Location: Kaatsheuvel, North Brabant, Netherlands
Efteling Theme Park is one of the oldest theme parks in Europe. It is located in in the province of Loon op Zand in the town of Kaatsheuvel, North Brabant, Netherlands. Efteling started out as a nature park when it opened in 1952. It with a small playground and the Fairy Tale Forest but has steadily grown into a large major theme park that revolves around stories of myths, legends, folklore, fables and beloved fairytales. While all of the divisions of the park’s holdings are each contained in commercial corporations, the properties are held by a non-profit called the Efteling Nature Park Foundation (Stichting Natuurpark de Efteling).
The founders of the park, the mayor of Loon op Zand, R.J. van der Heijden, movie maker Peter Reijnders, and artist Anton Pieck worked together to design a park that utilizes life-sized displays, wonderful greenery, high quality, interesting architecture. In 1978, Pieck, who was acting as the chief designer, passed the job on to Ton van de Ven. It was at this time the park gained its first large attraction called het Spookslot or The Haunted Castle. It was the very first attraction to be designed completely by Van de Ven.
Efteling Park has several divisions; the park which opened in 1952, a four-star hotel and newer bungalows which opened in 1992 and 2009 respectively, a full 18-hole golf course that opened three years later in 1995, and the Efteling Theatre, which opened in 2002. The theme park itself is divided into four themed areas called Realms; Reizenrijk (Travel Realm), Marerijk (Fairy Realm), Ruigrijk (Rough Realm), and Anderrijk (Other Realm).
Ruigrijk is where roller coaster enthusiasts will find the park’s oldest coaster, a 1981 Vekoma double-looper called Python. In 1985, the park installed an Intamin bobsled called Bob (Bobbaan). In 2005, the park replaced the cars for this ride and the old cars were sold to Six Flags over Texas for their La Vibora bobsled coaster!
If riders are up for a “terrifying” flight on a dark roller coaster, then they are in for a treat. Vogel Rok, a Vekoma coaster built in 1998, which is based on the story of Sinbad the Sailor’s encounters with a gigantic and scary bird called Rok is an enclosed ride with an onboard sound system. In 2007, The Flying Dutchman (De Vliegende Hollander) became part of the Efteling ride offerings. This water coaster was plagued with issues until the park hired Intamin to finish the project. Finally, in 2010, the park added a wooden coaster to their collection. The Great Coasters International creation is based on the legend of St. George and the Dragon and is called Joris en de draak (George and the Dragon). It is a wooden racing coaster that replaced their old woody called Pegasus. The Millennium Flyer trains on each side of the coaster represent Fire and Water. The roller coaster is themed with an animatronic dragon.
In 2015, Efteling is planning on installing a dive coaster in partnership with Bollinger and Mabillard. In addition to that, they are also planning on a dark ride addition that will be built by Vekoma among other plans to expand their ride collections. With the rides, the beautiful gardens, the unique architecture and themes, their hotel offerings and other entertainment choices such as their golf course and theater, Efteling Park and resort is a great way to satisfy theme park enthusiasts young and old.
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