“When are we going to Efteling?” Sound familiar? Media Donyadari-Van Westering takes us along on her family’s journey to the famous theme park to discover what the excitement is all about.
The Netherlands’ beloved theme park, Efteling, is located in Kaatsheuvel, about 110 km south of Amsterdam. It is the brainchild of Anton Pieck (1895-1987), the Netherlands’ most famous illustrator. Most of Efteling, especially the Fairytale Forest, was based on his designs. In 2017 Efteling was named Europe’s best theme park for young children by The Telegraph newspaper.
Time for a Visit
Our son turned 6 in May 2017, and we thought the Meivakantie would be a perfect time to visit this famous fairyland. For while Efteling has attractions for virtually every age, and there is no age limit for admittance, there are minimum height requirements for many rides. At 6 he was tall enough! Since we had no other trips planned during his two weeks of school holiday, it seemed a good idea to make a real trip of it and explore the region around Efteling as well.
After a little research, I concluded that Mondays and Tuesdays were the best days to visit. After consulting the weather forecast, we settled on a Sunday–Monday visit and booked a hotel. We chose Hotel Hof van ‘s Gravenmoer, which is very close to the theme park and is family friendly. Our little guy was thrilled to feed the hotel’s chickens, play in its garden, and delight in watching the horses and goats of the neighbouring farm.
On Sunday we had a wonderful time visiting the region around Efteling: the city of Den Bosch, the natural sand dunes of the area, and the lovely farms and stores in ‘s Gravenmoer. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at SED, a restaurant close to our hotel, and settled down for a good night’s sleep in preparation for our Efteling adventure the next day. On Monday morning, it was ‘klaar voor start’, as they say in the Netherlands! On to Efteling!
We arrived shortly after the 10:00 opening and easily found a parking place close to the park entrance. The magic began from the very moment we stepped out of the car, with Red Cape and Pardoes standing above the entrance waving at us, much to my son’s delight! Buying admission tickets took no time, although it was disappointing to learn that the discount cards I’d collected from Albert Heijn couldn’t be used! It was my own fault for not reading the conditions ahead of time, but to make use of the €10 discount, tickets have to be purchased at an Albert Heijn store. Another way to save money on the ticket price is to purchase them online, which saves you €2 a head.
We were in the park! We had a map to hand which was essential, because Efteling is huge! Where to start? Based on advice from friends, we began our adventure in the Sprookjesboom (Fairytale Forest) and stayed there until lunchtime. Around every corner there was something new and exciting, although personally we found Long Neck and The Fairytale Tree the most entertaining.
Some visitors bring food from home and picnic at the park, but as I had only packed snacks, we got to lunch in one of Efteling’s many restaurants. We chose one that offered a large selection of healthy food and drink. It was located near Droomvlucht, a ride through a world of fairies, elves and trolls, which was one of my favourite Efteling attractions.
On the other hand, what proved most exciting for our son was his first ever rollercoaster ride! He still talks about it, and was actually disappointed – though I wasn’t! – that he was not tall enough for the much bigger Python!
In addition to its many rides, Efteling has many wonderful performances. Don’t miss The Ravelijn – a spectacular show with horses, knights, dragons and fire!
We spent a full day in the park and while we managed to visit many of its attractions, we didn’t get to see and do everything. There really is a lot to see and do … but of course, this just means we will have to go back next year for another visit! Yay!
- Efteling is open year round from 10:00–18:00 and each season has its own distinctive events.
- Efteling is accessible by public transportation.
- There are a several options when it comes to purchasing admission tickets, but general admission (from ages 4–60 years) is €37.50. For seniors and disabled people, admission is €35.50. Buying tickets online in advance saves you €2 per ticket. Parking is €10 and may also be purchased in advance.
- Baby/Toddler Care: Strollers can be brought into the park or can be rented for €4; bathrooms are equipped with changing stations and there is a dedicated area for breast pumping; highchairs are available at most restaurants.
- Read the information about rides and attractions before waiting in long queues only to discover they are not suitable for you or your family after all! I suffer from motion sickness and made the mistake of unknowingly entering a room and sitting down only to realise the seats would be moving around more than I could stomach! If only I had known ahead of time …
Looking for family-friendly accommodation near Efteling? Book your stay via booking.com/amsterdammamas and we’ll receive a portion of the reservation value. Find the perfect accommodation for your family and support Amsterdam Mamas at the same time!
photo credit: Efteling
Mèdia Donyadari-van Westering
Originally from Iran, Media is married and is proud mother of Roham. She holds a BA in English Translation and an MBA with the University of Liverpool. In 2012, after working for 13 years in aviation and education, Media decided to stop working full time and enjoy more time with her son, who was growing up fast. One year later, she started her own business called Joys of Life. She loves travelling, cooking, reading, writing and photography.