Six reasons why you should visit Efteling in 2024

January 20, 2024, 5:27 PM · Let's not forget to look beyond the United States for travel inspiration this year. Efteling in The Netherlands ought to be on any Disney fans's wish list for places to visit. It's a charming park that offers some of the world's best dark rides and themed experiences outside the Disney parks.

Here are six of the many reasons to consider a visit to Efteling in 2024.

Fairytale Forest

The heart of Efteling is its Fairytale Forest. A walk-through installation depicting 30 fairy tales, "Sprookjesbos" is Efteling's original attraction, with many of the fairy tale scenes designed by park co-founder Anton Pieck. You can enjoy these attractions at your own pace, but each fairy tale offers details that will reward those who take their time to look closely. Some fairy tales include special effects and event ride elements, too. Like the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, Efteling's Fairytale Forest is a unique, foundational experience at its park. I cannot imagine a visit to Efteling without seeing at least part of it, and as a theme park fan, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to walk through it. It's worth flying overseas to experience.

It's got the best castle attraction

Disney's castles look amazing, but few offer attractions inside to match their spectacle. The Palace of Fantasy stands in the middle of Efteling, and offers the best in-castle ride outside of Hogwarts - Symbolica. It's a trackless dark ride with strong Mystic Manor vibes. And if you like the trick in the pre-show of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, there's an even better moment here.

Sometimes, you're not the hero

Theme parks love to create dark rides where guests play the hero. Just climb aboard and by the end of the ride, the baddies will be defeated and you will have helped save the day! But on some of the best theme park attractions, you don't win in the end. On the original Pirates of the Caribbean, you got blown to bits. On Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, you died and went to hell. Efteling's Fata Morgana completes this dark trio with an "Arabian Night"-themed adventure. Sure, there's riches and pleasures along the way, but in the end... well, you saw the end of The Sopranos?

Team Saint-Saëns represents

Long-time Theme Park Insider readers might know that I'm a huge fan of EPCOT's Impressions de France movie. I think it's the perfect theme park travelogue, elevated by one of the best classical music soundtracks I've ever heard. And the highlight of that soundtrack is Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 (Organ), which punctuates the final scenes at the Eiffel Tower. This year, the music of Camille Saint-Saëns will inspire another theme park attraction, at it's at Efteling. Danse Macabre will feature a first-of-its-kind new ride system from Intamin that places riders atop spinning, tilting turntables, inside a haunted house where they will hear on-board music from the French composer.

The coasters are good, too

In addition to its great dark rides, shows, and other attractions, Efteling delivers a solid line-up of roller coasters, as well. This isn't a park for record-setting thrill machines, but it does offer some great transitional coasters. Start with Max + Moritz, twin Mack Rides powered family coasters, the step up to The Flying Dutchman [De Vliegende Hollander], a combination dark ride and water coaster. George and the Dragon [Joris en de Draak] is a great GCI racing coaster, and Baron 1898 might be the best-themed Bolliger & Mabillard dive coaster anywhere. Two Vekoma creations, the outdoor Python double loop corkscrew coaster and indoor Vogel Rok, complete Efteling's line-up.

Don't worry about language issues

Yes, even the most elementary use of Dutch will be appreciated by the workers and local visitors at Efteling. But if you are an American new to European travel, The Netherlands has Europe's highest percentage of English fluency outside of the UK itself. Heck, I felt like a higher percentage of people spoke English in The Netherlands than back in my hometown of Los Angeles. Theme park visits offer a great way to ease yourself into international travel, and Efteling provides a delightful place to start.

Efteling is not located in one of The Netherlands' major cities, but it is easily accessible from them using the country's extensive public transportation system. You can find directions to the park, plus our reader rankings of its attractions, on our Visitors Guide to Efteling page.

If it's not already clear, I love Efteling, and wish that every theme park fan could have the chance to come experience it at some point during their lives. Heck, I want to go again ASAP and get on everything I missed on my latest visit to this two-time winner of our Theme Park Insider Award for World's Best Theme Park.

For tickets to the park, please visit our partner's Efteling tickets page.

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Replies (12)

January 20, 2024 at 6:59 PM

You didn’t even mention Droomvlucht, or Dreamflight, which is hands down the most perfect dark ride I’ve ever been on! Taking you through epic dreamscapes culminating in a forest scene that will fully immerse you in a way I haven’t seen on any other ride before. I can’t wait to go back and visit again.

January 20, 2024 at 11:14 PM

Man... Efteling sounds so good. Couple that with, what I've heard, awesome Dutch people and thats the place to go for theme park fans in Europe. Dear Netherlands, why are you so far away?!

January 21, 2024 at 11:04 AM

Efteling is definitely a magical park. got to visit in 2018 and it's never been far from my heart since. biggest mistake made was thinking Villa Volta was a crooked house attraction so we skipped it. i'm still kicking myself over that decision and also not riding python because i have sworn off arrow loopers. my travel companions rode it and reported it was smooth and fun. and i learned later it's not arrow. one of my favorites was the observation ride where you get a birds eye view of the park and all its beauty. really hope to go back someday

January 21, 2024 at 12:00 PM

This is great info, especially as I'll be there in the summer. Thanks Robert.

I have 2 days at the park, so hopefully I'll be able to see and do everything.

January 21, 2024 at 4:24 PM

Efteling is definitely high on the list of European parks I want to visit, but as the Netherlands isn't quite as high for me as some other countries it might be a couple trips before I get a good opportunity to go. However, when it comes time to visit the Dutch, this is second only to Amsterdam for places I'd like to see in the country.

January 22, 2024 at 10:13 AM

@AJ -- Make sure you visit De Haar castle just outside Utrecht. It was a spectacular place and super easy to get too. Took the train from Amsterdam then an Uber directly to the caste.

January 22, 2024 at 10:28 AM

We're planning a road trip in Europe this summer, and trying to get over to Efteling is a pretty high priority. However, a lot of the logistics are up in the air right now given that we'd be picking up and dropping off our car in Gothenburg and having lots of other points of interest that we'd like to visit.

January 22, 2024 at 1:40 PM

@russell meyer, like most european countries, the netherlands has a great rail system...also, on the day we drove to efteling, i racked up $160 worth of speeding tickets, all done by cameras. Yikes!

January 22, 2024 at 2:02 PM

@mbrussmco - Our trip this summer would be to purchase and pick up a new Volvo in Gothenburg as part of the company's Overseas Delivery Program, which is something we did back in 2011 (though in the Winter when drove to Copenhagen and visited Tivoli). Driving the new car around the continent would be our primary mode of transportation. It's not that we wouldn't want to use the rail system, it's that driving our new car in Europe would be the primary reason behind taking this trip.

January 22, 2024 at 4:50 PM

Never knew that was a thing. Wish I had known when we bought our XC90 back in 2019! Will have to ask our dealership when we go next time but it doesn't seem its available to Canadians.

January 22, 2024 at 6:51 PM

Don't worry, Francis, when I get around to doing the Netherlands it will probably be as a week or so of a larger Europe trip that will likely be split three ways between Amsterdam, the main Dutch theme parks, and some other sites of interest scattered around the country. Castles are definitely something that rank highly for me, and I included three each on my previous Europe trip as well as my Japan trip.

January 23, 2024 at 2:17 AM

Efteling has such a unique soul. It's the kind of park you have to visit in person to truly understand what makes the place so special.

There is still some magic to be found at the Disney Parks but Efteling embodies the spirit of fantasy and imagination in such a genuine way that reminds one of how Disney used to make us feel.

Also, Efteling probably has one of the richest musical catalogs of any theme park worldwide. Wonderful stuff.

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