Gardaland in Italy, Disneyland in France, Tivoli Gardens in Denmark, Europa-Park in Germany, PortAventura World in Spain. What about the Netherlands? Well, of course the answer is Efteling, a great fantasy and fairytale-themed park that offers a different experience from any other European amusement park.
When it comes to amusement parks around Europe, one of the most unique fantasy-themed park to spring to mind is Efteling, an entertainment venue located in Kaatsheuvel, a Dutch village in the province of North Brabant. The facilities of the park cover approximately 275 hectares of a beautiful green area, and are integrated with the typically stunning Dutch nature. Historically speaking, this park was first developed to be used as sports grounds. Subsequently, in 1950, the mayor of Loon op Zand, Reiner van der Heijden, founded Efteling Nature Park Foundation with Peter Reijnders and Anton Peck. From that moment, Efteling never stopped evolving, always bringing innovative, entertaining, and appealing attractions to its visitors. Year by year new attractions were added, making the park more interesting and outlining the leitmotiv of fairytales and fantasy. It is important to note that the Fairytale Forest is the core of Efteling, and several depictions of fairy tale figures have been added since its opening in 1952.
The exponential growth of Efteling started in the same year, and was always carried out with profound respect towards the surrounding nature. The enlargement of Efteling proceeded in 1992 with the opening of the four-star Efteling Hotel, and was followed by the addition of an eighteen-hole golf course in 1995, the inauguration of Efteling theatre in 2002 and the most recent opening of the Holiday village Bosrijk in 2009, subsequently enlarged in 2015. As previously mentioned, the building planning of Efteling has always taken into account the importance of nature and environment. As a matter of fact, only a small part of the green areas comprised by Efteling have been built upon, and a number of environmental foundations were consulted before building the golf park and the Holiday village. In terms of attractions, the list has been getting longer and longer since the opening in 1952, when the main attraction of the park was the Fairytale Forest. Today more than thirty different attractions make this fantasy-themed park a great place to visit to experience some serious fun. The most famous ones include Python, a fantastic double-loop roller coaster, Piraña, a stunning river rafting ride, the Steam Carousel, the Flying Dutchman and many more. The latest attractions to be incorporated were Baron 1898 in 2015 and Pinocchio, which opened this year. The former is an amazing dive coaster which reaches a speed of 90 km/h descending from the highest peak of 37.5 meters, highly advisable for adrenaline lovers, while the latter represents a great chance to discover in details the fairy tale of “Pinocchio” through three different sections composed of interactive elements.
On top of the different attractions offered, Efteling also organises other entertaining events to amaze its visitors. For example, from September 2016 the fairytale musical “Puss in Boots” will be available, in Dutch language only, to all the visitors during weekends and national holidays. Of course the secret of a fantasy-themed park that has more than 4 million visitors each year is to be always competitive and future-oriented to attract even more visitors. Moreover, the secret of its success is represented by the Fairytale Forest, emblem of the park, but also by the peculiar way to model and create big rides using fairytales and legends as source of inspiration.
Future projects for summer 2017 include the opening of the new dark ride Symbolica: Palace of Fantasy, which consists in an adventurous ride through the Palace of Fantasy, offering three different routes through magical and hidden rooms. Another important opening, expected as of mid-2017, is the new overnight accommodation placed on the border of the Loonsche Land district, which will offer Efteling visitors more overnight facilities to enjoy their stay plunged in the green. The 31st of May 2017 will be a very important date for Efteling, which will celebrate the sixty-fifth anniversary of its opening. The park represents a solid and dynamic reality among the amusement parks of Europe. Made unique by its fairytale theme, its main goal is to become more international and above all to welcome 5 million visitors per year by 2020. Efteling certainly knows how to give its visitors a great experience in the world of fairytales and fantasy: all the ingredients to reach their goal are already there, the rest is only a matter of time.
Cover Photo by Stefan Scheer (CCA-SA 3.0 Commons Wikimedia)
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