The Bellewaerde Park is located in the Belgian province of West-Vlaanderen, which can certainly be declared by the city of Bruges as the most beautiful part of Belgium. Also, the roads are not as modest as in the rest of the country and the proximity to the French region Nord-Pas-de-Calais gives the park a more pleasant park audience than for example at Walibi.
If you enter the park through the entrance A and go immediately to the left you will find the entrance to the Vekoma rafting ride Bengal Rapid River, which is located in the Indian themed area. The ride in the rafting boats, which most of you already have tested in the sister park Walibi Holland, is quite nice to look at. Unfortunately, due to the warm weather, it was very well visited. In the morning the queue just barely moved. Later the day, I had to get the ferry in the nearby Dunkirk…
The second attraction in this area is the Bengal Express, a train ride in closed wagons in which you drive through the spacious tiger and lion enclosures. At the second turnaround the water treatment plant of the park is a highlight to admire – after all, this is even advertised via speakers. Overall a great ride, which should not be missed. Due to the nature of the ride, I would only recommend a ride if the train is still waiting in the station, as the ride duration is quite long. The generously-sized waiting area highlights the popularity of the ride.
Located on the shores of a large lake is the theme area of Canada, which is home of the only visible attraction from outside of the park: Tthe Shot ‘n’ Drop Screaming Eagle, one of HUSS’s rare park versions. In contrast to the Space Shot towers of the manufacturer S&S Worldwide, which can be found quite frequently around the world, the system can shoot you upwards from a standstill position. In contrast to the rides, which could be found ages ago on the German fair circuit, the acceleration was very surprising as there was no hint whatsoever by the ride operator. Located in the Belgian wilds – without any houses surrounding – the ride’s noise level is quite low. Even through you can be of a different opinion as one of the riders. Overall the ride is rather tame compared with the S&S Towers, as there are basically no negative forces. The only big plus of the ride is its high capacity and the better launch.
Next door, the Shoot the Chutes Niagara by the manufacturer Interlink shines in all its glory. This type of flume is characterised mainly by its large boats and the resulting wave at the end of the shoot. This one however has only a limited effect on the riders, as it does not get you as wet as Cataratas Salvajes from the Spanish theme park Parque Warner or as Tidal Wave from the English Thorpe Park. At least, it did not disappoint as Isla Magicas Iguazu. On the bridge, which strangely does not lead from the exit of the ride to the other side of the lake, many school kids had their fun by letting the boats soak them on a regular basis.
The other attractions in this area are a Mack rides Koggenfahrt, a wet-looking dinghy slide, and the somewhat strange pirate boat from Huss. From 1 pm to 4 pm, you could visit the squirrel monkeys located on a small island, as a path runs right through their enclosures.
On the right side of the park entrance A is the Kidspark theme area, which consists of a medieval designed area, some traditional rides and a mysterious mansion, as well as a large climbing and slide complex.
I don’t know why this mansion belongs to the children’s area, as as the preshow is not necessarily made for anxious persons even through the actual topic is not scary. After entering the house of the Magician Houdini you can find some exhibits. A film about his youth is shown, which burns away after a short while accompanied by a nasty laugh. After some effects and some tricks were shown, you will be invited to attend the biggest tricks of them all.
Where the preshow room is designed in great detail, the main room is surprisingly empty. Compared to other mad houses of the same manufacturer, there is actually nothing located in the middle of the room. This of course makes it easier for the ride operators, but it is not as beautiful to look at. On the sides of the room there are some fixed mirrors, which later reveal another function.
The actual ride takes a while until the fake rollover happens. The music does not remain in your memory for a long time after the trip. However, Houdini is well remembered, as his trick was not yet finished even after begging for a liberation. Despite the statement that we are in our worst nightmare, Houdini recalls himself and after the words “Ce que vous pensez que vous voyez n’est pas ce qu’il semblait.” C’est ce qu’on appelle l ‘ illusion “you finally get freed. The mirrors show an animated key.
Passing by some very generous animal enclosures, which mainly showed African species, we are entering the jungle section of the park. The main attraction of this area and one of the main attractions of the park is the Towboat Safari Cruise Jungle Mission, where you cruise past some animal enclosures (quite similar to boat ride at the Erlebnis-Zoo Hannover). Not long ago, the ride system was completely renewed, which is why the Jungle Missions looks quite new for such an old ride. While driving, some water effects are activated, only a few of them refresh visitors directly. The African theme features some vintage animatronics, which alone does makes this attractions quite exotic and as nice as La Jungla of the Spanish amusement park Parque de Atracciones de Madrid.
The coaster with the longest queue on this day was the classic Zierer tivoli coaster Coccinelle, or Keverbaan in Dutch. Interestingly, the ride did not sounded like a starting jet, nor was it as slow that it needed additional friction wheels on the track as some other rides of this kind do. In fact, you could neither hear this ride, nor the air launched free fall tower tower from far. The design of the ride as the wildest ride of the wilderness is a rather strange choice for such a roller coaster, but it somehow works out perfectly. The surrounding walls and the roof over the lifthill are a nice feature.
Next to the log flume River Splash and a bison enclosure there is the entrance to the Mexican section of the park. Here you can watch the movie Sammy’s great adventure in Dutch or French in the park’s 4D cinema or do a spin on the El Toro Break Dance. You can also find the only working HUSS Topple Tower outside of Scandinavia, named El Volador.
A Topple Tower of the manufacturer HUSS is a strange device, as it seems to be spectacular from the outside and the technology seems elaborate but the ride itself is rather boring. At least, the ride is not such a flop as the King Kong ride of Bobbejaanland, where neither the ride nor the appearance are particularly interesting. The ride with El Volador resembles somehow a wave swinger when you drive it sideways, just way slower and with less degrees of freedom. You are secured by over the shoulder restraints as you tilt forwards. The best part of the ride are the synchronised water fountains, which unfortunately do not even wet your shoes.
A few meters from the ride, you can pay tribute to the first boomerang ever opened. It’s actually a really good one and a worthy representative of this funny shuttle roller coaster build by the Dutch company Vekoma. Everything at this ride is build more suitable, as the ride station is not just a tent, it’s a Mexican temple. The ride in the 2nd generation Vekoma trains was surprisingly good, even through the sister ride in Walibi Belgium even runs a little bit smoother.
This year’s novelty is the indoor coaster Huracan, which has replaced the old pirate themed dark ride within the same building. From the outside you can see a small part of the coaster and you wonder why they did not added some more track to actually come down to the ground. After all, the ride is quite high above the ground. If you enter the waiting area, it does not take long until you arrive in the beautifully designed station.
The journey begins with a small dark ride section, guided by the elements of fire, water and wind. Afterwards, the lift helps to reach the maximum height of the course and after a short straight, the curvy first drop follows. After a small climb the curve leads you back into the building. Now follows a surprisingly wild and at the same time very smooth ride. One turn is followed by the next one. After a handful of curvy goodness, you slam into the brakes where a laser show is being held.
Huracan is a great dark roller coaster. The pace as well as the forces during the ride a just awesome. The dark ride part at the beginning of the ride is well done and features some great music and light effects.
The Bellewaerde Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Europe. Since I could only stay for 3,5 hours, I could not admire the whole package, but I’m sure I’ll come back someday.