Wednesday, 26 October 2016

At One with King Kong, Not So Much Godzilla

It is no secret that I love trains. In fact, as a child I always wanted a train set*. As an adult, I still want to have a train set, but a more sophisticated version – i.e. an entire train room. This, of course, is not going to happen any time soon...or probably ever. So, when a few years ago I was told about what was essentially an outdoor train room, I knew I had to get there. This magical place is none other than Madurodam.

Okay, so let’s back this up a bit. Madurodam is a miniature recreation of the most well-known spots in Holland**. It opened in 1952, and much to my surprise upon arrival, I learned it is actually a war memorial.

Walking up to the entrance of Madurodam, I felt pretty giddy. I had set some fairly high expectations for this place, and with wanting to see it for some time, it was an exciting moment! For a Tuesday morning, though, I was amazed to find so many people – especially children. But it turns out it is fall holidays for school children. It also happened that despite my usual aversion to tiny humans, they made the experience even better***!

Madurodam from the outside!
When you first enter the site (beyond the ticket booth), it kind of feels like walking into the main gates of Jurassic Park…if JP were built on dykelands instead of in the tropics! The first stop is a short film that gives the background of the park. This includes the story of how and why the park is a war memorial. Take heed though, if you’ve been walking around for a while prior to your visit and you think this 6-minute film will give you a 6-minute sit down… it doesn’t – standing room only!

Once the film is finished, the doors open and you walk into the magical world that is Madurodam! There is a walkway that takes you from the theatre onto the park grounds, but it provides an excellent spot to just stop and take it all in at once. It was pretty overwhelming!

A panoramic of the first visual of the park from inside. It's a lot to take in!
As I walked throughout the park, I noticed familiar sights, such as Dam Square, Rijksmuseum and the airport to name a few. The detail involved was just incredible! Some displays had moving parts, while others had audio. There were also a few stations throughout that provided a bit of background to a particular scene, while others were interactive. My favourite interactive display was a Armin van Buuren DJ booth/concert, where those brave souls****.

Dam Square
The Peace Palace
Schiphol International Airport
That's either the world's largest seagull or the smallest airport ever...
Oil production, featuring Esso... 
A bit of a shipyard and a few cruise ships. 
A recreation of the football stadium!

Towards the end of my visit (and energy levels/capacity for human interaction), it began to rain. I was impressed that this did not seem to deter anyone’s visit. Very few looked for shelter, as most were still wrapped up in the excitement of it all.

I stated at the beginning of this posted that I had set pretty high expectations for Madurodam. I am delighted to inform you that not only were they met, but exceeded. I learned the next day that my interest and enthusiasm for this place seemed odd, given that I was not from The Netherlands. But it would be difficult, I think, not to get swept up in the magic of it. Even though my initial reaction to the high presence of children was a bit concerning, it ended up adding to my experience, because seeing how interested they seemed to be – the attention to the details and the willingness to take part in the interactive activities – only proved just how important a place of this kind has.

My only disappointment was that I couldn’t find the hanky-panky couple I was told were in the bushes somewhere. I scowered those grounds, but unfortunately either this was just a rumour, or they had to remove it. Regardless, if that was the only thing that let me down, I’d say it was a success. I highly recommend the trip to Den Haag, and of course, to Madurodam!

-the Orange Canadian

*We didn’t ask for much growing up – mainly because we knew we didn’t have much, nor need it – but there were two things I always wanted that I never got: a train set and to grow up on a farm. One of those would have obviously been easier to achieve than the other.
**Some say you can see the entire country in a single visit… which sure, you can see plenty, but I’m pretty sure there are some places missing!
***Don’t worry folks, tiny humans still slightly terrify me!

****I say brave not because it required any sort of skill, but that it was in such high demand anyone wanting to try it had to wait for quite some time… I was not one of those individuals.

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