CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
What do this
have in common?
Would you believe they are the same place?!? Yep! And best of all, it’s in Germany!
About 10 years ago a company bought a huge aircraft hanger south of Berlin. It was used for dirigibles like the zeppelin. The building itself is so large that the Statue of Liberty can stand up in it and the Eiffel Tower can lie down inside! In fact it is the largest freestanding dome in the world.
What would you do with a building like that? They decided to turn in into a huge tropical resort and set off to build the largest indoor rainforest environment they could. They replaced the southern panels with a translucent covering to let sun in and started filling the dome with tropical plants, animals, tons of sand, two giant bodies of water and all the accouterments of tropical island life.
We recently visited this hanger-turned resort and had a great time! We went with my sister and brother-in-law who were on their “We just graduated and NEED to see as much of Europe as possible” trip. I’m sure when they were first planning it, they didn’t envision sleeping in a tent on the beach under the stars, er, dome in Germany. But I’m pretty sure it’s something they will always remember, and they both commented that it was a vacation within a vacation for them. Once you get there, there is nothing to do but relax!
So what can you do to relax? How about dipping your toes in the sand or the water? And, yes, you can do that with a tropical drink in hand. If you’d like, you can visit the spa and hang out in the sauna. If you like the water, you can take a turn in the lazy river. Or find a beach chair and read a book, or take a nap. If you’d like a massage, there is that option too.
Or if your idea of vacation is a little more adventurous you can ride the six water slides. The tower for the three largest is the tallest in Germany and the fastest ride shoots you out at 70 kph! One of the slides is a disco of LED lights and then turns dark as you rush towards the pool. There’s also a ride called the Jungle Lift. It takes the riders up for a great view of the dome before dropping you back down quicker than you can say “Gravity!” Then it’s up and down a few more times to make sure your stomach is firmly lodged in your throat!
If you fancy a bird’s eye view you can even ride one of two hot air balloons in the dome. The pilot for your adventure stays tethered to the balloon and on the ground. You ride up in the basket or harness (depends on the balloon) and the pilot takes you on a tour all around the dome.
There are also restaurants, bars and even a Cuban themed dinner show. If you’d rather bring in your own food and drinks, there are no rules against that either.
Does all of this sound like too much to take in during a quick day trip? Tropical Islands is open 24 hours a day; 7 days a week and if you’d like you can spend the night! There are almost 1,000 beds to sleep on inside the dome, plus campsites and vacation homes outside the dome on the property.
There are two ways to visit the dome. You can come for the day or stay the night. Admission to the park is included with an overnight stay.
We stayed in two premium, two person tents. Our permanent tents were made with a combination of wood and canvas. Inside, there was room for two cots, a small table and a lamp. The beds were pretty comfortable and there was room underneath to store things. We could lock our tents with a small padlock and each person was assigned a locker space as well for personal goods. By the time we booked our reservation these were the only accommodations available in the lodge. I’m not sure what we would have chosen if all of the options were available, but these served us very well.
Besides this type of tent there were also “Safari” tents. These are cute little canvas tents on wooden platforms. Some are two and some are four people tents. These tents have their mattresses on the floor of the tent instead of on cots like our tents. These tents were grouped in little tent villages on huge beds of sand so it felt like camping on the beach. For the tent campers there are public bathrooms with showers.
If tent “glamping” isn’t for you, there are hotel rooms scattered through out the dome. They are disguised as different types of buildings you’d find in the tropics and fit the theme of the area and there is a separate wing of rooms on the east side of the dome. The rooms are in three categories: Standard, Premium and Designer. They are designed for two or four people. All the rooms have private bathrooms and are air-conditioned.
For the next step up, you can even stay in a lodge. A lodge is a building for two that you will have to yourself. Adventure lodges do not have their own bathroom and may or may not have a/c depending on the lodge. Premium lodges have their own bathroom and A/C.
Outside the dome, but still on the Tropical Islands property there are more places to stay! You can rent a tepee for two – eight people (not available from November – mid January). If you have your own mobile home, camper trailer or tent you can pitch it in the camping area. The camping area has it’s own bath, cooking and laundry facilities. Get this! It even has a free dog shower!
Don’t have your own mobile home? Don’t worry; you can rent one of those too. You can also stay in an apartment in the nearby town or in a small holiday house on the grounds. With all accommodations that you book, the admission to Tropical Islands is included, no mater if your bed for the night is in the dome or out.
When you stay in park accommodations your admission to both the water park and spa/sauna is included. Our tents weren’t ready until 1600, but we checked in early and were able to get into the park before then. We had to wait until 1600 to get the key to our tents. On check out day, you need to be checked out of your room/tent by 1100, but you can stay in the park all day. You’ll still be able to store stuff in your locker for showering and changing.
What’s it like to stay in the dome? The pools stay open all night and that means there are people awake all night too. We stayed in the tents, which do not have air conditioning. Most of people left their tent doors open through the night to keep the air moving. It feels a lot like sleeping in a campground. It’s not perfectly quiet, but after midnight we didn’t hear too much and were able to get some Z’s. If you need more quiet and prefer air-conditioning (remember it’s summer all year in here), you can stay in a room or lodge.
With our tent stay our admission to the park was included. This meant we could take advantage of the all the pool areas, the water slides, the African Jungle Lift, the sauna, access to the spa (treatments extra), and the breakfast buffet. When we got there they gave us a map to the dome, a list of opening times (the dome is always open, but certain things like the slides, Jungle Lift, and some restaurants close at night). Different packages offer different inclusions, so look for what’s included and not when you book.
Once you have checked in, you’ll get a wristband with a magnetized chip. Each person will have one. I saw some parents with multiple bands on, one for each of their kids if you’d prefer. These are the keys to the kingdom! They act as the keys to the rooms (tents have physical keys), keys to enter the water park and sauna, the way to pay for any purchases (meals, suviegners, shows, balloon rides, massages, ect), and the key to your personal locker. If you’ve been on a cruise, it’s your cruise card attached to your wrist. When you leave the park, you turn it back in and pay any charges you’ve made. Pretty slick!
If you’ve got kiddos, there is a giant paly area just for them! The Tropino Club is included with entrance. There are special activities for kids through the day, a mini car track, soft ball shooting, a giant climbing frame (picture McDonalds play areas times a million!). There were not kids with us, but it looked like a blast!
We did however, take time to visit the spa and sauna area. This area shows a bit of the German Freikörperkultur (FKK), which translates to free body culture. If you read between the lines that means free your body from clothing! In this area, your swimsuits and beach clothes are left behind in your locker. Towels are encouraged! The area has whirlpools, steamy and dry saunas, misting showers, places to relax and it’s own restaurant (light clothes are required in the restaurant). You can also get various treatments like a massage, time in the solarium or a mud bath.
If you are coming for a day trip and not staying the night, you are able to purchase a ticket for just the water park, just the spa/sauna, or a combination ticket.
The water areas of the park are very impressive! There four areas: The kid’s pool, water slides, Tropical Sea and Bali Lagoon. The kid’s pool is a zero entry splash area with plenty of ways for the kids to get wet. It’s been awhile since any of us rode any water slides and we had a blast in the water slide area. The tower of slides is the platform for three huge slides, each with their own features. The tower is the tallest in Germany and the fastest slide takes you at autobahn speeds! The Tropical Sea and Bali Lagoon are the two huge water areas.
The tropical sea is the biggest water area in the dome and even has it’s own islands! There are sandy beach areas all around the water and a background like the Truman Show showing a perfect sunny day at the beach. The Bali Lagoon has two more water slides with nifty light features, waterfalls, whirlpools, a small lazy river and other features. There are a few lodges right on this water feature where you can stay the night.
In the middle of the dome is the heart of the jungle and you can take a rainforest tour to learn about the rain forest features and the importance of rainforests around the world. If you’d like to add to the tour, you can rent an electronic guide (not included) and take a guided tour in four languages.
What’s not included?
Overnight stays include a wonderful breakfast buffet, but other food and drinks you need to pay for al a carte. We ate dinner the Palm Beach restaurant on our first night and came back later for drinks and ice cream dessert. This restaurant overlooks the Tropical Sea part of the dome. The menu had both traditional German food (Schnitzel) and tropical offerings (coconut curry shrimp kabobs). I actually expected prices to be higher, since you are almost a captive audience, but I thought they were reasonable (all meals were under €20.00 without drinks).
Other than that, we enjoyed everything else that was included and didn’t feel like we were missing out. I’d say the biggest “temptations” as far as extra purchases would be the hot air balloon rides, spa treatments, or souvenirs. The hot air balloon prices ranged from €7.00 for kids on the balloon that goes up and down, to €25.00 for a ride in the basket balloon that tours the dome (there is also a per passenger price to add on to that ride). The massage prices were somewhere around a Euro per minute, with different options. I didn’t look at the souvenir prices, but they were your regular key chain, magnet, picture frame type offerings.
There were a few other add-ons like bumper cars or boats, mini golf, use of the fitness room, that were a few Euros each. Be aware that there is a pfand on some of the specialty drink glasses. Be sure to turn back in that pineapple if you want to get your deposit back. You don’t get it back if the employees pick it up from you pool-side.
There is an evening show called Cuba Tropical that costs €15.00 for adults and €10.00 for children age 6-14. We didn’t watch the show, but we saw a little preview when the dancers walked in a parade around the grounds.
And just because we care about you and wanted to let you know about each and every detail… we lost our tent key! It was in a pocket on minute, then a few rides down the water slide later, it wasn’t there. We searched the bottom of the slide for a while and then checked lost and found. It wasn’t there. We didn’t want to wait around for someone to find it and use it to investigate our tent, so we paid the €10.00 to have the tent’s lock broken and replaced, along with a new key. So now you know!
Tips For Your Trip:
Tropical-Islands-Allee 1 15910 Krausnick
Latitude: N 52 degrees, 2′ 13.85″ Longitude: E 13 degrees, 44′ 54.38
Tropical Islands is open ALL THE TIME! (Okay, except for Christmas. But otherwise, it’s open day and night all the time!)
The spa is open every day from 0900-0100.
There are tons of free parking spaces.
Day at either the spa or the water park:
Children: (6-14): €28.50
Toddlers: (0-5): Free
*After 0300 the overnight fee of €19.50 is charged.
Combination ticket (both spa and water park):
Children: (6-14): €28.50
Toddlers: (0-5): Free
Rates for lodging are based on per person rates. The tents start at €69.00 per night (double occupancy). The rooms and lodges start at €105.00 per night (double occupancy). For reservations and a full list of prices visit the Tropical Islands website.