65 years The Efteling: the highs and lows of the park

65 years The Efteling: the highs and lows of the park

The Efteling theme park in Kaatsheuvel is Wednesday, may 31, is already 65 years. looks back at the highs and lows of the Brabant holiday and attractiecomplex.

The Efteling started in 1933 as a soccer field, because mayor Van der Heijden of Kaatsheuvel are made for the effects of the economic crisis on the youth. ‘For relaxation, and we became the soccer field laid out, and later there was also a children’s playground built on it. More and more people are in the playground.

The mayor sees recreational and economic opportunities in the playground and in 1950 the Foundation nature Park the Efteling founded.

Anton Pieck consider the appearance of the park and Peter Reijnders provides the attractions of technique, light and sound. On 31 may 1952 to open the foundation for the first time the gates of the theme park, where more than 220,000 visitors.


Of trapveld to a theme park, the Efteling theme park is 65 years

Immaterial historical heritage

According to Moniek Hover, who received his phd on a study of the storytelling of the Efteling, the intangible heritage, fairy tales maintained by the park. “Fairy tales are a very important part of our Western culture, partly because there is in a fairy tale always a morality. Through this fantasieverhalen, understand children better, as they only like to go out, they must be wary. That’s the idea behind little red riding hood and fairy tales, and morals are in the Efteling. Children understand some life lessons better, in many expressions of the Efteling see.”

Hover says the Efteling at the opening of the Spookjesbos in 1952, an answer to the urbanization, the industrialization and the technological developments. “In the years ’50 and ’60 were there by the industrialization, a lot of fast developments. The Efteling theme park is offered with the sprookjesattracties a nostalgic counterpart, people even in a fantasy world disappear. They did that at the time, and even now very good.”

By the fairytale-like environment attracts the Efteling amusement park, mainly families with young children and there wants the park from. In 1981, the roller coaster, the Python opened, that also young people to Kaatsheuvel. The Python is currently the largest and most spectacular roller coaster in mainland Europe, because it is a roller-coaster ride of steel is that over the head where you in addition, at least 1.20 meters long.


According to director Fons Jurgens, who is already 22 years as director of the park, is that one of the highlights from the history of the Efteling. “By that roller coaster not only our visitors also mature, but we do. We went from then on to focus more on the whole family, there had to be something for everyone to do.”

After the Python, there are more exciting attractions built, but also familieattracties and a hotel. By the big changes, changed the amusement park itself also: by the Efteling Hotel, there were more visitors from outside Brabant to the park pulled and because the park since 2010, is open all year, changed the Efteling theme park is a seasonal product in a jaarproduct. Jurgens: “It also did a lot with our staff: was working normally everyone here in the seasons, and had the staff different tasks, were now to be the specialists that for one restaurant or one attraction worked.”


“The Flying Dutchman, in 2007, was opened, and we ‘m five months later had to close, as I see it, one of our lows,” says Jurgens. “Very annoying, but it was also our own fault. We took the ride over from the builder and wanted to be the Flying Dutchman itself down, but that is something that we should never do. When we closed, we knew not how we the roller coaster starts again. Fortunately, it is goedgekomen, but we have decided to never more attractions of the builders to take over. From 2007 on, we buy only transport about that already works. We have then learned that our talent lies more with the storytelling than the technique.”

The park was not always in the news: so are some of the attractions as racist seen. Especially the attractions Monsieur whiterabbit aka stephen, who is a large black cannibal in the middle of multiple cooking shows, and the Carnival Festival are under fire. The last mentioned attraction, that 275 dolls counts, five black figures: all African bushmen.

“We will be the attraction is not closing”
Fons Jurgens, director

According to Jurgens, it is never the intention to to hurt people’s feelings. “The Efteling need for everyone to have a carefree day out, regardless of gender, race, political or sexual preference. We are also in conversation to the people who are hurt, help us with this. We want to understand it so that we can apply in everything in the future we build.”

Not close

“We will be the attraction is not closing,” says Jurgens. “That would be a pity. We also need to remember that it’s not ‘done’ if you have something of an attraction in the Efteling off, it is a subject that we in society often face and we collectively need to talk.”

“The attraction is in a whole different zeitgeist than now built, and the question is what do we do with things that then arise. That also applies to street names for example. Foreign guests understand the context is also often not of the story, they are not grown up. We should also note. We strive to be a attraction to build for tens of years can take part and where everyone can enjoy.”

In 2015, had the park 4,68 million visitors in 2016, there were 4,78 million. If the purpose of the Efteling theme park in 2020 5 million to attract visitors. “That number we hope to achieve by for more beds to make, so there is also more people from the uk, Belgium and Germany will come. On July 1, to open our most expensive and largest attraction ever, the Symbolica, and with a new attraction that before 2020, we will 5 million.”

Read more background stories in NUweekend

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular