Efteling Theme Park Review

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I recently launched the next Era of Eschaton (Tales of Dark Faerie). How does one research European fairytales? Traveling to fairytale locales!

When one thinks of fairytales, the image of picturesque European towns and villages immediately pops to mind. Western Europe is deeply ingrained in many people’s conception of a fairytale. Wander the towns of the Alsace region in France, like beautiful Colmar, and you get an immediate sense of place. But if you want to see those classic tales brought to vibrant life, the Netherlands has something truly special in store.

In southern Holland, halfway between Amsterdam and Brussels, lies Efteling, a fairytale-themed park featuring depictions of many stories from the Grimm’s Brothers, Hans Christian Anderson, and other classics.

Because the location lies a bit outside of any main cities, our family chose to stay at Efteling Hotel, from which it’s a short walk to the park. The Efteling Hotel won the TripAdvisor 2024 Travelers’ Choice Award!

The fun starts the moment the hotel comes into view, as it looks like you’re entering a castle. Everything from the check-in on is decked with theming from the park, from the folkloric pictures on the wall, to the giant boot statues sitting around the halls. For kids, the hotel offers magic wands for a small up-charge, that our daughter found well worth the price. They also provided her with a postcard to send to her friends (which they said they would post for her, even internationally), and a complimentary themed washcloth.

Giant Boots!

The rooms are fair sized and comfortable, and the fairytale atmosphere continues, with more giant boots and other special touches. They also have more deeply themed rooms available, specific to certain tales. These tend to book up quickly, so none were available for us (despite planning a couple months ahead), but they looked gorgeous online.

From the hotel, follow a path of archway hedges that gives the sense of traveling into another world. Once inside the park, there’s lots to see and do. Sooner or later, you’re going to be hungry (in our case, sooner), and the place to be then is Polles Kitchen, a pancake house where everything is alive. Thanks to witchy magic, the oven opens and closes on its own, dishes and cutlery spin around the ceiling, and a magic golden frog fountain fills sparkling glasses with water. The restaurant offers numerous variety of delicious pancakes (pineapple pancakes for me!), including heart-shaped ones for kids.

Living kitchen

Efteling offers several rides, including our favourite, the Droomvlucht (“Dream Flight”), a flying carriage that takes you through displays of fairies and trolls. For thrill-seekers, they have coasters and even a water ride.

They have characters in costume, mostly for original tales from Efteling. Since not everything there is available in English, we weren’t too sure what the story was with some of those new characters, but they sure looked amazing. The Fairytale Collector was particularly cool. (As an aside, everyone spoke perfect English and most displays were bilingual so we had no problems at all.)

Story Collector

The biggest appeal, however, comes in the displays throughout the park (especially Fairytale Forest). So many of our childhood favourites are brought to life with statues or animatronics. See Rapunzel’s tower, the gingerbread house, look into the magic mirror, or wander past a sleeping giant. The mushrooms sing, the trees talk, and everything seems infused with an absolute love of fairytales. There are interior rooms of castles you can explore, paths to climb around, and a chance to ride the Six Swans. Oh yeah, we also had afternoon tea with the Mad Hatter.


Overall, I would call it a quieter park than the bombastic experience one might expect in Disney or other bigger parks. It’s also one of the coolest theme parks I have seen around the world, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Netherlands. It became a truly memorable experience, and writing this article has us wanting to return soon.

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