IT is one of the world’s oldest theme parks, predating California’s original Disneyland by three years – and it’s rooted in folk stories and fairy tales. Efteling is defying the Covid-19 era in search of a suitable happily ever after ending, and making plans not just for the new normal but beyond, with new attractions lining up for 2021.
The Dutch park, in Kaatsheuvel in the south of the Netherlands, is to open a new area for its youngest visitors early next summer when hopefully travel will be better back in business.
Nest! will be a play forest designed specially for Efteling’s youngest visitors to prepare themselves for the bigger attractions such as recently launched family rollercoaster Max & Moritz.
Built amid the trees between De Vliegende Hollander watercoaster and the Game Gallery, park bosses say it will offer a safe place where children can play and challenge themselves.
What’s more, the path that runs through and around the play forest will be accessible for guests in wheelchairs and there will be play possibilities for children with disabilities.
Artist’s impression of the planned Nest! attraction
It will include a wheelchair slide, raised sandboxes, as well as places where children can find a little more peace and quiet, for when the hustle and bustle of the large park gets too much.
It’s good to see how more and more theme parks are catering for those on the autism spectrum, with quiet zones, sensory areas and priority pass schemes that bypass queues.
As Efteling rings in the new, however, the long-standing family favourite Polka Marina will make way for the new attraction, taking its its final spin on November 30, although it will remain on static display during the Winter season.
Costing an estimated two million euros, Nest! Is seen both as a new family-friendly attraction and an investment in the future, wooing another new generation to the park.
Park owners say: “It will be an inclusive area for young children of all abilities to play together. It will include elements themed to the various Efteling roller coasters so that the young visitors can still get a taste of the bigger attractions, which they’re currently too small to ride.
“Replacing the existing Polka Marina pirates carousel, ‘Nest!’ will offer a new activity for young visitors, where they can play while their older brothers, sisters or cousins experience the bigger rides. The play forest will also be suitable for children with disabilities to make it an inclusive area for children to play together.”
The park is based on folk stories and fairy tales
Efteling opened on May 31, 1952 as a nature park with a playground and Fairytale Forest, but its roots stretch back to 1935 when the R.K.Sport en Wandelpark was inaugurated.
Named after a 16th century farm, it has since grown to become Europe’s third most popular theme park, behind only Disneyland Paris and Germany’s Europa-Park. Close on 40 attractions include six rollercoasters.
Its famous Fairytale Forest was designed by Dutch illustrator Anton Pieck, telling ten fairy tales brought to life using his original drawings boosted by special effects designed by filmmaker Peter Reijnders.
Pop legend Kate Bush memorably performed in the park just after her Wuthering Heights breakthrough, making her debut on Dutch TV and enticing guests to dare the Haunted Castle.
Since the park opened more than 130 million people have poured through the gates, and Efteling has recently re-opened in the pandemic era with a raft of Covid safety precautions in place.
For further information on Efteling, see: www.efteling.com