So this past weekend we’ve spent our time in Efteling for their 65th Anniversary and to ride the new Symbolica ride BEFORE it opened up to the public. How epic is that? I tell you, some days I’m a little bit overwhelmed by the opportunities my job brings and I really do love doing things like this with the kids.
So where to start? Apart from telling you that if you haven’t heard of Efteling you NEED to make it your weekend break 100%.
Well, we stayed at the brand new Loonsche Land holiday village. If you think of Center Parcs but with a whimsical charm that can’t be rivalled then you are probably on the right track – there is a hotel, but we were in the very lovely self catering lodges. I would describe the lodges as “The love child of IKEA and a designer with a thing for naked wood” it really did have the most Scandinavian feel – which I adored because it gave the children the chance to see how another culture would set up their space. From curtains instead of doors on the bedrooms to minimalist living and no bath, it was a real experience. I did find that the lack of doors made it a touch harder to get Roo to go to sleep but doors don’t *really* stop him anyway!
When we first arrived the lodge was clean with a great welcome package. I was a little bit disappointed to find that the bed weren’t made, in fact I had to make all 6 beds before we could settle down and I was less than enthused about this – however I’m reliably informed that this is another culture difference and once I’d done the beds the wonderful, clean smelling sheets made up for it. Perhaps something to be aware of as a Brit, that certainly isn’t something we’re used to is it? The welcome pack meant we could have a cuppa before hitting the park and the Symbolica launch!
I can’t begin to explain how amazing the launch was, from a delightful banquet where all the characters were dressed up and wowing the children, to the ride itself. If you are heading to Efteling or thinking of going, this needs to be so high on your priority list it isn’t even funny. It is a MUST. The ride is basically 3 very similar rides in 1, but it is so magical, so filled with delights for the eyes and slow enough that even Edith could go on supervised. I loved the fact that the ride was interactive, something that Toby joined in with and really enjoyed, and without giving too much away, his favourite “version” of the ride was the Hero version – you’ll have to go to see what I’m talking about.
After that we had a little look around the park but we were so tired after our journey over that we just wanted to head back to the hotel and have dinner in the Loonsche Land restaurant before having an early night ready to have a BIG day the next day.
When we went for dinner, we were seated right next to the play area which was FAB, loads of wooden toys for the kids to play with and open plan so that we could all see everything. I loved it and so did the kids – how could they not? The food, however, was another story. We loved the food we were given – it was delectable and the adult choice was great, filled with fresh quiche, salads and steak or fish dishes, however the children’s menu was disappointing. My kids are quite well rounded with what they will eat, they have tried a variety of different cuisines and enjoy lots of different foods (excluding Edith who is crap with everything), but the options for the kids were soup (spinach on that day), fish and chips or chicken WINGS. Now, as a Brit, I can honestly say that if I ordered chicken wings in a restaurant for my two year old, most restaurant would refuse me as it’s down right dangerous. I spoke to a few other friends and all of them said the same – never in a million years would they give a 2, 4 and 6 (perhaps the 6 year old) wings. I was really disappointed by this – and something like pasta would have been much better if they wanted to say away from the old nuggets and chips. The kids (fortunately) love fish and chips so they were more than happy with this and tucked in. We had steak and fish respectively and I have to say it was some of the tastiest fish I’ve ever had. So whilst I wouldn’t go back to the Loonsche land restaurant this was purely because I wasn’t happy with the choices and absolutely nothing to do with the quality – that simply couldn’t be questioned.
Back to bed we headed with a breakfast reservation in the morning, which was REALLY comprehensive, with cereals (only cornflakes that my kids would recognise, but they were happy with that) and loads of fresh juice in all forms. A total turn around from dinner and genuinely delicious.
For the rest of that day we headed out to the park and I can honestly say it was THE most magical place. I’m going to break the park down into 4 different points so you don’t have to read everything if it’s not applicable to you, but I want to really highlight that THIS is a park for every age. It isn’t one of those theme parks that announces “something for everyone” but is geared towards children under or over 10. It really has a FULL day out for a child and adult of every age.
Efteling with toddlers and pre-schoolers:
- A lot of the rides are suitable for children under 1m if supervised with an adult. Edith’s favourites were Symbolica, Fairy based Droomvluct, Carnival festival and Stoomcarousel.
- The best part for Edith was the Fairytale forest or “Marerijk” – the characters are all moving and it was SO amazing to see so many fairytales brought to life.
- There are toilets EVERYWHERE so potty training little ones had an easy time.
- The train is great for tired little legs.
- The Wandelwagons, little pull along carts, are AMAZING. Absolutely without a doubt worth the 4€
- The water show is a must IF your little one can make it – it was such a shame that we could only make it to the 6.45 one as we had spent so long in the park that we forgot to head home and have a rest mid afternoon – it meant that the lights weren’t effective at all because it was still bright daylight.
- 3 playgrounds and play areas for toddlers.
Efteling for children:
- The rides are awesome. Most white knuckle rollercoasters were for children over 120cm, however there were so many rides for children to go on if they were under that and with an adult that it hardly mattered.
- It’s super easy to pick up a variety of languages because there are 4 languages on the boards in the fairytale forest.
- 3 play areas for kids which were great.
- The children’s maze is super fun!
- River rapids are a must, great for the end of the day!
- The shows are in Dutch BUT they were super lively so Toby loved them. That’s his bag anyway, but it might not be for all the kids.
- Fata morgana I would NOT recommend for kids who are easily scared or don’t like the dark. Reuben hated it with a passion (he’s a bit of a wimp with dark or “scary” rides anyway) but even Toby who normally thinks it’s “cool” was freaked out. I’d avoid it… it’s also very traditional and what would be dulled down for a commercialised and very politically correct England wasn’t dulled down at all.
- PandraDroom is a must – also a great place to go just before lunch because it leads into the BEST restaurant… (see other section)
- Even if you don’t go to Octopus restaurant (you should and I will tell you why in a minute) you MUST go to the play area. You must.
- The diorama is wonderful – for all ages from birth to … well, you know.
Efteling for adults:
- The rollercoasters are AWESOME and they offer a parent swap.
- If you like magical and whimsical please please please don’t miss Symbolica or Droomvluct. If it wasn’t for the HUGE queue for Symbolica on the second day, I would have let Toby take me on over and over. Seriously.
- Tonnes of cash points around the park – if you’re going for a long stay, remember that you’re better off getting out Euros as you will be hammered for bank charges plus exchange charges. I forgot our Euros and it has cost me dearly.
- There are loads of shops for merch but fortunately you are only obliged to go through a few so minimal screaming from the “I want it” crowd.
- Plenty of places to grab coffee and, dearest Brit friends, don’t forget to have a chocomel. Seriously. ALL THE NOM.
Food at Efteling:
- Can’t recommend Octopus restaurant enough. It was delish. You go to the pasta bar and they make fresh pasta with a choice of four sauces, three types of pasta and a range of ingredients to include. Be warned the portions are HUGE. They also do a kids meal with the biggest portions and you get to keep your bowl after. Pasta not your thing? Get a freshly made panini. I thought for the quality and portion size, 39€ was really reasonable for 2 adults and 3 kids.
- There are so many places to grab snack like food, from paninis to sweet treats. I’d say the sweet treats slightly outweigh the savoury so just be aware that we had to walk a bit to find more savoury grab and go.
- Smulpaap was great for the kid’s meal – bit like McDonalds, with a toy, fries and a choice of nuggets, cheesy bites or meat stick. Is it healthy? No, but you’re on holiday right?
- ‘t Poffertje was overpriced at 39€ for 2 adults and 3 kids as it is literally just a whopping portion of mini pancakes, but if you have it as an experience and count the fact that you got to keep your plates, it wasn’t that bad. The pancakes were SUPER tasty. Don’t miss it – but don’t expect a cheap snack either.
- Get pizza at the fast food place on the fast food shop on the way out of the park. It is the BEST pizza ever and it’s only 11-13€ for a LARGE.
All in all, would I recommend Efteling? YES, 100%. There were things like making the beds and the lack of suitable options for dinner at the hotel that I would change but my goodness the place is a marvel. It was like visiting a wonderland that can’t be compared. I truly loved it and I think that it is something everyone should experience.
H 🙂 x
*To clarify so there is no confusion at all, we were sent to Efteling at no cost to us. I was asked to simply go and feed back what we thought, with no obligation to post on social or blog. I just genuinely think it deserved it and if you caught even one of my Instagram stories over the weekend, you will agree.