Imagine the Moment When the World Gets Better Again

October 9, 2020, 1:09 PM · I wasn't expecting to break down crying yesterday. Yet, there I was — sobbing with happiness while I watched a live stream from nine time zones away, in a language I don't understand.

The broadcast? The live premiere of Efteling's new version of its Aquanura night-time fountain show, now set to the music of Dutch singer Guus Meeuwis. This special edition will run at the park through November 15, in honor of Meeuwis' 25 years performing.

Efteling's mascot, Pardoes, with Guus Meeuwis
Efteling's mascot, Pardoes, with Guus Meeuwis. Photo courtesy Efteling.

Meeuwis was at the park to kick off the debut of the special edition, which is called "Aquanura, met een zachte G." Apparently, that's a play on Meeuwis' concert series, "Groots met een zachte G," which Google translates to "Big with a soft G." Which, in turn, shows why the phrase "lost in translation" exists, because "big" doesn't start with a G in English, soft or not.

No matter. With no theme parks open in my home state of California, and with no night-time spectaculars playing at Disney or Universal in Florida, I just wanted to watch a big theme park show again — live and in real time. So I sat through the interviews in Dutch, wondering what the deal was with that gold ball, waiting for the moment when the lights would dim, the music would start, and the water would soar through the air.

When that happened, I just lost it. By the time I heard the melody of J.S. Bach's Minuet in G Major within Meeuwis' "Brabant" during the show's finale, I was a blubbering mess.

Aquanura is a fine show, and though I had not heard of Meeuwis before yesterday, I found his music lovely. But under normal circumstance, I doubt the combination of these two would have elicited much more than a perfunctory smile from me. I've seen a lot of night-time shows, after all.

But these are not normal circumstances.

Efteling's live stream took me back mentally to every one of those night-time shows I've sat or stood to watch in theme parks around the world. And that made me imagine the next time I will see a big night-time show in a crowded theme park somewhere.

I have no idea where that will be, or more importantly, when. But I suspect that when the lights dim and the first notes of music play, everyone around me — including me — will absolutely lose it.

The stress of this pandemic is real. And millions of people will continue to suffer post-traumatic stress symptoms once the pandemic is past. But one way to start the emotional recovery from this stressful time is to stop holding back the emotions and just let them fly — like water through the air in theme park fountain show.

It's not time yet in the United States for theme parks to bring thousands of people together for a shared moment like that. But the time will come — I believe that. And yesterday, listening to Guus Meeuwis and watching the lights and fountains from Efteling, I discovered exactly how I will react when it does.

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Replies (10)

October 9, 2020 at 1:55 PM

Agree with you totally. This was wonderful to watch and to look forward to us once again having performances like this here in the US. Cannot wait.

October 9, 2020 at 2:23 PM

I'm Dutch and can explain the soft G thing.
In our language the G is kind of a hard sound, Americans often worry if we don't damage our throat (we don't). But in the southern provinces (Limburg and Brabant) they speak with a soft G.
It's great theme parks are still open here but the covid-19 infected rise again so I hope we can maintain it good enough so we don't need to go back in full lockdown.
The show was wonderful, I'm glad Meeuwis and Efteling created this spreading joy.

October 9, 2020 at 2:07 PM

We are all waiting (and longing) for the day when we can gather together in community again. I applaud your honesty in sharing your emotional response. I suspect you are right. This pandemic and the lock-downs all over the world are doing far more than saving lives, (and/or decimiating economies). They are starving us of the social interaction that is the essence of humanity. When we can once again gather and share Communion with others it will be an emotional day for every one of us.

October 9, 2020 at 2:09 PM

So nice to see you are taking a interest in our dutch themepark. It is nice to see our world is slowly opening again. The golden ball is from the fairy tail of the frog king. The frogs are part of the show.

October 9, 2020 at 2:25 PM

Great story Robert as always.
I can't wait to go to Efteling next August as I had to postpone my trip this year due to covid restrictions on travel.
Efteling is such a well themed park pity Ireland is too small to support a park like Efteling.

October 9, 2020 at 3:37 PM

Good story, Robert. Jealous of these nations in better shape for various reasons and shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel, we just hope it comes sooner. It's a dark time but this shows there is hope out there.

October 9, 2020 at 10:55 PM

Robert I feel your pain 100%. I often watch youtube shows of everything from DCAs Aladdin, to Mickey and the Magical Map to Parades and even rides. I watch them with my 3 year old daughter and she cant even remember going there since she was only 2 last time we went. Now she knows the movies and stories but she doesn't remember what its like to be there. I tear up just thinking about it and I can only imagine what I will feel to finally take her again.

October 10, 2020 at 12:13 AM

Glad to hear I wasn't the only one so moved by this new show! Likewise I had no clue what was being said but the emotions of the music came through beautifully. It is a true testament to how important "software" (like music and the emotions it can bring) is to a great theme park attraction. Impressive technology can only take you so far.

October 10, 2020 at 10:28 AM

I had the same reaction as you, Robert. But I was also blown away -- I mean, sure, we've seen some pretty amazing nighttime water spectaculars in our day, but about 31:00 into this video, my jaw dropped. All I could think was "They figured out to make water actually waltz." Very well done show by Efteling.

October 10, 2020 at 11:30 AM

Efteling is such a wonderful place, possibly the favorite theme park i've ever experienced.

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