Efteling_ElfThe first day of fall and no school due to the opening of parliament proved to be the perfect opportunity to take my daughters to visit Efteling amusement park in the southwest of the Netherlands.

Originally a nature park with a playground and fairytale forest, Efteling has evolved into one of Europe’s largest theme parks. The park is built around four sections known as “realms”: Reizenrikj (travel realm), Marerijk (fairytale realm), Ruigrijk (adventure realm) and Anderrijk (different realm).

The fairytale forest of Marerijk allows you to walk among life-size animated scenes from the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Perrault. The girls knew the perennial favorites, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White but there were some that they, and I quite honestly, weren’t quite sure of, like The Frog Prince and Mother Hulda. Ruigrijk is where you’ll find the wooden rollercoaster, “Joris en de Draak” (George and the Dragon), Efteling’s newest attraction and the “Vliegende Hollander” (Flying Dutchman), which, after taking all the dips and dives you’d expect in a rollercoaster, ends with a spectacular splash in the water. We enjoyed Anderrijk’s “Bobbaan” (Bobsled) and “PandaDroom” (Panda Dream), a 3-D film with special effects made in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund showing the wonders of nature, and a ride on the Gondoletta in Reizenrijk brought memories of vacations past.

As we headed to the exit “realm” we saw the Efteling elf.   The park’s mascot ran up to my girls and gently tugged their ponytails causing giggles from the girls and the onlookers. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.