AMSTERDAM: EAT SEE PLAY SHOP SLEEP TIPS OUT OF TOWN

OUT OF TOWN

A weekend visit to the Efteling and Beekse Bergen safari park

The Efteling is a theme park in the south of the Netherlands and it’s (as far as theme parks go) really adorable. The heart of the park, the Fairytale Forest, launched 70 years ago in 1952 with beautifully designed attractions based on whimsical illustrations by Anton Pieck. Nowadays, the Efteling has expanded beyond the Fairytale Forest with many attractions like rollercoasters, adventure rides, a boating pond, a haunted house… Plus the famously clever, forever hungry paper gobbler ‘Holle Bolle Gijs‘, constantly proclaiming ‘Papier Hier’ (‘Paper here’) and, once you’ve stuffed him with some paper, ‘Dank U’ (‘Thank you’). Making for all the little children to gather all the rubbish they can find which keeps the park consistently spotless!

efteling

efteling

efteling

An expectable commercialisation has taken place as well. There are numerous restaurants and gift shops now. I do feel, however, that they are always designed and curated with just that extra little bit of taste and care. Overall the Efteling still breathes that same sense of beautiful, whimsical design as it did when I was little. (I wrote about the Efteling before here — how cute are those photos of my much smaller kiddos?!)

efteling

efteling

efteling

A day trip to the Efteling is definitely something I recommend to all families visiting the Netherlands if you can fit it in your schedule. It really is a ‘one of a kind’ theme park which not only the children will enjoy. If you have the time, I even recommend to spend the night at one of the Efteling accommodations and make use of the special entry for unlimited access to the park (and, extra cool, an early allowance 30 minutes before the park officially opens)!

Efteling

efteling ravelijn

Last week, We were in Brabant for ‘brabantnacht‘ — a one-time-a-year evening where attractions all over the province open their doors during the ‘after hours’. Efteling provided park access combined with an amazing performance of the spectacular open air park show ‘Ravelijn‘ followed by a three-course dinner at the Ravelijn restaurant. Walking through a nearly deserted, beautifully lit Efteling at the end of it all was such a magical experience by itself!

We stayed in the newest Efteling hotel ‘Loonsche Land‘, which is located in a lovely forest-like setting and has an outdoorsy, natural concept to it. Our hotelroom (suitable for a family of 6! It’s not often you come across these kind of rooms!) had a functional but lovely interior including handmade wooden beds. (We have also stayed at one of the ‘themed rooms’ at the Efteling Hotel before — totally over the top but such a fantastic experience for families!)

ravelijn Efteling

Efteling

The next morning we drove a short 30 minutes to arrive at Safari Park Beekse Bergen. I had only been to the Beekse Bergen once before, as a small child, and only had vague memories of it. But I do remember my dad telling me about the time when he visited the park with my mum in the 1960’s. They were both in their 20’s and just dating (driving a Citroen 2CV in typical 60’s style!). As they were driving through the park, monkeys climbed on the hood of their car and pulled out the entire tubes leading to the window wipers!

beekse bergen

safaripark Beekse bergen

Our kids enjoyed the drive through the park a lot. Instead of taking our own car (and risking the wellbeing of our window wipers!), we stepped in one of the safari busses, which was a great choice as it was very educational. A ranger on board gave loads of information on all of the different animals we would see along the way, while handing out props and drawings to explain everything in even more detail.

beekse bergen

beekse bergen

Different angles of the park can be discovered by a boat safari and a safari on foot. We ended up seeing zebras, hippos, ostriches, camels, rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes, lions, buffalos, all sorts of deers — and more!

beekse bergen

beekse bergen

Our ‘brabantnacht’ weekend visit to Brabant was definitely a big adventure, and a memory we will treasure for a long time to come!

xxx Esther


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