Mirabilandia between Ravenna and Cervia on the Adriatic Riviera is now part owned by the "King of theme parks", Giancarlos Casoli.

For thirty years he's been designing and building theme park rides around the world, so he knows a thing or too about what visitors are looking for. Since acquiring the park for around L60bn (pounds 21m) has been spent on new attractions and improvements.

The park has various themes, such as Las Vegas, Hollywood and Sixties America (with its own self-service diner, reminiscent of the one in Grease). Watch out for the Paparazzi Tunnel, full of photographers waiting to pounce.

Though it is not that well-known in the UK yet, it looks set to become serious competition for the rest of Europe's theme parks.

Best for: The whole family but especially roller-coaster lovers as there are surprisingly few queues. The Italians seem to prefer the water rides. For children under seven try Bimbopoli, an 8,000sq m (80,000 sq ft) "kiddie town" (the biggest of its kind in Italy), including an enclosed play area.

Worst for: Those who don't like the heat, particularly during the summer when temperatures can sore to highs of a scorching 35C (95F). But you can always cool off in the the Niagara, where a 15ft wave guarantees a good soaking.

Best adrenaline buzz: Turbo Drop. This goes up slowly, sits at the top for a few seconds and then plunges back down to the ground.

Best show: Police School 3: The Big Challenge, where American cadets fight a group of terrorists, with the help of Russian policemen. This has lots of dynamite explosions, shootings and dangerous car chases.

Best evening entertainment: Night Show Piazza del Levante. This starts with a display of the longest dancing fountain in Europe, where illuminated jets of water dance in time to music. There's also a laser show and crackley fireworks to light up the night sky.

Admission: L34,000 (pounds 12) for adults and L27,000 (pounds 9.50) for children between 1 metre (3ft 3in) and 1.5 metre (4ft 10in) tall, children below 1 metre are free.

Hours: April to June, 10am-6pm; July, 10am-11pm; August, 10am-12pm;1- 5 September, 10am-11pm; 6 September onwards, 10am-6pm.

Food and drink: You can choose from filled piadina to hamburgers. Children's menus are available.

Best for adults: It's worth visiting the local cities of Bologna and Ravenna. The whole family can head for the beaches on the Adriatic Coast.

Getting there: Complimentary bus service from Rimini Airport and various beach resorts.

Nearest city: Ravenna.

How to get there: Ryanair (tel: 0541 569 569) flies daily to Rimini, departing London Stansted. Throughout the summer, Ryanair is offering pounds 19.99 one way tickets (excluding pounds 10 tax).

Accommodation: The Class Hotel (tel: 0039 0544 270 290) costs L170,000 (pounds 60) for a double room per night.

Further information: Italian Tourist Board, 1 Princess Street, London. W1R 8AY (tel: 0171-408 1254). Internet site: www.mirabilandia.it

Rating: 9/10

The author travelled with her children, Lewis, 7, and Craig, 5.