Years have passed since I first visited Plopsaland De Panne on a very busy Maundy Thursday. The catapult start roller coaster Anubis – The Ride was just four days old, but the amusement park could not convince me at all. With the derailment of their park railway, which back in the days was running through a large animal enclosure, my mood was down and I left the park early.
My memories of Plopsaland have been negatively influenced since then, but the constant development in De Panne was always of interest. Theme areas have been restructured or pounded out of the ground, a theatre has been built, as well as a very interesting swimming pool. With the construction of the wooden roller coaster Heidi – The Ride and the planned opening a visit was unavoidable, which is why I bought a Plopsa Funcard with parking pass (very worthwhile, especially regarding the Benelux parking fees) in the Holiday Park at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, the wooden roller coaster would not open this year due to noise problems.
After a short visit to the Plopsa Indoor Coevorden I reached the parking lot around 3pm. From there, under the incredibly well-positioned wooden roller coaster, a path leads to the park’s entrance. Such a crock, not being able to ride this beauty.
The Plopsaland De Panne was opened in 2000, but the origins of the park date back to 1935. The Florizoone family opened Meli Park, the country’s first amusement park right next to their honey empire Meli. Constantly declining visitor numbers in the 90s led to the sale of the amusement park.. The (still quite fresh) Studio 100 brought the park back on the road to success with its own (children’s series) licenses.
If you enter the park you find yourself on a covered Main Street and shortly thereafter on a huge square with some fountains. There are many paths to choose, but you can also find the entrance to the park’s theatre as well as the entrance to the indoor theme area Mayaland. This is a smaller version of Holiday Park’s children area and offers fun for the whole family with the Kontiki De Swingboom, the Flying Fish De Bloemenmolen, the Demolition Derby De Waterlelies and the Family Freefall Tower De Valtoren. Like the theatre and the adjacent swimming pool, the Mayaland is also used outside the regular parking opening times.
If you follows the course of the park’s railway, which incidentally passes through the hitherto unfinished theme area based around the children’s series Heidi, you quickly encounter the roller coaster De Vleermuis. This is a small coaster with free-swinging gondolas made by the company Caripro, in which both tracks deliver a race on the steadily sloping and rather simple layout in the form of an eight. Basically, only the quite fast vertical lift is notably. But you should hold on tight to prevent nasty surprises. The hard to enter ride vehicles and the rather small capacity do not speak for the ride. The ride is ok for the audience it serves, so mainly small children have some fun.
A few meters further on you will come across the beautifully designed medieval theme area, where De Boomstammetjes the park’s log flume and the powered roller coaster De Draak await their passengers. As one of the first of its kind, the log flume opened in 1989 with a double down. The ride is quite long and features two shoots. Unfortunately, the ride was not flooded.
Above the log flume, the Draak was on its track. Through the long and beautiful queue you reach the station. The ride starts with a right-hander with some up and down features. A longer straight with some hills is following, but the speed is still missing. In a downhill helix the train takes some speed, but also the upcoming near-ground directional changes above the log flume can not really increase the tension. A right-hand helix leads the train back to lofty heights. In another downward helix you build up some speed again, whereupon the station is quickly passed through and another lap follows.
The ride on the roller coaster De Draak is unfortunately not very exciting nor fast. The course of the coaster is not really bad, it just lacks the speed for the existing elements. Without, the roller coaster is one of the most boring representatives of its kind, which does not bother the existing target group in the park.
Arriving at the central lake, you immediately meet a Zierer Jet Ski and a magic bike by Zamperla, as well as the first earworm of the park, as both attractions are located in the Mega Mindy Universe and the series’ title song is played over and over again. You can find some peace at the neighbouring Rollerskater, a family coaster of the manufacturer Vekoma, which comes here in a beautiful and somehow oversized design.
Next to the boat ride Kaatje zoekt Eendje you can find the family coaster Victor’s Race. With the introduction of the children’s series “Kaatje van Ketnet”, the roller coaster Dongo’s Race was redesigned and features a new train and new rails; after all, the ride built in 1976 is the park’s oldest roller coaster and one of the most popular within the park. The transformation has a very positive effect on the ride and fits seamlessly into the general concept.
Meanwhile, the Funtime Starflyer Rox Flyer looks like a foreign object in the park. Right next door you can find the park’s upscale restaurant Prinssesia housed in a fairy tale castle. The park’s tea cup is also included in the newly created complex and now features a roof above the ride.
We complete the tour around the lake with the pirate theme area of Piet Piraat. In addition to the HUSS Pirate Piratenboot, which was elegantly placed on the lake, and the Koggenfahrt ride Storm op Zee, this area is dominated by the Mack Rides Super Splash of the same name. From a height of 18m you dive in spacious boats 20m to the ground, passes over a short hill and shortly after splashes into the lake. After that you are on a leisure cruise back to the station. The peculiarity of this ride is the reduction to the essentials, e.g. there is no unnecessary backward part at dizzy heights. The necessary rotation of the boats happens during the climb in the vertical lift. As always, you don’t get soaked on a Super Splash, but you will get wet.
In 2009, Anubis – The Ride – a roller coaster based around the TV series “Het Huis Anubis”, which was followed by its own German-language production on Nickelodeon shortly after – opened. The Anubis House is a boarding school in which a group of students experience numerous mystical adventures and intrigues; Accordingly, the presentation inside is extremely impressive, especially compared to Holiday Park’s Freefall Tower. The images of the cast were reduced and the soundtrack is not played in a continuous loop anymore.
Once seated in the six-seater car, one immediately leaves the station modelled after the Anubis house and takes some momentum in a short right turn. Shortly thereafter, the actuator located on the car dives into the stators located on the track accelerating the train to a speed of 90 km/h. Now you climb a very steep hill, similar to a half-sided Top Hat element. On the top, you quickly rotates sideways and dive down to the ground. Confronted with very high G-Forces you quickly rise up again to dive down within a dive loop. On a hill you experience some air time whilst changing the direction. In an Immelmann you see the world upside down for another time. A steep curve then leads you into the ride’s block brake section. Barely reduced in speed, a left turn leads you to the ground level. After that you run over a small hill and make the final change of direction, before you are swept up in a crisp and beautiful heartlineroll.. Shortly thereafter, you reach the station.
Anubis – The Ride is still pretty damn good. The ride offers some amazing G-Forces, the airtime is pronounced and the inversions are all passed through very quickly. The design of the ride is also done very well and creates a very unique ambience. As a standalone attraction, the ride is fully embedded in the overall concept of the park.
The visually most impressive theme area is the Wickieland built in 2013, where Vicky the Viking and the other vikings found their new home. With the nicely designed Zamperla Disk’o Coaster De Grote Golf and the picturesque Splash Battle Wickie – The Battle by Mack Rides you can find two great rides in a great atmosphere. Unfortunately, it is very noticeable that figures or groups of figures were used more often, so that sometimes the variety is missing. Since these figures can be found in all of the Plopsa Parks, this is very noticeable.
Equally well done is the newly arranged theme area Kirmesplein, which no longer looks like a collection of old rides. The wave swinger Wienerwalz was replaced by a newer copy. Likewise, a number of figures from the Samson & Gert universe can now be found in this area.
Next to the toddler area themed around the clown Bumba – which you should never show your children, unless they are fans of the teletubbies –, which is very popular in the Benelux countries, you can find the Kabouter Plop, after which Plopsaland De Panne was named, the park’s last remaining area. In addition to a small farm and a tractor ride – of course with free-range livestock – this area particularly captivates by the dark ride Het Bos van Plop, in which one can discover the world of the gnomes on a rather long journey. This is beautifully staged and has (most likely) a very large reference to the television series, which is why usually very long waiting times can be found here.
Plopsaland De Panne has rapidly and steadily grown over the past seven years, giving the park a very Efteling-like charm. Everything is well done, which is why you feel really comfortable within the park. The additions and enhancements of the past years show impressively how a park can further develop existing concepts in order to offer an overall better experience. Plopsaland De Panne just became one of the best theme parks to visit in Europe.
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