area for little ones, Blue Tornado for adults).
Use a Map
There aren’t many directional signs up at Gardaland, so you’ll want to use one of the paper maps or the map on the Gardaland app.
Helpful Tip: The bathrooms don’t have signs, so you need to find them on the map first.
Bring an Extra Battery Pack for Your Phone
If you plan on taking a lot of photos or using the Gardaland App (helpful because you can see wait times, etc), make sure you pack an external charger for your phone.
Take a Break on the Monorail
The monorail gives everyone a break, but it’s still interesting because you get to see the park from above. We went in the afternoon when everyone’s energy started to dip. After, the kids were ready to ride again (and I was ready for a nap).
Other restful options are the shows, especially the ones inside a theater. Check the seasonal map at the park entrance or look online to find out which shows are on for your visit.
Have a Change of Clothes on Cooler Days
Gardaland has a few water rides. It’s fine to get wet on a hot day (it feels great!), but if it’s a little cooler, you may want to at least have a dry shirt to change into.
Refill Your Water Bottle
Instead of buying water, refill your water bottle. There’s a refill station in the Wild West area.
Don’t Stand in Line for Food at the Wrong Place
Usually if you want to buy a slice of pizza, you stand in line for a slice of pizza. Not at Gardaland! Most of the concessions are grouped in areas, and you need to pay at the cassa booth before you wait in line for your food. Yes, first you wait in line to pay for your food, then you take your receipt and wait in another line to get your food.
Gardaland – After Your Visit
Don’t drive all the way to Gardaland and then leave after you visit the park – there’s so much more to see and do in the area:
- Visit other theme parks like Caneva Aquapark, Movieland, LEGOLAND Water Park, Gardaland SEA LIFE Aquarium (latter two are both at Gardaland)
- Sample the area’s olive oil at a frantoio
- Visit a winery and sample the local wines
- Go for a bike ride on a lakeside path
- Spend time at one of Lake Garda’s beaches
- Visit one of the lakeside villages – Sirmione, Riva del Garda, Peschiera del Garda, Lazise, Bardolino, Malcesine
Gardaland with Babies and Toddlers
If you’re planning on coming to Gardaland with your little one(s), here are a few things to know:
- There are plenty of great rides for little kids, especially in Prezzemolo Land and the area to the left as you enter the park.
- Look into the character meet ups. My 2-year-old was thrilled to meet JJ from Cocomelon! The look on his face made my day.
- The park is stroller-friendly. There are a couple of small hills, but you can do it – put your back into it.
- Gardaland is seriously lacking shade. If you have a little one, you can spend time in the shaded area by the food stalls near Jumanji. For naps, look for the shaded walkway by the Colorado Boats. It’s a quiet area that’s perfect for rolling your stroller back and forth. It was the only quiet spot (of course, you can still hear theme park music) I could find for my little guy to take a nap. It’s a dead end so no one really uses it.
- The nursery is well-stocked, quiet, and air-conditioned! It’s near the Albero di Prezzemolo (ask staff to point it out when you’re in the area) and it has changing tables, high chairs, bottle warmers, and more. There’s even a toilet for parents.
Where to Stay When Visiting Gardaland
Gardaland has a few themed hotels you can stay at. They’re fun places to stay if you’re traveling with your family, and they’re right at the park (super convenient). But, you pay a premium for the convenience and Gardland themes. We’ve had friends stay at the Gardaland Hotel and they were very happy with their stay.
- Gardaland Hotel – general fantasy themes, plus characters like Peppa Pig
- Gardaland Adventure Hotel – Indiana Jones vibes
- Gardaland Magic Hotel – magic, wizards, unicorns, oh my!
There are plenty of other places to stay in the area – from campgrounds to resorts to hotels.
We just stayed for a second time at Camping Bella Italia, a casual lakeside family resort just outside of Peschiera del Garda. It’s a quick 15-minute drive (with no traffic) to Gardaland, and makes a great base for exploring southeastern Lake Garda. Read my Review of Camping Bella Italia.
Mirabilandia, Leolandia, and Cavallino Matto are also popular Italian theme parks.
No, you don’t need to worry about not getting a ticket to Gardaland, but on busy days, lines and wait times will be long.
I found the bathrooms at Gardaland to be relatively empty during my visits. There are quite a few bathrooms throughout the park, but I’m sure they get busy during July and August (I’ve never been to Gardaland in July or August and have no plans to do so).
I found the food prices to be reasonable, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same if you’ve visited other theme parks like Disneyland.
Our family has always been happy with one day at the park, but we definitely don’t see everything in a day. If you really want to see all of Gardaland, you’ll need at least two days (and even more during the busy months of July and August).