Belgium is definitely one of a kind. It has six governments, three official languages and the capital of Europe: Brussels. Next to the delicious Belgian waffles, Belgian fries (indeed, they shouldn’t be called French fries!) and of course beer, there are seven theme parks. Compared to other parks in Europe, these parks are rather small and do not have the most spectacular rides. However, they have a rich history and almost all of them started out as a playground owned by a family. They then grew to the theme parks they are today, and each of them has their unique qualities. The parks are spread all over the country: five of them in the Dutch speaking part and two in the French speaking. Of the seven parks, there are four big players: Plopsaland De Panne, Bellewaerde Park, Walibi Belgium and Bobbejaanland. Let’s take a look at them!
The park which attracts the most guests in Belgium is Plopsaland De Panne. This park used to be called Meli Park and was mainly a park with a fairytale forest and family rides. Since 1999, it’s owned by the Studio 100 group, a company that also broadcasts several shows for children in Belgium and the Netherlands. Most of those shows have a themed area within the park, which is the attractiveness of the park. ‘Anubis’ is the Gerstlauer launch coaster which attracts the thrill seekers and in 2016, they will open the second wooden coaster in Belgium: Heidi the Ride. The park is very close to the beach and the French border. In the North of the country, you’ll find Bellewaerde Park, a combination of a zoo and a theme park. The park is one of the two parks in Belgium owned by Compagnie des Alpes. Thrill seekers can experience the first Vekoma Boomerang constructed in Europe. As it is a park with primarily families as their audience, the other rides are more family friendly. Bellewaerde Park, is a very pleasing park due to the fact that the rides are perfectly intigrated with the beautiful nature of the park.
Number three on the list is Bobbejaanland, a park where the former owner, Bobbejaan Schoepen, was the key player in the park’s growth towards becoming one of the largest theme parks in Belgium. It is now owned by Parques Reunidos. The Eurofighter, Typhoon, is the only looping coaster at the park, which offers seven coasters in total. The must-do is Revolution, the only Vekoma Illusion coaster in the world (with the world’s longest coaster trains)! The fourth big park would be Walibi Belgium. Owned by Compagnie des Alpes as well, the park is the thrill capital of the country. It has seven coaster which include Loup-Garou (one of the three Vekoma wooden coasters in the world), Psyké Underground (a Schwarzkopf shuttle coaster, recently renovated by Gerstlauer), Vampire (a Vekoma SLC), Cobra (a Vekoma Boomerang) and opening in 2016 is Pulsar. This last one is a world’s first: a shuttle power splash by Mack. In addition, they have an awesome dark ride: Challenge of Tutankhamon, an interactive shooter with a trackless system that is famous all over the continent.
The other three parks are smaller and are pure family parks. Boudewijn Seapark near Bruges is famous for its Dolfinarium. The other two are also part of the Studio 100 group: Plopsa Indoor Hasselt (an all indoor park themed by the characters of Studio 100 shows) and Plopsa Coo (near the waterfalls of Coo in the Ardennes).
When in Europe, you definitely have to visit Bruges, Ypres, Ghent and Brussels. And while you are there, why not visit one of the theme parks? You won’t regret it!
Bellewaerde Park (5)
- Boomerang (Boomerang, Vekoma)
- Huracan (Force Custom, Zierer)
- Keverbaan (Tivoli – Large, Zierer)
- Dawson Duel (Double Alpine Coaster, Wiegand)
- Bob Express (Powered Custom, Mack Rides)
- Dizz (Spinning SC3000, Maurer Rides)
- Dreamcatcher (Suspended Swinging Turns, Vekoma)
- Mount Mara/Revolution (VR Indoor Illusion, Vekoma)
- Oki Doki (Junior Custom, Vekoma)
- Speedy Bob (Wilde Maus Compact, Mack Rides)
- Typhoon (Eurofighter 670/8, Gerstlauer)
Plopsa Coo (2)
- Halvar (Custom MK-700, Vekoma)
- Vicky The Ride (Spinning Custom, Gerstlauer)
Plopsaland De Panne (7)
- Anubis: The Ride (Launch 600, Gerstlauer)
- De Draak (Powered Custom, Mack Rides)
- Heidi The Ride (Wooden Out and Back, GCI)
- Rollerskater (Junior Coaster 335m, Vekoma)
- Viktor’s Race (Tivoli – Large, Zierer)
- Vleermuis (Double Suspended Batflyer, Caripro)
Walibi Belgium (7)
- Calamity Mine (Mine Train 785m, Vekoma)
- Cobra (Boomerang, Vekoma)
- Coccinelle (Tivoli – Small, Zierer)
- Loup-Garou (Wooden Custom, Vekoma)
- Psyké Underground (Shuttle Loop, Schwarzkopf)
- Pulsar (Powersplash, Mack Rides)
- Vampire (SLC 689m, Vekoma)