Spookslot (Efteling)

Location Kaatsheuvel, North Brabant, Netherlands
Coordinates 51°38′56″N 5°02′55″E / 51.648817°N 5.048689°E / 51.648817; 5.048689
Park section Anderrijk
Status Defunct
Operated 10 May 1978 to 4 September 2022
Cost 3,5 million ƒ
Soundtrack The Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns
Theme Celtic, Ghosts
Theme designer Ton van de Ven
Replaced by Danse Macabre
Manufacturer Efteling
Onsite construction Bouw- en aannemingsbedrijf Merkx B.V.
  • Walkthrough
  • Animatronic-show
  • Enclosed
Hourly capacity 1000
Height 20 metres
Animatronics Amount not exactly known

Spookslot (Haunted castle) was a self-built walkthrough and animatronic show previously located at Efteling in Kaatsheuvel, North Brabant, Netherlands. It was the biggest indoor attraction in the park when it opened in 1978. It was promoted as 'Europe's biggest haunted castle'.


Efteling has always been involved with theming and animatronics since the opening of their main draw; Sprookjesbos (Fairytale forest) which has been recieving updates ever since. 1966 saw Sprookjesbos recieving its biggest expansion yet; Indische Waterlelies (Indian waterlilies). This is a animatronic show with its own little area around it, and proofed very successful for the park. This succes prompted the park's designers to come up with an entire attraction outside of the forest that would use this premise to its fullest. This would become the second indoor attraction (Stoomcarrousel was the first) outside of Sprookjesbos, and pave the way for all future expansions of the park.

The idea to make it a Haunted attraction was thrown around very quickly, and Efteling Designer Ton van de Ven got to work on the attraction, under supervision of Anton Pieck. It was eventually decided to turn it into a theater show, dubbed the Ghost-Opera. These original plans showed two theaters and a elaborate themed area around and inside the building, this was eventually scaled down to one theater and a small-scale courtyard in front of the castle.

The ride would feature an original storyline, something the park had never done before on such a large scale. This prompted difficult for Ton, with it not only being his first solo job designing a attraction of this scale, but his first altogether. This proved to be a big and hard task for him, as he struggled to come up with ideas for the interior of the castle, after making designs for the exterior. These first designs also featured a large and elaboratly themed area outside of the castle, something that wouldn't be realised in the final attraction. Ton would eventually ask Anton Pieck, Efteling's main designer up to that point, for advice on the interior of the attraction. This would become the first step towards the iconic show inside of the ruinous Celtic castle. [1]


Bob used to be located next to the attraction, but was removed in 2019. its closure prompted the removal of trees on the right side of the castle, with no new trees being planted after construction on Bob's replacement, Max & Moritz, was completed. This caused Spookslot to lose it appearance of being shrouded in shadow, with sunlight hitting the building more often. This hinted at the incoming removal of the ride, but nothing was confirmed yet at that point. Rumours went rampant however, and the attraction's closure was officially announced in an interview on 24 January, 2022. This interview stated that Spookslot would close after the summer.[2] The castle was, according to the park's CEO Fons Jurgens 'too old and not salvageable'. This, along with the ride's non-existent queues made the park decide to axe the ride after the summer.

Dismanteling of the attraction started the day after its final operation, with decor being taken out of the building for preservation.[3] The goal was to preserve all of the decor before the building itself would be demolished, since the attraction was of such historical importance. 3 of these decor items where added to the Efteling Museum on 16 September, 2022. These items included the original Spookslot sign, that used to hang on the gallows in front of the attraction, the head of the old "Spinnenvreter" (Spider-eater) that used to be in the queue. The final, and biggest addition was the marionet from the ghost of the fourth viscount, placed in a corner of the museum, only able to be seen by either peeking around the corner or looking in the mirror. This is a nod to how he used to appear in the attraction; as a pepper's ghost.[4]

Demolition of the building itself began on 28 September 2022, with the first walls being knocked down inside of the tunnel next to the castle.[5] Demolition on the tunnel itself started the next day, on 30 September 2022. The exterior of the tunnel remained standing while the side walls and roof got ripped out by heavy equipment. [6] The first demolition of the exterior eventually began on 31 October 2022, with the back and side of the building getting torn down.[7] The final demolition would take place on 18 November, with a small part of the former exterior remaining standing. This part would be integrated in Danse Macabre, Spookslots succesor. These walls where formally used for the tower on the facade, as well as the hexagon shaped room in the attractions walkthough portion. Efteling would eventually reveal that the small devil-shaped candle holders from this room would be reused in Danse Macabre, as another nod to the iconic Spookslot.[8]

Closure merch

The attraction would receive some special merchandise in its final days of operation, mainly a book about its legacy and a glow-in-the-dark pin. These items where only available in a limited stock however, and caused a big uproar. Fans predicted the worst, and they turned out to be right. The items where sold out after only one day, with most of them resurfacing on resell sites like the dutch Marktplaats.[9] This caused the park to launch a website where people could order a second print of the book and pin, negating the issue.[10] Nevertheless, the entire ordeal was seen as very unprofessional by fans, and it wasn't the first time either.[11] Efteling released the attraction's full soundtrack on 5 September 2022, a day after the attraction's closure. This album includes the Moaning man, the attraction's story, the full main show including sound effects and only the music of the main show.[12] The music tracks of the main show where rerecorded however, the versions heard on the album never actually played in the attraction. This was done because of licensing issues.[13]


The attraction was a grand scale computer-driven show, with props, animatronics, lighting and sound effects. This was all combined with a queue that featured a walkthrough to get visitors to the castle a first taste of its main show, with many effects, tricks and theming. The theming itself made the exterior of the castle look like the ruin of a Celtic castle, with skulls and faces cleverly hidden in the decaying building.

A bearded, moaning face can be spotted in the broken tower.


When approaching the attraction from the front, guests would enter the courtyard area, featuring a boarded-up well in the middle. The castle would already loom in the background, vines growing over the building as nature slowly reclaims it. Left of the castle, in front of a small graveyard was a gallows with a sign hung on it. This was the entrance sign of the attraction. To their right would be the entrance to Fabula, spearheaded by two large animal-shaped rocks. These were later additions to the area being made in 2002[14], and the only ones not to fit the spooky atmosphere.

The backside of the building had more of a nautical theme, to fit in with the old canoe lake that used to be at the back (now occupied by Piraña). This little nautical area was where the exit of the attraction led to, as well as featuring some toilets and small takeaway shops for food and souvenirs, the latter being closed later in the attraction's life. This backside also included one of the famous talking trash cans Holle Bolle Gijs. This particular Gijs being stylized as a sailor to tie in with the nautical theme of the castle's backside.

The tunnel during the attractions final day of operation, trees already removed.

To the left of the castle was a hallway that connected the front and backside, containing nothing more than a few chandeliers. The tunnel did contain an emergency exit from the attraction and some niches in the wall. These niches where originally ment to show a collection of spooky scenes to guests just passing by, but this was axed during construction due to budget cuts.[15]


The entrance of the castle itself looks like a moaning face, with the two boarded up windows on top being the eyes, and the main entrance being the mouth. The entrance arch itself also houses the head of a gargoyle-like creature. Visitors would pass under this archway to enter the ruined castle, at which point they would approach a door straight in front of them, with the crooked hallway itself bending into a sharp left turn. This turn was made in order to keep light out of the castle, which would up the creepy atmosphere.

creature on top of the entrance arch.

If visitors where to try and open the door straight ahead, they would be met with the door jumping forwards a bit, chains knocking from the backside as if a creature tried to escape from it. This simple effect was often overlooked, since people mostly assumed it just being a regular locked door. Passing this door, taking a sharp turn to the left would lead visitors into a dark corridor. The eerie sound of a man moaning in agony filling the hallway as guests now had full view on a niche, filled with moving skulls. The source of the moaning could be seen if guests now looked behind them. Being able to see a fluorescent man, caged up in a basement, moaning his time away. The next spooky scene would be visible if people continue to walk to through the dark hallway, being able to spot a small indent up in the wall. This indent featured a man, biting at a spider every time it appeared in front of its face. This character was known as the Spinnenvreter (Spidereater). The eater itself was a pepper's ghost effect, appearing and disappearing from time to time.

The moving skulls

After passing by him, guests would find themselves in a hexagon shaped room, the walls littered with devil imagery, such as large goat-like monsters holding shields on the wall, and small devil-esk creatures sitting on pillars, holding up candles to illuminate the room ever so slightly. In the middle of the room was a large pillar, with small light illuminating from within. This was to guid guests around the slightly sloped walkway in the room. The room's ceiling featured a large chandelier, softly rocking from side to side. This chandelier was held up by a large, hairy arm, coming from an unknown creature. This room would come to life once the main show started, acting as a preshow of sorts. The already small amount of light in the hall would dim, and the eyes of the little candle-holding devils would light up in green as the hairy arm swayed from side to side. Domaine du Rêve'by French artist Marie Claude Robert would start to play as the ceiling seemed to dissapear slowly, showing 4 big winged demons flapping their wings. These animatronics would then start to dive for the guests, before a loud thunder would silence the scene, turning the ceiling solid again.

After leaving this hall, guests would encounter a final small, dark hallway that led up to what seemed to be a dead end. This was the entrance of the main attraction however, and guests would be instructed to wait there by a sign on the ceiling. When looking back towards the round hall, a opening in the rocks could be spotted to the right of the path guests just entered from. This alcove housed the big eastern ghost, a monstrous looking creature sitting cross-legged, with a glass ball on his lap and his big claws on top of the ball. Every once in a while, a princess would appear in this ball. The princess would start to transform in a skull, which would start laughing maniacally once its transformation was complete. This dark hall was also the place where the story of the attraction could be heard, told by a disembodied voice.

The Eastern Ghost with the princess in the glass ball.


The story of the attaction brings us to a long time ago, back when the castle was still fully in order. It was owned by the fourth viscount of Capelle van Kaatsheuvel, who collected fairy tales and stories from around the world. He possessed magical powers to make flowers sing and walls dance. His collection of fairy tales did come at a price however, as the witch Visculamia wants to steal his stories for herself. On one faithful day, the witch disguises herself as a young virgin, trying to make her way into the castle. This didn't go according to plan however, and she got busted by the castle's gardener. This prompted her to get sentenced to the stake in the east wing of the castle. This sentence was caried out by the three judges of the duchy. She screamed out a curse as her final words, dooming the king to never find his last fairy tale: his own daughter Esmeralda.


The ride was located in the "Anderrijk" area of the park, roughly translating to "Different Realm". It was located next to a small dirt path that led through the dense forest on the left side of the castle. This path was called Heksenpad (Witchestrail) by fans. Efteling would eventually recognise this name, making it official.


External links


  1. "Interviews: TVDVFS – Ton algemeen".
  2. "Tweet with the newspaper article".
  3. "Voorbereidende werkzaamheden bouw Danse Macabre gestart".
  4. "Spookslot attributen toegevoegd aan Efteling Museum".
  5. "De sloop is begonnen".
  6. "Efteling start met sloop Spookslot: tunnel is als eerst aan de beurt".
  7. "Foto's: Grote sloopwerkzaamheden aan het Spookslot begonnen".
  8. "Toren Spookslot onderdeel van Danse Macabre".
  9. "Drukte, verwarring en paniek in de Efteling".
  10. "Efteling lanceert alsnog webshop voor herdruk Spookslot-boeken".
  11. "Efteling-fans staan massaal in de rij voor nieuwe Sindbad-pins".
  12. "Nieuw muziekalbum op Spotify: Spookslot".
  13. "Efteling bewijst laatste eer aan Spookslot met Spotify-album en 360 graden-video".
  14. "17 jaar PandaDroom".
  15. "Verloren griezelscenes in Spookslotgaanderij".

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