More than 100 years of love of nature

Pantropica is a tropical world full of adventure and has been the ‘Most fun outing in Flevoland’ for the thirteenth year in a row. The family business was formerly called the Orchideeën Hoeve, but changed its name to Pantropica in 2024. The business has been in existence for more than 100 years and has been transformed from a flower farm into the largest tropical attraction in Europe. More than 423,107 visitors passed through the entrance gate in 2023. The business is being run by two brothers, Thomas and Jeroen Maarssen, the fourth generation of the Maarssen family of gardeners. 

History of Pantropica

In 1915, grandfather Maarssen decided to strike out on his own. He bought acreage in Aalsmeer, on which he grew carnations, chrysanthemums, and lilac, together with his son. In 1930, the first greenhouse was built by a friend who was a carpenter. This greenhouse became the foundation for Pantropica.

The first orchids

The small horticultural business survived the Second World War as well as a number of financially challenging years. Thomas Maarssen Sr (the father of the current owners) took over the reins of the family business together with his brother. Thomas Sr soon aspired to take on another challenge: orchids. However, his father rejected the plan. He believed that growing orchids was something for specialists. Yet, this did not prevent the young horticulturist from buying his first orchids in 1957, namely one hundred cymbidiums in a box of violets for ten guilders. It turned out to be a success.

‘Orchideeën Maarssen’ nursery

In the 1970s, the business ‘Orchideeën Maarssen’ – which has moved since then to Haarlemmermeerpolder in Aalsmeerderbrug – evolved into a well-known name in the world of orchids. The nursery became a leader in breeding and the family won many awards at shows and exhibitions.

Move to North-East Polder

In 1979, Thomas Maarssen Sr moved his family and orchid nursery to the North-East Polder. We needed a company name in order to be able to supply orchids to the auction in Aalsmeer. The former farm to which the company relocated served as an inspiration to the family, and they called the business ‘Pantropica’. By participating in ‘Kom in de Kas’ (annual event of the Dutch greenhouse horticulture sector), Maarssen discovered that there was a significant interest in the orchid nursery. They started receiving requests for guided tours and the family increasingly frequently welcomed local groups and associations. Initially, the family members provided a guided tour in return for a cake or apple pie. After a few years and with attendance growing, they decided to ask a fee for their services. In 1984, the nursery officially opened to the public.

The first garden

The public turned out to be interested. Orchids were a rarity. The plant was associated with challenging upkeep, high cost, and warm climes. This was a reason for the family Maarssen to convert the business in 1989 and to invest more in the recreational activity. A shop and a restaurant were added and the collection of orchid species accumulated over the years received a unique spot in the Tropical Garden. These 1,000 square meters of jungle garden can still be admired at Pantropica and has since been converted into the Orchid Garden.

Next generation

In 1991, the Taiwanese garden was built and the brothers Thomas Jr and Jeroen Maarssen assumed the leadership of the business. The following years, Pantropica was expanded with new theme gardens and started focusing entirely on the tourism market.

Orchid nursery

The original orchid nursery, where it all started, can still be found in Pantropica in the Greenhouse section, albeit at a smaller scale. In the first months of the year, you can visit the nursery sections to enjoy magnificent fields filled with various species of orchids. The products are no longer supplied to the auction in Aalsmeer.  The orchids we now grow remain on their plant, so that the visitors can enjoy them as long as possible. In doing so, the nursery has become a part of the attraction and together with ’t Stekkasje constitutes a magnificent homage to the origin story of the family business.

Opening gardens

  • 1989: Addition of shop, restaurant, and tropical garden (currently referred to Tropica)
  • 1991: Opening Taiwan Garden (currently referred to Lori Bush)
  • 2000: Expansion of car park, addition of halls for parties and festivities and the opening of the Malaysian garden (currently referred to Amazonia)
  • 2008: Opening Butterfly Garden (currently referred to Vlinderica)
  • 2010: Opening Play Paradise (currently referred to PanAvontura)
  • 2012: Opening Lori Garden (currently referred to Lori Bush)
  • 2014: Zoo license
  • 2014: Opening Citrus Avenue
  • 2016: Reopening Play Paradise (currently referred to PanAvontura)
  • 2016: Opening ‘Suspended’ Flower Garden (currently referred to Hanami Flowerpark)
  • 2017: Opening Jungle Theatre
  • 2018: Opening Lemur Kingdom (currently referred to Flamingo Lagoon)
  • 2019: Opening Meerkat Garden (currently referred to Safrica)
  • 2022: The family business is granted the designation of purveyor to the Royal Household
  • 2024: Orchideeën Hoeve changes its name to Pantropica and renames all the park’s continents.

Renovation and development

Pantropica is continuously innovating and developing to ensure that each visit to its premises remains a unique experience. The family business is continuously innovating and developing to ensure that each visit to Pantropica remains a unique experience. For example, a brand-new underwater world was inaugurated during the autumn half-term of 2023: the Pankong River. Furthermore, thanks to its zoo license and the AAP foundation, Pantropica provides a home for a multitude of animal species such as monkeys, ducks, fish, tropical birds, butterflies, flamingos, alpacas, meerkats and reptiles.

100 years of family business

2019 was an exceptional year as the family business had been in existence for 100 years. ’t Stekkasje was inaugurated in the park to honour the rich family history. This old greenhouse was built in Aalsmeer in 1930 at the behest of family members and has been restored in the park to its original glory. In ’t Stekkasje, magnificent paintings and exceptional stories tell of the flowery past and bring to life the family history.