Aquapulco (aka, Pirate World) is part of the Eurothermen Resort in Bad Schallerbach, about 2 1/2 hours away from Vienna. The resort does have more typical resort offerings such as a spa, but our four year-old son wanted nothing more than a pirate adventure for his birthday this year. And visiting Pirate World certainly is an adventure!
The resort complex seems dauntingly large when you first drive in, but rest assured that even if you have to park in the furthest lot available (as we did), it is only a five minute walk to the entrance of Aquapulco. We opted for the family day pass so we would not be rushed to get the kids in and out of the pool, which cost EUR 60. This proved wise because our children, who normally tire after an hour of swimming, ended up swimming for over three hours.
After you pay the cashier, you turn to the right and enter a locker room that is utilized by all three attractions located in the building. (I mention this because it was not immediately obvious.) Despite being the only locker room for the building, there were only five changing cabins. This leads to my first warning: be prepared for nudity. The entrances to the shower/WC area and Pirate World were clearly marked throughout the locker room and there was no further confusion on where to go.
Pirate World itself is a child’s wonderland: it’s an indoor swimming complex slightly larger than Dianabad with a pirate theme. There is a large pirate ship for the kids to climb on, water cannons to shoot, wave tunnels that lead to buried pirate treasure (for the observant), and several water slides in varying degrees of scariness. Every hour there is some sort of show: we witnessed a light and music show, a smoke show, and a slightly disturbing show that involved a staff member dressed as a monkey and dancing to a German-language pirate shanty.
Most exciting for our entire family was the option to follow one of the wave tunnels to an outdoor pool. Despite it being February with snow and ice on the ground, the outdoor pool boasted steaming bath-like water. I think the pool was fed from a thermal spring, but I could be mistaken. My children spent a large amount of time at the outside pool, happily climbing out and jumping back in because there were no staff members to yell about it. This leads to my second warning: this pool proved to be, uh, irresistibly romantic to the teenagers once the sun went down.
My kids swam up quite the appetite, and luckily Aquapulco has a large self service restaurant. There were children’s meal boxes with food such as hot dogs and chicken nuggets, as well as a grill with “adult food.” The cafeteria also had a large pasta buffet, salad buffet, ice cream stand, dessert bar, and all manner of drinks, including beer on tap. All you had to do to pay was swipe the arm band that you used to lock your locker, so there was no need to carry cash around the pool. One last warning: you are supposed to wear a bath robe or towel when you sit in the restaurant, so don’t leave the pool area without one of these.
You can stay overnight at the resort, but the price tag (ca. EUR 250, which includes breakfast and admission to Pirate World) was a bit steep for us. We opted to stay instead at Hotel Gösser Bräu located in Wels, a 15-minute drive from the resort. The hotel itself was quite nice — clean room, dogs allowed, great breakfast — but it was located on a busy street, and only our worn out children were able to get a good night’s rest. If we were to do this again, we’d likely look for a room in Greiskirchen. It is also only about 15 minutes from the resort, but it looked like a much quieter village.