Rethink bezoeken Efteling

Efteling Main Entrance - The House of the Five Senses (Het Huis van de Vijf Zintuigen)

Efteling Main Entrance - The House of the Five Senses (Het Huis van de Vijf Zintuigen)

On September 25, those of us attending EAS 2014 in Amsterdam (Scott Ault, Josh Updike, John Rust, Lisa Levy, and yours truly) visited Efteling, Holland's first theme park in Kaatsheuvel. The House of the Five Senses frames the park's main entrance. It features a curved thatched roof, the largest one in the world, with five upswept peaks, each representing one of the five senses. The concept, including a detailed fairytale inspiring it, is an Efteling original, designed by Ton van de Ven, creative director from 1989 to 2003.

The House of the Five Senses made its debut in 1996.

The House of the Five Senses made its debut in 1996.

According to the official Efteling website, the park began as the Roman Catholic Sports and Recreation Park, a sports ground conceived in 1933 and opened in 1935. In the early 1950s, famous Dutch artist Anton Pieck was invited to join Mayor R. J. Th. van der Heijden and Peter Reijnders in establishing the Efteling Nature Park Foundation. Its mission was to encourage “the physical development and recreation of the residents of the Loon op Zand municipality, and to promote tourism to and within the municipality, all in a catholic spirit”. Pieck, already famous for his illustrations of Grimms' Fairy Tales and One Thousand and One Nights, sketched the designs for the Fairytale Forest (Sprookjesbos) and Reijnders, a photographer, film director and inventor, provided the technical skill in bringing the sketches to reality. The Fairytale Forest officially opened on May 31, 1952, joining a large playground and a Tea House, both of which opened in 1951.

The original fairytales were: Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, the Gnome Houses, The Six Servants (Longneck), the Naughty Princess (the Speaking Parrot), the Chinese Nightingale, Mother Holle’s Well, Little Message (Kleine Boodschap)Snow White's Cave, the Frog Prince, and the Magic Clock.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle (Doornroosje)

Sleeping Beauty's Castle (Doornroosje)

The Gnome Village (Het Kabouterdorp)

The Gnome Village (Het Kabouterdorp)

The Six Servants (De Zes Dienaren) AKA Long Neck

The Six Servants (De Zes Dienaren) AKA Long Neck

The Naughty Princess (Het Stoute Prinsesje) AKA Speaking Parrot

The Naughty Princess (Het Stoute Prinsesje) AKA Speaking Parrot

Mother Holle (Vrouw Holle)

Mother Holle (Vrouw Holle)

Herald Square – Snow White's Cave (Sneeuwwitje)

Herald Square – Snow White's Cave (Sneeuwwitje)

Herald Square – The Frog Prince (De Kikkerkoning)

Herald Square – The Frog Prince (De Kikkerkoning)

Herald Square – The Magic Clock (De Magische Klok)

Herald Square – The Magic Clock (De Magische Klok)

A stone monument honoring Anton Pieck, the park's cofounder and creative director from 1950 to 1974.

A stone monument honoring Anton Pieck, the park's cofounder and creative director from 1950 to 1974.

Above, I demonstrate how to get gold out of an ass. 

Based on the Grimm fairytale "The Wishing-Table, the Gold-Ass, and the Cudgel in the Sack", souvenir gold coins have been shooting out of the ass since 1956. This is truly one of my favorite things in a theme park. Inspired concept. Beautiful design and execution. Pure fun.

In 1959, Efteling introduced Big Mouth (Holle Bolle Gijs), a vacuum waste bin based on an old Dutch nursery rhyme. The ingenious waste bin encourages guests to "feed" it with trash. Today, there are ten Big Mouths and three of his colleagues, all helping to keep Efteling clear of rubbish.

Josh Updike points to waste bins. Behind, a guardian warns of pickpockets. The resemblance is uncanny.

Josh Updike points to waste bins. Behind, a guardian warns of pickpockets. The resemblance is uncanny.

Scott Ault tempts fate in Laafland.

Scott Ault tempts fate in Laafland.

John Rust is too tall for Gnome Village.

John Rust is too tall for Gnome Village.

John and Scott ride a snail (monorail) through Laafland.

John and Scott ride a snail (monorail) through Laafland.

Efteling Museum

Efteling Museum

Anton Pieck's design for one of the greatest things ever.

Anton Pieck's design for one of the greatest things ever.

In the Travel Realm (Reizenrijk), there's this ride called Carnaval Festival that was created by famous Dutch film producer Joop Geesink in 1984. 

The Africa scene in Carnaval Festival.

The Africa scene in Carnaval Festival.

Jokies Wereld shop adjacent to Carnaval Festival.

Jokies Wereld shop adjacent to Carnaval Festival.

Four years later, in 1988, Monsieur Cannibale, a tea cups style ride, opened in the same area.

Monsieur Cannibale

Monsieur Cannibale

Josh and Scott survive the front row of Vogel Rok, a rollercoaster in the dark.

Josh and Scott survive the front row of Vogel Rok, a rollercoaster in the dark.

A ghost ship splashes down in The Flying Dutchman (De Vliegende Hollander)

A ghost ship splashes down in The Flying Dutchman (De Vliegende Hollander)

Stoomtrein!

Stoomtrein!

Diorama

Diorama

Carrousel Paleis

Carrousel Paleis

Behind the Romantic 19th century facade of the Carrousel Paleis, an authentic steam carousel circa 1895 transports riders back through time. Only four of these historic salon carousels exist in the world today. The original steam engine still exists, but the carousel received an electric drive in 1944. This platform galloper features 22 horses, four coaches and two pigs with backward-riding clowns. In addition to galloping horse and pigs, the coaches rock forward, backward and sideways. It opened at Efteling on May 11, 1956. Having researched these amazing amusements over the years, I was thrilled to finally get to ride one. 

Stoomcarrousel!

Stoomcarrousel!

The carousel rotates clockwise.

The carousel rotates clockwise.

Horses by Joseph Hübner, carriages by Jules Moulinas, and the two pigs with the clowns by Carl Müller.

Horses by Joseph Hübner, carriages by Jules Moulinas, and the two pigs with the clowns by Carl Müller.

The original steam engine and a fairground organ built by Anselmo Gavioli in 1895, one of only five remaining.

The original steam engine and a fairground organ built by Anselmo Gavioli in 1895, one of only five remaining.

Josh and Annette Stock enjoy riding in coach.

Josh and Annette Stock enjoy riding in coach.

A final look back at the Carrousel Paleis.

A final look back at the Carrousel Paleis.

Efteling is a beautiful theme park. It retains a quaint historic charm while offering experiences one would expect in any modern park. It is now one of my favorite parks and I can't wait to visit it again.

Next, Rethink leaves the Netherlands and embarks on a working tour through Europe.