The weirdly spiky roof of the welcome building got us pretty excited, so much so that I forgot that I wanted to leave my glasses in the car, but we were too excited to go back. For our warm-up ride it didn’t matter though - no upside-down on the family friendly Max und Mortiz, a rollercoaster with two separate tracks. Despite remaining mostly upright, the ride was fast and suddenly I was doubting my sanity - if this was the kiddy rollercoaster, what are the big ones going to be like?
The whole park wasn’t as busy as we assumed it was going to be. We joined the longest queue to ride in the front row. Part of the experience involves being ushered into a darkened room where the Baron explains something about mining. Stef enjoyed the story element, it definitely set the tone. It was terrifying and amazing, and I screamed a lot.
Don’t worry, I didn’t plan on examining every ride. This blog post is supposed to be primarily about the vegan food available, hopefully making someone else’s trip a bit easier. This post on the official Efteling website was our main guide for the day. So, how did they do?
There were numerous hot dog stands, all with the same poster in front advertising their ‘special’ hot dog, available in vegan. After a long wait in a not very long queue, yes they had a vegan sausage! But the vendor had no clue what vegan meant and tried to put normal mayonnaise on there. Without mayo, the toppings were mustard, ketchup, crispy onions and pickled gherkin. Really tasty. Stef gave it a score of EE - exceeded expectation.
2. Fries/chips/pommes/frites - the vegan saviour!
Fries or chips (me and Stef often refer to them as Pommes in German because our versions of English don't agree on what to call them), again the wait was really long but they came with a curry ketchup sauce which was great.
3. Plant-based coffee - aka life
Everyone who knows me will know I LOVE coffee. They’ll also know that I drink it black - espresso, Americano, cafe creme, I’m going to love them all. Stef, however, enjoys a milky version. Oat milk is her milk of choice, but the first cafe we tried didn’t have anything plant based. HOWEVER, the extremely helpful vendor got out a map and labelled where we could find plant milk.
Minutes later and the poor guy at the other cafe seems stressed. He has soy milk. Great. What about the syrups, are they vegan? Can you make the Dutch stroopwafel flavour drink vegan? Flustered, he skips (I don’t jest) off to find a colleague and Stef ends up with a gingerbread latte. Not bad, could be better.
At this point I feel it’s important to highlight one of the most enjoyable rides. Symbolica involved lining up in front of the fairy castle with lots of small children. We went in the ‘single-rider’ line to speed through, meaning that once we’d reached the actual ride (passing through a hall with a wizard explaining what was happening before the stairway broke open), we each gatecrashed on separate families - the cars held 6 people each. I’m not going to give it away, but it was genius.
It’s a theme park, there should be popcorn and candy floss everywhere. Well, after spending 2 hours in the Enchanted Forest, riding the dark roller coaster twice, surviving the waltzers and walking who knows how far - we were hangry and we couldn’t find any. Eventually, we circled back towards the big rides again and managed to get a cup of salty for 2 Euros. Stef score: AE - as expected.
5. Are you ready for the grand finale?
So after the popcorn nourishment (Stef ate the most but I think I had eaten both our emergency apples by this point), we went for a last go on the Baron 1891, then thought we better just check if Python (closed all day) had opened. Hurray, it's open, we get to try it! Except we weren’t really mentally prepared. It was great, the small boy in the front even managed to smile in our group photo.
By this time it was around 8 pm or just after. The park opens till 10pm. We had read about the ‘jungle burger’, soy patty with yummy other stuff. We found the right restaurant on the map, trudged wearily along the winding paths to find it, only to discover an employee cleaning up outside and the door firmly shut. “We close at 8pm, no-one ever wants food after that.”
Apparently the opening times are on the app. App? Why do I need an app? My phone barely functions as it is, downloading an app might finish it off! Deflated, tired and hungry we didn’t have the energy to trek to another restaurant which was potentially closed or had no vegan options. We got bread and hummus from a supermarket on the way. We both love hummus and it was cheap, so not too sad.
Overall, Efteling was a great place to visit. With so much more to it than just the big rides, we had fun exploring the clever and family friendly parts too. The Netherlands is usually great for plant-based options, and our hopes were high from the website, it’s just a shame the reality wasn’t quite so easy. As ever, pack emergency apples and enjoy the fries.
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