Efteling with kids: A magical experience
Efteling is one of the most popular theme parks in Europe in terms of visiting numbers, only second to Disneyland Paris and Europa Park Germany. According to Blooloop, more than five million visitors per year visit Efteling. This theme park is located in the North Brabant region of the Netherlands. We have been to Disneyland Paris 2 years ago (see this link for my review), but going to Efteling with kids is another layer of magical experience. It brings back our childhood memories from various children’s fairytales. The Efteling embeds its attactions in a beautiful natural setting, which contributes to charming, magical, and authentic feeling. In my opinion, Efteling is a must place to visit when in Netherlands or in Europe. It was 10 years ago when I first visited Efteling before I had kids. It was a wonderful experience. Now 10 years later, I go back to Efteling with my husband and two children. Experience wise, the feeling of being in Efteling remains magical. In this blog, I will focus on the attractions and preparations towards a truly memorable visit in Efteling with young kids.
Efteling with young kids
1. Grimm brothers’ fairytale stories in Fairytale forest (Sprookjesbos).
Sprookjesbos is one of the attractions in Efteling that features many favorite children characters from the famous Grimm brothers. These include Snow White, Cinderella, Rumplestiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, The Emperor’s New Clothes and many more. Seeing these characters come to life through storytelling brings the charm of Eftelling to its visitors. In addition to these, one should not miss Sprookjesboom, a talking tree that tells wonderful stories to children of all ages. Touring the Sprookjesbos can take 3-4 hours of your time so make sure to plan ahead your visit.
2. Tour of Carnaval with Jokie and Jet
Jokie and Jet are the mascots of Efteling for young children. These famous carnaval characters have designated attraction that highlights their adventure worldwide, from Africa all the way to North Pole. The attraction is suitable for young kids, such as toddlers, and also for adults. The tour of this attraction will surely leave visitors mesmerized by the colorful world of carnavals and puppets. In case you want to bring hoome the memory of your kids’ visit in Efteling, there are many souvenir shops in Eftelling that offer Jokie and Jet memorabilias.
3. 4D Film Adventure: Fabula
This attraction is suitable for family including young children. The cinema offers rich 4D experience telling a story of a bear and a squirrel, which became friends through their magical journey in various animal kingdoms. The 4D effect works very well for young children who do not yet understand the technology behind it. Therefore it is truly a magical experience for them.
4. Symbolica: Magical dark ride in a castle
Symbolica offers a trip inside the palace that brings visitors to the magical world of music, treasure, and heroes. Personally we were mesmerized by this attraction since the ride has no clear track and every door that opens shows new wonders. Symbolica is what I considered as one of the most spectacular highlights of Efteling when visiting with young children.
5. Monorail: A tour through Laafland
A snail form monorail will tour you to Laafland from above. Laafland is home to the Laafs, a special group of “people”, who live their ordinary life in a cozy fantasy village. During the ride, you can the Laafs who are baking, going to school, ang making music. This attraction is suitable for all ages, including young children – with the guidance of parents.
6. Steam train ride
Enjoy the view of Efteling park conveniently via a Steam train ride. This ride brings you around Efteling and takes around 20 minutes. The steam train ride is a simple but relaxing way to enjoy Efteling with young children.
7. Monsieur Cannibale’s Spinning Cauldrons
The ride in a giant cooking pot will give you a thrilling and dizzy feeling. This ride is an equivalent of Madhatter’s Tea Cup of Disneyland Paris. However, be warned that the Spinning Cauldron are moving considerably faster than the one in Disneyland. The Spinning Cauldron is less fancy than Disneyland, yet can be exciting as well for children. Be careful though that children might get dizzy in this ride. A parental guidance for children below 1 meter is required in entering this ride.
8. Gondolleta Boat Ride
A Gondolleta boat ride in a nature area is definitely a relaxing experience for family when in Efteling. This ride allows you to enjoy the beauty of Efteling’s nature in various seasons. My Gondolleta experience was during the autumn of 2011 showing a beautiful autumn surrounding. Surely, the Gondolleta ride also brings unique charm during spring, summer, and winter seasons.
Adjacent to the Sprookjesbos you will find the Steam Carrousel ride. The Steam Carrousel ride, consisting of designed coach and horses, is 100 years old. Being in the Steam carrousel allows you travel back in time in a rich and spectacular way. After enjoying the Steam Carrousel, a few more walk going to the restaurant Het Witte Paard will bring you to two more carrousels, which young kids can further enjoy.
10. Labyrinth for children
Children up to 12 years old may enjoy being lost and finding their ways in the maze of Doolhof. This maze has statues that talks and provides clues, and fountains that fire waters when children are around.
In addition to the children rides I enumerated, there are still many rides for older children. These rides include the Halve Maan (Swinging Ship), Pirana (River’s rapid ride), Flying Dutchman Water coaster, Vogel Rok Indoor Roller Coaster, and the Baron 1898 Free Fall/Dive Coaster. For a more complete lists of the rides, see the Efteling website. Surely, it will eb another level of Efteling experience for children.
How can you save from your trip to Efteling?
A low season Efteling ticket costs 38 euros while a high season ticket costs 45 euros. However, buying an Efteling ticket does not have to be at full price. There are constant promotions available that enable everyone to benefit from discounted tickets. These include the Albert Heijn discount ticket, a supermarket that enable you to collect a stamp for every 10 euros worth of shopping. After you collected 4 stamps, you can exchange it for 12,50 euros discount of Efteling ticket. In the summer, you only have to pay 28,50 euros for low season while 32,50 euros during peak season. There are also sites that give discounts such as Groupon and Socialdeal, often in combination with the accommodation in Efteling. If you are travelling via public transport, the NS Spoordeelwinkel often also have an Efteling discount in combination with the costs of train. If you buy your ticket to Efteling website, you will save approximately 2,50 for your ticket. Once you have your ticket, it is better to have them printed or have the QR-code in the app scanned. It saves you time falling in line in the entrance of the theme park.
Bringing your own food in Efteling is allowed and therefore saves lots of money. Nevertheless, the costs of eating in any of the restaurants in Efteling is reasonable from a Dutch standard, especially when compared to buying food in many touristic places.
Buying souvenirs in Efteling can accumulate especially if you have kids who like to take the memories of Efteling with them. Luckily, if you register your ticket on the Efteling app, per ticket you can get 5 euros discount in buying souvenirs. The quality of the souvenirs being sold in Efteling is also quite reasonable.
Efteling has very huge parking lot available for thousands of cars. A parking ticket costs in general 12,50 per day, which is reasonable if you stay in the park for the whole day (and night). To give a perspective, parking in a small city in Netherlands can costs 1-2 euros per hour while parking in big city like Amsterdam cost 7,50 per hour!