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From the moment that Pardoes the magic jester greeted us at the gate, I knew Efteling wasn’t going to be an ordinary theme park. I’ll admit, judging by the price of the tickets and the fact that I’d never heard of Efteling, I didn’t go with massively high hopes. It’ll be a nice day out of Rotterdam, I thought. But Efteling was a real surprise in more ways than one.
Efteling theme park
Eteling opened in 1952 and is now one of the biggest amusement parks in Europe. To put it into perspective: nearly 5 million people visit Efteling every year. That’s nearly a third of the population of the Netherlands!
Efteling theme park must be one of the Netherlands’ best kept secrets. While exploring, we heard few languages other than Dutch and I’m surprised more tourists don’t make it to this part of Holland. After all, it’s within easy reach of both Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and easy to reach from all the surrounding countries.
Yet few foreign visitors make their way to Efteling. If you have a spare day, there would be many worse ways to spend it. As much as I loved admiring the architecture in Rotterdam and eating my way around the restaurants of Amsterdam, Efteling is a magical theme park with plenty for adults and kids alike.
Plus, it’s open 365 days per year – so you don’t have to visit in summer! Here’s how to get your Efteling tickets, plan your visit and enjoy a truly magical day out.
As you’d expect from a Dutch attraction, getting hold of Efteling tickets is pretty easy and straightforward. Efteling park tickets are available at the gate, but buying them online will help you avoid the (slightly) higher prices and ticket counter queues.
There are a number of sites selling Efteling tickets. One option is to buy your tickets directly from the Efteling website, saving you €2 on the ticket counter price. A regular ticket costs €36 most of the year and a slightly higher price of €38 during the peak season of July and August.
Efteling ticket discount
If you love finding a deal, you may be able to save by buying your admission tickets elsewhere – just make sure it’s a reputable site! GetYourGuide usually has a good offer on Efteling tickets, saving you up to 25% off the full ticket price. That means you could save up to 40 Euros for a group of four! Click here to check the current Efteling discount on GetYourGuide.
Got your tickets? Great. Now let’s make sure you get your money’s worth!
Stepping into Efteling is like stepping onto the pages of a fairytale – a fairytale with chapters for both adults and kids. Many of the attractions at Efteling are based on fairytales, some of them well-known and others not so much. But the thing I loved most was just how original they all are.
Who is Efteling for?
Most theme parks are tailored more to kids or adults, even if they try to bring in something for everyone. One of the things I quickly noticed about Efteling is that it really is just as great for visitors of all ages. Nearly all the attractions are suitable for both adults and children, with a couple of age-specific rides thrown in for good measure.
The best Efteling attractions
Efteling began with the Fairytale Forest and grew from there on out. The Fairytale Forest is still one of the best Efteling attractions (IMO) but the newer rides are just as magical. Here are my absolute favourites that you won’t want to miss.
My favourite ride in the whole of Efteling was Vogel Rok. This tumbling, turning roller coaster sends you on a 65km/h flight with birds and serpents. Oh, and it’s in the dark.
Vogel Rok will wake you up faster than a cup of Dutch coffee, so head they’re first to get pumped for the rest of the day.
Another example of a really unique attraction, only at the other end of the thrill scale. What Symbolica lacks in speed and fear factor, it makes up for with pure imagination. Choose your team and step into your car, which will take you on a magical ride through an enchanted palace, and prepare to leave in awe of what just happened.
The pooping donkey
Yes, really. Deep in the heart of the Fairytale Forest is a donkey that poops… gold coins. Take a trip to see it (and fill up your water bottle at the fountain next to it) and see all your favourite fairytales cleverly brought to life on the way. Just make sure you leave enough time for them all – probably around an hour in total.
You’ll probably hear Python before you see it. Tucked away at the back of Efteling park, you won’t realise what you’re in for until it’s too late. Python doesn’t look too intimidating from the ground, but you might change your mind once you’ve experienced the double loop and double corkscrew!
Travel tip: If the queue time for Python is more than 15 minutes, you can avoid the wait by picking up a free Boarding Pass for a set time and come back later.
Die Vliegender Hollander
A close second favourite from our day at Efteling and another ride that won’t fail to surprise you, there’s more to this water coaster than it seems. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so take my word for it and don’t miss Die Vliegender Hollander.
Piraña river rapids
Even with a classic attraction like a river rapid ride, Efteling has created something truly unique. With multiple routes that the boat can take, every ride is different. The one thing you can be sure of is that you WILL get wet – if not from the river, then from other guests squirting water cannons at you!
The one attraction we were told we had to see at Efteling was Raveleijn. Rather than a typical theme park ride, Raveleijn is a live show that runs several times throughout the day.
Even though it was all in Dutch and the story was a little lost on us, the set design, special effects and horse-riding skills were all impressive enough. It’s an entertaining watch whether you understand the language or not, but you’ll need to book your (free) tickets when you arrive at Efteling (see below).
As I’ve already said, all of the attractions at Efteling are pretty special and unlike any theme park rides I’ve come across before. But the most unique of all has to be Villa Volta.
If you’re prone to motion sickness, you might want to sit this one out. But head inside this hidden house and you’ll be in for a pretty surreal experience; as you sit in your seat, you won’t know if it’s you or the walls around you spinning… or perhaps it’s both?
Tips for visiting Efteling
Be prepared for the Efteling weather
Unlike many European theme parks, which are only open during the summer and peak holiday weeks, Efteling is open 365 days per year. It’s just another reason why I loved it, but it will mean you should be prepared for the season. As magical as Efteling is, it doesn’t have it’s own Efteling weather system (yet?) so come with layers and rain protection since most of the attractions are outdoors.
Buying Efteling souvenirs
If you want to buy some Efteling souvenirs but don’t want to carry them around all day, you can simply collect them at the exit when you leave. The park offers this completely free service for both ride photos and shop purchases, so you don’t have to worry about locking them away or leaving them behind while you enjoy the attractions.
Efteling park map
Efteling isn’t the most intuitive theme park to navigate, so make sure you have a map handy. The (completely free) Efteling app has an interactive map that shows ride closings and wait times, so you can make the most of your day. Plus, you’ll save on paper! Click here to download the iOS app or click here if you’re on Android.
Don’t underestimate how big Efteling is
Due to its clever layout and the lack of big crowds, it’s easy to underestimate just how big Efteling is. Get there early and go in with a plan. It’ll help you make the most of your day and get the best value for money on your tickets.
Book a show
When you arrive at Efteling, you’ll notice some ticket booking machines and counters. This is where you can reserve your seats for the shows like Raveleijn. Do this straight away so you can plan the rest of your day around it.
Fill up at the fountains
Even though the food and drink prices at Efteling aren’t too unreasonable – compared to other European theme parks, anyway! – it makes sense to take advantage of the free water fountains. Take a water bottle along to avoid paying over the odds for drinks after all the screaming and laughing you’re sure to be doing. I always carry this one so I can fold it up when I’m not using it.