It’s always an exciting experience going back to somewhere you haven’t been in ages. I first visited Efteling when I was a kid and loved it, then visited again in my later teens and still loved it. I was excited about going back as an adult not only to try out some of the new additions that have appeared since my last visit, but also to do some of the attractions I’d missed on my first goes around and, of course, to see if my old favourites were as awesome as I remember them being.
If you’ve never visited before, let me give you a brief overview. Efteling opened in 1952 as a fairytale-themed park aimed at families and young children. It was one of the places that inspired Walt Disney while he was looking for ideas for the original Disneyland, which opened three years later in 1955. They started adding thrill rides in the 1980s and today there is a great selection of attractions aimed at all ends of the age and intensity spectrum. It’s the largest and one of the most famous theme parks in the Netherlands, with a staggering 94% of the population having visited the park.
One of the things you notice about Efteling is the themeing of the place. Everything you look at is beautiful: the abundance of nature, the craftsmanship in the attractions, the architecture, and the subtle music as you walk around. They’ve clearly put a lot of time and effort into making you feel like you’re in a fantasy world. The other big thing you notice is the size of the park. Efteling is huge – Shawn and I spent 8 hours there today and didn’t even see the Fairy Tale Forest area, so there’s still bits of the park we never got to explore. One of the nicest things is just to follow a path – let the road take you somewhere, and try out all the attractions you come across on your way to who knows where. It’s definitely going to be a very pretty walk if nothing else.
As I mentioned earlier as well, Efteling has a great spectrum of attractions from high-speed roller coasters to relaxing boat rides, enormous pirate ships to kiddies’ playgrounds and everything in between. I think they hit the nail pretty much bang on the head as it relates to the variety of attractions, and again there are definitely enough of them to last a full day. True, they’re a little spread out due to the size of the park, and you tend to find that there are clusters of attractions together with great big areas of just path in between. But again, when the park looks as pretty as it does walking between the rides, and when you can see glimpses of what you’re heading for before you get there, it doesn’t really matter all that much.
There are a couple of little flaws I noticed while we were going around Efteling today, though. Navigation can be difficult due to the winding nature of the paths, and there are a lot of dead ends with no easy circular route to navigate to hit all the big attractions. Fortunately the park map is exceedingly helpful in this respect as it has every single path represented accurately in it – and it also works with GPS too thanks to the Efteling app, if your sense of direction is especially bad. The other thing is that, while there are plenty of attractions to keep you occupied, I can see you running out of time if it gets busy. It was pretty quiet when Shawn and I were there today and we still only just about hit all the major attractions and didn’t have time to get to do as many things as we wanted a second time around (which I suppose is why I hadn’t done some of them before now). But that’s the beauty of repeat visits: once you’ve figured out your favourites, you can prioritise them, and then no matter how busy it is you’re sure to still enjoy your day.
Efteling is a beautiful and exhilarating theme park with attractions that everyone will love. The staff are friendly, speak multiple languages and have great uniforms, and the food that we had was pretty darn awesome too. If, like me, you’re a fan of proper theme parks that immerse you in a truly unique and fantastical world outside of what you’d experience every day while presenting exquisitely themed and exciting attractions, you will adore Efteling. And if you’re just in it for the thrills, there’s plenty of those too. This truly is a World of Wonders that everyone can enjoy.
Full Attractions List (Everything we did today):
Baron 1898 / Bob / Carnaval Festival / Carousel (in Anton Pieck Square) / Chairswing (in Anton Pieck Square) / De Oude Tufferbaan / De Vliegende Hollander (twice) / Droomvlucht / Fata Morgana / Gondoletta / Halve Maen / Joris en de Draak (once on Water, once on Vuur) / Monsieur Cannibale / Pagode / PandaDroom / Piraña / Polka Marina / Python / Spookslot / Villa Volta / Vogel Rok
Top 5 Attractions:
1. DE VLIEGENDE HOLLANDER
2. Baron 1898
3. Joris en de Draak
5. Vogel Rok
Baron 1898 (for the awesome themeing and story that carried through the entire pre-show and ride experience)
Carnaval Festival (for being a far inferior dark ride than the beauty of Fata Morgana and Droomvlucht)
See you around =] x x