As a lover of the strange and unique, it took me a long time to visit Efteling. Too long. In case you haven’t heard of Efteling, the Efteling theme park is one of the best theme parks in the Netherlands and truly one of the most unique. I grew up going to Disney every year and I have to say that Efteling is truly one of the best amusement parks that I’ve been to. Keep reading on why you need to visit Efteling, how to get to Efteling, and the best attractions at Efteling.
Why you need to visit Efteling
Efteling actually predates Disney! Efteling was first opened in 1952 as a theme park with a playground and the Sprookjesbos that remains today. Efteling has a unique style of art as well as a whole universe. This aspect makes Efteling unique from other amusement parks that focus on more modern characters.
I was really surprised by Efteling, expecting it to be yet another theme park. The unique atmosphere, themed garbage cans (really!), fantastic rides, unique fairy tale forest, and the fascinating characters truly made it a theme park that I have started eagerly recommending to friends and acquaintances alike.
Efteling’s godfather: Anton Pieck
Anton Pieck is a famous Dutch illustrator who drew in a distinctive, romantic style who was asked to help design a fairy tale theme park. Naturally, he started with Grimm’s Fairy Tales. His creations helped Efteling be the first “theme” park in the Netherlands and he continued working for Efteling until his retirement.
Not all of the Fairy Tale forest was designed by Anton Pieck as he worked closely with a protege: Ton van de Ven. He is credited for growing Efteling into the modern theme park it is today while incorporating Pieck’s original ideas.
Efteling Tickets: Aren’t they expensive?
To be fair, Efteling tickets are not as bad as Disney tickets. As of 2018, Efteling tickets cost around 40 euros for adults, however it’s fairly easy to find discounts. If you purchase your tickets in advance online, you’re likely to save some euros although if you can wait to visit Efteling in winter, you’ll save even more. (The park is open 365 days per year!)
It is possible to find cheap tickets to Efteling–combined with the actual train ticket there. NS often has a deal where you can purchase admission along with the train ride there for the same cost as entry.
Albert Heijn often has a savings stamp that will give you reduced tickets to Efteling if you save up enough stamps, but this is really for people who live in the Netherlands.
My favorite Efteling Attractions and Rides
One of the best apps to download is the Efteling app (Apple / Android). This app includes a map of the park, estimates for wait lines, and a way to reserve your place in line to avoid waiting more than fifteen minutes for a ride.
Rides are fully included in the cost of Efteling, however games with prizes and snacks are not included. As a side note, I’d recommend bringing a power bank as you’re likely to drain your battery by using the app and the free WiFI to post about your day in Efteling!)
I visited Efteling on a weekday and the lines weren’t bad at all, so the feature to reserve my place wasn’t available. However, the waiting time estimator was very helpful for minimizing my time waiting for lines.
One other tip to avoid lines is to go into the single rider line. I went with a group, however we often split up when we’d get in line. Sometimes I’d sit next to someone else, however quite a few times, I’d end up sitting next to another member of my group. By doing this, the line ended up being usually twenty minutes at its longest.
The Sprookjesbos is the oldest part of Efteling. This fairytale forest that is about fifteen acres showcases fairytales by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Perrault in a unique manner. The stylized artwork as well as the miniature houses made it a delight to explore.
In this fifteen acre forest, you’ll also find Sleeping Beauty’s castle, the perfect place to find your Prince (or Princess) Charming. This lifesize castle is part of the original part of the Fairytale Forest. I also recommend seeking out Little Red Riding Hood, and Dwarf Village. Dwarf Village includes large toadstools that children (or adults) can explore.
If you’re reading this concerned that you won’t get to see these main attractions of Efteling, just follow the main path through the Fairy Tale Forest and be sure to read your fairytales before coming to Efteling!
This newer rollercoaster is perfect for those looking for a bit of a thrill as you’ll sail along this haunted mine shaft at 90 km/h… There are a few loops although the best part of the ride is certainly the free fall, which you’ll see as you pass Baron 1898.
Droomvlucht is a ride that really defines Efteling. This ride transports you to a magical land of fairies, trolls, castles, and clouds. You’ll float through this fantasy word as you behold the creativity of this fantasy world. It is the most expensive ride in Efteling to date–and it is truly worth the wait.
I went with a few Dutch bloggers. One of them described this as mind f*ck. I’d say that was pretty accurate and I must say that it was one of my favorite rides at Efteling. Simply, you’re entering a haunted house, but what you think will happen doesn’t. My only issue with this ride is that for non-Dutch speakers (or even non-native Dutch speakers who aren’t comfortable), the beginning narrative is only in Dutch, so you must wait at least 10 minutes as the story is told in Dutch.
The Python is one of the new rides for daredevils. This roller coaster goes upside down three times, so for those looking for a bit more adrenaline will enjoy the smooth ride along this steel coaster.
This swinging ship brought back great memories of my childhood going to Adventureland (the real one that the movie is based on). The ship doesn’t go upside down, but it’s a thrilling ride that went quite a bit higher than I had expected it. Unlike many rides, the line was very minimal and I almost walked onto this ride. It’s a great one for groups as you can sit together.
Symbolica is Efteling’s newest ride. This ride invites you inside a charming castle where you’ll cause chaos as you explore the basement of the castle and discover the magic of the Efteling’s alternative universe…. I won’t ruin it, but I had a blast spinning around in this dream world. The line for this ride was one of the longest that I encountered and groups of 4+ will need to break up.
For a unique view over the park, head to Pagoda, which is Efteling’s observation tower. This is not your standard observation tower as you first rise prior to enjoying 360 views over Efteling.
This water rollercoaster has a stunning interior reminiscent of a Dutch port. You’ll descend into the darkness, only to be taken on a wild ride that ends in water…
Fata Morgana is another dark ride that transports you to a world inspired by 1,001 Arabian nights. As you float along the canals of this forbidden city, you’ll witness the dark underbelly of this city…
Is Efteling for adults too?
As an adult who loves amusement parks, I’ve been burned a couple of times by amusement parks that weren’t really adult friendly–and that I felt like a weirdo for wanting to go on the rides.
Efteling has a lot to offer for adults and you won’t feel weird enjoying Efteling without kids. The rollercoasters were impressive and I must say that the rides will impress adults, even those who have been to the big league amusement parks.
Efteling food and how to save money while visiting Efteling
While visiting Efteling, I ended up buying my lunch. The food is typically Dutch and I ended up buying a croquet with fries and a drink for about five euros. I felt that this was very reasonable considering that this is an amusement park. As my comparison is mostly Disney, I found the prices to be reasonable and what you’d find in most major Dutch cities.
To be fair, most Dutchies bring a picnic to Efteling. You’re allowed to bring a backpack in (although it can be a bit of a nuisance to deal with for rides), so I’d recommend bringing a foldable bag with your lunch and drinks. There’s a Albert Heijn about ten minutes on foot from the park if you forget lunch.
Getting to Efteling
If you’re traveling from Amsterdam to Efteling, be warned that it’s a sizable train ride that takes approximately two hours with a transfer to a bus once you reach ‘S-Hertogenbosch. A round-trip ticket to Efteling from Amsterdam should cost about 36.50 euros (2018), which includes the bus to Efteling. However, you can take the train to Efteling for as little as 16 euros roundtrip with these tips on saving money on the Dutch trains.
Alternatively, you can drive to Efteling, however parking is not free. Parking for cars costs 10 euros per car. Depending on the size of your group, it might be cheaper to drive.
Where to stay in Efteling (or nearby)
It is possible to stay overnight at Efteling in their themed rooms, however these are fairly expensive. For more inexpensive accommodations, you’ll find plenty of options around Brabant, especially if you’ll have a car or head back towards Den Bosch.
If you’re visiting Efteling, you’re very close to Tilburg and Den Bosch. Den Bosch is one of my favorite Dutch cities and I’d recommend making a weekend out of it. I’d recommend staying in Tilburg to save money.