Regular readers know that I love amusement parks. But we also know they’ve come to hate Disney, the creator of the world’s most popular amusement park, with a passion like a thousand suns.
Here it is What I wrote about Disney parks earlier this year:
what i found Even if only slightly What’s interesting about Disney is that the company tends to make hits and exploit them over and over again. that’s allin its myriad of different incarnations, whatever was fun or interesting about Hit was long ago erased.
I also wrote:
[With their new ticket prices and app add-ons, Disney has created] Two different park experiences: one for the rich who can pay to bypass the endless soul-crushing lines, and a far worse experience for everyone else.
While in the Netherlands recently, my husband Michael and I visited Efteling, the second most visited theme park in Europe after Disneyland Paris.
It turns out to be what Disney used to be.
In fact, Efteling has a bit of a relationship with Disney. Rumor has it that Walt Disney visited Efteling, which opened in 1952, when he was planning the first Disneyland, which opened in 1955.
That rumor probably isn’t true, but when the Disney company was planning Disneyland Paris, which opened in 1992, they definitely asked the folks at Efteling for advice on how to appeal to European audiences.
And Efteling consulted Disney experts when it began introducing high-tech rides like Symbolica, which opened in 2017 at a cost of €35 million. I don’t speak Dutch, and I didn’t know the story Symbolica was based on, so the ride just made no sense. but, appear Great.
(I have since learned that this story involves a visit to the King’s Palace. Also, Efteling’s mascot, a jester named Pardoes, will show you all the hidden parts of the castle. .)
Whatever the truth about Efteling’s previous relationship with Disney, it’s past time for people at Disney to consult Efteling again. Because they can learn a lot.
Disney parks are very expensive these days, and most of the future plans are frozen and Marvel properties. As for the crowds, well, Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s new Flight of Passage ride was made to be able to line up with him at most. six hours.
Efteling, on the other hand, is still, well, fun.
First, compared to Disney, crowds are very manageable.This park has 2 million people at the original Disneyland in California compared to 19 million at Disneyland in Florida and 20 million at Magic Kingdom at Disney World. Despite being twice the size, it only receives 5 million visitors a year.
On the other hand, much of Efteling is still forest and a beautiful place to rest.
Entry is €41 (approximately US$43) per day, but compared to Disney parks that use dynamic pricing, it’s currently between $125 and $189 per day, just type in and it’s staggering .
Even better, Efteling has “single-rider” queues at many attractions, but no purely evil process for the rich to pay more to avoid the queues.
What about the park itself?
Like many older parks, Efteling started modestly with what is called the Fairy Tale Forest. This part of the park still exists, albeit in a significantly updated form.
The park has since expanded into different ‘territories’. Reizenrijk (or Travel), Marerijk (or Fairy), Ruigrijk (or Adventure), Anderrijk. (or other). In 2017, the center of the park officially became a realm of fantasy (or fantasy) with some pretty spectacular light, water and music shows, including real fire explosions.
The premier rides are mostly top notch, but I especially enjoyed the Flying Dutchman. This starts out as a Pirates of the Caribbean-like dark ride, including a pirate theme, but turns into a steel roller coaster halfway through, ending with a splash in a nearby lagoon.
Perhaps the most original aspect of this ride is the fact that despite its impressive water landing, none of the riders actually got wet. greatly Thanks to the cold November weather of our visit.
There are 4 other types of coasters. One wooden, two steel and one indoor. The indoor one, Vogel Rok, is a jerky bust, but with cool themes, including the legendary giant ‘rocs’.
But perhaps the park’s best ride is the Baron 1898 Coaster. This coaster tells the story of a cursed gold mine and dives into a “mine shaft”. In reality, the ride is a rare ‘dive coaster’ that includes an impressive drop from a height of almost 40 meters into a smoke-filled pit.
The park also has a more traditional “splash” ride, the Piranha. When it opened in 1982, it was Europe’s first River Rapids ride, and its ancient Mayan temple design is still impressive.But it was clear at first sight that riders would get soaked On this ride we were far away given how cold it was in November.
Another top dark ride is Fata Morgana, a Pirates of the Caribbean-like experience. 1001 Knights And the best celebration of Arabic culture. Like Disney’s pirate rides, it’s older and the animatronic technology is a bit dated. It’s a little outdated and uncomfortable.
One of the park’s most famous attractions isn’t the rides. A trash can in the shape of a character from the Dutch nursery rhyme, Holle Bolle Gijs. I will not stop eating. All over the park he shouted. Papier-mâché hieh! ” This means “Here is the paper!” And when you put trash in your mouth, it vacuums up and your character makes a very satisfying gurgling sound.
your one charm absolutely will not see in a Disney park is based on another Dutch fairy tale about a donkey pooping gold coins.Fairy-tale forest donkeys don’t lift their tails literally It poops gold, but if you give it a coin, it poops a souvenir fake gold coin.
The truth is that Efteling isn’t as smooth as Disney Parks, and the best rides here aren’t as cutting-edge as Disney’s top attractions.
But Efteling has restored trust in amusement parks. This was partly because I wasn’t surrounded by large crowds.
Nor did I feel like I was part of a larger corporate strategy designed to suck me and my money into a vast but increasingly bland media ecosystem.
No, the point was simply to make it interesting, imaginative and fun.
and me had Fun – a lot.
Disney could learn a lot, which is sad.
Brent Hartinger is a screenwriter and author, half of traveling gay digital nomads Brent and Michael Are Going Places. Subscribe to our free travel newsletter here.