Sunday, June 05, 2005

Worlds of Wonder

Efteling is a theme park in the Netherlands that I have had the pleasure to visit three times, the most recent on a North Sea Ferry dash this weekend. The Hull-Rotterdam trip is an easy journey (if the crossing isn't too rough) and the two ships are to a high standard, being renewed by P& O at the turn of the century for a cool £90m each.

We had an added bonus of getting a "Club" cabin on the way out, it cost us extra less than the value of the miniatures in the Minibar & it even had a double bed!

Efteling is an enchanting place, although dull grey skies and intermittent thunderstorms do take the sheen off the magic somewhat. The theme is Hans Christian Andersen, although it also has a complement of thrill rides as well as a couple of Disneyesque dark rides well worth a repeat visit. My favourite ride remains "Dream flight", a breathtaking ride through enchanted forests, elves, trolls and castles in the air.

My determination to visit Efteling began back in the early '90s when I worked for CCT Lighting. One of the Directors, David Manners, had been visiting our Dutch Distributor, Flashlight Utrecht. They had been supplying Efteling with Minuettes Silhouettes and Starlettes for many years and were particularly pleased to have been chosen for the Dream Flight project. David had been given queue-jumping VIP treatment along with the Editor of Light & Sound International and had been asked to write a piece. He knew I had a flair for prose so he delegated it to me. It was a bizarre experience to ghost-write an article based on a souvenir brochure but after a couple of informal chats with David about his impressions of the place I came up with the words & it subsequently appeared, tweaked to include the Editor's impressions as well. Of course, it had sparked my interest so it was interesting to see how wide of the mark I'd been when I eventually made it to the park.

I wasn't wide of the mark at all, the place has Disney standards for most of the rides, along with its own rich traditions going back to the 50s and earlier. I'd also suggest spending two days there, as you won't be able to see it all in a day.

It was a great trip, although it was cut short somewhat by Grandma getting seriously soaked in a maze attraction after being lured in front of some squirty jets by our Son & Heir...

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