As I begin this post, I realise how long it has been since I’ve written anything here. Still up to date with Efteling news but not managing to put it into my own words. I do, however, spend more of my time reading the Efteling fan groups and pages on Facebook (insert shameless plug for the Efteling Fans UK group, go check it out!) In doing so, I notice so many more people in the UK who have discovered Efteling more recently. Families who have just visited, people getting ready to visit for the first time, and I wonder, after the events of the weekend, if these people are wondering;
‘why are all of these people running to get a pin and a book?!’
Of course, they would have a fair point. Aside from the folks among that mass of people who ran to grab these items with the intention of probably selling them for three times the price online, there were also fans of the Haunted Castle with a genuine love for the attraction.
When it was announced that Spookslot would close this year, it made local news, fans were enraged, petitions were started…but Efteling stood firm with their decision to move forward with the reimagining of this attraction, which in its new form will be named ‘Danse Macabre‘.
So why are all the die-hard Efteling fans unhappy about this decision?
The idea for a major attraction outside of the Fairy Tale Forest came about in the late 1960s, and the plan was to have an area for older children which would include a haunted house and other fairground rides. This would be the first area of the park to not be developed by Anton Pieck, but by Ton van de Ven, who would later go on to design many other Efteling attractions. Although after a while this idea didn’t come to be, the idea of a Haunted House stayed, and construction on Spookslot would start in 1976.
There are several design elements within the show building which have definitely come from Anton Pieck, as although the job was assigned to van de Ven, Pieck did have some input. Specifically the Eastern Spirit that you encounter whilst waiting for the show.
You can see from this why it is so nostalgic to fans, as Efteling’s two original designers came together to produce this attraction, and each left their ‘stamp’ in the show. Spookslot was a very ambitious project in comparison to the fairy tales in the forest, and this makes it all the more impressive. The attraction finally opened in 1978.
Is the show even that good?!
Bearing in mind that this attraction opened in 1978, you can’t expect Symbolica standards from it, and your mind won’t exactly be blown, however…Efteling’s whole aesthetic is the nostalgia of the old days. Enjoying this for what it is, it really is wonderful! From the moment you enter the building you’re in pitch black, are you outside? Are you inside? Where are you? You don’t know! The room leads you up to the doors of the show, and it is here where you will encounter the aforementioned Eastern Spirit. Your unease is exactly what Spookslot is about. The monastery garden that you overlook comes to life in a similar way (and in a similar setup, just on a larger scale) as the Indian Water Lilies. Slowly, everything comes to life, the music builds, and there is so much going on that you don’t know where to look! Dancing balustrades, rolling graves, a hanging man and some strolling monks, it’s all here. Of course, nothing is scary, just spooky!
Ton van de Ven designed the building to have a few faces, which you can see fairly clearly, although it is not always glaringly obvious.
The main show was originally intended to have an animatronic conductor, but due to cost he was omitted.
Spookslot has no actual story, it is a mix of different spooky and uneasy ideas.
During Winter Efteling for several years, the Spookslot Tunnel was home to some Winter Illusions, in which you would be followed through the tunnel by some projections of ghosts (they knew which way you were walking!)
The ‘Kate Bush Special’ was recorded in Efteling in 1978 to promote her album ‘The Kick Inside’ and simultaneously Spookslot. She has a tombstone here which has lived both outside of and inside the attraction.
As you can see, Spookslot is soaked in nostalgia, and is an important part of Efteling’s long and continuing history. So whether you sold your kidney or sacrificed your first born child to get the commemorative book and pin, we as Efteling fans understand why.