Vermolen Carrousel: The Oldest Carousel in the Netherlands

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14123434_890916424388479_1417992278_oWhen you think of Efteling, you probably think of big attractions like the Flying Dutchman, Baron 1898, or the Fairy Tale Forest.  However, tucked away in Anton Pieckplein you will find the Vermolen Carrousel, an often overlooked attraction, particularly amongst adults and thrill-seekers.  The carousel is the oldest in the Netherlands, and dates back to 1865.

The carousel was originally owned by Mr. Leander from Wageningen, who travelled around the Netherlands with it, including in his travels a visit to Kaatsheuvel in 1957.  After his wife’s death in 1900 Mr. Leander went on to marry Ms. Vermolen, whose children then took on the responsibility of the ride under the name ‘Brothers Vermolen’.  Later on, the carousel was run solely by Ben Vermolen.

In 1985, Mr. Vermolen was asked to take his carousel to the World’s Fair in Vancouver.  As there was already decades of tradition in his family of travelling the carousel around the Netherlands, he decided to send the original ride to Vancouver, and build a new one to continue travelling around the Netherlands with.  Everywhere the carousel has visited is documented in the canvas pennants on the ride.  In the new carousel, a Carl Frei organ was installed, whereas in the original ride a Richter organ was used.  After the World’s Fair was over, Vermolen sold the carousel and so it remained in Canada, residing in a shopping mall for 10 years.

In 1995 the ride was bought by Efteling, who had the task of restoring it to its former glory; it is also decided at this time to switch the organs, providing Efteling’s new purchase with a Carl Frei organ.  After a brief time at the Tilburg fair, Efteling temporarily install the Vermolen carousel on the grass where you will now find Winter Efteling’s Ice Palace.  It was moved to the Dwarrelplein outside the House of the Five Senses in 1997, and in 2000 it was erected next to the Laaf Village.  By 2004 the attraction has found its final home where it stands to this day, outside the White Horse on Anton Pieckplein.

This past winter (2015-16) the Vermolen Carousel has received a complete restoration at Efteling’s Gildehuis, which took around 4 months to complete.  The horses, sleighs and carriages have all been sanded down to their original wood and repainted, new lights were installed, the panels and canvases were renewed, a whole new steel frame was built and installed, and the organ has been completely restored, allowing it to produce up to 30% more volume.  A new control both has also been built alongside the ride.

This video shows some of the restoration work at Efteling:

Here are some photos and a video of this beautiful carousel, by our good friend Eftelwesley; please click on the images to see them in their full glory!

 

Efteling from the Perspective of a First Time Visitor

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Our friend Peter Bell recently visited Efteling for the first time, and had a lot to say about it! Click the image below to rediscover Efteling through the eyes of a first-time visitor!

Efteling 20 Years Ago

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1996So, 20 years ago this month was my first visit to Efteling.  I thought I’d share a few photos of the park from that trip, although there aren’t too many to share, as this was of course an era before everyone had a camera in their pocket!

That ticket on the left is my original ticket from August 1996.

If you are a regular visitor to Efteling, you can see that many things have changed in 20 years, and many things have stayed the same!  The square flowerbeds are (I think) where the Chinese Nightingale building now stands, you can also see Monsieur Cannibale before the roof was built on it, and you can just make out the rowing boats on the Vonderplas with Fata Morgana in the background.

Please click on a photo to scroll through the full size images.

Efteling Packages through DFDS Seaways

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“We have set ourselves the target to grow into an international destination instead of a one-day attraction” – Fons Jurgens, Director of Efteling.

Well, Efteling are definitely reaching out to an international audience lately, as recently we saw the launch of the Chinese Efteling website, and now Efteling are trying to capture residents of the UK by offering Efteling packages on DFDS ferries (a long time coming I think!).  At the moment, the route only seems to be available from Newcastle to Amsterdam, and it is mandatory to take a vehicle with you, but other that this seems like a very positive step for the park!

DFDS

Here’s what it says on the DFDS site:

If you’re looking for a family getaway this year then look no further than the magical Efteling theme park in Holland. Discover an enchanting world full of wonders, perfect for young and old alike, where fairy tales come to life!

Book a ferry crossing from Newcastle to Holland and package together with tickets and accommodation at Efteling theme park, staying at Bosrijk Village’s self-catering lakeside cabins, located just outside the park.

  • 2 nights onboard our Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry in an en suite cabin
  • 3 or 4-nights’ self catering accommodation
  • Entrance tickets to Efteling theme park
  • Includes transport for you and your car

Click here to go to the DFDS page.

Attracting visitors from a wider range of countries is all part of Efteling’s plan which will hopefully see the park meet their target of 5 million visitors by 2020.

This is not only good news for Efteling, but good news for the UK in terms of holiday destination choices!  Based solely on ticket prices online (1 day ticket) Efteling comes out pretty well:

Alton Towers: £36.12

Disneyland Paris: £36-£52 (depending on date)

Efteling: €34.50 (approx £30)

Europa Park: €44.50 (approx £38, price drops in Winter)

You have to stay at Bosrijk with this package (no option for Efteling Hotel at this time), and as mentioned above, you must take your own vehicle.  One thing that seems to be quite obviously missing from this package which would complete things, is an Efteling bus.  While progressing through the booking, there is no option to add a coach transfer.  Normally, you have to call DFDS to arrange coach transfers to Amsterdam, but in this case where the package is specifically a holiday to Efteling, one might think that there was a bus to Efteling included, particularly for people who don’t want to navigate the Dutch rail and bus networks possibly with young children.  This is where Disney have the upper hand, with their airport shuttles.  Of course, this explains why they insist that you take your own car!

These buses operate in the Netherlands, providing day trips to Efteling.  A bus like this would be perfect to shuttle guests straight to the park from the ferry terminal:

I think we can all agree that that is one nice bus!

So, a positive step forward for Efteling, or do you think this means that the park will become too popular?  Either way, I may feel a research trip coming on!

Locomotive ‘Aagje’

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Aagje is Efteling’s second oldest steam locomotive that transports guests on a grand circle tour of the park.  Built by Orenstein & Koppel in 1911 and originating in Berlin, Aagje was sent to be used at a brickworks in IJesseloord.  Aagje was eventually retired from her job, and after a few years of relaxation, she was bought by Efteling.  March 1968 saw her first test run in the park, and she’s still running today!

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Video by eftel1ngfan. 

Efteling Zoetrope Video

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The other day we were talking about Efteling’s new addition of a zoetrope in Station de Oost.  Our good friend Eftelwesley has shared this video of the zoetrope; take a look!

It looks great!  Slightly odd but hey, that’s how Efteling is, and that’s why we love it!  😀

Efteling Installs a Zoetrope!

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You may have seen or heard of a zoetrope before.  Zoetropes are a pre-film animation device, showing a sequence of drawings or photographs in a flip-book style, one after another.  Here is an example of the kind of zoetrope most of us will have seen before:

There are also 3D zoetropes which create movement using models which are mounted onto a rotating base, spun, and then have a strobe light cast over them.  This tricks your brain into seeing ‘real’ movement, pretty much like watching an animated film, for example.  Here’s an example of that, with an explanation of how it works, by Woody:

Back to Efteling!  About a week ago, a large mysterious box turned up in Station de Oost labelled ‘Luggage’, with a monkey peeking over the top of it.  What was this puzzling box?  Why was it there? Why were there Coca Cola signs on the exterior? Has Doctor Who part-exchanged his Tardis?

Photo from vijfzintuigen.nl

Photo from vijfzintuigen.nl

Well, apparently it is a zoetrope.  Yesterday on Efteling’s Facebook account they said:

‘New in the Efteling: a zoetrope railway station in the east!
This Mini-attraction we have made together with Coca-Cola.’ 

That is probably a bad translation and there probably isn’t a railway station inside, but who knows?!  Maybe monkeys and Coca Cola bottles are involved!  I did hear that there are flashing lights inside, so presumably this is a 3D zoetrope.

No doubt a video will turn up soon, so keep an eye on our Facebook page where it will probably be shared!

I Don’t Speak Dutch, Will I Understand Everything at Efteling?

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I’ve been asked this question a few times recently, so I thought that it would be a great subject for a post!

Can you really get the most out of Efteling if you don’t speak Dutch?

Many of us English folk do not happen to speak Dutch, so it can be a little difficult at times to understand certain things on your visit to Efteling.

There are two main language barrier issues that you’ll come across at Efteling, from my experience.  The first is understanding some of the attractions, and the second is ordering food (although there seems to be more English menus available upon request than there used to be).

As far as attractions are concerned, lets start with the Fairy Tale Forest (Sprookjesbos).  Will you understand each tale by standing and listening to it? P1000264 No.  Most of the fairy tales you will be familiar with, such as Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, but the ones you don’t know are impossible to understand if you know no Dutch.  To help combat the language barrier, Efteling have provided decorative books next to each fairy tale, which tell the tale in 4 languages.  Illustrated Efteling story books are also available at the gifts shops, making perfect reading for the nights you are staying at the park!

The two pre-shows in Villa Volta are totally in Dutch, so here’s your chance to practice your acting skills and pretend like you’re listening and taking in every word!  There are boards outside on the wall however, explaining the story in multiple languages, so use your waiting time wisely by reading them.

When it comes to food, you want to know what you’re ordering, and as mentioned above, Efteling now has English menus available at most of their restaurants.  Click here for Polle’s Keuken menu (2012).  The vast majority of the staff members also speak English (and other languages) and are always happy to help a confused foreigner!

The park maps are multi-lingual, and the Efteling app and the website are now available totally in English too!

If you want to get a better understanding of some of the stories and attractions at Efteling before your visit, then make sure to check out this site where my friend Milena has translated all of the stories and many of the attractions at Efteling.

Although there is a lot of Dutch used in Efteling, many more attractions rely purely on visuals and music and the language barrier, when it does surface, certainly does not detract from this fabulous park!