Hi! It’s Annie!
Being stuck inside has made me think about all of the places I would like to go to more than ever. If you’ve been on this blog for a while, you’ll know that my sister and I have talked about Disney theme parks before. But, obviously, Disney is not the be-all-end-all of theme parks. This image is of Efteling park in the Netherlands. An independent fantasy park that I am absolutely dying to go to. Not just because it’s a theme park, but because of how beautiful it is not just in theming but with nature as well. The creator of Efteling park was pretty passionate about keeping the nature inside the park, so actually did very little to clear the trees and instead planned the entire park around the nature the area already had. This only serves to make this fantasy park even more immersive. Here are all the reasons you also probably want to go to Efteling without realizing that you do… and some reasons why you may not want to go.
The fairytale forest is one of the most advertised parts of the park, and rightly so. This is what started out the park and is what the park has since expanded on. The fairytale forest contains several portrayals of original fairytales using adorable cottages planted within the greenery. Here you’ll find everything from Snow White to Rapunzel to Pinocchio with several other fairytales that you might also not be familiar with. But when I say original fairytales, I really mean original. I’m talking about the version of Cinderella where people’s eyes get pecked out and her step sisters cut off parts of their feet. Or the version of the Little Mermaid where she turns to seafoam at the end. Do not expect these fairytales to be all happy like Disney. But still, the fairytale forest has a magic to it and also has much to explore. Many people say that it’s impossible to see it all in one day and it’s almost like a hike within the park. They really do go for that immersion factor here.
Dream Flight is almost like ‘It’s a Small World’ in the way that they’re showcasing different animatronics. But if it was a thousand times better with less creepy animatronics, no annoying song, and if you were flying through it. The line is just as gorgeous as the ride itself and the ride depicts several different fairies doing different activities. It seriously reminds me of the work of Brian Froud if you’re familiar with him. Brian Froud is most known for working with Jim Henson specifically on the movie ‘Labyrinth’ starring David Bowie. So much in this park has Brian Froud vibes, but this is the one thing in the park in particular that is overflowing with them. This is like being flown into a little fantasy world that you get to observe from above. It’s absolutely beautiful.
This is actually one of the more recent additions to the park and one that I will never be able to get over. Baron 1898 is a steampunk themed dive coaster with it’s own backstory. You can even find themed story videos that Efteling created for the roller coaster online, though they are in Dutch. This coaster follows the story of Gustave Hooghmoed, a baron who discovered a nearby cave contained gold. Before he could disturb the cave he was visited by a spirit who warned him that if he disturbed the gold he would be cursed for the rest of his life. Of course, he doesn’t listen. As you are about to go down into the mine to retrieve some treasure for Gustave, you are attacked by vengeful spirits known as the White Ladies. Basically they are terrifying screaming spirits of women. These spirits are actually known for being like sirens, so they’re also most known for they’re beautiful singing. Singing that becomes more horrifying than beautiful as your ride the coaster. But still gorgeous; I listen to the soundtrack for this ride so much. Of course, it is a dive coaster so it’s known for it’s steep drop.
Just because Disney doesn’t have a ride inside their castle doesn’t mean that a different park wouldn’t realize how badass that could be. Symbolica follows the jester mascot of Efteling as he uses his magic to send guests on a journey through the castle. This includes magically separating stairwells that you walk through before you even get on the ride, an observatory that looks like it’s straight out of ‘The Dark Crystal’ (welcome back Mr. Froud), and several other magical effects along the way. One of the best parts about this ride is that it’s interactive. First you get to choose if you want to take the music tour, the hero’s tour, or the treasure tour. Throughout the ride the screen in front of you may light up where you can choose glowing orbs to prompt things around you in the ride to happen. This ride is also trackless, which makes the experience smoother and even more mystical feeling.
As I am covering the amazing parts of this park, I also should mention that there’s one blatant blemish in the park. Racist statues. Many of the racist statues have been removed since the original opening of the park. These were there depicting very old sentiments in a carnival setting. It’s still seriously wrong and removing them isn’t any excuse for them having been there in the first place. Though all of them have been taken down, one of the most racist parts of the park still remains intact. This is a ride called Monsieur Cannibale, a ride depicting a children’s story in the form of a song. The ride has a large racist statue in the middle of this teacups style ride, depicting a racist caricature as the cannibal. And that isn’t all. The song is in French, but it is not a song or story for kids as the story is actually very sexual in nature. Why the park is refusing to take this ride out is beyond me, but I can’t in good conscience recommend this park without noting something so harmful.
Efteling is an absolutely gorgeous immersive park with an amazing art style. I didn’t even mention all of the rides and attractions; like a haunted house, an optical illusion ride, a water show, and a medieval style show with knights and sword fighting. The fact that the creator of Efteling was an environmentalist and kept much of the nature intact is also admirable. But I, once again, have to talk about the immersion factor. Not many theme parks other than Disney related ones work to keep their guests fully immersed in an entirely different world no matter where they go in the park. That includes the lines being amazing and fun to walk through and greenery hiding the outside world. Efteling is the best park that I’ve seen that does this other than Disneyland. I would claim it is close to a perfect park, but it will never be that until they remove that massive blemish. It makes me want to vomit just thinking about it. But hopefully they’ll listen to others and do away with their racist imagery soon. If you want more information, I highly recommend Mo Mo O Brien’s video on this park on Youtube. It is absolute perfection.
See you across the pond!