Efteling Theme Park Review | One of the BEST Places To Visit With Kids

 

If you enjoy fairytales, the magic of childhood, Hans Christian Andersen & the brothers Grimm, you and your kids will LOVE the Efteling Theme Park in the Netherlands.  I was incredibly excited to be invited on a press trip to experience it with my girls, and was not disappointed! Read on to find out why I wholeheartedly think it’s one of the best places to visit with kids.

Efteling Theme Park Review

The story-telling tree – Photo courtesy of Efteling

The attention to detail and immersion into a fairytale world.

The attention to detail is incredible. From meandering leafy paths leading you to different fairytales, to even the ATM’s being themed (one is a giant treasure chest),  to the rubbish bins aka Holle Bolle Gijs (a display in their own right), calling out  “papier hier’ – it is clear that so much thought has gone into the visitor experience for even the most essential activities. One of the loo’s was even painted gold with a crown on the door. Or course we had to use that one! Our favourite was the Gingerbread House from Hansel & Gretel where the cakes smell of real vanilla!

With a giant storytelling tree, epic rollercoasters and other themed rides, It’s a trip we have talked about every day since we have returned.

 

Efteling Theme Park Review Efteling Theme Park Review

There is something for everyone.

Although I visited with my 6 and 3 year old, we saw many groups of teens visiting the park too. The Flying Dutchman, Wooden rollercoaster, Bob- see, Baron dive coaster and Python rollercoaster are sure to appeal to dare devils. For older children and adults, the swinging ship, and Piranha water ride offered thrilling experiences too.

Here is a video which gives more of a glimpse into this magical world.

 

Efteling Theme Park Review

Hansel & Gretel – the cakes smell of vanilla!

Efteling is the perfect theme park for toddlers and younger children.

Even though the park appeals to all ages, I think the magic lies within the thoughtful provisions for younger ones.

The fairytale forest can easily take 2-3 hours to meander through. Described aptly by Efteling as the ‘largest living picture book’, it is easy to see how children and parents are enchanted by what they see.

The paths are easy to navigate and perfectly smooth for a pram or wheelchair. The Efteling app proves very useful to make sure you find all of the attractions. However, despite downloading it, we were so engaged by all the fairytale scenes and captivated with the giant red and white toadstalls playing music, that we still managed to miss a couple!

Efteling Theme Park Review

There are plenty of low-key rides such as several carousels, a classic car ride, steam train, a miniature world (similar to ‘A Small World’ in Disney) pedal trains, gondola rides, a mono-rail as well as playgrounds and an adventure maze. For the younger thrill seeker, there is also the Pirana water ride and the Flying Dutchman as well as some other rollercoasters. Maria from One Tiny Leap and her 6 year old Charlie loved the Flying Dutchman ride – a rollercoaster that goes through mystical caves and ends in the water outside the castle. My eldest didn’t fancy that, but instead went on the fairly new ride Symbolica three times!

Efteling Theme Park Review

Symbolica is an inside ride through a fantasy palace. Be led through several magical rooms and see fairies, spellbinding butterflies, a giant whale, a King’s feast and other surprises along the way. Once you are inside you can choose your quest, Musical, Heroes or Treasure – each leading you a slightly different path. As this is one of the newest rides, the queues can be longer, but the most we waited was 20 minutes on a midweek visit in April.

For lunch or if you need temporary shelter from rain, then I recommend the Octopus restaurant. It’s mainly pasta, panini’s, salad etc but there is fresh whole fruit and some other hot snacks like sausage rolls. If you buy a bowl of kids pasta and return the bowl you get given a nice new clean themed bowl to keep. AND, there is a jungle themed climbing area, a North Pole themed slide, a meerkat hill with holes kids can climb through as well as other activities. Not your ordinary restaurant. Next door is the 3D cinema too. The level of attention and makes Efteling one of the very best theme parks for toddlers.

Spooky thrills

For children who don’t mind being  spooked there is the Spookslot Haunted Castle– we walked in but my eldest wanted to turn back so we didn’t get to experience the whole attraction. It’s incredibly dark and gloomy as you walk in – with dimly lit areas highlighting creepy ghouls, opening coffins and bones.

Efteling Theme Park Review

Photo by Maria from One Tiny Leap

 What rides at Efteling are suitable for toddlers?

  • Anton Pieck Plein – An authentic Dutch square with swing rides and merry- go- rounds.
  • Avontureendoolhof An adventure maze ( only for those under 1.50m tall).
  • Carnaval Festival – similar to it’s ‘A Small World’ at Disney.
  • De Oude Tufferbann – A classic car drive where little ones can pretend to drive around the track.
  • Diorama – A miniature world of landscapes and villages.
  • Droomvlucht -an enchanting world with elves and fairies.
  • Fairytale Forest
  • Gondoletta – a gentle boat ride.
  • Kinderspoor – a little pedal train.
  • Kindervreugd – a children’s playground with roundabouts, see-saws, swings and slides.
  • Kleuterhof – a children’s playground with a train roundabout, and see-saws. this playground is equipped with soft falling mats.
  • Mono rail
  • Monsieur Cannibale – spinning cauldren’s like a tea cup ride.
  • Pagode – a revolving Thai temple.
  • Pirana – a water ride along a wild river. Children less than 1m must sit on an adult’s lap.
  • Polka Marina – a pirate’s carousel with a spouting whale.
  • Stoomcarrousel – An 100 year old  traditional carousel.
  • Stoomtrein Marerijk – a 20 minute steam train journey around the park.
  • Symbolica – an enchanting journey through a fantasy palace.
Efteling Theme Park Review

Droomvlucht fairy Photo courtesy of Efteling

Which rides at Efteling are suitable for children over 1.20m tall?

  • De Vliegede Hollander – aka the Flying Dutchman, a water-coaster. Must be over 1.20 m tall
  • Diorama – A miniature world of landscapes and villages.
  • Droomvlucht -an enchanting world with elves and fairies.
  • Fairytale Forest
  • Fata Morgana – An indoor  boat ride through the Forbidden City – but it may be frightening for small children.
  • Gondoletta – a gentle boat ride.
  • Halve Maen – a swinging ship. Children must be over 1.20 m tall.
  • Joris en de Draak – a super fast wooden rollercoaster. You must over 1.10m and it goes at over 45 miles per hour. Only for a dare devil!
  • Kinderspoor – a little pedal train.
  • Kindervreugd – a children’s playground with roundabouts, see-saws, swings and slides.
  • Kleuterhof – a children’s playground with a train roundabout, and see-saws. this playground is equipped with soft falling mats.
  • Mono rail
  • Monsieur Cannibale – spinning cauldren’s like a tea cup ride.
  • Pagode – a revolving Thai temple.
  • Pirana – a water ride along a wild river. Children less than 1m must sit on an adult’s lap.
  • Polka Marina – a pirate’s carousel with a spouting whale.
  • Python – a dare devil corkscrew rollercoaster for those over 1.20m
  • Stoomcarrousel – An 100 year old  traditional carousel
  • Stoomtrein – a 20 minute steam train journey around the park.
  • Symbolica – an enchanting journey through a fantasy palace.
  • Vogel Rok – An indoor rollercoaster which zooms through the dark at 40mph. Children must over 1.20 metres.
Efteling Theme Park Review

View from Pagode – by Maria From One Tiny Leap

What rides at Efteling will interest teenagers?

  • Baron 1898 a free fall drop rollercoaster.
  • Bob – a bob sleigh run
  • Halve Maen – a swinging ship. Children must be over 1.20 m tall.
  • Joris en de Draak – a super fast wooden rollercoaster. You must over 1.10m and it goes at over 45 miles per hour
  • De Vliegede Hollander – aka the Flying Dutchman, a water-coaster. Must be over 1.20 m tall
  • Monsieur Cannibale – spinning cauldren’s like a tea cup ride.
  • Pagode – a revolving Thai temple.
  • Pirana – a water ride along a wild river.
  • Python – a dare devil corkscrew rollercoaster for those over 1.20m
  • Spookslot – a haunted castle.
  • Villa Volta – a turning house which confuses where the floor and ceiling is.
  • Vogel Rok – An indoor rollercoaster which zooms through the dark at 40mph. Children must over 1.20 metres.
Efteling Theme Park Review

Raveleijn Show – Photo coutesy of Efteling

Shows at Efteling

Unfortunately,  the popular Aquanura water & light show (suitable for all) and Raveleijn live themed show  (suitable from age 6) were not running during our visit – plus the children were exhausted after a fabulous day. Raveleijn is a Dutch legend where Count Olaf reigns with an iron fist over the city of Raveleijn. Can 5 brave horsemen save the day? There are headsets available with English translations.  For younger ones there is the Sprookjesboom Show – an open air theatre where the Fairytale Forest inhabitants experience exciting adventures together. the show is performed in Dutch.

The friendliness of staff

Unlike the bright breeziness of Disney, the staff here seemed even warmer and naturally genuine to boot. Despite us not knowing a word of Dutch, staff cheerfully helped us. This was applicable to the entire trip from the bus driver, to the coffee shop to when we were stuck with very tired children who couldn’t walk another step on arrival.  I think the Dutch may possibly be the most friendliest and helpful people I’ve ever met in all my flying days.

Food and drink for all tastes at Efteling Theme Park

Aside from Octopus mentioned above, there are plenty of other places to either grab a quick snack on the go or have a sit down meal. From meatballs, hamburgers, wraps, panini’s,  pizzas,  fried rice, grilled chicken or veggie skewers, fish and chips to waffles, Dutch treats and mini pancakes called poffertjes. At De Guldren Garde you can find responsibly sourced products including soup, salads, and smoothies whereas at Het Wapen Van Ravelijn or Panorama you can sit down to an a la carte meal.

The Efteling App is so useful.

From interactive maps to wait times, height requirement of rides, lists of where to eat and the location of toilets; it is very handy and definitely worth downloading. A recent app feature includes the ability to book a time slot for the popular Python steel roller coaster with a double loop. You book a time slot and receive a boarding pass to scan at the entrance to the attraction. The app also lets you know which rides have Baby Switch – similar to Child Swap at Universal, where you don’t lose you place in the queue when your partner returns from the ride and looks after the baby or child who didn’t want to go on the ride.

Efteling is a place which transports you back to the simple pleasures of childhood – I was just as entranced as the children and thrown back into memories of curling up with my nose in Hans Christian Andersen tales- desperately wanting them to real. The joy of watching the children see these familiar fairytales  come to life was completely captivating.

Unlike other parks where commercial products are pushed at you from almost wherever your child’s eye settles, here it is considerably more subtle. At Efteling, the visitor experience and immersion clearly is prioritised over souvenir sales. Absolutely everyone I’ve heard who has been has said the same thing, it’s a very special place indeed and should be on your list of things to do in the Netherlands with kids.

Efteling Theme Park Review

Need to know

  • Open from 10.00 to 18.00 every day. Early access from 09.30 for Efteling hotel guests.  A stay on site includes unlimited access to the park during your stay.
  • Entrance ticket from €38 – same price for children and adults ( tickets included if you stay on site)
  • Under 4’s go free
  • Nearest bus station: Efteling Kaatsheuvel.
  • Parking ticket €10
  • Approximately 1.20 hours from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Efteling Theme Park Review

Where to Stay

We stayed 2 nights at the Efteling Village Bosrijk  (courtesy of Efteling) with beautiful lake and village houses, town houses and apartments. A full review is available – just click on the link above. For latest prices click here.

Other on site accommodation options include:

Efteling Hotel with some themed rooms and less than a 5 minutes walk from the theme park. Check latest prices here.

Efteling Loonsche Land offers cosy holiday houses and hotel rooms made from natural materials. Some below as well as above the ground! Check the latest prices here.

Disclosure: We were invited by Efteling to explore the theme park and provide our views on the experience. All views and opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

 

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If you enjoy fairytales, the magic of childhood, Hans Christian Andersen & the brothers Grimm, you and your kids will LOVE the Efteling Theme Park in the Netherlands.  I was incredibly excited to be invited on a press trip to experience it with my girls, and was not disappointed! Read on to find out why I wholeheartedly think it's one of the best places to visit with kids. #efteling #familytravel #bestthemepark #themepark #europe #netherlands

 

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Wow Carrie, Efteling sounds incredible! I have heard of it before actually and always wanted to go but I’ve never read such a detailed review. It’s definitely the sort of place we will take our girls one day, hopefully while they are small to appreciate the magic.
    Nat.x

  2. What a fantastic place for families with kids of any age. Actually, I would go here even without my kids! A great place to stroll around and get your creative mind going for sure.

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