Efteling CEO Fons Jurgens Expounds on Creating an Elaborate Temporary Attraction
In celebration of its 70th anniversary jubilee this year, Efteling theme park in Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands, opened an elaborate new attraction, “Efteling Wonderland,” that emulates Lewis Carroll’s classic fairy tale “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” The park originally planned to show off a new hotel for the anniversary, but COVID-19 delayed the project. Efteling CEO Fons Jurgens tells Funworld how and why the park chose to put such enormous effort into a temporary attraction.
Efteling consciously chose to create this temporary fairy tale attraction. Can you explain how “Alice in Wonderland” was chosen and why it’s not a permanent attraction?
Efteling is celebrating its 70th anniversary in turbulent times, so the importance of being together and escaping reality once in a while is more important than ever. We’ve consciously chosen to create a temporary but innovative fairy tale that is about celebration. Lewis Carroll’s mad tea party is one of the most well‑known parties, and it inspired us greatly. Here, our visitors will be the guests of honor and play an active part in the fairy tale with the help of the Mad Hatter and March Hare. It is precisely its temporary nature that makes this anniversary year extra special.
The phrase “down the rabbit hole” comes from this classic Lewis Carroll fairy tale. How is it represented in the attraction?
For 70 years, Efteling has been an extraordinary “world of wonders,” a wonderland you literally step into and experience unexpected things. Guests are immersed in this world far away from everyday life. Through a rabbit hole—literally the entrance to “Efteling Wonderland”—guests step into the well‑known mad tea party scene from “Alice in Wonderland.” Just like Alice, here too, you can experience all sorts of unexpected things.
What happens at the attraction’s mad tea party?
The Mad Hatter or the March Hare give the guests a warm welcome. These eccentric hosts sometimes accidentally call the guests Alice and wish them “happy birthday,” even though it’s not their birthday. At 4 p.m. on the dot, they sing the special song for Efteling’s birthday together with the audience. They make it a mad birthday tea party, and everyone is welcome!
Today, theme parks usually focus their new attractions around modern technologies that captivate guests. Yet this wonderful fairy tale attraction is a “throwback.” Why are you confident your guests, especially youth, will be enthralled by it?
Efteling will always remain true to the fairy tales but is also looking for different and unique ways to innovate throughout the years, ensuring to celebrate another 70. It’s not always about higher, faster, or more modern technology. It’s all about the experience, whereby the ideas of our founders will always be the starting point for new plans. For us, this combination of a fairy tale and our guests participating with live entertainment is new; we will see how it goes this jubilee season and learn from it.