I’ll start with a precursor and that is I chose not to take my camera to the theme park so all these photos are taken on my iPhone. We’d pre-booked online tickets for a full day at the theme park, as well as the New Years event so I didn’t think lugging my camera around, on and off rides, would be too practical.
Efteling is a hidden gem of a theme park – well it was to me! It’s one of Europe’s oldest theme parks opening in 1952. It’s a truely magical experience where the theming of a fairy land and winter wonderland is designed so well that even I thought it gave Disneyland Paris some serious competition.
The drive from our hotel was easy enough (well, according to Ben who was driving) and we were amongst the first to arrive for early entry to the park. We chose Ticket Extra online which also gets you a complimentary coffee and muffin, lunch and soft drink, 20% off merchandise and your 30 min early entry.
We had a very warm welcome by the Efteling characters and how can you not be wowed by that entrance plaza?!
Now would be a good time to point out that it is a good job we wrapped up warm. Thankfully it was dry all day but it was a foggy and very cold start and end to the day.
One of my favourite things about the park is the multiple fire pits they have. They are stoked all day and create a lovely area for guest entertainment and wooden stalls selling sweet treats like mulled wine and doughnuts.
The timetable for live entertainment was impressive – I think nearly every time we happened to walk past a fire pit, something was happening.
As it started to get darker, we explored the rest of the park we hadn’t seen yet including the impressive water show, the fairly land forest and the steam train. I think I lost count of how many times we discovered another ride or attraction sitting behind each corner. In the winter months, they even have a cross country ski track, ice skating rink and other wintry things like a snow slope which you can slide down in an inflatable ring!
Have you noticed I’ve hardly mentioned the rollercoasters yet?
There are a few major roller coasters at the park – Python, Swiss Bob, George and the dragon and the newly opened Baron dive coaster. Sadly Python was closed due to weather conditions but it saved me from riding my least favourite corkscrew design. Baron was good but still has nothing on Oblivion (Alton Towers). I liked the Bobsleigh ride, Swiss Bob, but I think Blackpool’s Avalanche still had the upper hand. My favourite, then, had to be the wooden roller coaster which was an impressive structure, a speedy little devil and the dragon even breathes fire in the dark.
Despite the park getting busier through the day, we managed to time things right and get on everything before the park re-opened for the New Year evening event. This meant as soon as the gates reopened again, we headed straight for the pancake house and to warm up with a hot chocolate. We spent the evening strolling around the rest of the park, enjoying some of the smaller rides and seeing more live entertainment.
The wristband given for the evening event included two buttons that you could exchange for a glass of champagne and a Dutch-style doughnut. All in all, the park theming and live entertainment, as well as some rides with unique characteristics, make for a great guest experience. At 11.45pm, we watched another impressive water and light show, boogied to some classic party tunes before seeing the firework show turn into the most disappointing thing we’d seen – due to very foggy skies, the fifteen minutes of firework display became a cloud of coloured smoke. There’s not a lot you can do if the weather is like that unfortunately!
But, from a very cold but fun Efteling, Happy New Year from us!