ABOVE: Bellewaerde includes many play areas for kids. Photo courtesy of Bellewaerde.
After an investment of 17 million euros and nearly two years of construction, the brand-new Bellewaerde Aquapark in Ypres, Belgium officially opened its doors in June 2019. Designed to complement the Bellewaerde amusement park, it follows a strategy that more and more European amusement parks are employing to attract additional visitors and extend the park season.
“Multiple market studies showed the potential of combining Bellewaerde [amusement park] with an indoor waterpark,” said Bellewaerde CEO Stefaan Lemey. “The entire Bellewaerde team is proud that we have been able to realize this important project.”
Owned and operated by France-based Compagnie des Alpes, Bellewaerde Aquapark focuses on family fun by providing attractions and activities for all age groups. Three different areas and a slide tower are complemented by an outdoor area with lounge chairs and a small lawn.
The distinction between indoors and out is minimal, however, as the park has worked hard to bring nature inside throughout the facility. The façade of the building is finished with wood while plants create a living roof. Inside, more than 1,000 plants have been added, including ten large trees. Together with a choice of soft colors (green and brown tones), natural looking materials (wood and stone) and a lot of natural light, the Aquapark fits perfectly into the Bellewaerde philosophy of appreciating and conserving nature. Half of the Bellewaerde amusement park property includes a zoo, so the park tries to emulate the conservation-based ideals common with zoos. The result happens to be aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable for guests as well.
Activities for children are spread throughout the park, each designed with different age ranges in mind. The first area, Bambino Beach, is a small toddler zone for children up to five years old, and includes a splash pool and several small waterslides, provided by Polin Waterparks, an international supplier headquartered in Turkey. The two other areas, Aqua Fort and Junior Explorer, include larger water playgrounds with small slides for children from 6 to 12 years and 5 to 10 years, respectively. In addition to traditional water play activities, the Aqua Fort play structure also incorporates a longer and faster Tunnel Body Slide as well as a Wide Slide, both from Polin. Junior Explorer, themed as a large boat, includes Polin’s short Aquatube slide.
The lazy river Jungle Expedition encircles Aqua Fort and Junior Explorer and is one of the showpieces of the park. Bellewaerde added special effects and activities to the river to make it more of an adventurous attraction. Several rain curtains and fountains dot the course, along with tipping buckets and tunnels. Theming encompasses the entire lazy river. Visitors float past a ship, into a submarine and through a small jungle. The river also passes by a climbing wall and an aquarium.
The extensive lazy river takes the place of a more traditional swimming pool or wave pool. Given the small space available for the park (3,000 m² including the outdoor area) park owners felt the river met needs for guests seeking a place to relax as well as those looking for more excitement. For those desiring even more relaxation, a sauna and several jacuzzis are available in the park.
Bellewaerde Aquapark also features a slide tower with two larger slides: Aquaventure and Splash Clash. Both slides were manufactured by the German waterpark supplier weigand.waterrides. Aquaventure is a Big Swing waterslide – a first in Europe. Rafts of riders accelerate down the slide into a brief outdoor section onto a a leaf-shaped ramp that provides a moment of weightlessness before sending the raft down the rest of the slide and back indoors. It provides a bit of thrill, but also remains family-friendly.
Splash Clash is a double racer slide that allows guests to race against each other in individual tubes. Of special note for the truly competitive: the slide calculates in real-time who is ahead and adjusts colored LED lights in the slide tubes: green for the fastest and red for the slowest.
To make the guest experience as positive as possible, a tube lift from German ride manufacturer Gerstlauer eliminates the need for guests to drag tubes up the stairs. In addition, soundinsulating panels throughout the park ensure better acoustics and a more calming environment.
When designing the waterpark, Bellewaerde also planned for the future. Space for an outdoor rapids river has already been allocated for future expansion. The slide tower also was also designed to accommodate extra slides. Already popular with guests, the aquatic fun at Bellewaerde Aquapark is guaranteed to continue for years to come. • • •
Yelle Kleykens is an editor at Brakesection Magazine and has a great love for the leisure industry. He is currently still a marketing student, and a fan of data analysis.
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