As you may know, I am a huge fan of amusement parks. Roller coasters can’t be extreme enough for me, but most of all I love parks that have paid attention to the theming. Attractions with a certain theme and parts of the park that match.
The Efteling is beautifully decorated and they have paid attention to detail. From the fairy tail forest to the smallest details in the attractions. It’s almost like a Disney park, but without Mickey and his friends.
For many people this park is pure nostalgia. Most Dutch people have visited this park at least once in their lives, mainly as kids. When they grow up and have kids of their own this is the park where they will take their family to make new memories.
What makes the Efteling different from other parks?
There are two types of amusement parks. One where you go for the rides, and the other where you go for the experience. The Efteling is park where you go for the experience, and the rides!
The park is located in a forest area in the south of the Netherlands close to the Belgian border. It’s in a part of the country known for the friendly an open people who love have fun and being very outgoing.
When you go to the Efteling it’s like stepping into a different world. Everything is decorated nicely and the theming is on point. You can best compare it with a Disney park. In between the rides there are many areas with trees and plants. It feels more like a nature park with rides than a regular theme park.
Also the rides are really themed well, especially the newer rides. The best themed one is perhaps Symbolica which is a indoor dark ride where you are guided through a castle whilst sitting in a trackless vehicle. This is truly a magical ride.
What makes the Efteling different from other theme parks in The Netherlands is that they really focus on the experience and emerging you in the story, instead of just going on the rides.
Attractions in the Efteling
The Efteling is really a family amusement park. This means that most attractions are suitable for everyone in the family.
There are a number of thrill rides: the Baron 1898, Flying Dutchman, Joris and the Dragon, the Python and VogelRok. The Baron is by far the scariest roller coaster in the park. This is one that most will probably skip. What makes this ride so scary? Well, you are hoisted to the top of the hill, the car slowly goes over the edge and then just hangs there. You can look straight down, where the track disappears into a hole in the ground. Then suddenly the car will start moving and you are dropped at high speeds into that dark hole. Very scary!
Fortunately, if the thought alone gives you nightmares, there are many attractions for the whole family that aren’t that scary: Carnival Festival, Dream Flight, Fata Morgana, Symbolica etc. Carnaval Festival can be best described as a cheap knockoff of It’s a Small World, Fata Morgana is a Pirates of the Caribbean style of ride, Dream Flight and Symbolica are both dark rides.
My favorite ride, here comes the nostalgia, is Polka Marina. This is a very basic ride but I giggle on it every time, thinking about how scared I was riding it as a child. For me this ride brings me back to my childhood and all those memories.
Of all the attractions in the Efteling there are actually only two that I always skip. The first one is the Piranha. As a child I loved getting soaked, but now that I’m a little older I find it especially annoying when you have to walk all day with wet clothes. The other attraction I always skip is the Pagoda, because I’m really afraid of heights! The last time I went on it, I stood still the entire ride glued against the back wall. I was that scared! Children around me were moving around and looking over the edge and there I was almost crying and wishing for the ride to be over soon.
The Fairytale Forest
The Fairytale Forest is what the Efteling is known for. Here they have created small scenes from famous fairy tales. From the Sleeping Beauty, to Snow White and the 7 dwarfs, Hansel and Gretel, Pinocchio, actually all the fairy tales you can imagine. Don’t expect the Disney characters here, by the way. The fairy tales in the Fairy Tale Forest are based on the original stories and not on the Disney movies.
This part of the Efteling is great for making your kids lose a little energy. They will probably run from fairy tale to fairy tale, trying out the interactive parts and just enjoying seeing their favorite story come to live.
There are a total of 30 different fairy tales in this forest. In the autumn of 2019 nr. 30 has been added. This one is about the story of the 6 Swans, which is also a small water ride.
Staying at the Efteling
Although it is only an hour’s drive for me, I can imagine that many people prefer to book an overnight stay after a day in the Efteling. Your feet are pretty worn out after a day in the park, also traffic around the Efteling can be very bad at times so driving back after closing time is usually not a fun thing to do. Staying there for a night sounds like a much better option then, don’t you think?.
The Efteling has 3 accommodations you can choose from. The Efteling Hotel is the most well known of the three. You can’t miss this one either! This is a luxury hotel less than a 5 minute walk from the park.
Efteling Bosrijk is a little further at 10 minutes walking distance. This is a vacation park with houses and apartments. All houses are themed and the park even has a swimming pool and entertainment for younger kids.
The final accommodation is perfect for adults, it’s called Loonsche Land. It’s also located at about a 10 minute walk from the park and it’s located in one of the sand dunes of the national park next to the Efteling. The surroundings are beautiful and this accommodation is perfect if you want to have a more adult vacation or if you are looking for a place where you can explore the Efteling and the rest of this part of the Netherlands from.
What always surprises me in the Efteling
No matter how fun and popular the Efteling is, even in the middle of summer there is hardly a long wait at most attractions. Maybe it’s because there are so many of them or because I’m used to the Disney queues, but only at the Flying Dutchman, the Baron, Symbolica, and Dream Flight there were queues of between 45 and 60 minutes. With the rest of the rides having at most 20-30 minutes queues. That’s the last reason why you should definitely visit this park!
Picture by the Efteling