Bellewaerde
Main Entrance, 2018
LocationZillebeke, West Flanders, Belgium
Coordinates50°50′54″N 2°56′44″E / 50.84833°N 2.94556°E / 50.84833; 2.94556Coordinates: 50°50′54″N 2°56′44″E / 50.84833°N 2.94556°E / 50.84833; 2.94556
OwnerCompagnie des Alpes
Opened1954
Previous names1972 - 2013: Bellewaerde Park

1969 - 1971: Safari Bellewaerde

1954 - 1968: Touristic Center Bellewaerde
Operating seasonApril - November
Area134 acres (54 ha)
Attractions
Total32 (as of 2019)
Roller coasters5
Websitewww.bellewaerde.be

Bellewaerde is a theme park in the West Flemish countryside at Zonnebeke near Ypres (Belgium). It was established in 1954, on the grounds of the World War I Battle of Bellewaarde. Named after an old castle in its territory that still stands near the main entrance, Bellewaerde is the oldest operating theme park in Belgium. Originally a zoo and safari, the park expanded in the early eighties to become more of a general theme- and thrillpark, catering towards teens and families. The 54-hectare (130-acre) park is famous for its beautiful gardens, marvelous landscaping and its attention to theming. Its mascotte is a lion dressed as a king, King Lion. Bellewaerde draws about 850,000 - 900,000 visitors a year and is the main theme park in Flanders.

Major rides include the first Boomerang coaster in Europe (1984), a duelling alpine coaster (Dawson Duel), a Vekoma Mad House (Houdini's Magical House), several water rides including a log flume, a river rapids ride and a spillwater ride, the Screaming Eagle vertical drop tower, various stock rides such as a pirate ship, a swing carousel, an original Zierer beetle coaster, old-timers, carousels, an octopus, tea-cups and a Jungle Cruise-like boat ride, and an entertainment schedule that changes every year. Bellewaerde's latest additions are the world's first Topple Tower from Huss, El Volador (2005), a Zierer indoor coaster, Huracan (2013) a duelling alpine coaster, Dawson Duel (2017), and a Gerstlauer family coaster, Wakala (2020). In June 2019, the park opened the 3000m² Bellewaerde Aquapark, which features a variety of slides, pools, and a lazy river.[1]

History

On 3 July 1954, the Touristic Centre of Bellewaerde was founded in Zillebeke. It was opened originally as a zoo and safaripark by the Florizoone family, which also operated Meli Park in Adinkerke. In 1971 the name was changed to "Bellewaerde Park', and simplified to "Bellewaerde" in 2004. In the 1980s the park evolved to an attraction park with rides such as the River Splash (a log flume, 1980) and the Keverbaan (a beetle coaster, 1981). In 1981, 1984 and 1985 the park was expanded with the addition of the "Far West", "Canada" and "Mexico" zones, respectively.

Bellewaerde was sold in the early 1990s to the Walibi group which in itself became part of the Six Flags Chain in 1998. Six Flags sold all of its European parks, including Bellewaerde, in 2004 to the British investment company Palamon. Bellewaerde is now part of the Grévin & Cie group, which is fully owned by Compagnie des Alpes.

In 2008 Bellewaerde officially became a zoo and a savannah-themed area was opened.

Bellewaerde is a seasonal theme park that is open for about seven months a year, from April until October. October is traditionally the month in which Bellewaerde's yearly Halloween Event takes place. Since 2005 the park also opens in the winter for few weeks during the Christmas and New Year period, decorated for the holidays with extra Christmas attractions and special entertainment.

Rides & Attractions

Current attractions and rides

Canada
Attraction Name Type Year of opening Manufacturer Additional information Photo
Wakala Family roller coaster 2020 Gerstlauer Height: 21 m / Length: 660 m / Top speed: 50 km/h
Camp Niagara Shoot-the-chute 1995 Interlink and Space Leisure With a 20 meter drop, Niagara was the highest splash in Europe.

The ride has a bridge over the drop in which visitors can get soaked.

Screaming Eagle Shot `n drop 1999 HUSS Maximum height: 52 m

Top speed: 70 km/h

Indoor playground Playground unknown Inside the Canadian Tearoom
Peter Pan Caterpillar 1989 Mack Rides Used to be in the India zone of the park until 2007. In 2008 it was moved instead of the Octopus in the Canada zone.
Big Chute Hara Kiri Raft Slide 1989 Van Egdom Height: 10 m
Pirate Ship Pirate ship 1987 HUSS From April 29 until May 1, 2014, Sam Clauw set a world record for "Longest ride on a amusement park ride". He sat on the ride for 50 hours straight. The stunt brought in 2350 euros which was donated to a breeding program for Amur leopards.
Dawson Duel Duelling alpine coaster 2017 Wiegand Height: 25 m / Length: 450 m

Top speed: 40 km/h

2 tracks for a duelling race. There are no breaks. The coaster is built on supports.

Gold Rush Dive show 2015 unknown Highest jump: 25 m
India
Attraction Name Type Year of opening Manufacturer Additional information Photo
Bengal Express Train ride 1972 Space Leisure Was originally built at the playgrounds near the entrance of the park. The trains were moved in 1988 to their current location in the India area. During the ride a tape is played with information about the lions and tigers you see.
Bengal Rapid River Rapid river 1988 Vekoma and Space Leisure 8 people per boat. The boats are divided in 4 compartiments that can move independently.

Height difference: 3 m

Length: 451 m

Lion viewpoint 2012 unknown Built as 2 jeeps sitting through a glass wall to see the lions up close.
Jungle
Attraction Name Type Year of opening Manufacturer Additional information Photo
Jungle Mission Tow boat ride 1978 Intamin AG Has been renovated over the years:

Original name was "Jungle Adventure" (until 1982)

1982: renamed to "Het Zoemende Ei" (based on the Belgian comic books of Suske & Wiske)

1997: renamed to "Voodoo River"

2011: renamed to "Jungle Mission"

Far West
Attraction Name Type Year of opening Manufacturer Additional information Photo
River Splash Log flume 1980 Reverchon Tallest drop: 12 m
Lilly's Casino Arcade 1987 unknown Lilly's Arcade is operated by a third party who quit in 2013. The arcade reopened in May 2014 under new management.
Keverbaan Beetle coaster 1981 Zierer This Tivoli Large coaster was bought second hand. The origins are currently unknown.
Shooting Gallery Shooting gallery 1987 unknown Closed and remodeled in 2006. The current Shooting Gallery is a smaller version of the old one, built with parts of the original.
Mexico
Attraction Name Type Year of opening Manufacturer Additional information Photo
Boomerang Shuttle coaster 1984 Vekoma Maximum G forces: 5.2 G

Maximum speed: 75.6 kilometres per hour (47.0 mph)

First functional boomerang coaster in the world

El Volador Topple tower 2005 HUSS Height: 20 metres (66 ft)

Maximum tilt: 60 degrees

First topple tower built

El Toro Breakdance 2006 HUSS Bought from Walibi Holland where it was installed until 2005
4D Cinema 4D-film 2006 unknown Bellewaerde tends to change the movie every season. There are also special movies for Halloween season and the Winter season (only in 2009)
Huracan Indoor coaster, darkride 2013 Zierer First coaster in Belgium with an onboard sound system.
Kids Park
Attraction Name Type Year of opening Manufacturer Additional information Photo
Carrousel Carousel 1983 unknown
Palendorp Playground 1985 unknown Renovated in 2015
Koffietassen Teacups 1989 Mack Rides
Houdini's Magical House Madhouse 1999 Vekoma A Madhouse with the great Houdini as a theme. The story goes that the Great Houdini used to live there and after his mysterious death, it was opened to the public. However, Houdini's spirit lives on as he invites you in his house for one last magic trick.
Flying Carrousel Swing ride 1999 Zierer
Frog Jumpin' Star 2002 Zamperla
Express Train train ride 2002 Zamperla Rio Grande Train
Butterflies Aerial Carousel 2002 Zamperla
Tuff-tuff car ride 2002 Zamperla
Crazy Coach Flying carpet 2002 Zamperla
Mini wheel Ferris wheel 2002 Zamperla
Dancing Balloons Balloon Race (ride) 2002 Zamperla

Removed attractions and rides

Name Type Opened Closed Manufacturer Area Reason Photo
Cinema 180 Cinerama unknown 1986 unknown Far West Burned down due to a short circuit in the Enterprise's motor nearby.
Enterprise Enterprise 1981 1986 HUSS Park Attractions Far West Burned down due to a short circuit in the motor.
Tico Tico Show Animatronics show 1986 2002 unknown Mexico Removed due to old age and rising maintenance costs.

Replaced by 4D Cinema.

Dancing Queen Paratroop swing ride 1989 2004 Frank Hrubetz Mexico Sold to De Valkenier in the Netherlands.

Replaced by El Volador.

Slide Slide unknown 2007 unknown KidsPark Failed inspection due to old age.
Monorail Monorail 1983 2007 Mahieu Station: Jungle

Route: Jungle, Far West, Mexico

Removed due to material fatigue, too old to repair
Ocotopus Octopus 1980 2007 Carrouselbouw Holland

Van Velzen

Canada Too old to repair.

Replaced by Peter Pan

Oldtimers Car ride 1981 2009 Metallbau Emmeln Far West Removed to make room for the European Bisons enclosure
Los Piratas Dark water ride 1991 2012 Mack Rides Mexico Removed due to old age and was no longer in compliance with fire safety.

Replaced by Huracan

Karting Karts 2003 2005 unknown Mexico Was a paying attraction, probably removed due to lack of interest.

Animals

Current animals

Name Park Area Additional information Photo
Hooded vulture Canada
Black kite Canada
Harris's hawk Canada
Squirrel monkey Canada
Common marmoset Canada
Patagonian mara Canada
Lions India
Tigers India
Amur leopard India
Rothschild's giraffe Savanna
Zebras Savanna
Asian Elephants Savanna
Ankole-Watusi Savanna
White-headed lemurs Savanna
Red ruffed lemurs Savanna
Pelicans Jungle
Capybaras Jungle
Nasua Jungle
Aras Jungle
Flamingos Jungle
Gracile capuchin monkeys Jungle
Emperor tamarins Jungle
European bison Far West
Wallaby KidsPark
Alpaca KidsPark
Goats KidsPark
Raccoons KidsPark

Removed animals

See also

Gallery

  • El Volador.
    El Volador.
  • Screaming Eagle.
    Screaming Eagle.
  • Bengal Rapid River.
    Bengal Rapid River.
  • Niagara.
    Niagara.
  • Jungle mission.
    Jungle mission.

References

  1. ^ Kleiman, Joe (September 10, 2019). "Bellewaerde adds water". InPark Magazine. Retrieved February 1, 2021.