Efteling (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɛftəlɪŋ]) is a fantasy-themed amusement park in Kaatsheuvel, the Netherlands. The attractions reflect elements from ancient myths and legends, fairy tales, fables, and folklore.

The House of the Five Senses, the entrance to the Efteling theme park
LocationKaatsheuvel, Netherlands
Coordinates51°39′01″N 5°02′53″E / 51.65028°N 5.04806°E / 51.65028; 5.04806
OpenedMay 31, 1952; 71 years ago (1952-05-31)
OwnerEfteling Nature Park Foundation
ThemeFantasy - ancient legends, mythology, fables, folklore and fairy tales
Operating seasonYear-round
Attendance5.43 millions in 2022[1]
Area72 ha (720,000 m2) (park); 276 ha (2,760,000 m2) (resort); 400 ha (4,000,000 m2) (total)[2]
Roller coasters6
Water rides4

The park was opened on May 31, 1952. It evolved from a nature park with a playground and a Fairytale Forest into a full-sized theme park. It now caters to both children and adults with its cultural, romantic, and nostalgic themes, in addition to its wide array of amusement rides including six roller coasters and four dark rides.

It is the largest theme park in the Netherlands and one of the oldest theme parks in the world. It is twice as large as the original Disneyland park in the United States and predates it by three years. Annually, the park has more than 5 million visitors. In 2020, due to differences in pandemic policy, it was the most visited theme park in Europe, before Disneyland Park. In 2019 and 2022, it was the third most visited theme park in Europe, after Disneyland Park, Paris and Europa-Park, Germany.[1]

History edit

Paper gobbler Hollow Bulging Gijs - classic Pieck design

Efteling is one of the oldest theme parks still in existence. Its roots go back to 1935, when the R. K. Sport en Wandelpark was inaugurated.[3][4]

In 1950, Efteling Nature Park Foundation (Stichting Natuurpark de Efteling) was founded by the mayor of Loon op Zand, R.J. van der Heijden, filmmaker Peter Reijnders, and designer artist Anton Pieck (1895-1987). The foundation was named after a 16th-century farm named Ersteling.[citation needed] Efteling officially opened on May 31, 1952,[5] when the Fairy Tale Forest (het Sprookjesbos), designed by the famous Dutch illustrator Anton Pieck, was opened to the public. Initially, the Fairy Tale Forest was home to some 10 different fairy tales, all of them brought to life using original drawings by Pieck alongside mechanics, lighting and sound effects designed by the Dutch filmmaker Peter Reijnders. The life-sized dioramas, displayed together in an atmospheric forest, were a tremendous success. In 1952 alone, Efteling welcomed 240,000 visitors.[6]

Since 1978, the park has been expanded and grown to become one of the most popular theme parks in the world. In the same year, English singer Kate Bush performed in the park in De Efteling Special, which was broadcast on 11 May 1978. In early 1978, the amusement park's Haunted Castle was completed and the opening was scheduled on 10 May that year. Bush, who just had a big hit in the Netherlands with "Wuthering Heights", made her debut on Dutch television in the special. Her popularity was used to draw the attention to the Haunted Castle.[7]

In 2010, Efteling announced plans to remain open year-round. From November through about February, the 'Winter Efteling' theme remains in place. However, attractions that involve water, such as the rapids ride 'Piraña' or the water coaster 'Vliegende Hollander' (Flying Dutchman), are closed.[citation needed]

Gisela Williams, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, wrote a review of the park in early 2014.[8] Williams praised Efteling but criticized the teacups-style ride Monsieur Cannibale due to ethnic stereotypes.[9] Her review was later mentioned in De Telegraaf, a daily newspaper in the Netherlands, and drew several angry comments from its readership. Williams also received her first death threat for her comments about the controversial attraction.[10] In recent years, activists have repeatedly requested the Efteling to remove or re-theme the attraction. In June 2021, the park closed the ride for an extensive renovation including a re-theme.[11]

The park received its 123,456,789th guest on June 19, 2015.[12] The Efteling opened the trackless darkride Symbolica in 2017. With a price tag of 35 million euros, it is the most expensive investment in Efteling history.[13] Beside the theme park, the Efteling operates two hotels, a theatre, a golf course, and two holiday villages.[citation needed] The Efteling inaugurated its 30th fairytale in 2019.[14]

In December 2020, the park was forced to close in compliance with the new COVID-19 restrictions introduced by prime minister Mark Rutte and the third Rutte cabinet.[15]

Design edit

Efteling Theater - typical Van de Ven design
Baron 1898 - a dive coaster in Efteling

The success of Efteling has been attributed largely to its ride designs, architecture and atmosphere. When Anton Pieck was asked to design the initial fairy tales for the Efteling, he made sure the park would live up to his personal high standards. There would be no use of cheap building materials, plastic, or concrete. Pieck's illustration style, somewhat grim and dark, but also romantic and nostalgic, was the thematic base on which nearly all future expansions were built.[16]

Pieck worked for Efteling until the mid-1970s, when his position as chief designer was passed on to the younger Ton van de Ven. Van de Ven had already been working for Efteling for several years and Pieck was very pleased with his work. The Haunted Castle (het Spookslot), which opened in 1978 as the park's first new large attraction, was Efteling's first to be designed entirely by Van de Ven.

Van de Ven continued his work until 2002, when he retired. A new team of imagineers works on new Efteling attractions, still in a style suitable to the Efteling.

Divisions edit

The Efteling Theme Park Resort now comprises several divisions: the theme park (1952), the four-star Efteling Hotel (1992), the 18-hole golf course (1995), Efteling Theatre (2002), accommodation parks: Efteling Bosrijk (2009) & Het Loonsche Land (2017). The theatre, which was once used for park shows, is one of the five biggest theatres in the Netherlands and can house big theatre productions, which will not be included in park admissions.[citation needed]

Besides using it as a home base for shows/musicals created by the Efteling itself (like "Droomvlucht") it also lends itself out for other big productions, events, and business events. The hotel was operated by Golden Tulip for several years, but Efteling decided in 2004 to manage it independently. All divisions are now profitable, although it took the golf course several years to break even.[17] The divisions are each contained in commercial corporations, but all shares are still held by the nonprofit Efteling Nature Park Foundation (Stichting Natuurpark de Efteling).[citation needed]

The park edit

Gondoletta and Pagode
Symbolica Palace of Fantasy

The theme park covers 72 hectares (180 acres). This area has changed only marginally over the course of its history. The Efteling Theme Park Resort also offers the Efteling hotel, the Efteling hotel Loonsche Land, a theatre, a golf course, Villa Pardoes, and two holiday villages (Efteling Bosrijk and Efteling Loonsche Land) on 276.1 hectares (682 acres).[18] The park's foundation owns a total of 400 hectares (990 acres) also including young forest, nature reserve, some grassland, fields and roads.[2]

The park is divided into five themed areas or 'realms'. Originally, the park was divided into four areas called North, West, East, and South, with most of the park's historical rides and attractions, such as the Fairy Tale Forest, located in West. When the park reorganized its infrastructure in the late 1990s, adding the Pardoes Promenade (named after Efteling's mascot Pardoes, a court jester) and a central hub called Efteling Brink, it also changed the areas' names. North was changed to Reizenrijk (Travel Realm), West became Marerijk (Fairy Realm), East became Ruigrijk (Adventure Realm), and South became Anderrijk (Other Realm). In 2017 a fifth realm opened in the center of the park called Fantasierijk (Fantasy Realm).[citation needed]

Although the park was not built with these divisions in mind and the names may seem cryptic, they do make sense. Perhaps the area most suited to its name is Ruigrijk, where most fast rides such as the double-loop roller coaster Python (constructed in 1981) are located. Marerijk is the home to the Fairy Tale Forest and the Fairies of the Droomvlucht, Anderrijk has some rides that are inspired by non-Western cultures (e.g. Fata Morgana and Piraña), while Reizenrijk has the Carnaval Festival ride, which travels through several different 'countries'. The Fantasierijk got its name from the darkride Symbolica: Palace of Fantasy.[citation needed]

Efteling was largely built in an existing pine forest located in a rural area, giving it a 'nature park' feeling. Together with its large ponds and gardens, its abundant green space is rather unusual among the world's leading theme parks.[citation needed]

Attractions and rides edit

Langnek, A well-known icon of Efteling theme park
Darkride Fata Morgana by night
The Raveleijn
De Vliegende Hollander

Former attractions:

Village's square at Forest Realm (Bosrijk)

Other ventures operating independently from the amusement park:

  • 1992 – Tower Realm (Dutch: Torenrijk) (theme hotel)
  • 1995 – Efteling Golf course (Dutch: Golfclub Efteling) (golf course)
  • 2002 – Efteling Theatre (theatre, Ton van de Ven)
  • 2008 – Efteling Radio (radio station)[28]
  • 2009 – Forest Realm (Dutch: Bosrijk) (accommodation area, Karel Willemen)
  • 2017 – The Loonsche Land (Dutch: Het Loonsche Land) (accommodation)[29]

Awards edit

  • In 1971, the Efteling was the first theme park to receive the Pomme d'Or (Golden Apple), in recognition of superior efforts in promoting and raising Europe's level of tourism. The Pomme d'Or is the highest award in the European tourist industry.[30]
  • In 1992, the Efteling was awarded the IAAPA Applause Award for best theme park in the world.
  • In 1997, Villa Volta, as the first 'new style' madhouse in the world, received the Thea Attraction Award.
  • In 2005, the Efteling received the Thea Classic Award for the year 2004, a notable token of recognition of quality awarded by other people in the themed entertainment industry.[31] Efteling is the second park to receive a prize for their entire oeuvre, the first being Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • In 2014, 2015 and 2016, the Efteling won the award for the best holiday park in the Netherlands according to the booking sites BungalowSpecials.nl, BungalowSpecials.be, FerienparkSpecials.de and HolidayParkSpecials.co.uk. These awards were based solely on ratings from guests who have stayed at the Efteling.[32]
  • In 2017, the Efteling was titled 'Best Themepark' in the world by Theme Park Insider, based on overall reader and visitor ratings.[33]
  • In 2018, Symbolica received the TEA Award For Outstanding Achievement.[34]
  • In 2018, 'Best Themepark' and 'Best new dark ride' in the world by Theme Park Insider.[35]
  • In 2019, 'Best Themepark' in The Netherlands & Belgium. Diamond Theme Park Awards 2019.[36]

Economy and governance edit

Herald Square (Herautenplein) in the Fairy Tale Forest
The Flying Dutchman, modern water coaster

Structure edit

The Efteling is a private company limited by shares. The Efteling Nature Park Foundation (Stichting Natuurpark de Efteling) is the only shareholder. The foundation was founded in 1950 by R.J.Th. van der Heijden, Peter Reijnders, and Anton Pieck. The company is led by two directors. They manage four sections: the theme park, the Efteling Hotel, the Efteling Golf course, and the Efteling Theatre.[citation needed]

Since April 17, 2014, the company's CEO has been Fons Jurgens.[citation needed]

Employees edit

In the high season, Efteling employs 2,500 workers. In 2000, the number was 1670, of which 400 had a permanent contract (24%), 450 were seasonal employees (27%) and 820 had temp jobs (49%).[37]

Visitors edit

red Disneyland Paris,
#2 amusement park in Europe of annual attendance, in 2020
blue Efteling,
#1 amusement park in Europe of annual attendance, in 2020

Efteling welcomed 3,240,000 visitors in 2007, making it the most popular theme park in the Netherlands.[38] In 2009, the park's attendance surpassed for the first time since its opening 4,000,000 visitors and in 2017 roughly 5,180,000 visitors went to the park, making it the most popular tourist daytrip destination in all categories.[39] The objective was to reach 5 million admissions in 2020. It is reached in 2017, three years earlier than expected.[40][41]

In its opening year (1952),[42] the park had 222,941 visitors. In 1954, the millionth visitor since the official opening was welcomed.[citation needed]

In 1983, the attendance increases by 30%. Efteling is the leading leisure park in Europe with 1.9 million visitors per year.[43] In 1989, Efteling leads European parks in terms of attendance,[44] 2.1 million people go to the park, including 1.6 million from the Netherlands.[45] In 1991, Efteling is on the top step of the European podium with 2.6 million visitors. On the second step, three parks have 2 million admissions: Europa-Park, Alton Towers and Phantasialand. On the third step, two parks show 1.4 million admissions: Walibi Wavre and Parc Astérix.[46][47]

Most of the visitors are Dutch; 94% of the Dutch population has visited the park.[48] About 16% of visitors live in areas such as Flanders (Belgium), Westphalia (Germany) and Southern England (UK).[49]

A graph of the number of visitors of the Efteling during the period 1952–2018:

Ticket price edit

A graph of the ticket price in euros of the Efteling during the period 1952-2014:

From 1952 to 2002, the ticket price was set in Dutch guilders. These prices were converted to euros using a conversion factor of 0.45378. In 1952, the ticket price was 0.80 Dutch guilders (0.36 euro). From 1956 to 1965, the ticket price was 1 Dutch guilder. The price had risen to 42 Dutch guilders by 2001 and was converted to 21 euros in 2002, during the switch to the euro in the Netherlands. In May 2019 tickets cost 42.00 euros or 40.00 euros by "low season". There are also "luxe", 'de luxe' tickets for 68.00 euros that include lunch, dinner and free parking among other things. Tickets ordered online are sold with a discount of 2 euros. Admission is free for children under 4.[50]

Investments edit

On December 11, 2008, theme park officials announced that they would spend EUR40 million during 2009–2012 on three large construction projects: a convention centre accommodating 1500 visitors (de Burcht), an arena from the Middle Ages for 750 show spectators (Raveleijn), and a redesign for snack bar "De Likkebaerd" to turn it into a station for the park's steam train. They also said they did not expect to suffer from the Financial crisis of 2007–2008.[51] In 2009, the Efteling announced that the Burcht has been cancelled.[52]

The park announced in 2015 that they had the ambition to welcome 7 million guests by 2030. For this they drew up a zoning plan in the period from 2015 to 2018 called 'Bestemmingsplan Wereld van de Efteling 2030'. The park will at first expand to the east as far as the road De Horst and the highway N261. After the eastern expansion, the park will expand in a western direction on the site where parking spaces are currently located. In 2018, the zoning plan was unanimously adopted within the municipality of Loon op Zand, after which three objections were submitted to the Raad van State. Two objections were investigated by the council and in the meantime the council decided that De Efteling was not allowed to start implementing the plan. With an adjustment on a number of points, the council approved the zoning plan in June 2021.[53][54] Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the multiple closures of the park, the park had to review its investments. It decided to postpone the expansion towards the east side for a few years and to focus on expansions within the existing park boundaries. On January 24, 2022, the company announced that it would invest €75 million in the construction of a new hotel within the park on the square behind the entrance and in an attraction that will replace Spookslot.[55]

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b TEA, "2022 Theme Index & Museum Index: The Global Attractions Attendance Report" (PDF), Aecom/TEA, retrieved March 9, 2024
  2. ^ a b Daniel Conraads (19 August 2003). "Tourisme (5/7) - Une journée de détente ou de découverte de l'autre côté de la frontière S'amuser au royaume d'Efteling REPÈRES". Le Soir (in French). Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  3. ^ "The history of Efteling". efteling.com. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Information de presse 2011" (PDF) (in French). efteling.com. 2 May 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  5. ^ "About the Efteling". Efteling. July 12, 2010. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  6. ^ "Kaatsheuvel 1952" (in Dutch). VPRO. 2010-07-12. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  7. ^ "10 things you didn't know about the Efteling theme park - DutchNews.nl". DutchNews.nl. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Efteling, a European Alternative to Disney". The Wall Street Journal. 2014-10-01.
  9. ^ "Amerikanen begrijpen Monsieur Cannibale niet: 'Walgelijke discriminatie'" [Americans angry at Monsieur Cannibale: "Disgusting discrimination"]. Looopings.nl (in Dutch). 2014-02-02. Archived from the original on 10 June 2017.
  10. ^ "American journalist gets death threat for Efteling racism comment". Dutch News. 2014-07-02.
  11. ^ "Monsieur Cannibale verdwijnt uit Efteling: 'Iedereen moet zich welkom voelen'" (in Dutch). RTL Nieuws. June 24, 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-06-24. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  12. ^ "Efteling receives 123,456,789th visitor". efteling.com. 19 June 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Review: Symbolica at Efteling". leparcorama.com. 24 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  14. ^ Julie Delahaye (9 October 2019). "Efteling theme park opens new fairytale-themed attraction and it's magical". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  15. ^ "Efteling niet meer open in 2020". www.efteling.com (in Dutch). Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  16. ^ "My love letter to Efteling". leparcorama.com. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  17. ^ "Meer winst door grotere drukte in De Efteling" (in Dutch). NU Zakelijk. 2010-07-12. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  18. ^ Peter Boerman (3 July 2015). "28 getallen over De Efteling die u nog niet wist". MT.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  19. ^ Tow Boat Ride The flexible family ride Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Galerie photos Efteling". Trips-n-Pics.com. Archived from the original on 3 June 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Review: Baron 1898 at Efteling". leparcorama.com. 7 September 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  22. ^ "Naam van dive coaster Efteling eindelijk bekend: Baron 1898". Looopings.nl. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  23. ^ "Eftelist". www.Eftelist.nl. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  24. ^ "Looopings". Looopings.nl. Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  25. ^ Robert Niles (13 May 2019). "Aardman's first original 4D movie is coming to Efteling". themeparkinsider.com. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  26. ^ Robert Niles (10 December 2019). "Efteling opens its new 4D movie from Aardman". themeparkinsider.com. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  27. ^ "Goodbye Pandadroom!". 3 November 2019.
  28. ^ Radio Efteling homepage Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "Newsroom Efteling". www.Efteling.com. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  30. ^ "The Golden Apple Award". FIJET. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  31. ^ "Thea Classic Award: Efteling Park Netherlands" (PDF). Efteling. 2018-04-30. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-18. Retrieved 2005-02-09.
  32. ^ "Awards: Efteling Village Bosrijk". HolidayparkSpecials.co.uk. 2016-02-16. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
  33. ^ "Announcing the Winners of the 16th Annual Theme Park Insider Awards". Theme Park Insider. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  34. ^ "Past Awards: Thea Awards 2018". Themed Entertainment Association. Archived from the original on 2019-08-31.
  35. ^ Robert Niles (2018). "Theme Park Insider Awards". Theme Park Insider Awards. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  36. ^ "Efteling wint 8 Diamond ThemePark Awards". www.efteling.com (in Dutch). Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  37. ^ Efteling zoekt winterwerk voor personeel, de Volkskrant, 17 July 2000. Geraadpleegd op 3 September 2009
  38. ^ Top 20 attracties naar bezoekersaantallen per jaar, Nederlandse Bureau voor Toerisme en Congressen (Holland.com)
  39. ^ Most popular daytrips, Nederlandse Bureau voor Toerisme en Congressen
  40. ^ "Theme Index 2017" (PDF). aecom.com. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  41. ^ "4.68 million Efteling visitors in 2015". efteling.com. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  42. ^ About the Efteling Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine, de Efteling
  43. ^ Sébastien Roffat (2007). L'Harmattan (ed.). Disney et la France: les vingt ans d'Euro Disneyland (in French). Editions L'Harmattan. p. 107. ISBN 978-2296029897. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  44. ^ Jean Vandendries (27 June 1989). "Les rendez-vous Soir de l'été 1 Le kangourou de Walibi met en poche ses concurrents". Le Soir (in French). Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  45. ^ Press release, « Efteling élu meilleur parc d’attractions au monde », 22 November 1992
  46. ^ "1986 à 2000". efteling.com (in French). Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  47. ^ J. van Kerkvoorde (2 April 1992). "Grote attractieparken – Slag om dagjestoerist neemt in hevigheid toe". Twentsche Courant (in Dutch). Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  48. ^ Knusheid van de Efteling kan alleen in Nederland Archived 2010-07-09 at the Wayback Machine, NRC Handelsblad, 27 juni 2005. Online versieArchived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  49. ^ Efteling investeert 100 mln in ’bedden’, Algemeen Dagblad, 11 September 2006.
  50. ^ See: https://www.efteling.com/en/park/tickets
  51. ^ van Dongen, Annemieke (December 12, 2008). "De Efteling is niet bang voor recessie". De Pers (in Dutch). p. 7.
  52. ^ "Sprookjesboerderij en Burcht van de baan". Eftelist.nl (in Dutch). 2009-07-19.
  53. ^ "Bestemmingsplan Wereld van de Efteling 2030". Bestemmingsplan Wereld van de Efteling 2030 (in Dutch). Retrieved 2022-01-25.
  54. ^ State, Raad van. "Bestemmingsplan voor uitbreiding attractiepark Efteling is nu definitief". Raad van State (in Dutch). Retrieved 2022-01-25.
  55. ^ van Beers, Merel (2022-01-24). "Efteling bouwt stug verder, attractie en hotel voor 75 miljoen: waar doen ze het van?". Brabants Dagblad. Retrieved 2022-01-25.

External links edit