Belgium 07/17 – Bellewaerde + Plopsaland de Panne
We didn’t get on very well with our trail of hurray through Belgian parks last year, but remained optimistic that this was the ‘better half’ of what they had to offer that we were tackling today.
Day 2 – Bellewaerde
Arrived for opening and immediately had to change tactics after being sent round to a different car park entrance than expected. Stood half-sheltered by the gates amongst 500 smokers while it lashed with rain and the lion mascot teased us all. Headed straight for Huracan as it was closest and had a billed opening time of 10:00.
Queue opened at 10:15 and we ended up on the second train of the day. This Zierer family coaster was surprisingly good with its impressive and foreboding dark ride section and immediately brought about joking statements such as ‘better than Parc Astérix.’ The coaster section was more substantial than expected. I do appreciate an indoor layout that gives you a little something to think about.
Checked out the Boomerang and found that didn’t open til 10:30. The other cred?
Checked out the other cred and found that there was a huge queue and they were only filling 4 out of the 500 rows on the train.
#2 Boomerang it is.
The queue opened on time and we ended up on the first train of the day. Endured that successfully and went back over to the other cred to see they were now using 5 rows instead of 4. Skip.
Headed over to the new alpine coasters instead, now rather worried that the queue would be heaving. The blue side seemed to be broken as we started the substantial climb to the station but by the time we reached the top it was running. Throughput was expectedly poor, but it hadn’t drawn the crowds yet so queued about 20 minutes a side.
Didn’t find it particularly well executed. Though the name may imply, there is no real duelling as 1) they weren’t attempting to dispatch both sides at the same time and 2) you have no control over how fast you go. As an alpine coaster it was a weak layout, being short and just corners. Oh well. +2.
#5 Keverbaan the Zierer Tivoli was at last having all of the train filled, but the queue was still massive and being hindered by constant groups of unknown origin getting batched up the exit and taking any part of the train they felt like. Sucked up the 40 minute wait for completion, grabbed some lunch for the car and hit the road.
Plopsaland De Pain
It seemed we were doing well on time, but it didn’t take long for the combination of Belgium and Plopsa to strike us hard and evidently leaving us with no time for any pictures.
Took the long way round to Anubis first to find an empty train stuck on the block outside the station. “Well that’s broken.”
Began the ticking off task instead and rode the Zierer Tivoli, #6 Viktor’s Race. 2 of these back to back, such joy.
Then #7 Rollerskater the Vekoma junior. More joy.
#8 Anubis: The Ride was fixed by now, so entered the nice looking building. Didn’t like the fact they ran out of pictures to put on the wall halfway through the queue and started recycling the same ones. Better themed than the Anubis drop tower queue at least.
The ride wasn’t bad. Better than a Eurofighter any day, but a shame it wasn’t as smooth as its brother Lynet. A bit rough going into the top hat element after the launch, but otherwise fine for a Gerstlauer that can never truly perform with shoulder restraints.
#9 Supersplash seemed to draw a weird crowd and operations were painful to watch as the wrong number of people were constantly piling into each row and the staff were at a loss as to what to do. Apart from the novelty elevator lift, this water coaster was terrible. No payoff, then drifting around in hideous looking water for far too long and sitting outside the station for 5 minutes while people continued to mess things up.
Time to improve the day with some GCI goodness…
Speiti the Ride was down, a small crowd gathered outside the entrance. Within a few minutes a security man appeared to give the all clear to the staff member at the entrance and led us through as far as the stairs. Upon reaching the stairs, something changed their minds and we were asked to all leave again.
We camped out the ride entrance for the next 2 hours in the hope we could get some good laps in once it reopened and it was quite amusing and confusing to watch. The security presence followed by staff with a first aid kit implied something had happened to a guest and the ride itself was fine. However these particular staff walked off into the sunset shortly afterwards and the ride remained closed.
Some time later an engineer turned up, went into the ride area below the lift, went in the shed, came out shortly after and walked off into the sunset. The ride was slowly bleeding staff with no-one coming to replace them and eventually an over-confident management type came to the entrance and started telling people “technical problems” and gesturing at his watch as if to imply “look at the time, it ain’t worth reopening now.”
Well that’s unfortunate, let’s ride the powered coaster #10 Draak then. They’ve somehow managed to break one of the cars on this to the extent that the occupants have to get out of the vehicle and mess about with the restraints themselves under the instructions of the staff before it can run properly. Of course with the way the current clientele were behaving and mostly useless staff, this is a complete nightmare to behold. Got there in the end.
That was pretty much day over now, with a bit of safety net and a chunnel train to head back to. Depressingly wandered over to the exit to buy a parking ticket. One machine was broken, the other had just eaten someone’s credit card while they stood there thinking ‘Plopsa, man…’ Followed them into guest services where they were told to wait by the machine thinking ‘Plopsa, man…’
The remainder of the parking ticket queue was then left to stand at the desk waiting while the single member of staff decided creating and printing annual passes was a priority. 10 minutes of leaning further and further over the desk occurred, money in hand, before the staff member starts chatting on the phone…
Walked into the car park and saw that Speiti was bloody running…
Blagged our way back into the park with a combination of brandishing the parking ticket like madmen and making gestures about ‘the wooden one.’
Narrowly avoided a Samba (told you it would come back) in the form of a parade that decided to get in our way.
Did a literal Indiana Jones through a restaurant that was closing its shutters.
Got a stitch. Got into the queue.
20 minutes of chunnel anxiety queue passed relatively quickly and we got our single lap on #11 Heidi The Ride.
It’s a decent little woodie filled with plenty of moments of moderate airtime, with a fairly straightforward out and back layout, so not too many surprise corners. About on par with my expectations, which for GCI are quite high. Best coaster in Belgium (that wasn’t hard was it?)
Should have stayed for more. We got to the channel tunnel check in two minutes late and were therefore reassigned to another train three hours later. Ended the trip with a glamorous Burger King surrounded by ‘those English-French holiday makers.’