Efteling is 70 years old this year. The park grew from Fairytale Forest into a complete amusement park and resort. But what, according to fans, should remain and what should not? “I’m more of preserving and Paul of renewing.”
Tim Hinssen and Paul Sprangers have been making the Kleine Boodschap podcast for a number of years, in which they discuss the ins and outs in and around the Efteling every week. “We got to know each other on Twitter,” says Tim. “It actually started as a joke, but we ended up starting a podcast anyway and we’ve already made 276 episodes.”
Every week to the Efteling
The men have been coming to the Efteling from an early age. “I’ve had a subscription since I was four,” says Tim. “And since then, there hasn’t really been a week where I haven’t been there.” As a child he came there with his grandmother and grandfather, later with friends and he even got to know his wife. Now he goes to the park with his children.
For Paul, going to the Efteling as a child was the most natural thing in the world: “We lived around the corner, so the Efteling was to us what the city park was for urban children.” His visit to the largest amusement parks in the world in America was an eye-opener: “It was there that I realized what a special park we actually have in our backyard.”
Keep or renew
The Efteling from Tim and Paul’s childhood has changed a lot over the years: major new attractions and roller coasters were added to the park, but the fairy tales remained. The question now is which way the park wants to go in the coming years.
Should Efteling remain that place of fairytale nostalgia, or should the major attractions take precedence? “We have weekly discussions about this,” says Tim. “I’m more of preserving and Paul of renewing.”
View the TV report here.
‘History is the strength’
“The strength of the Efteling is precisely that 70 years of history, so the park is investing in that as well,” says Tim. For example, a few houses in the Fairytale Forest have already been completely rebuilt, but exactly as they first looked. And even roller coaster the Python was completely revamped a few years ago.
But apart from preserving those old attractions, the park also needs to be renewed in order to continue to attract visitors. And it is especially the youth who come for the roller coasters instead of the fairy tales. “I think it’s very important that Efteling maintains a balance,” says Paul. “It is also a park where you can relax and unwind in some places and it should really stay that way.”
Haunted castle against the plain
After the summer, the Spookslot opened in 1978 will be demolished. One of the oldest major attractions in the park is giving way to something new. And although Efteling has promised that the successor to the Spookslot will keep the same theme and attraction music, many enthusiasts have difficulty with the decision.
“We also had a lot of discussion about the disappearance of the Spookslot”, says Tim. The gentlemen had anticipated the demolition announcement for a while, but many enthusiasts were angry and surprised when the message came out.
“I think youth sentiment played a big role in this case,” says Paul. “Something will disappear that enthusiasts still know from their youth and of course people don’t always like that.”
But Tim and Paul are also very curious about what news will replace the haunted castle. “And let’s not forget that Efteling is not a museum,” concludes Tim. “Holding that history is important, but that does not mean that you should never innovate. You should not stop as an amusement park, because then the other parks will roll over you.”
The Efteling in short
- 1952: opening Fairytale Forest
In Kaatsheuvel in Brabant, the Fairytale Forest opened on May 31, 1952 in the then existing Efteling hiking and nature park. The fairytale forest consisted of ten scenes in the woods, including the castle of Sleeping Beauty and the well of Vrouw Holle. These scenes were drawn by artist Anton Pieck.
- 1956: first major attraction
The first major attraction was a purchased steam carousel from 1895 that appeared in the park in 1956. In honor of the 15th anniversary, the Efteling built for the first time a large show building in which people could watch the fairy tale The Indian Water Lilies, written by the Belgian Queen Fabiola.
- 1978: opening of Haunted Castle
The opening of the Spookslot is an important milestone for Efteling. This attraction of an unprecedented large size for Efteling standards at the time. The Spookslot even became the setting for a video clip by the then unknown singer Kate Bush.
- 1981 opening the Python
One big attraction after another was built in the 1980s. In 1981 the Python: the largest, fastest and longest steel giant roller coaster on the European mainland. Later in that decade, for example, the Carnival Festival and the Piraña log flume followed.
- And further
In the years that followed, the park grew into a complete resort for a multi-day stay with two hotels, two holiday parks and therefore still that amusement park, which continued to expand.