What an absolute privilege and delight the 3 days have been, for the TEA Celebrates Winter Efteling. We were exclusively hosted at the Loonsche Land Hotel by Jaap den Bleker and the wider team. It was like getting a golden ticket, as we were shown for the first time behind the curtain of the inner workings of this beautiful nature park.
Sessions covered ranged from a behind the scenes tour of the new Symbolica ride, followed the next day by a deep dive with the design team sharing their narrative, design and development approach with the opportunity to ask questions and discuss. We also got to hear about the history, present and future of the park which was super interesting. Starting as a playground, next to a lake with a vision to facilitate recreation and wellness in a natural environment, to stimulate local and regional employment, preserve nature and be accessible to everyone and how they are now growing with international reach but retaining their values.
We of course got the time to explore the park from the fairyland forest which now features 30 fairy tales, with most of us getting our essential selfies with the ‘musical mushrooms’. Some of us braved riding ‘Baron 1898’, and also traveled through fog on the ‘De Vilegende Hollander. We explored the new Nest play area and the hosts wonderful adventure waistcoat! And went on to warm up with hot drinks by the fire pits whilst watching the live entertainment and some also went ice-skating amongst the pine trees.
Across the park we all admired the quality of build, real brick, real stone and the attention to detail was a delight, reflecting on what the team spoke to us about ‘building for eternity’. We got to enjoy the panoramic views from the Thai temple ‘Pagode’ from where you can see the park's natural beauty which is made up of 8,415 Trees over 200 acres of which only 11% is buildings.
Ending day two with the truly stunning water show Aquanura, it really was beautiful from the Theatre Balcony with a mulled wine in hand, followed by a great meal and then a walk back to the hotel through the forest.
Day 3 we were treated to a super open Q&A session, a talk around Sustainability and also one on Data Insights. With close to 70 TEA members there was a vibrant energy, with everyone sensing we have all been part of a very special few days, learning, re-connecting and re-energising.
A huge thank you to the team at Efteling, especially Jaap den Bleker, and Paul Kent and Ifat Caspi who made this TEA event possible.
Words by Dawn Foote - TEA EMEA Board Member & CEO Katapult