Switzerland is mostly known for its amazing mountains and accompanying nature, chocolate, cheese and watches. Millions of tourist visit this country each year to see the famous Matterhorn, the Rheinfall or the old town of Luzern. But only few of them go to visit a theme park, and for good reason. There are only three theme parks in the country, none of which are particularly large either.
This is some kind of a paradox as Switzerland is a country of major importance for the amusement industry as some of the best roller coaster manufacturers worldwide are located there. There’s Intamin AG and Bolliger&Mabillard, and there used to be Giovanola. Zwitserland is also home to a lesser known manufacturer: Swiss Rides AG. It’s hard to find a big theme park that doesn’t have at least one ride from those manufacturers, and not a country in central Europe that don’t have a theme park with an Intamin or a B&M coaster. Except Switzerland, where there are only two coasters in the whole country, but not a single Swiss made one. This can be explained by the small size of the parks, which can not afford the highly expensive rides manufactured by B&M and Intamin. But that does not mean that those parks are not interesting, in fact, despite their size, they all have something particular.
The biggest and oldest theme park in Switzerland is Conny-Land, which was opened in 1983 by Conny Gasser, a former circus artist, which created the park to hold spectacles with Dolphins and Orcas. Conny-Land is by far the most interesting of the swiss parks, because of his way to use this place. Despite being located in a extremely small amount of space, everything in the park gives the impression of being in a bigger park. Every ride, every building, every street in the park is entirely themed and decorated. There is no free space, the space is used to the maximum and there are rides everywhere, and for a Park of this size, the rides are from outstanding quality. The Park has one coaster, a Pax shuttle coaster called Cobra, which is a completely bizarre coaster, but a big rush of adrenaline. That crazy mess of rides and theming give the park a very particular atmosphere, not to forget about the huge collection of animals that can be found inside the park. It even has a lagoon for shows with sea Lions. With all that, we can say that despite his size, Conny-Land is a must-do in Switzerland.
The two other parks are of lower quality, but both have something special to offer. Jungfrau Park, is one of the strangest theme parks in Europe. It is highly inspired by Futuroscope, so it features no coasters, but a lot of other ‘’scientific’’ attractions. And that’s the strange thing about this alternate version of Futuroscope : it is entirely based on pseudo-scientifically theories by Erik Von Däniken claiming that the origin of Humanity comes from Aliens. Some scientists even named this Park a ‘’cultural Tchernobyl’’.
The smallest of the swiss parks is Happyland, which situated in the mountain canton of Valais (Where the Matterhorn and B&M are located too). Here you won’t find aliens, but just a small garden where guests find some fun rides for kids. The park evolved from a playground, and that can still be seen. It is the work of a passionate, Otto Matter, who worked the last thirty years to extend this playground to a nice little theme park. Most of the rides a for very small children, but there are a few that are also enjoyable as an adult, like an 18m high log flume by Mack Rides. Except that there is nothing else to really do, a kiddie coaster, a few flat rides and that’s it. But the park is lovely landscaped and filled with flowers, the staff is nice, and being located in the mountains means the sun is almost always there. So it’s certainly not a must-do, but if you have kids, are on your way to see the Matterhorn or another tourist magnet of the region, why not stop there for a rest ?
That’s almost all for the swiss theme parks, a few other places could be seen as a theme park, like the Labyrinthe Aventure in the same Canton of Valais, which is the biggest permanent Labyrinthe in Europe, or Charmey adventure and Western City which feature only non mechanic attractions. Besides that, Switzerland has a much bigger offer of Water Parks, and you can find over twenty of them in the country. The best known ones are Aquaparc, created by a former employee of White Water slides, and Bernaqua.
Even if Switzerland is not worth a visit from far away for its theme parks, some of them are fun if you are passing not far away, and wouldn’t it be a shame to not visit a theme park in a country that has such significance for the theme park industry ?