The faded glory of Lavenlaar

Published on 12 March 2024 at 19:22

It's the cold winter of 1990. A weirdly shaped human like folk arises at the surface of the Efteling. After a harsh, exhausting underground journey, the 'laven' have finally found their destiny. Burgundian creatures of small height, but capable of escaping extreme blizzards on the North Pole by digging over 4000 kilometers south in the crust of the earth. Forced to leave their home that way, they can now start rebuilding their entire civilization on the grounds of the Efteling.

Up to this date, 'the Folk of Laaf' lives undisturbed on their own terrain in the park. If you would like to visit their isolated village, known as Lavenlaar, there is plenty of sights in the everyday society of the laven to discover. Such as a bakkery, a school, a musical organ, fun stairs, and lots of other establishments of the folk. The legendary Folk of Laaf is perhaps the most extensive world that the Efteling has brought to life. The succesful icons were also launched as purchasable sculptures, that you still come across anywhere in the Netherlands. With the great popularity, they even had their own beer brand at one point: 'Laafse Lurk', a dark beer that was being sold as a souvenir in the Efteling, but preferably you drank your own one fresh from the beer tap at the orginal brewery in Lavenlaar of course. Unfortunately, this facility closed in 2003 and ever since the beer isn't available anymore. However, if you want to come as close as possible to what it would have taste like, try Hertog Jan Dubbel.


Later, in 2011, the Efteling introduced another laaf-themed brand: 'Lummels', theadventurous youth (children) of the laven. They got their own externally created 2D-animated series in 2016, but the Efteling had a hard time selling it to any television station. To get some use out of it however, the Lummel serie was broadcasted on the TV-channels in Efteling Hotel and Bosrijk Resort. Nevertheless, external television channel RTL Telekids bought the series in 2017. There were also plans for a special Lummel-themed attraction, a droptower or freefall that would be placed on an empty unused spot next to Lavenlaar. Efteling designer Karel Willemen already made illustrations of what it would look like, but the managment of the park unfortunately decided to cancel the project in 2015. Despite their famous reputation and commercial succes, Lavenlaar seems a rather forgotten place in the Efteling nowadays. In this outer corner of the park, the laven don't receive much visitors. It appears to be a we-can-take-a-look-around-because-we-are-here-anyway-place. But most remarkable: everyone knows the Folk of Laaf when asked, but no one seems to care or talk about it.


Maybe Lavenlaar stood the test of time, but aged like an outdated jewel of the park. The question then remains: how did that happen? Again: Lavenlaar settles in an outer corner of the park, the walls around their society literally border a road with everyday traffic; the end of the magical world of Efteling. With that being said, the location departs from any busy route that people would logically take when visiting Efteling. Another major aspect to look at is what the place has to offer. There is no big nore sensational attraction in Lavenlaar. It's an attraction by itself - the many sights - but not quite a spectacle for that matter. It's incomparible to sensations like Baron 1898, Droomvlucht and Symbolica, appealing wanna-go-to's that pull the most visitors at Efteling. Noteworthy, there is a monorail in Lavenlaar which runs over the entire village, but furthermore it's still an endless loop where people can always walk through to view the not so spectacular life of the laven. That probably explains why it's not a hotspot of the park. On the other side, Sprookjesbos offers the same concept: a loop of scenes where people do no more than walk through. In fact: Lavenlaar was originally meant to be the new Sprookjesbos if you will. See: after the wild 80's for the Efteling, in which thrill rides such as Python and Piraña came around the corner, it was time to strengthen the fairy tale image of the Efteling once more. But this time with something totally new, original and refreshing, instead of resuming the old tales of Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. That's how the inspiration for the laven initially came around. Primarily inspired on Candyland, creator Ton van de Ven drew funny shaped buildings and came up with a folktale around it. There you had it: Lavenlaar. Opportunistically with the same kind of future development that Sprookjesbos had: to extend the place with new scenes over the years. However, no extensions have been made since the opening year 1990. Despite the imitative idea, Sprookjesbos is, unlike Lavenlaar, an extremely popular place. Let's not be silly: we can't compare anything to the fundamental roots of the Efteling, but we also shouldn't forget that the laven are a special creation of Ton van de Ven, the most prominent figure to raise the style of the Efteling, after Anton Pieck. The Folk of Laaf has both a unic story and authentic settlement. It deservers way more spotlight than it does now. It's an enlightened thought that Lavenlaar will be restored in its former glory one day. But how will they ever bring new life in this everlasting old place? Perhaps a coat of paint. Or perhaps they should sell their own brewed beer again? Maybe they should make their pastries real, edible and sell them?


Well, there is some hopeful news for the pleasant little creatures, by which the Efteling makes this question very current. Starting in February this year, a bunch of constructions in Lavenlaar are being and will be restored. Or even more so: almost everything in Lavenlaar will eventually be tackled for a good coat of paint, so to speak, with some operations planned for after summer. This means the laven will appear in a spick and span hometown by the end of this year. Perhaps the most exciting rumor within that restoration, is the reopening of the brewery that has been abandoned from the inside for two decades by now: het Lurk en Limoenhuys. Unfortunately, we will probably never get to experience the sweet taste of the laven beer ourselves (again), as it is not willing to be sold again within the rumors, but there has been spoken of a possible new scene that visitors can behold when visiting the brewery. Promising for the future of the laven and their popularity, as the reopening of this place is the second most voted matter on an Efteling fan wishlist. We are talking about 19.000 voices, people who are willing to see Lavenlaar make its breakthrough after more than 30 years of waiting.


The history of the laven is written, but what their future will bring ...


Opinion piece written by Joep Eikenaar.

Add comment


There are no comments yet.