You don’t hear a lot about the Netherlands in magazines in Britain apart from the usual Amsterdam and windmills, and the bulb fields. It was quite by chance that I was reading a Woman’s Weekly magazine in 1996 and the first prize was a trip to Efteling, there was a large photo of a scene from the Dream Flight . I didn’t enter the competition but I was hooked, caught up by the magic that was Efteling. Friends of ours had moved to Germany so we saved up and combined visits .
The first sight of the huge thatched entrance amazed us, and everything in the park enthralled us. Music that still makes my daughters skip as we go along Paradoes Promenade 15 years later. They were all just as excited about going this year aged 16, 21 and 25 as they were when they were little girls (and so was I) in fact it was my 50th Birthday request to go to Efteling.
I cannot say exactly why we love Efteling so much. I think there is something for every age group, I don’t like big rides and roller coasters but I never feel bored whilst waiting for the others as there is so much there to watch and so much atmosphere to soak up.
It’s all in the details too, talking rubbish bins, tables held up by chopsticks, doves coloured in pinks, blues and greens (how did they do that by the way?) the golden toilet, a play area in an iceberg and a little wagon where a potato is spiralled and deep-fried. The second time we stayed in the hotel the children were given small torches on arrival with a leaflet to look for monsters under the bed. We didn’t really take this seriously apart from our youngest aged about 5 imagine her delight to find a dragon hand puppet . There really was a monster under the bed. At one breakfast ‘Granny’ made Red Riding Hood lie on the floor and pretend to be Sleeping Beauty and persuaded a blushing teenage boy to waken her with a kiss. Even our most recent visit this September we found the magic was still there. Our first stay at Bosrijk. We found night caps for all and a delightful message on the kitchen blind when we pulled it at night. The Sand Man looked exactly like the one in the paintings and his sand castle was enchanting. I had to go and look at it every evening to watch it change colour, blow bubbles and play music. It seems to play a little finale piece at about 10pm.
As you walk around the park there is so much to see, surprises tucked in little corners that you may not notice at first, The roots of the story telling tree dabbling in the brook, the ground trembling by the Troll King, the giant piano you can really play complete with sheet music to follow and even the cash machines are amazing.
I asked my husband why he liked Efteling and he said it was the way you become immersed in it, you forget about the outside world. It isn’t a particular thing or particular ride. As we walked in the dark through the wood back to our Bosrijk cottage we could feel Efteling all around us like a comforting cloak.
Of all the rides I love the Dream Flight the best, I feel this embodies the spirit of the park exactly.
On our last trip we had to leave the park at 11am to get back to the real world and the ferry. People were still coming in, pouring through the gates and we couldn’t get out. We had to find a member of staff to let us out. He was very surprised that we wanted to leave. We didn’t really want to go.
What is Eftelingness of Efteling? Perhaps we really are enchanted as we walk through the entrance into another realm.
Thank you Sharon!