Location: The Netherlands (Holland)
Editor’s note: Yati spent five years living in Amsterdam with her husband; it was there too that her twins were born. Here, she shares with us a review of an uniquely Dutch Theme Park The Efteling – we say, it looks magical.
The Efteling Theme Park resort is located in the town of Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands. It is about a 2-hour drive from the capital Amsterdam.
The theme park, the largest in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world, is a magical place where old time fairy tales come to live – with a distinct Dutch twist. It was said that The Efteling inspired Walt Disney, in his creation of the Disney theme parks too.
My kids and I have visited The Efteling twice, once on a day trip while we were living in The Netherlands, and again in Dec 2014 when we were back for a family visit. This Dutch theme park is packed with fun for very young kids and older ones (e.g. rollercoasters) too.
In the heart of the park is the magical Fairytale Forest, Sprookjesbos, an wooded gardens. Here, familiar stories are brought to life – the tales of the Little Matchstick Girl, Cinderalla, Rapunzel etc. There are also many others better known to the Dutch-speaking people, such as this tale of The Dragon. These tales, 28 in total are told through statues and animated displays. Very magical, a really fun walk for all of us, the kids as well as the adults.
My kids enjoyed most of the rides they did in the park.
Here’s a picture of my (younger) Martin (then) enjoying his ride.
My son is a thrill seeker and he loves the many rides offered here. The Villa Volta, their version of the haunted house, was “not scary’ according to Martin, but really cute as you sit on this huge moving platform and is swept through the house for a visit. On the Viking Ship, he advises sitting right at the back of the boat to get the maximum fun. His favourite though, was the Joris en de Draak – a dual-track wooden racer rollercoaster, where riders have to choose between two “teams”, and be seated in either the water or fire train. The teams compete against each other to race to the finish and “save” the kingdom from the Dragon. Martin gets very animated whenever describing the ride.
My daughter’s not so much into these adrenaline-inducing rides, and her favourite was the Droomvlucht Dreamflight – a beautiful gentle “flight” through the fairy woodlands where elves, fairies and woodland spirits “roam”. This is also one of Efteling’s top attractions. This was a picture we took inside the Droomvlucht (located in Dreamland). We glide through the enchanting world of fairies and trolls in the dark on this nice, relaxing, (importantly for my daughter) slow ride.
My husband and father-in-law, both engineers by training, were awed by the Steam Train. Efteling started as a steam train company in 1868, and there are still three working steam engines here in the park, offering joy-rides to visitors through the park.
One of my favorites was the maze, the Avonturen Doolhof. The giant maze was a lot of fun, with a talking statue to give hints and direction, and water sprouts aimed at the kids and getting them wet as they run and make their way back towards the parents – only kids below 1.5m are allowed in the maze.
Onsite at The Efteling, there is the Efteling hotel, where we stayed during our visit in June 2014.
Staying at the theme park hotel means early access to the park in the morning, before the gates are open to the public. This is excellent especially during the Dutch holiday season, when the crowd descends upon the park!
We drove to the park on both occasions – it’s easier as on both occasions we were travelling with quite a big group (our extended family). From Amsterdam, the drive is under two hours.
You can also get to the park by taking a train from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, also called den Bohs (about one hour). From den Bohs, transfer to the buses 300 0r 303, towards Tillburg, about a 30-minute ride to the Efteling. It is possible to visit this Dutch Theme Park The Efteling as a day trip from Amsterdam… but if visiting in high season, be prepared that you won’t be able to do many rides at all. The Efteling is a very popular theme park in Netherlands!
For directions on getting to the park do visit their website.
Editor’s note: Have you visited any unique theme parks in your travel with the kids? Share your experience with us in the comments, or drop us a review here. We’d love to hear from you.