The Netherlands is a country full of wonders. One can hardly count the incredible experiences that he can have in this land of fairy tales. And if you travel to Holland with kids or the kid in your soul, we advise you to go to Efteling in Kaatsheuvel, which is the third most attended European theme park after Disneyland in France and Europa-park in Germany. This is the oldest amusement park in the Netherlands opened in 1952. The doors of Efteling are open every day all year round offering a broad range of giddy entertainments to those, who believe that Neverland does exist in real life. Efteling is a real world of wonders. To see the heroes of Hans Christian Andersen, Brothers Grimm, and Charles Perrault revive, come with us!
Finding Accommodation In Efteling
It is impossible to walk through the park in a single day; therefore, you may stay in the castle-like Efteling Hotel near the park, which offers a lot of extra privileges and discounts in the park in addition to the perfect service and fantastic food. The rooms can accommodate both single persons and groups or families. The prices are affordable taking into account the offers: for example, a group of two adults and two children will have to pay a total amount of 300-400 euros for two days’ stay. That will include a buffet breakfast, 30 minutes earlier entry to Efteling Park, free usage of the swimming pool in Efteling Village Bosrijk, free WIFI at the rooms and the ground floor of the hotel, free parking in Efteling theme park.
Efteling Bosrijk is the second place that provides accommodation for the visitors. This area contains apartments, cottages, and group accommodations, which are very comfortable, spectacular and contain almost all mod cons. There are also VIP cottages and apartments suitable for the disabled and asthmatic with wheelchair adjustments. There are even accommodations suited for those with allergies or other illnesses to avoid dust and allergens as much as possible. Here you can choose from various packages, which at least include a 3-day-stay. The prices start from just over 100 euros per person for three days, about 32 euros for children aged 4-12 and free of charge for children up to 3 years old.
Only a few minutes walk from Efteling theme park is the three-star, family-friendly Hotel De Kroon, where the price is relatively affordable and includes buffet breakfast and free wifi. And close by is the 3-star de Lakei, which also offers affordable accommodation. A little further away (about five minutes drive) you can get self-contained, chalet-style accommodation at Boomgalows De Roestelberg, which gets very good reviews. About ten minutes drive from the theme park is the four-star hotel NH Waalwijk. There are also several campsites near Efteling letting you rent tents at a relatively low price.
Practical Information: Admission Fees and Opening Hours
Once you have made up your mind to step into this wonderland, you need to choose the most convenient time. As long as Efteling is open every day, one can suppose that there are no actual “golden” seasons or periods to attend or not. However, it is worth noting that holiday periods, nice weather and time of the year do play a major role in this choice. First, you should decide whether you want a crowded crazy experience or peaceful leisure stroll to notice every single trifle there. Generally, the park is more crowded during weekends and quieter on weekdays (for clear reasons). About people’s quantity can also tell us Efteling’s opening hours: from July 1 to August 31 (Negen Pleinen Festijn or Summer Efteling) – 10.00-20.00, on Saturdays till midnight.From September 1 to mid-November the park is again open during 10.00-20.00.Winter Efteling covers the period between mid-November to January 31 opening at 11.00 and closing at 18.00 on weekdays, at 19.00 on weekends and at 20.00 during winter holidays (December 19 to January 3). For balance, there are more restaurants and eating institutions open during holidays and peak seasons to accommodate more people.
Crowdedness is only one factor to affect your choice of visit time. Before your visit, you should know that your enjoyment would be at its top with the temperature being 15-25C degrees.And while the amount of Dutch people decreases in summer by their leaving for vacations by the seaside, you might not want to attend Efteling for the stuffy, hot weather then. You might well consider the beauty of the park: as long as it is filled with trees and plants, you will find it most attractive in spring or in summer when everything is green and in blossom. Finally yet importantly, rainy weather is possible at any time of the year. We understand, that for sensible reasons people have lost their trust for weather forecasts, but you had better look with the wink of your eye to what is predicted for the day. Although this does not mean you cannot enjoy your visit if it rains: most attractions and waiting areas have coverages, so that you have the least possible inconvenience.
Efteling is widely adjusted for the reach of transportation. You can drive there by a car and use the parking lot for 10 euros per day. There are free charging stations for electric cars situated at the front part of the car park, for which you need to pick up special cards at the Guest Service. If you are staying in the neighborhood, you can freely use your bike to ride to the green surroundings of Efteling then parking it at guarded bicycle parking lot for 1euro per day. The park can be reached by public transport as well. There are two nearby stations Heterogenbosch and Tilburg, where special buses drive to and fro every 20 minutes. Tickets for them you can buy right from the driver.
No matter how hard the kid inside us wants everything to be free, things and services are paid. In Efteling, you use Euro cash or Visa, Maestro, Euro Card and American Express. In case, you chose to use your bank or credit card you will need your chip and pin code.
To enter Efteling, you will need tickets that cost 38 to 40 euros. To get discounts you can book and buy them on their website. Or you can check out the special deals available from 365tickets.com, where tickets are usually less than US$35. Children under the age of 3 years have free entrance. As for pets, only guide dogs are allowed in and they need be reported at guest services. Once you are inside the park, all attractions except the Game Gallery are free of charge.
As a most hospitable institution, Efteling has taken all pains for foreign visitors’ sake. Although people mostly speak Dutch in the country, there are translations offered for any written regulations in the park. The supported languages are English, French and German, sometimes Spanish and Italian as well. Most people In Holland are multilingual, hence, these languages are widely used. You can even choose an attendant according to the languages he speaks, which are written on their nametags.
Clothing is to be chosen carefully. Inside the park your best decision of exploring will be walking. After putting on comfortable, casual clothes and a pair of your favorite fast and easy shoes, you are fully ready for the event!
Let’s Wing into Efteling
Efteling is divided into 4 realms, which differ from each other in their themes. These are Marerijk (Fairy Realm), Ruigrijk (Rough Realm), Reizenrijk (Travel Realm) and Anderrijk (Alternative Realm). As far as their dividing borders are not clearly cut out, we recommend that you start your trip from the center of the park called Efteling Brink. The realms are easily accessible from here though they are also interlinked.
Efteling is a combination of innumerable impressions, so you should clearly know what to see and what to do here. As long as doing things are much prevailing in the park, let us start with seeing things. A surprising feature of Efteling is that attractions are positioned rather randomly into the green surroundings so they do not stand out much. But it has a special intention: Efteling is not only a theme park but a nature park as well. So we dare you to allow yourself dig into the miracles of it and find out the hidden secrets in every cozy nook. Efteling has a small army of skillful gardeners who enrich the park with exquisite flowers and unique plants every season. The staff also make sure there inhabit exceptional, endemic species of animals, fish, and birds, hence, you might find it hard to notice any attractions at first sight when coming to the park. But this is only a contributing factor to the eminence of this place adding a spoonful of curiosity to everything else.
Continuing the chain of must-sees in Efteling, we offer you to see Raveleijn – the chief extravaganza for which you need to get tickets from the ticket machines in front of the Efteling Theatre. At summertime, multiple open-air-theatre shows are held in the fairytale forest. When the day comes near to an end, Efteling arranges its “Pièce de Résistance” – Aquanura. To enjoy the utmost of it try to see it after sunset. The range of shows widens in summer, for which you can find information in the brochures available at the entrance. There are amazing theatrical performances held in Efteling Theatre during relatively quiet periods in winter. These are played in Dutch though you can now take headphones to enjoy the show in your preferred language. The entrance is not included in your ticket, so you will need a reservation and extra payment. Holle Bolle Gijs is another stunning character you will be amused to meet. It is a kind of equivalent for well-known Humpty Dumpty, always hungry for paper and asking “Paper here” to visitors thanking them for their donations of their wastes to it.
Now that you know your must-sees in Efteling, let us introduce you your must-dos in Efteling. According to the staff working there, under no circumstances should one miss the following attractions: Droomvlucht, Raveleijn, Sprookjesbos, Joris en de Draak, De Vliegende Hollander, Fata Morgana, Aquanura, and Piraña.
The Fairy Realm
This is the place for one to most closely get acquainted with the style of Efteling’s founder Anton Pieck. At the entrance of this kingdom a peacefully snoring fairytale armor will welcome you letting you indulge in the enchanted Fairytale Forest (Sprookjesbos). When walking here you, are sure to come across the 13-meter-high Fairytale Tree, which comes to life every time it sees children, starting a conversation with them and telling them stories and tales. You will also see the gingerbread house, where the evil witch keeps Hensel and Gretel trapped, the most elegant and charming wolf in a smoking and a bowtie, the small hut of Snow White and Seven Dwarfs and many other famous fairy-tale characters you have loved since your early childhood. Here you will also see the house of mysteries, secrets and theft treasures named Villa Volta. Be careful with this attraction: once the walls of the house start swirling, and the bench moves apart from you, it will feel like the earth is flying away sending you to Tartarus.
After the spoonful of the adrenaline rush, do attend the Dreamflight (Droomvlucht) – the most popular attraction of Efteling, which also has unimaginably long queues. It will leave unforgettable impressions on you, making you feel like an authentic fairy that flies in the air, touches the stars and meets magical creatures like pixies, trolls, fairies.
The Fairy Realm also includes Raveleijn, Volk van Laaf – a funny village Lavenlaaf, where Laafs come from, Carrousels Anton Pieckplein, Stoomcaroussel (a nice, nostalgic old merry-go-round), Diorama (a display of sixty meters, which contains a miniature world), Stoomtrein (a steam train station which offers you actual steam trains to go around the park), Efteling Museum and Kindervreugd (a playground for children).
The Travel Realm
If you want to see traditional Mexican garments and feel the Asian rhythm, all you need to do is go to the Travel Realm. Here you are free to peacefully boat over the canal in an automatic boat Gondoletta, sit in a Thai-style flying Temple Pagode, which slowly swirls and goes up to forty-five meters allowing you to see the picturesque panorama of the city. Afterward, go to have fun in Vogel Rok, Monsieur Cannibale, Avonturen Doolhof adventurous roller coasters, which will ride you in the total dark at 65km/h speed.In addition to all this, here you will find a feature attraction named Carnival Festival, where you can ride around the globe and see traditional costumes of Mexico, Alaska and other countries. In winter, when the temperature drops lower than 0C degrees, Gondoletta is temporarily closed. Instead, a nice skating rink is open with skates available for rent.
The Adventure Realm
If you are hunting for adventures or simply trying to overcome your fears, the Adventure Realm in Efteling is waiting for you!You can fight with the dragon riding at the crazy speed of 75 km/h on the attraction called Joris en de Draak. To have your dream come true and become a pirate from the famous cartoons choose the attraction of Flying Dutchman that will allow you riding down the hill at 70 km/h under the crazy angle of 40 degrees. Among other attractions of this realm are Halve Maen – the largest pirate ship in the world, D’Oude Tuffer, Polka-Marina, Station de Oost (steam train station), Game Gallery and Kinderspoor. If you are still feeling hungry after the crazy roller coasters, welcome to the trolley in the first and yet biggest attraction in Efteling called Python. This is when you will certainly find your most awaited Wow factor.
The Alternative Realm
Look out! Entrance here is banned for those with weak nerves! Get ready for a real horrific experience, from which goosebumps will be the least you will gain. The horror castle Spookslot or the Haunted Castle is a real adventure for those who are fond of sharp feelings. When the last bell of the castle rings, the covers of coffins open and ghosts emerge with soul-scraping screaming, and this is only the beginning of the gloomy, heart-piercing show.
After this, move straight to Fata Morgana or the Forbidden City, which is the habitat of Shahs, leprechauns and other characters of tales. Here your journey on a boat will make you face up to barricades, jungles, sharp tiger’s clutches, crocodile’s mouth, an ancient eastern city and the giant Genie in the end. Your next stopping point is Piraña – a family style river ride that takes you on a spectacular journey. Here are also Pandadroom, Aquanura, and Bobbaan, which though not a must-see, but are still fun.
More Things to Do In Efteling
Outside the Efteling Park, there is the entertaining Efteling Golf Park – a wide golf course for eager golfers offering 18 holes. It has the beautiful rich green surrounding the theme park, a Grand café included in the clubhouse and trolleys and buggies available for rent. The prices range from 35.50 to 60.00 euros depending on the season. Discounts are possible if you are staying at Efteling Bosrijk or Efteling Hotel.
There are quite a lot of shops spread around the park, which sell symbolic souvenirs connected to the park. These are In den Ouden Marskramer, Dromerijen, Loetiek, Jokies Wereld, Panda and others, which are located next to the main attractions of the park. At Anton Pieck’s square, you will find three surprise-toy producing machines in the form of a chicken, a goose, and a blacksmith.
The staff of Efteling has been working hard to improve the eating services of Efteling restaurants. Though they still cannot be considered a gourmet’s dream place, menus and food are quite reasonable for a theme park. The restaurants with their amazing interior and exterior décor make up popular visiting places among travelers being crowded even on quieter days. Thus, you will need a reservation, which is possible at Guest Services. Food issues are not too many here: you have the opportunity to choose between service restaurants, self-service restaurants (Het Witte Paard, Smulpaap, Octopus) and takeaways (Kleyne Klaroen, De Soete Inval), where the food is more expensive than in neighboring countries. The case about food is the same everywhere in Holland, but you are allowed to bring in your food to Efteling, which would be banned in other theme parks. Among service restaurants, you should definitely try Het Wapen van Raveleijn, ’tPoffertje, Polles Keuken, Welkom, and Applause where you will need a reservation for dinner. Of course, the conditions are easier if you are staying at Bosrijk or Efteling Hotel. The menu here is quite diverse including traditional Dutch dishes and ones from European cuisines. You can eat anything from vegetarian salads to guilty sandwiches. But once you are here, make sure you try the famous pancakes, which are claimed to be the most delicious in the world. Drinks are available everywhere on every step you take inside the park. To buy alcohol, you need to be over the age of 18. Again the prices are quite high, which should not scare you, as you are free to drink quite clear and drinkable water from drinking fountains.
This is only a small amount of all the crazy adventures awaiting you in Efteling. They say, seeing once is better than hearing about it a hundred times. Therefore, you’d better go and experience everything yourself after which you might tell us if we were right. Good Luck!