What do you do when you grow up with the Netherlands’s biggest theme park in your backyard? You visit it as often as you can! The Efteling Theme Park is located in the south of the Netherlands 100 km / 62 miles from Amsterdam. And this happened to be more or less in my backyard when I grew up. From the age of 6 till 12 years old, my brother and I, together with my friend’s family, went to the Efteling park at least once a month. Maybe even every week! I know the forest-like amusement park with all her theme rides, fairy tales, magical wonderland and roller coasters like the back of my hand.
A lot has changed since then. From one big playground in my childhood, the Efteling theme park evolved into a multi-million business. It has expanded their reach across the borders to rival with almost bankrupt Disneyland in Paris and keeps growing. In addition to the theme park, it has opened up a hotel, theater, golf court and holiday villages to accommodate thousands of visitors per day.
I was not paid or endorsed to write about the theme park the Efteling. All experiences are my own from the age of 6 until modern days. This post is not sponsored in any way, but it does contain affiliate links. If you decide to book a night via one of the links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Efteling Theme Park Introduction
But chances are, you might have never heard of theme park Efteling. What is it? Why is it different from any other theme park you’ll see in Europe? And why am I so crazy (
obsessed) ( infatuated) in love with the Efteling? I give you the 101 on the Efteling theme park as an introduction and you can decide for yourself.
The Efteling is located in Kaatsheuvel. This is approx. 100 km (62 miles) from Amsterdam or a good 1,5 hours by train and bus. You can take the train to Tilburg and take the bus to the Efteling. Plan your journey to the Efteling park via Dutch public transport here.
Who can visit the Efteling?
The Efteling theme park is fun for everyone. The little ones will enjoy the fairytales and marry-go-rounds, teens will enjoy the haunted mansion and the rollercoasters and there are plenty of family rides for the whole family.
When is the best time to visit the Efteling?
The Efteling amusement park is open year-round, 365 days a year. Normally from 10 am till 6 pm, in summers to 8 pm and on specific days even till midnight. Due to maintenance, certain rides might be closed. Outdoor activities may be subject to weather circumstances.
You can check how busy the park is, in their calendar and check the best day to visit the Efteling.
Make sure you download the Efteling app (from google play store or app store), that will give you valuable information about walking routes in the park, maintenance schedules and up-to-date waiting times for all the rides in the park.
The Efteling is open 365 days a year but winter can be harsh in the Netherlands. Cold wind can rain on your parade. As some attractions are subject to weather circumstances, part of the park is closed. But it is still worth your time to visit Efteling during winter. Dress warmly and explore the theme park dressed for winter. Fake snow, bonfires, hot mulled wine and all characters, attractions and rides are dressed for winter. Strap on your ice skates and take a spin at the ice rink at the Efteling.
How much does the Efteling theme park cost?
Normal entrance fee is €42 for a full day. 60+ and disabled people pay €40 and children younger than four can visit the park for free. If you purchase your tickets online, you’ll receive a €2,00 discount or buy them in advance here. Furthermore, you can buy different package tickets that consist of entry to the park at 9.30am and some drinks and snacks included.
Purchase your Efteling Tickets in advance here.
Budget-friendly day trip to the Efteling
If you have friends or family in the Netherlands, you might want to contact them for discount tickets. A day at the Efteling is the most popular day trip in the Netherlands therefore many discount options are available. From collecting stamps at your local supermarket for a half-price ticket to reward miles for a free ticket.
Food and Drinks at the Efteling
You can bring your own snacks, home-packed lunch and drinks. You’ll see whole families with coolers and backpacks packed to the brim with lunches. In case you do decide to buy your food and drinks, the price level is similar to elsewhere in the Netherlands. You’ll pay €1,50 for a cup of coffee, € 2,50 for a bottle of Coca Cola. Dutch snacks like poffertjes (little puffed pancakes) and Dutch pancakes are popular dishes to eat, but healthy sandwiches, snacks and candy are widely available.
Why is the Efteling park different than other theme parks?
The main reason why the Efteling theme park is my favorite day trip in the Netherlands is that it is different. Many theme parks in Europe throw together a bunch of rollercoasters and rides and offer you a fun-filled day. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re not keen on rollercoasters or rides, the park is not for everyone.
The Efteling offers a unique concept of fairytale based stories and rides. The theme park is located in a forest-like area, where green space and trees are just as important as the amusement. The whole park is divided into different themes or regions, but all are connected by a sauce of magic and nostalgic charm. From the lamp posts to the benches in the park, all have a little sparkle of Efteling fairy dust.
Who is Anton Pieck?
What Walt Disney was for Disneyland, was Anton Pieck for the Efteling. Without knowing it. Mr. Anton Pieck was a Dutch painter and artist who lived from 1895 till 1987. His paintings can be recognized by the same theme, color, use of the material and nostalgic magic vibe with lots of things going on. From 1952 to 1974, Anton Pieck was responsible for designing almost everything for the Efteling fairy tale park and left a legacy of a make-belief world of wonders that is still cherished today.
Efteling theme park areas and regions
To explain more what you can see and do in the Efteling and to show you examples of why the Efteling theme park is such a unique day trip, I walk you through the different themed regions of the Efteling below.
Fantasierijk – Fantasy Region
The latest attraction of the Efteling is a dark ride, called Symbolica. In hovering rides, you’ll have an audience with the king of the Efteling in his enchanted castle.
Aquanura, best experienced at dark, is the outdoor water fountain show. Each season the show changes their choreography, music and lights to amaze you, right before you go home (or to sleep at the Efteling Hotel).
Marerijk – Fairy tale Region
In the fairy tale region, you can also find the steam railway station where you can hop on the steam train that will take you to the other end of the park.
The little ones can visit the People of Laaf, gnome-like creatures that live underground in their little Laaf village (Land van Laaf). Funny, goofy and playful, the people of Laaf are nothing like you’ve ever seen before. Children can hover over it on the monorail.
If you like nostalgic times, take a ride at the merry-go-round, watch the little trains at the Diorama, buy some candy in the old charming candy show or float around in the Carrousel.
Magic Fairy Tale Forest
This is where the Efteling has her origin. The main attraction is the fairy tale forest, where all the famous fairy tales like Red riding hood, Pinocchio, Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella await you. Each fairy tale has its own display, varying from a whole castle or palace to gnomes living in tree trunks.
If you follow the route, you’ll visit 29 fairy tales, all laid out in the woodland area. Make sure to have your kids sit on the musical mushrooms dotted all through the park or throw away your rubbish in the mouth of Hungry Gijs (Holle Bolle Gijs).
My top favorite attraction here is the Droomvlucht (Flight of Dreams) where you’ll enter a ride and float through a magical world of fairies, glitter, elves and leprechauns. The music and the scent at the Droomvlucht will stick with you in your dreams.
Villa Volta is not for the faint hearted. This cursed house shows you the legend of a local outlaw who will not find peace in his own home because he sacked a chapel. His punishment is to be under house arrest in his revolving house, until a child with a clean conscience will visit and break the spell. Do you have what it takes?
Anderrijk – “Unusual” Region
Fairy tales and make belief world, another mythical part of the Efteling Park.
Put on your 3-D goggles to experience a ride through the rainforest with WWF in the PandaDroom (Panda Dream). Sound, visual effects, smell and water make this experience unforgettable.
After all this fun and laughter, you can enter the Spookslot (Haunted Mansion) where a symphony of music, sound and effects bring an old graveyard to life.
Bob Sleigh roller coaster
Did you ever want to be part of a Bobsleigh team like at the Olympics? This is your chance to ride a real Bobsleigh. Completely in Swiss theme, you embark the bobsleigh, to slide across the track! As of September 1st. 2019, Bob will no longer be open. It will be replaced by a new rollercoaster: Max & Moritz.
Rain or shine, I guarantee you’ll get wet in this thrilling wild water ride. The wild water river takes you through the land of the Inca’s, along plunging waterfalls, rapids and the fun of bumping into other boats. Did you make it out without a splash! Congratz!
Embark the boat and enter this dark ride, inspired by 1.001 Arabian nights. Oriental market places, back alley streets and the richness of the sultan. You’ll slide through the water to discover the Fata Morgana.
Reizenrijk – Travel Region
Colors, music and a hint of overseas, the Travel region is very family-friendly. The crazy ride at the Carnival Festival will take you on a journey around the world and show you the cultures of the world in a slightly absurd (over-exaggerated) way. Be warned: you won’t get the tune out of your head for the next weeks!
Ever experienced a roller coaster in the dark? Vogel Rok got you covered. Based on the story of Sinbad the Sailor, you’ll race through the dark, trying to escape the claws of this mythical bird.
If you like to take things a bit slower, hop on one of the Gondoletta gondola-style boats that will float around a huge pond. Relax, sit back and enjoy the park’s nature (or home-packed lunch as many people do). The park is especially beautiful in spring when hundreds of flowers blossom on the banks of the water.
To get a good overview of the Efteling theme park and its surroundings, take a flight in the Pagoda. This Thai inspired temple will bring you high above the Efteling. At 45m height (148ft.) it will rotate to give you 360-degree panoramic views.
Ruigrijk – Rough Rollercoaster Region
Can you guess this is my favorite part of the theme park? The whole family can enjoy a kid’s railway track where they peddle their own little trains. Or hop on one of the ancient cars and drive through the park in the Oude Tuffer (Old Puffer). You’ll also find another station of the steam train here, but this part of the Efteling is where the thrill seekers go.
Halve Maen – Half moon
This haunted ship will throw you from one side to the other. You’ll get high up above the trees before you’re rushed down to the harbor below. Do you dare to put your hands in the air?
Two loopings and a corkscrew. This thrilling roller coaster ride is inspired by the daredevil snake Python. Painfully slow, the roller coaster brings you up high where you see the track laid out down below. After two full loopings, you head the other way, but not before you’re twisted in the corkscrew. Fun times!
Joris en de Draak – Joris and the Dragon
This competitive wooden roller coaster has two teams (fire and water) racing against each other to slay the dragon. The winner will be saluted with applause and 1.001 gold coins!
De Vliegende Hollander – The Flying Dutchman
The greedy Dutch Captain Willem van der Decken sailed his ship, the Dutchman, across the world seas. Hungry for more fortune, he illegally sailed on Easter Sunday which brought misfortune on the ship. Enter the boat and experience his haunted ship with a big splash at the end!
Baron 1898 Dive Coaster
The newest roller coaster to the Efteling theme park, this dive coaster brings you back to the mines of south Netherlands. Digging for gold, white mysterious women, try to stop the mineworkers from taking too much from the earth. Do you dare to enter the haunted mining shaft? After a near-vertical drop of 37.5m (123ft.), you’ll loop once and be twisted 2 times in the tightest twister I ever experienced at 90 km/h (56 miles per hour). Might be the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
Where to stay at the Efteling?
Living only 10 miles away from the theme park Efteling, I can go as often as I like and return home the same evening. But for all you people who are less fortunate, you might want to consider to spend the night at the Efteling. Where better than at the Efteling park itself in one of the park’s many accommodations? Not only can you sleep at the park but you also get 2-day theme park entry tickets included in the price.
Sleep at the Efteling Hotel
Only a few minutes’ walk from the Efteling Park, the Efteling Hotel offers you 4-star luxury in true Efteling enchanted style. Check for prices and availability of one of their 20 enchanting theme suites, such as The Snow White Suite or The Fata Morgana Suite. Family rooms and junior suits are also available.
Efteling Village Bosrijk
10 minutes walking distance from the Efteling park, the self-catered apartments and group accommodations of Efteling Bosrijk are like stepping into a magic little village. Find a little holiday home with a sauna or Jacuzzi on the booking site.
Efteling Village Loonsche Land
Situated in the heart of nature, the Loonsche Land is located 20 minutes’ walk from the Efteling entrance. In return you’ll stay at cozy holiday homes or hotel rooms, all made from natural materials. You can look out over the trees in a treehouse or stick your feet in the sand in a sand dune cottage. Find your themed room and options for Loonsche Land here.
Ready to experience the best day trip in the Netherlands at the Efteling Theme Park?
I tried to give you a quick overview of Europe’s most enchanted amusement park. There is so much to see and do in this world of wonders called the Efteling, that you keep coming back. And I hope you see why I love it so much and why I want the whole world to experience it. It is a brilliant day trip in the Netherlands with kids or family and for everyone who believes in fairy tales and dreams. Will I see you at the Efteling?
Do you like my 101 introduction guide to theme park the Efteling? Share it with your friends on social media. Or leave me a comment below, I love to read what you think of the park.