Efteling Sprookjesbos – Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura

Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands

Efteling Sprookjesbos

This fairy tale forest hides scenes from some of the more obscure and bizarre Western nursery stories. 

While Sprookjesbos has grown to be simply a part of the Netherlands’ largest theme park (and one of the oldest in the world), the scenes from fairytales both classic and obscure still remain to delight and unsettle visitors.

Long before it evolved into the sprawling Efteling theme park that now surrounds it, the fairy tale forest attraction was just a collection of dummies and mannequins posed in fantasy scenes from popular fables. Opened in 1952 the ten original scenes were sculpted and modeled after the illustrations of Dutch artist Anton Pieck, whose fanciful works notably contained a certain darkness akin to that found in many European fairytales. The displays managed to translate that darkness well, providing a slightly sinister, lost-in-the-dark-woods feel. The original set of tableaus contained scenes from such popular stories as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty as well as lesser known tales such as Mother Hulda’s Well and The Frog King. Some of the figures in the scenes were animated with early mechanical effects, and each scene had a voice-box or book that would tell the story associated with it. 

Since its inception the collection of scenes continued to grow, building moments from stories ranging from Little Red Riding Hood to The Indian Water Lillies. Each new scene maintained Pieck’s signature style, even as the technology evolved, and even as older fairytale scenes were updated and replaced. Today there are a total 28 scenes, each culled from the fairy tale greats such as Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm. And just like the original stories, they continue to prove just a little creepy.

Know Before You Go

From Amsterdam/Utrecht: take the train to ’s-Hertogenbosch, where bus connections are available to Efteling.

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