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.
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.
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.
In the Travel Realm (Reizenrijk), there's this ride called Carnaval Festival that was created by famous Dutch film producer Joop Geesink in 1984.
Four years later, in 1988, Monsieur Cannibale, a tea cups style ride, opened in the same area.
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.
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.