The Efteling on your body forever: ‘This is how the child in me continues to exist’

There are many Efteling fans, but from a few fans you can really see that their love for the park runs very deep. Jeroen from Oosterhout and Belgians Johan and Gunther love visiting Efteling so much that they have a large part of their bodies covered with tattoos from the amusement park. “This means I always have Efteling with me.”

Bird Skirt on your back
Jeroen Schouw (47) from Oosterhout had a tattoo of the Vogel Rok, which covers his entire back. “I am a huge fan of Efteling and think the statue of the Vogel Rok is very cool,” he says. “And if you do it, you have to do it right, including all over my back.”

There is quite a bit of work and suffering in the work of art. Jeroen had to visit the tattoo artist seven times, where he sat in the chair for three hours at a time. Last week the final touches were put to the tattoo. “I am very proud of it,” says Jeroen, who cannot wait for the Vogel Rok to open again after the maintenance. “Then I’ll stand in front of it with my bare back, so you can see how good it looks.”

Jeroen's tattoo was completely finished last weekend (photo: Omroep Brabant).
Jeroen’s tattoo was completely finished last weekend (photo: Omroep Brabant).

The Efteling in black and white
Mega fans of Efteling also live across the border. For example, Johan Janssens (52), from Lier, Belgium, filled his arms and chest with iconic images from the park in six months. The Python, Baron 1898, The Flying Dutchman, Pardoes and even the hotel are depicted in black and white on his body. “This way, Efteling is never far away,” says Johan.

He and his family go to Kaatsheuvel every week and sleep at the Efteling hotel at least five times a year. “When you are there you are overcome by the magic,” explains Johan. “We have two disabled children and I see them laughing all day long. Then you can let go of all your worries.”

His wife and children think it is fantastic that the park is immortalized on Johan’s body. “My youngest daughter is a fan of Joki and my eldest daughter is a fan of Symbolica,” says Johan. He had those two icons tattooed especially for them. “My children cannot talk, but they always look at it with admiration. I like that.”

Johan prefers to have all the attractions tattooed on his body (photos: Johan Janssens).
Johan prefers to have all the attractions tattooed on his body (photos: Johan Janssens).

A Fairytale Forest arm
Gunther de Belie (52) from Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, has been a fan of Efteling from an early age. He has 22 tattoos of Efteling on his arms. “When I was seven years old I got a record player, on which I played LPs with the Efteling fairy tales. That’s how love started.”

When he turned fifty he wanted to get a tattoo and decided to go for an icon from Efteling: the Gate Witch of the fairytale forest. “The intention was to keep it to one. But after a month I found that witch standing alone. I had Sleeping Beauty Castle added and I was so excited that it started.”

Eighteen months later and more than six thousand euros further, there are nineteen fairy-tale characters on Gunther’s right arm. He started with the attractions on his left arm. Last week he had the Flying Dutchman tattooed. “Will I regret it in twenty years? No idea. But now I fully support it. In this way the child within me continues to exist.”

A selection from the fairy tales on Gunther's arm (photos: Gunther Belie)
A selection from the fairy tales on Gunther’s arm (photos: Gunther Belie)