During our recent trip to Belgium and Holland we decided to take the opportunity to visit Efteling, a theme park in Kaatsheuvel in the south of Holland. I’d heard good things about the park, which I guess is like Holland’s version of Disneyland based on fairy-tales rather than Disney characters – so was very excited to experience it for myself with the family in tow.
Efteling is about 1.5 hours south of Amsterdam, 1 hour from Rotterdam or about 3.5 hours from Calais. We were staying on a campsite just south of Tilburg so we were only a 35 minute drive from Efteling.
Once you’ve arrived the theme park is well signed with staff guiding you to the car park. Parking costs €12,50 a day which you pay in the guest services area at the entrance to the park.
As with most theme parks, a first visit can be overwhelming. With so much to see and do it’s near impossible to pack everything in in just one day. To see everything Efteling has to offer you really need to spend two days at the park. We just had a day and probably only managed to cover half of the park. It’s huge! Here’s our personal highlights from our day at Efteling:
1. Fairytale Forest
You could spend a whole day in itself wandering around the magical Fairytale Forest. We loved following the footpath from story to story, reading the books along the way. The Fairytale Forest brings classics fables to life such as Hansel & Gretal, Sleeping Beauty and the Little Match Girl. You’ll also meet talking trees, Troll Kings and a donkey that poops gold. Pure joy from start to finish.
2. Max & Moritz
My son’s favourite ride of the day. This double rollercoaster let’s you ride on two different tracks – blue or green. The train springs out from a cuckoo clock style workshop then whizzes around the track at high speed. We loved the activities along the trail as we queued as well – especially the whoopee cushions!
Fabula is a 4D cinema experience that follows that friendship of a squirrel and a bear as they travel the world together. The 4D effects not only bring the characters to life but also allow the audience to feel every sensation along their journey – from cool breezes to salty sea plunges. To top this attraction off the cinema exits through an incredible play area allowing little ones to try out some of the action for themselves including sliding down igloos and swinging through a jungle.
4. Fata Morgana
This was the first ride we managed to get on during our visit and probably the longest we queued as well. Fata Morgana is a fantastical boat ride taking you to the far away lands of Arabia. You’ll meet sultans, genies and snake charmers as the ride transports you to another time and place. Easy going but great fun.
We got absolutely drenched on this water rapids ride. Pirana rockets you past waterfalls and down rapids leaving its passengers howling in fits of laughter. Admittedly it took most of the day to dry off after this ride but it was worth it for the smiles.
There are several shows and performances taking place throughout the day. A Dutch friend of mine had warned me that these are all spoken in Dutch but that Raveleijn was so full of action that the language barrier wouldn’t be an issue. She was right! The whole family loved the sword fights, horse stunts and pyrotechnics thrown at us during the 30 show. A bit like medieval power rangers I thought. Great stuff!
7. The Gardens
Throughout Efteling you’ll come across sculptured gardens and water features. The flower gardens in Ton Van de Ven Plein are particularly pretty but we were really impressed by the general layout and appearance of the entire park. Efteling is a joy to explore even if you’re not a fan of rides.
The perfect way to take the weight off you feet while exploring the park by boat, Gondoletta glides you around the park for a full 20 minutes allowing you a chance to kick back and catch your breath. We loved spotting the ducks and moorhens, plus it’s a great way to spot which ride you want to check out next.
This Thai style temple whizzes you up to a height of 45 metres giving you soaring views across the entire park and beyond. Not one for anyone with vertigo but a great way to et your bearings!
This magical ride allows to you to float like a fairy into a world of fantasy, elves and trolls. I loved this ride, it was one of my favourites. A true dose of escapism with some gentle thrills along the way.
Top Tip: Make sure you download the Efteling App before visiting. It provides an easy to follow map with current waiting times as well as timings for shows and performances.
If you have any questions about your visit feel free to ask away in comments. Enjoy your time at Efteling, it really is a magical place.