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By 1pm, the park was full of people – Boxing Day is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year. For the previous three days, we walked directly onto most of the attractions, but now the roller coasters and dark rides had waits of 45-80 minutes. We decided to say good-bye to Efteling after lunch.

 

As we left the park, we stopped to buy some souvenirs. After telling Hayden he could only buy *one* thing (he chose a dragon), I ended up buying a plate, some tea, and a DVD. The DVD is of Dutch fairy tales, so it counts as an educational purchase.

 

Our last meal at the park was at ‘t Poffertje, an art nouveau style cafe that served tiny Dutch pancakes, cooked to order. Hayden and the dragon shared the children’s meal, I had poffertjes with apples, and Adrian had poffertjes with cherries. While waiting for our meal, I sipped on speculoos tea and we all watched the trains and horses go past, keeping one eye on the magic snowman who was nearby. The lovely waitress snapped this photo of us with our new friend Dragon.

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During our last breakfast, the waiter gave Hayden another polar bear snow globe, and Hayden told Adrian “Daddy, you have to be very gentle with it”. We enveloped it up in bubble-wrap and this one made it all the way home.

We spent our last morning in The Efteling walking though the Fairytale Forest, which was less intimidating yet equally beautiful in the daylight. The most impressive feature was the talking tree (sprookjesboom), an intricately detailed anamatronic tree that tells twenty different Dutch fairytales, with Woodpecker, Squirrel and Rabbit popping out occasionally to add their voices. Hayden loved listening to the tree, and I wondered how much he understood. He’s had Dutch spoken to him intermittently since he was 4 months old, but I’ve never heard him speak it. Adrian and I appreciated the art of creating such a dynamic “living” oak tree oak out of artificial components. Sprookjesboom was was completed in 2010, and reaches 9 meters high into the sky, his branches and roots gently swaying as he talks.

Picstitch

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Back at the hotel, Adrian read some stories to Hayden, and then the three of us soon settled into a peaceful nap. We woke up in time to catch the 4pm open air performance of Raveleijn. I worried that it was a bit too violent for Hayden, but he told me that he liked seeing the colourful people on horses “tickle” each other with swords, “sleep” on the hay, and “play” with the “friendly dragon that makes fire with his mouth”. The green horse was his favourite. I was most impressed with all the birds – ravens, owls, falcons, and ibis flying across the arena throughout the show.

 

We decided to spend the rest of the day in the hotel. We had live music during dinner, and the caramel flan was especially delicious. Efteling Hotel had strategically located the indoor playground next to the bar, so Adrian enjoyed some beers while Hayden went on another rampage of Slide Madness, and I had a luxurious long and quiet bath back in our room, surrounded by arctic and antarctic creatures.

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