Theme Park Facing Attendance Cap Over Pollution Issue

January 31, 2022, 2:14 PM · Efteling may soon face a hard attendance cap if the park and its home province cannot convince a Dutch court that they have done enough to limit polluting emissions.

The Dutch court ruled last week that the province of Noord-Brabant must start enforcing an attendance cap of five million visitors a year on Efteling unless it can demonstrate that the park has done enough to limit emissions, by both itself and the visitors who drive there. The province has 10 weeks to comply.

Efteling drew only 2.9 million visitors in 2020, due to pandemic closures and capacity restrictions, but the Dutch park drew 5.2 million visitors in 2017 and 5.4 million visitors in 2018 and 2019, as the local province declined to enforce the five-million-visitor cap.

Meanwhile, Efteling has petitioned that it be allowed to admit up to six million visitors a year. The issue is the environmental impact on the Loonse en Drunense Duinen National Park, which is located across the 261 highway from Efteling. The park is home to a forest and sand dunes, which are threatened by emissions from vehicles driving on nearby roads.

Efteling is located in the village of Kaatsheuvel, which is not located along any of The Netherlands' many train lines. When I last visited Efteling in 2017, I had to take a bus to connect with the nearest train. But Efteling's large car park testifies that many visitors opt for private vehicles when visiting. Efteling has taken several steps to limit emissions inside the park, including switching from a diesel to electric train and deploying more electric vehicles. But Efteling also has announced aggressive expansion plans, including the opening of a new hotel and dark ride by 2024.

The two-time winner of our Best Theme Park Award is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

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