Efteling is a special place for me. It's a world of whimsical fantasy and memories of my childhood visiting from Canada. Whenever I visit the Netherlands, I must travel to Kaatsheuvel and visit Efteling. Whether it's Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter - each season brings a unique atmosphere to the beloved Dutch theme park. I wouldn't consider myself a theme park fan, and I'm not too fond of thrill rides or rollercoasters. Still, at a park like Efteling, the experience goes beyond the rides with world-class theming, exquisite attention to detail and a unique approach to storytelling. In this guide, I will share my favourite attractions, activities and things to do during a perfect day at Efteling. Buckle up and get ready for a day in the World of Wonders.
Huis van de vijf Zintuigen
The House of the Five Senses is the main entrance to the Efteling theme park. Opened in 1996, the remarkable design is the work of the late Efteling Creative Director Ton van der Ven, who based the structure on the Indonesian Rumah Gadang architecture style of the Minangkabu people. Following Efteling's signature attention to detail, the awe-inspiring building sets the tone for your day in the majestic park.
It's one of many signature dark rides at Efteling. This indoor attraction features theming from the 1001 Arabian Nights with dozen of animatronics to look at while you float through the attraction aboard a tow boat. The eight-minute ride takes you back to one of the original dark rides in the historic park. Each scene of the Fata Morgana has its composition produced by Ruud Bos with music that you'll find yourself humming throughout the day or listen later on Spotify.
Summer at the Efteling is at its best with extended hours until 22:00 / 10:00 PM and when the water rapids ride, Piraña is operating. The refreshing ride will take you down a 350-metre river with thunderous waterfalls and Inca statues that shoot water. In 2023, the ride will celebrate 40 years at the Efteling!
As a fan of dark rides, the opening of Symbolica in 2017 brought me intrigue and excitement! When I finally rode the €35 million ride, Symbolica exceeded expectations. From the extraordinary palace architecture to the pre-show and the elaborate scenes throughout the ride. The ride is trackless, using vehicles that could be best described as riding Roomba for humans with two benches and an interactive screen for the front bench. The riders can choose from one of three tracks music tour, hero tour & treasure tour, which you can select before boarding the ride vehicle. The single rider line can save those travelling solo or couples a lot of time in the queues if you want to maximize your time in the park. A magical soundtrack enhances the ride to immerse you in the Palace of Fantasy! It's quickly become a new favourite ride of mine at Efteling.
A flying Thai temple with a rotating deck that provides riders with a 360° panoramic view of Efteling and the local region on clear days. It's a family-friendly ride that rotates, ascends and descends gradually over the 5-minute observation period. Take a break from the crowds below and enjoy the park from above.
Located at the base of the Pagode, Gondoletta is a 20-minute boat ride for riders to sit back and relax as the tow boat will tour you around the pond. Feel free to grab something to eat or drink and enjoy it aboard the boat. During the warmer months, you will see the beautifully manicured gardens of the Efteling. Gondoletta is excellent for everyone, especially families or couples looking to spend alone together.
All aboard the Efteling Steam Train Company! Hop aboard a narrow-gauge heritage steam train that will tour you around the park stopping at stations in the Ruigrijk realm at the Station de Oost (at the back of the Station restaurant) & Marerijk realm (in the square beside Droomvlucht & Raveleijn). A unique rail experience that visitors of Efteling have enjoyed since 1969.
Holle Bolle Gijs
Place a facial tissue or piece of garbage in the mouth to feel the suction of their mouth which helps keep Efteling clean by incentivizing the proper disposal of trash. These garbage gobblers can be found throughout the park with different characters shouting variations of "paper hier." See how many you can count in the park.
A spectacular park show with an impressive set of buildings, a 5-headed fire-breathing dragon is a fun watch while at Efteling. A non-Dutch speaker can enjoy the Dutch narrated production with a high-production show to entertain you.
Droomvlucht is my all-time favourite ride at Efteling. This dark ride is famous across the Netherlands with the ultimate fairytale experience onboard a unique ride vehicle that resembles a ski-lift-like car on a track that changes as the ride progresses. As you travel through the scenes of Droomvlucht - your dream flight (Droomvlucht) will take you through various scenes, each with its own music soundtrack composition. In early 2023, renovations to Droomvluct updated the scenes with modern LED lighting and upgraded the design and decor of the ride. Droomvlucht is a must-ride attraction for the whole Efteling experience. It's not the most exciting ride at the park, but it perfectly captures what makes Efteling unique for Eftelings fans.
The Fairytale Forest is Efteling's foundation and truly makes Efteling unique. A green forest with your favourite stories from childhood and some you have never heard before. Each fairytale features a book page in Dutch, German, French & English to read the story depicted in front of you. International visitors will say that some stories have dark undertones, which is part of the charm of the Efteling. To truly experience Efteling is a walk-through of the Fairytale Forest.
Take a Photo on an Efteling Mushroom
I encourage everyone that I visit Efteling with to take a photo on a "paddenstoelen." It's a tradition that many Efteling visitors and I have been doing for decades. A commemorative photo documenting each visit over the years to this memorable park in the Netherlands.
A captivating park show with water, fire and lights is the perfect way to end your day at Efteling. The synchronized show feature music from the park with the music of Efteling, Guus Meeuwis & Tiesto on special occasions.
Other Things to Do at Efteling
Eat a fresh stroopwafel.
Visit Anton Pieck Plein for an authentic Efteling experience.
Ride Stoomcarrousel (a 100+-year-old carousel).
Observe the creative branding detail in the park, from the vending machine to the signage and facilities.
Ride the thrill ride in the Ruigrijk realm.
Efteling is a one-of-a-kind experience that anyone travelling to the Netherlands, or Noord Brabant should visit at least once in their lives. If you are looking for a guide for the Efteling, I will happily fly in from Canada and explain the stories, nuances and details behind the attractions.
Efteling has provided all photos.