An enchanting visit to Efteling, Netherlands
We love theme parks because there is always a variety of things to do and a full day’s worth of fun! Living all over the world has given us the opportunity to experience many different theme parks. I’ll tell you right now, Efteling is magical and mystical, it is unique and fun to discover. This was our second visit to Efteling (because we couldn’t get enough after our first visit). It is a forest of fairytales, sprinkled in with rides, spectacular shows, and inventive playgrounds. Read more about Efteling’s history.
Efteling Park Location:
Efteling is located just a little over an hour South from Amsterdam. With a wonderful public transportation system, it is easy to reach by bus or train. Our recommendation is to rent a car because there are so many other wonderful towns and cities to visit. Parking is ample and easy.
There are many different ticketing options and you’ll save €2.00 if you buy ahead on Efteling’s website. You can even pay to enter the park 30 minutes early and add on food options.
TIP: If you are staying at a park property (like we did), you’ll be able to enter the park an hour before regular guests. Great for checking out some of the fun and popular rides without waiting in a long line.
Where to stay at Efteling? Holiday Village Efteling Bosrijk
For this trip, we stayed in the Holiday Village Efteling Bosrijk, a holiday village with houses and apartments in the middle of the forest. I would highly recommend the village, it was a memorable part of the trip. We had a 3 bedroom townhouse towards the front of the village. Directly behind us was a forest play area with tightrope walks, tunnels, and hills. More traditional playground equipment was located towards the back of the village. We enjoyed the car-free streets, the natural playgrounds and the proximity to the park.
There is also a Mr. Sandman quest app for the kids which is specific for the bosrijk village – you walk around the village looking for “magic sand” via a clever GPS system and solve little activities on the way. You can pick how long you want to play with the kids and it was an enjoyable family activity.
The village also features a restuarant with fabulous food options, pizza delivery (or pick up), a general store with food items if you want to prepare a simple meal on your own and a heated indoor pool.
Check out the slideshow below to get an idea of what staying in the village was like. Happy to answer any questions you have!
Exploring the Efteling Park:
Explore the park! If you stay at any of the hotels on the property or in the village, then you are able to access the park an hour early.
Use the side ticket entrance (directly on the right as you look at the entrance). From there, there are two entrances. One is a gate on your left and the other is through the café on your right. They will look or re-scan your ticket and then you’re in! If you’re having trouble located the entrances, ask a staff member or look for a group of people waiting with tickets in hand.
There are two areas to explore during early access. With smaller kids, the left side (through the fairytale forest) was best. We were able to do 4 rides before the park opened to everyone and since we were already in the back, the lines remained shorter for another 30 minutes.
Be sure to grab tickets to the Raveleijn show. It is a knight versus evil dragon/sorcerous. Recommended for ages 6+, but we saw plenty of smaller children. Our 3.5 year old loved it. We grabbed the free tickets at the village when we checked in, but then pulled another set of tickets for a later time at the machine right outside the show area because we weren’t quite sure if our little one would nap or not. If you aren’t staying on property and haven’t grabbed your tickets, do that first. The tickets do sell out and I’d hate for you to miss the show.
TIP: Only one person needs to grab the tickets and you don’t have to scan your tickets, so if a parent wants to stay with the kids, it’s a good strategy.
We actually saw the show twice. Once with the tickets and then again at the restaurant directly to the side of the show (a great way to see the show if tickets are sold out). There is an “outdoor” covered area with bench style tables and it provides a fun behind the scenes view of the show. The food was very good and recommended. It is a simple menu, but the seasonal lunch platter filled our bellies. Our son also loved the children’s menu with sandwich fixings, fresh fruit, and lemonade in a keepsake cup.
Food options inside the park:
The food is actually really good in the park. We didn’t have a bad meal the entire two days. Our favorites were Polles Keuken pancake restaurant. They had savory pancakes (the bacon one is a favorite in our family) and they are huge! My son was super content to decorate his own pancake with an assortment of sprinkles/stencils and powdered sugar. The restaurant is really fun because in the center of the restaurant is an animated “kitchen” making pancakes.
There are also plenty of grab and go food stands. The cheese and meat pastries are always a top hit and frequented by our family.
TIP: Download the app to keep an eye on ride times. The new ride (symbolica) was often busy, so we waited till closer to closing time and we were able to wait only a few minutes.
Also, make sure that you look up the rides and height requirements. It makes it so much easier to plan out your day!
Here is our top pick for rides at Efteling with smaller kids (100 cm height requirement was our cut off).
- Forest animal ride, family friendly
- Fata Morgana
- Indoor boat ride into the forbidden city, Children <1.20 m under supervision
- De Vliegende Hollander
- newest ride, not for babies, but family friendly
- It was ok. We are adventure seekers, so it wasn’t our style.
- Fairytale forest
- this is one of the oldest parts of the park and truly magical, not a ride, but interactive exhibits
- Water boat ride, Children <1.00 m on lap
- On a warm day, it’s a great way to cool off. You WILL get wet, but our son loved watching us try to avoid the splashes.
- Carnaval Festival
- A family-friendly journey around the world, Children <1.00 m under supervision
- Bobsleigh ride, Children <1.20 m under supervision
- We really wanted to do this one. It’s one of the few fast rides that our son could do, but it was closed during our visit.
Rides for adults or families with older kids and most have a baby switch option. (Tell the ride operator that you’d like a baby switch, they will give you a ticket and then your significant other can ride without waiting.)
- Joris en de Draak
- Wooden coaster with minimum length 1.10 m
- Baron 1898
- The newest and most exciting coaster, not for the faint of heart, Minimum length 1.40 m
- Steel roller coaster, Minimum length 1.20
- Vogel Rok
- Indoor coaster, Minimum length 1.20 m
Here is the list of rides that we didn’t enjoy as much and would leave them off the list for the next visit:
- Haunted house, it was creepy for small kids and took forever. You stand in a room and look into a glass room that moves and changes scenes
- A lot of hype for a new ride and we didn’t find it that fun. You sit inside a car and float around going in and out of various rooms, which we’ve done at quite a few theme parks
- Villa Volta
- An illusion where the room looks like it is spinning. These type of rides always make our head spin and our stomach flip (mind you, we like skydiving).
What else is there to see and do?
There are also carousels, amazing playgrounds, pedal cars, spinning teacups, steam train, miniature trains, boat ride, 3D theater and more.
Seriously, you can do two full days and still not see everything.