It all started in 1933 when there was developed a walking park in the forrest in the south of Kaatsheuvel. In 1936 it contained a sports park and a play-yard.
The Park was officialy founded in 1950 as a nature park, it was called Natuurpark Efteling (nature park Efteling). It got its name from the land where it was lain in, because there used to be a farm called Ersteling.
In the park were tennis courts, a swimmingpool and a big walking park area. In 1952 Fairytale Forrest (sprookjesbos) was opened with only 10 fairytales, of which: Snow White, the castle of Sleeping Beauty, the Magic Clock and the dwarf village.
The park grew in popularity. Fairytale Forrest got more fairytales and the sports park was disappearing. The name turned into De Efteling and it was becoming a themepark with Anton Pieck as head designer. A designer with warm, nostalgic drawings and imagineering. He never ment to design high skylines for the park, he always created theming which fit fairytales. He wanted his drawings to become touchable, no straight lines or futuristic forms.
The first restaurant was built. Anton Pieck designed a village fair styled square and Efteling became caretaker of fairytales.
While bigger attractions became more important, the swimming pool was torn down.
It became the largest themepark in the Netherlands and one of the largest themeparks in Europe with attractions like:
- Spookslot (Haunted castle, 1978)
- Python (Vekoma looping rollercoaster, 1981)
Later on big attractions where added like:
- Fata Morgana (1001 nights styled darkride, 1986)
- Henny Knoet (designer) introduces Pardoes, the mascot of the park.
- Pegasus (Europes largest wooden coaster at the time 1991-2009)
- Droomvlucht (fairytale, dreamland darkride, 1993)
- Villa Volta (First Vekoma mad house, 1996)
- Vogelrok (Vekoma indoor rollercoaster, 1998)
- De Vliegende Hollander (watercoaster, 2006)
Some of those attraction are unique in quality. Spookslot was at its opening the largest haunted castle in the world. And for a ride like Fata Morgana you needed to cross the ocean, because it approached the quality of a Pirates ride. Something like Fata Morgana was never done before on the European ground. An attraction with 140 moving figures and original for de Efteling composed music in a 4000m2 large palace.
Droomvlucht (Dreamflight) is considered one of the most beautiful darkrides in the world and Villa Volta was the worlds Mad House debut with a praised soundtrack. Vogelrok is the only non-disney indoor coaster with on-board music.
De Vliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman) is an attraction from a totaly new category. It combines walkthrough, darkride, watercoaster and splash. All themed in style of Holland's golden century when the ship 'Den Hollander' got cursed and forever sails the seven seas. The Captain still haunts and never finds rest.
In the year 2009 Pegasus closed down because of the ride being uncomfortable. Other than the normal procedure, Efteling choose to replace the ride immediately. The park never really takes down large attractions.
In this case, they Closed down the ride, demolished it and replaced it for again a unique attraction in Europe. A wooden racing coaster from a total of more than 1500m track. Not mend to be the largest or fastest, but more of a total experience. The ride is about the medieval story of Saint Georgius and the dragon and the dueling battle between water and fire. Both trains are about to meet the meters high dragon in a mysterious swamp.
There is entertainment throughout the park al day long on several places. From circusshow to flee circus, and from nostalgic goos parade to performing artists.
In the summertime, there are 7 saturdays full of entertainment. On these days the park is opened till midnight and a large stage can be found in the centre of the park for a festival with live artists throughout the day.
In 2011 a new parkshow will be performed at Ravelijn, an outdoor theatre.
In 1992 The park got its own Hotel. The Efteling Hotel has 4 stars, 122 rooms and 20 themed suites. Also in 1992 the park received the price for the best themepark in the world.
In the year 2009, the park completed Bosrijk. A brand new holiday park situated in the forest behind the Efteling park.
It was a project wished to be completed already years ago, but finally opened in a new form. It was the largest investment of the park. 52 Million euros where needed to open a park with 143 houses and 78 apartments in a magical natural environment. The mascot and most important head character for the theme in the park is the Sandman (Dutch name: Klaas Vaak). He provides children there dreams and has is sandcastle in the middle of the lake, where he shows up just before bedtime.
There is planned to open a themed village for visitors staying at one of the accommodations. After opening hours of the park, visitors can experience entertainment and nightlife.
Theatre and stages
In the year 2001 The park got is own Theatre; Theater de Efteling. This is one of the 5 main theatres of Holland. There are large musical productions every year and contains a luxurious restaurant with stage and entertainment; Theaterrestaurant Applaus.
Until a few years ago, visitors of the park could visit the park show at Theater de Efteling 3-4 times a day. Now, the theatre is separated from the park and produces professional entertainment.
Everyone staying at one of the accommodations at the Efteling gets a 20% discount for shows in Theater de Efteling.
In 2010, the park completes a new location for the parks offices called Ravelijn. It is not only a building for the staff, it will also be the decorative surrounding for the new park show to be performed in the year 2011. It will operate as a roofless amphitheater for medieval park shows. On the ground floor will be catering, food and drinks and on the upper floors, the offices will be situated, all themed as a medieval Dutch village. Before it opens, the park is planning to record a television series about the story that is linked to the location. A story about the dark side of the village, knights and bravery, written by a famous Dutch writer.
In 1995 Efteling opened an 18 hole counting golf park in the dunes behind the themepark. The park is officially certified to organize golf world championships.
In the centre of the court is the clubhouse, watching over the 18th hole. There are plans to open a second, even larger, 18 hole court in the natural environment surroundings of the current court.
Everyone staying at one of the accommodations at de Efteling gets a 30% discount on green fee for either 9 or 18 holes.
Efteling Media is the department of de Efteling that provides the parks mediaproductions. The park has its own radios tation; Eftelingradio. It plays music composed for de Efteling, movie soundtracks and live recorded material from the park.
There is also an Efteling channel on television, for the hotel and holiday park.
Efteling produces fairytale stories, recorded in the park and releases them on dvd and cd called; Sprookjes.
After a succesful musical about Ti Ta Tovenaar (a wizzard living in a floating castle), Efteling produces a television series about it.
Since a couple of years, one of the largest successes is Sprookjesboom (fairytale tree). A computer animated series about the stories of the fairytale figures living in fairytale forest at the Efteling, told by an old oak. The series can be watched on national and international television and there is a dvd collection. The oak telling the stories is about to open in real life in the fairytale forest in 2010. a 9x9m large animatronic talking with animals and children.
There is also a television series about the mascot of the holiday park; the sandman.
The Efteling is a company which excists from its own sales. It is not subsidized by larger companies such as Disney, Warner Bross or Six Flags. The park still made it through the competition in the themepark area ever since 1950. And is even awarded to be the best themepark in the world when it received the Applause Award. In 2005 it received the THEA Classic award (a lifetime achievement award), which is released by 20 individual, international jurors with for example a designer from Disney.
De Efteling is a fantasy, fairytale Themepark lain in the natural surroundings of a Dutch forrest. With its big attractions, many nature, large lakes and rich History the park remains competitive, but not following. Efteling is and stays unique and never means to build higher larger faster or better. With every step the parks takes, it maintains its role as caretaker of Fairytales.
For more information check [www.efteling.com] or [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efteling]