If you’re a theme park fan and you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, Efteling is a must. Since opening in 1952, this fairytale themed park now welcomes millions of visitors every year. At a fraction of the cost of a Disneyland ticket, children and adults alike can enjoy a full day at one of Europe’s most popular theme parks.
Here is our comprehensive guide to help you plan a one day itinerary in Efteling.
Where is Efteling?
Efteling is based in Kaatsheuvel in the Netherlands. If you look at the map below, you might think a trip to Efteling looks pretty inconvenient for someone based in Amsterdam. You’re looking at an hour and 10 minute one way trip if traffic is light. But due to Efteling’s popularity, tour operators offer full day ticket/transport combinations at very reasonable prices.
If you’re based in Amsterdam, the easiest way to get to Efteling, in my opinion, is to buy the transport along with the ticket from a tour operator. Remember, if you’re booking through a tour operator, always check the T&Cs, cancellation policy etc. before booking.
Our booking included bus transport from the City Sightseeing Amsterdam office near the train station to Efteling. We arrived at the park around 10:40am and we had to be back at the bus for 5pm. We’ve gotten in the habit of taking a printed paper booking confirmation but they can scan directly from your phone/tablet too.
It’s worth noting here that Efteling is quite a large theme park (twice the size of the original Disneyland Park in California). So if you’re going down this route make sure you leave enough time at the end for your trek/light jog back to the bus.
When You Should Go
If you’re all set on your trip dates, this won’t really matter. But it’s always worth bearing in mind. Efteling is open 365 days a year and they break their calendar down into seasons. Here is a quick guide to each season.
Winter in Efteling offers some unique attractions. Bonfires, an ice rink, winter light shows and cross country skiing. However, it’s worth bearing in mind opening hours are reduced during most of this period (from 11am until 6pm). During the Christmas holidays, the park remains open until 8pm.
The famous dutch tulips take over the park and some rides reopen after winter closure. Namely the Gondoletta boat ride, Vogelrok, an indoor dark rollercoaster and the Piraña river rapids.
Whilst summer is the busiest period, opening hours are extended. The park is open from 10am until 8pm most days with further hour extensions on summer festival days. During festival days, pop-up stalls, live music and parades can be enjoyed in the park.
Whilst Efteling in autumn will be beautiful, the list of unique seasonal offerings is pretty small. Efteling is not known to go big on halloween so walking through the autumnal Fairytale Forest is probably the most unique aspect of this season.
For more information on specific park days, including a crowd calendar, visit this section of Efteling’s website.
What To Pack
This is very similar to our Disney packing list. Packing appropriately for your trip to Efteling is essential.
Backpack - Self Explanatory
Battery Pack - You’ll be out the whole day and you’re travelling for over an hour each way on a bus. If you’re worried at all about your phone’s battery life, an external battery pack is essential. This was the one we used.
We liked this product for a few reasons. Firstly, the LED display so we could track the battery use accurately. Secondly, the dual USD slots so we could charge 2 devices at once.
Change of Clothing - Always a good idea, especially if you’re heading on any water rides.
Rain Gear - You’ll be outside a lot during the day. When we went to Efteling, our umbrella saw heavy usage.
Sun Block - For the same reason you should bring rain gear. Remember that you can burn when it’s cloudy too.
Water - We recommend taking water with you or buying drinks in the park. There are water fountains but they get heavy usage from the public. Stay hygienic, bring or buy your own.
Working Your Way Around The Park
Efteling is a large park so it can be daunting at first. This is why we’d recommend coming up with a plan before you get there. Here are some things to bear in mind when planning.
In general, the thrill rides are based in the eastern side of the park and the more relaxing, kid friendly rides are based in the western side. We decided to go for the thrill-first approach. We went for the more exciting, fast rides before lunch and the more relaxing rides after lunch (a good tactical move).
Our recommendation would be to finish with the thrill rides and head for lunch next to the northern steam train stop (Ruigrijk). Take the convenient but slow moving steam train to the park’s western section and then work your way north. Finally, head back past the park’s central section where you can find the soaring Pagode attraction (pictured below).
If you’re used to Disney’s queue times, you should be pleasantly surprised by Efteling. We went in the height of summer (end of July) and the maximum queue time was 15 minutes (for De Vliegende Hollander).
There are single rider queues if you’re happy to ride individually. This is one way to cut down on queue times. The downside of the single rider queue is that you can’t choose where you sit. You’re simply placed in an available empty seat. They’re available on Baron 1898, Bob, Python, Symbolica and Joris en de Draak.
The Efteling App
The Efteling mobile app will be your handy guide during the day. It uses GPS to track your location so you can see where you are on the map. You can see details on attractions, shows, food and drink, toilets and shops.
This is where Efteling really shines. There is a huge selection of thrill rides which will keep thrill-seekers entertained throughout the day. Here’s our top picks.
Joris en de Draak
A dual wooden rollercoaster (right in picture below) based on the legend of Saint George and the Dragon. Two cars compete to the finish at speeds of over 45mph. Wooden rollercoasters are a rarity these days so to experience one this fun is a treat. (Duration: 2 minutes)
This rollercoaster (left in picture below) starts with a 37.5m free-fall which launches you into multiple loops. Although this was a great ride, we rode this late on in the day. When I stepped off I turned to Damon and said “I think my brain’s done with the thrill rides for now”. (Duration: 2 minutes)
Prepare to get wet on this 350m long river rapids ride. Note, the water cannons will soak you more than the splashes will. (Duration: Varies)
De Vliegende Hollander
This long water coaster/dark ride is based on the legend of The Flying Dutchman. Speeds reach nearly 44mph and you might get splashed at the drop (Duration: Almost 4 minutes)
A bobsled coaster which includes drops and curves. Speeds reach nearly 40mph. The ride is smooth for the most part but expect some bumps along the way. (Duration: 2 minutes)
Despite all the thrills, Efteling can also be a place to chill and relax. Here are our top picks if you want a break from the rollercoasters.
Probably one of the most memorable rides in the park. You can sit back and relax on this track-based boat ride on the lake. We went around this twice since the boats had canopies and it was raining. (Duration: 20 minutes)
This steam train takes you around the park and can be used as transport. There are 2 stations. One at the north end of the park (Ruigrijk) and one in the park’s south-west section (Marerijk). Great if you want to give your legs a rest. (Duration: 15-20 minutes)
This slow-moving ride above Lavenland at the park’s western end offers good views and relaxation. This was our last ride in the park before our light jog back to the bus. (Duration: 7 minutes)
An Honourable Mention:
This ride gets its own section because it is probably the one we remember most but not for good reasons. The ‘turning madhouse’ is exactly as it sounds. You sit on a slowly swinging bench seat inside a spinning drum. The ride is designed to make you think you are spinning upside down. The illusion is so convincing that you’ll wish you didn’t have lunch beforehand.
Speaking of food, if you’re looking for a place to eat lunch during your visit, we’d recommend Station de Oost at the north end of the park. This eatery contains multiple different takeaway counters. You’ll find sandwiches, salads, snacks, hot and cold drinks under one roof. It’s also a handy shelter if it happens to be raining.
After lunch, you can head to some rides/attractions nearby or you can take the steam train from the park’s northern stop (Ruigrijk) to it’s western section.
One benefit of the park ticket/transport combo we purchased was that we didn’t have to worry about dinner in the parks. Since our tour bus arrived back in Amsterdam just after 6, we ate dinner once we got back to the city.
Efteling is a gem in the world of theme parks. It offers a rare combination of thrills and chills with fantastic theming and short queues. You can definitely do Efteling in a day and we highly recommend it.
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