Visit This European Theme Park To Feel Like You've Stepped Into A Fairytale

Life is no fairytale, but for a few days at this European theme park, it might just feel like it. The Efteling World of Wonders is the largest and oldest theme park in the Netherlands, having enchanted visitors of all ages for more than 70 years. Whether you're seeking a relaxing visit or an action-filled adventure, a light fairytale or a little darkness, the park has attractions to suit any mood and taste. Though the park is no secret, with a record number of 5.4 million visitors in 2022, the dreamy scenery, affordable prices, and smaller crowds sure make it feel like one.

Start your trip on the monorail above the park for a grand tour of Laafland, the storybook setting for some of Efteling's quirkiest inhabitants. From there, it's only natural to step inside the Fairytale Forest where a talking tree will tell a story or two. Watch the storybooks come to life amidst castles, dragons, and your favorite characters, like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Hansel and Gretel, and The Little Mermaid. You might even spot a few faces from stories you've never heard of, like The Troll King and The Gardener and the Fakir.

Things to do at Efteling

There's no shortage of exciting rides at Efteling. If you're feeling brave, step onboard the Joris En De Draak, a classic rollercoaster that rings around a dragon, or the Baron 1898, a ride that plunges 123 feet into a mineshaft. Daredevils will love the double loop on the Python roller coaster as well. If your stomach can handle it, the Halve Maen swinging ship will use unstoppable momentum and swing you 180 degrees above the earth.

Of course, families with young kinderen (children) may prefer more mellow rides, like a pedal train or classic car ride through the charming Dutch scenery, or sailing in a gondoletta around the lake. For more exciting views, climb the rotating Thai temple 150 feet above the ground or step inside the luminescent land of Symbolica, one of the park's three darker experiences. If you don't mind getting wet, the river rapids ride can squeeze the whole family onto one raft for a memorable trip through the Inca Empire.

Once you've had your fill of rides, more entertainment awaits. Head over to the game gallery to win a few prizes, carnival-style, or explore how it feels to be a giant in Diorama, a miniature world with a lively village. For a medieval twist, catch the park show Ravelejin, where horse riders sword fight to defeat the wicked Count Olaf. Come nightfall, the Aquanura show will round out your stay with a dazzling display of water and light.

Ticket information and how to get there

Tickets to Efteling begin at €38 per person (approximately $40) at the time of writing, depending on when you visit. There's on-site accommodation starting at €319 ($337), which includes access to the park for the duration of your stay. With all the theme park has on offer, some think Efteling is better value than Disneyland Paris. Though Efteling isn't as big — 400 hectares compared to Disney's 700 — the cost is cheaper and there is still a decent number of attractions to enjoy.

To get to Efteling, the closest airport is Eindhoven (EIN), a 30-minute drive away. There are also several public transportation options from Belgium and the Netherlands. The park website has a handy guide with the best routes to take, along with links to purchase bus and train tickets. If you opt to drive to the park, be sure to factor in an additional €12.50 ($13) for parking.

The park requires visitors to make an online reservation ahead of time. Also, before you arrive, download the app for maps, show times, and the inside scoop on wait times for the rides. The park is great anytime of year, but autumn is the most colorful, thanks to mushrooms cropping up in the fairytale forest and changing leaves. When classic fairytales meet autumn foliage, the result is nothing short of magical.