Efteling, where dreams come creakily to life

The Netherlands, 19/11/12: Staying in Den Haag put within a day trip’s distance from Efteling, an amusement park located in a Dutch forest that Nicole had received some positive reviews of back in Australia.

Efterling was opened in 1952 and is largely a product of the imagination of the late Anton Pieck, a Dutch artist and designer. It distinctive and often fairy-tale inspired attractions were rumoured to have been an inspiration for Walt Disney when he designed Disney Land. It continues to have new attractions designed and built for it by a team of “imagineers”, a JD that, for me, conjures images of wild-haired, over-all clad eccentrics brandishing charcoals and paint-brushes with wild, gay abandon.

It was an appropriately cool and misty Monday when we headed out there and medieval trumpets sieved through tinny speakers heralded our approach along the long entrance path, an indication of how busy this place could get during peak season.

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Inside, the sprawling park is divided into sections. Our first call was the fairytale forest, an enchanted world or wonder and delight, brought unsettlingly to life with a combination of sounds, lights and a fairy-pinch of mechatronic magic.

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In ya go

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Repunzal, Repunzal, let down your hair so the prince can get in yr underwear (titter). A scary mechanised witch emerges from below and climbs the poor girl's hair.

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Goat family with hungry wolf waiting just outside the door for his 7 piece goat feed.

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Yank at his treasure and the dragon lurches gradually towards you

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The long-neck man with the growing neck, part of a lesser known tale called The Six Servants or something. Each servant engaged their increasingly odd talents to help a prince score a princess from a witch, from memory.

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A knight, a castle, etc. Sleeping Beauty (not shown).

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Tom Thumb knicks the sleeping giant's stridin' boots and makes off like a bandit.

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Talking tree with life-like latex face and lovable animal friends

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Even the pigeons were magical, in that they were dyed blue and pink.

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There was no shortage of cool, cartoony-looking buildings around.

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Snail monorail. The park certainly benefitted from the pretty autumn colours everywhere.

A personal highlight was the museum, which featured surplace or retired creations from the park. The front room was given a house of horror vibe, with dingey lighting, eerie sound effects and shelves full of decapited fairy-tale heads adorning the walls.

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Ride to victory?

There were also rides and other amusements that we explored, ranging from scary (for the cool kids) to scarily fairy (for the namby-pambs) to just downright confusing.

However, the clear highlight for the day was the Indian fairytale. As the English description explained, a hideously ugly witch with a beautiful voice saw the stars and was so jealous of their beauty, dancing on the water, that she turned them into water-lillies. However, when the full moon comes out (so read the description), IT happens…

[Efteling Water Lillies]

(I had my own video of this but it proved too hard to upload from my phone at our present accommodation. Stick with this one for a few minutes or fast-forward 2 mins in, there’s a big, Cantena-style pay-off.)

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