Turning One is a huge event, but where do you take someone that tiny for a special day out to celebrate? I am sure his Lordship would be more than happy with an hour in the baby swing at the park, but we do that quite a lot, so it’s not all that “special” (plus my arms would get tired after that long!). He’s too tiny to celebrate at somewhere like BMW Welt obviously, or Air Hop or Boulderwelt, and we are not really that much into zoos. He’s been to Poing several times, and as much as we love it, we wanted to find somewhere “new” and tailor-made for smaller family members! Then I remembered Märchenwald, somewhere none of us have been before – as by the time we had heard about it, our older two were far too big for the place what with it being based around fairy tales and all…
But, if you are under eight, this place is just perfect. Based in Wolfratshausen (home to the famous Flossfahrt experience (and very worth a visit in itself with its painted houses and folklore-ish feel) an hour’s drive from Munich, Märchenwald is set in a small forest complete with everything you would expect from a place that deals in fairy tales – gingerbread houses, small fairy tale scenes, red and white toadstools by the dozen, giant squirrels, the odd witch, elves, talking trees, dancing animals and plenty of cute little rides.
Whilst you might be met with complete disdain should you dare to take much older children here, I think secretly they would enjoy the squirrel coaster at least, the Harry Potter inspired adventure playground and the vomit inducing astronaut tester rides that flip you upside down whilst spinning around. There’s not much in it for them apart from that though, so you might be reduced to blackmail should you wish to include them without much moaning (from either party!). Luckily for us, our much older two had school that day or we might have been much poorer by the end of it!
The story scenes dotted along the pathways have moving puppets (home to Christmas Market Spit the Dog by the looks of things), and buttons so you can listen in Deutsch or English. They are worth checking out if your Germanic fairy tale knowledge isn’t up to much (after five years of living here, I finally know the story of the Musicians of Bremen!). The baby loved the moving models, and we appreciated all the little extra additions to the scenes such as the tablets by the Grandma’s bed in Little Red Riding hood. I bet she had more than a headache after being eaten by a wolf! Never fear though, the next scene shows Granny having a well deserved glass of something strong whilst the disembowelled wolf lies at her feet. Proving that fairy tales are definitely not all sweetness and light (it’s Krampus time soon for the scariest folklore of the lot in these parts!)!
Autumn has to be one of the prettiest times to visit this place, and if you go early in the day you will feel like you have it to yourselves. Do look up at every opportunity, there are lots of sweet little details you might miss otherwise. Thanks to the tiny wooden dummies hanging at the top of this “tree” I noticed this was a Sutte Trae (a bit more of hygienic version than the one we found in Denmark!)… Parents if you are looking to do away with your child’s dummy, here’s the perfect opportunity! Drop them off here, bid farewell, just don’t forget about the fairy who has to visit your house later with gift in tow! I only wish I had known about them before telling my then three-year old Small Boy that his newborn baby cousin needed his so we had to post them to him. He then demanded tiny cousin give them back when he came to stay!!
Rides wind through the forest, and are mostly gentle and slow – with the exception of the Squirrel roller coaster perhaps, and the slightly faster balloon ride (plus the couple of rides I have mentioned for older children)… In fact the guardians of Märchenwald are so trusting that a lot of the rides are actually self operated – the horses and the wild boar ride for example. You simply climb aboard, press the button and off you go. This is a delight on a quiet day, but on a busy day could prove quite stressful I imagine, as unlike us Brits, not much orderly queuing goes on in these parts – and there’s no ticket system to keep things tidy! Visiting in quieter times does have its slight downsides, in that a few rides are given specific opening slots, so do keep an eye on the information board. The little train leaves regularly though, and has a clock indicating what time the next departure is.
And despite that slight feeling of trepidation that the baby would absolutely hate a ride and we would have to endure it with him screaming, it turns out he’s a bit of a danger mouse like his older sister. We took him on nearly everything he was big enough for and he absolutely loved the lot! We managed two and a half hours of fun before he got tired and hungry.
Time for a quick brezen in the bier garten before promptly falling asleep on the way to pick his older siblings up from school. A great Bavarian day out for tiny people.
Visit off peak to feel like you have the whole place to yourselves, it opens at 10 and most small German children don’t get out of school until lunchtime. Allow at least two hours for a visit. This place isn’t huge but if you leave before then you will definitely miss something! The cafe/bier garten does your standard schnitzel/currywurst and chips combo, but as long as you buy drinks, you can eat your own picnic there. There’s a pfand on the glasses by the way so remember to take them back to get your deposit! Unless you are visiting in the midst of summer, I would be inclined to put tiny people in rain suits, not just in case of poor weather, but for all the crawling, climbing, sandpit digging opportunities.
The park is open from April until the end of October, and entrance fees depend on your age and height (and whether it’s your birthday!).