Half-way through my time here in Amsterdam the family I work for and I went on a 2-day trip to De Efteling. It takes about 2.5 hours to get there from Amsterdam but was well worth the journey.
It is the oldest theme park in Europe and easily one of the coolest places I have ever been! I have never been to disney but the parents were exclaiming how they loved this place even more than disney. It was clean, not too crowded at all, and very naturally charming. It was just SO stinking adorable I cannot even explain it.
We got there on Wednesday afternoon and decided to spend two nights in the Efteling Village which was an adorable little town with small cottages. This was a great choice for us with the kids and nap times.
We had 4 bed rooms, living room, kitchen, and more. It was great. Our village had a little lake and some areas to run around and play. There was also a restaurant with pretty good food and the kids favorite- an indoor pool! On Wednesday when we arrived we went straight for the pool.
Then we had dinner and went to bed early so we could get up and tackle the park in the morning.
On Thursday we got up and made our way into the park. There were so many fabulous rides in four different realms. The first one we went we visited some epic rides. First up was Dream Flight which was a small world style ride where you rode the car through the carry kingdom. It went from fairies playing in the day, to riding through the castle in the evening, to seeing the goblins out playing in the dark forest in the dead of night. This ride blew me away and was probably one of my favorites of the park. We went 3 times - there was NO wait!
This realm also included a cute little monorail ride, the swings, and tons of carousels.
The other highlight was the fairy tale forest which is an area you walk through that makes all of the fairytales of olden days come to life with little houses you can go through and animatronics. They even had live puppet shows (in Dutch!)
After some down time and rest for the afternoon we hit up the other area of the park that had all the big coasters. We rode the bobbin first, which had about a 20 minute wait. But both big girls loved it, and we did baby swap for the baby. The coaster didn't go up very much, just quick around some corners. After that monkey ventured with her parents to do some of the bigger coasters, which the 4 year old couldn't ride. So I took her to try some of the smaller rides including these very tame ships that went up and down and around in a circle, and the cars that you can drive yourself on a track. Both were a lot of run and took us about an hour. They were great options for younger kids and had virtually no waits.
We had an awesome app that would tell us the wait times for the big rides, and pretty darn accurately too! The family then went and did the water river ride while I hung with the baby. They said it was okay but nothing special. We ended the night with an epic water show in the fountain. It was about 20 minutes and went to music. Just incredible!
Then we headed home to completely crash out.
Our second day was just as fun. We hit up all the big coasters first thing in the morning and I got to ride the fire and water one that had a massive stomach drop and the upside down one that had some great loops.
We finished off in the last realm. There was a great maze for the kids to solve, a teacups style ride, and another ride that was similar to small world but went through a lot of different countries around the world. The baby was obsessed with that ride.
By then it was pushing one, so we hit up one last ride in the arabian realm that was a boat ride taking through an animated look at middle-eastern culture. It was cool and colorful but honestly a little spooky for the girls.\
The whole experience was 100% worth it. People were floored when they learned that we were from the states. They never had American guests there. So far this has been the highlight of my trip to Holland and the most incredible thing to see. And it was such a pleasure to do it with the little ladies. Everyone should check it out.