I’m pretty sure that we’re all aware that Disney took famous European fairy tales and turned them into what is now a multi-billion dollar company, but what people don’t know, is that Disneyland is also a a rendition of someone else’s idea. Granted, Disney did it much much grander, but in the Netherlands there is a theme park named Efteling that is the Grimm brothers version of Disneyland. And it is bliss!
To begin, from Tilburg it only takes 30 mins to get there, and costs 30 Euros. Also, there is a difference between Summer and Winter Efteling. During Summer Efteling, there is a water park, and during Winter Efteling they go all out with Sinter Clauss and Black Pete. Sinter Clauss is Santa, but Black Pete… He’s basically the elf in charge of the naughty list. If you’re bad he comes in the middle of the night – hence the “black” in Black Pete – and he the throws naughty children in a burlap sac (however, Black Pete is rooted in racism and to this day causes controversy). Clearly, the Dutch motivate children to be good with threats instead of rewards. So yes, Stef Bode, her friend Denise, and I went to Winter Efteling.
We hopped on the bus from Tilburg Central and sat through the 30 min ride to the glorious gates of heavenly amusement parks. We paid our thirty euros for the ticket, downloaded the Efteling App (because it tells you the wait times for rollercoasters… how cool is that?) and began our adventure. We didn’t really look at a map so our first attraction turned out to be hell. It was one of those 4D movies (I honestly do not know why anyone makes those anymore, they’re just the worst) about a Panda that tries to stop climate change. It was quite originally named “Panda Droom” (translation; Panda’s Dream). At some point the room filled with smoke and a giant tree fell from the roof (descended upon the audience stopping just before it could hit our heads). The fact that the entire video was also in really quickly spoken Dutch also didn’t help the enjoyability of it. BUT, we went on a bobsled rollercoaster to remedy the situation. The park was so empty, we did it twice non stop! By then it was lunch so we went to the most adorable Christmas market ever, complete with fake snow – because lets get real, it only ever rains in de Nederlands.
The little village we had lunch in surrounded a giant campfire that was maintained by an attendant at all times. You could get little sticks to put marshmallows on and roast them by the fire. Above us in the tree was a large set of CooCoo Clocks that chimed every so often. This place was adorable.
We then moved on to one of the most visually impressive rides ever. It was a model of Agrabah from the 1001 Arabian Nights. You get onto a little boat and float down a lazy river that surrounds you with robotic puppets that make up the city. They shoot at you, and you escape from a Genie, etc… It’s pretty great.
Afterwards we decided it was time to get a little more adrenaline pumping so we went on “The Baron.” As you wait in line you are told a story – you are a new miner about to go down into the haunted mines. There are three female ghosts that mourn their dead husbands and vow to find them. You then get on the ride which drops you straight into the mine, followed by various loops and twists and turns, etc. We did a couple more rides like this, and then eventually made our way over the carousel village.
That’s right. A village dedicated to carousels. The biggest one was operated by an old train engine that turned the marry go round, and powered the pump organ that played your typical theme park music. It was pretty nice.
And finally, before leaving this ginormous park in which I haven’t even described half of the things we did, we went to Efteling’s famous fairy tale village, in which you walk around a forest and can see recreations of famous tales. Cinderella, Little Red, and then the more obscure ones like the little match girl, the indian water lilies, or the Chinese nightingale. Understand that this list doesn’t even include half of the things in the forest. EVERY fairytale that I have never even heard of was in the maze that is this forest. It was absolutely stunning, but don’t take my word for it. Next time you’re casually in the Netherlands go to Efteling and see for yourself!