General Information Plopsaland De Panne

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Theme Park:Plopsaland De Panne (since 2005)
Plopsaland (2000 - 2005)
Meli Park (1936 - 1999)
Address:De Pannelaan 68
8660 De Panne
Operated by:Studio 100

De Grote Golf • Zamperla Disko Coaster • Plopsaland De PannePlopsaland De Panne located in Adinkerke De Panne next to the Belgian coast is one of the biggest theme parks in Belgium. The park was founded in 1931 by the Belgian honey manufacturer Meli and is currently being operated by the amusement division Plopsa of the Belgian TV corporation Studio 100. The park features a large number of family friendly rides and some great and exiting roller coasters.

Fun Fact #1: Apart from the theme park, the resort is currently offering a water park, a theatre and a hotel.

Fun Fact #2: Some sections of the park can be visited, while the theme park itself is closed. The indoor section Mayaland Indoor is open all year round.

On a sleigh ride with Heidi

Without a theme park the trip from Germany to England is somehow too long and too boring. Since I was already visited Efteling just before Christmas and I had to go through the winter hustle and bustle without a ride on the Bobbaan, I drove to the Belgian coastal town of De Panne, where Plopsaland De Panne holds its Winter Plopsaland Event for more than 10 years. The main reason for the visit was the roller coaster Heidi – The Ride, which I could only visual inspect during my last visit. As the theme area of the wild sleigh ride was still under construction, the area resembled a gray concrete complex rather than a colourful Swiss village. I was also very curious about the restrictions during the park’s winter operation.

The first impression of the event was quite positive. Plopsaland is very nicely decorated and even has a Christmas plop at every corner of the park. However outside the entrance, this design gets very repetitive. On the other hand, the number of rides in operation is significant. Winter events are nice and good, but if nothing is in operation you can skip the event. In the morning, it truly looked like that. In the afternoon, all rides – with exception of the park’s log flume – where in use. Even the Star Flyer welcomed its guest. Due to the high winds, the ride is kinda scary.

From the top you have a good overview of the region, Plopsaland and the wooden roller coaster Heidi – The Ride. By the late afternoon, the queue on the roller coaster was very short, therefore it was not a problem to try each of the 12 seats; some even double or triple. Towards the evening, the ride became more popular and the park noticeably fuller.

In a short dip you leave the station, whereupon the lift hill of the ride is climbed. Once the maximum height of 22m reached, you immediately plunge down the curvy first drop. Close to the ground, you are now swerving from one side of the ride to the other in a wild s-curve manoeuvre. This is followed by a double-up element with a double-down element ensuing. Unfortunately, the three hills here are very shallow and the airtime is quite low. Back on the ground level you immediately shoot up into a turnaround where the banking of the track increases steadily before you fall down to the ground. Rushing over hill and dale the track is now running parallel with the already experienced one.

After two fairly high hills follows a slightly twisted S-curve hill, which flows into a small double-down. In a tunnel, you now whiz over a very, very small hump before you are pushed to the right side of the in a small curve. This is followed quickly by another very flat hill, before approaching in a short left-right corner combination the break run of the ride. In the same building as the station, you quickly cross the transfer track for maintenance before reaching the station in a 180° turn. If you are lucky, say goodbye to Heidi and her friend; during my visit the screen was not in use.

Well, how should I judge the roller coaster?! After my first rides with Heidi I was really underwhelmed – it took a very long time until I was ok with the coaster. At the same time, I do not want to blame the not yet retracted condition of the ride in the morning, as in the afternoon the ride was quite similar. For me, the ride is a little bit too short, which is also due to the fast paced sections near the ground-level, especially at the end of the ride (which I don’t really like). After a great first drop and the amusing S-curve, the ride loses its pressure. The ride catches itself somewhere in the middle and offers plenty of fun in a series of airtime hills, but before you know it the finale of the ride already starts.

But one thing must be left to the coaster: It just looks gorgeous and it fits the park’s audience perfectly. The wild sleigh ride is indeed family friendly and due to the fast dispatch – which is also due to the interestingly placed luggage rack (a chest in the middle of the exit platform) – family members don’t have to wait to long, when another one is currently riding. Overall, Heidi is a great ride for the whole family.

As far as the Winter Plopsaland is concerned, I can fully recommend it. If the weather cooperates, you can easily spend a few hours with no waiting times within the whole park. In conjunction with the swimming pool Plopsaqua you can spend with ease the whole day in De Panne.


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A great Afternoon in De Panne

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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In the claws of Studio 100

After an early morning drive through the beautiful city of Ghent, we came closer to the Belgian coastal town of De Panne. When we arrived at the parking lot of the Studio 100 theme park Plopsaland De Panne, the park looked rather empty.

Unfortunately, in Plopsaland, many things looks different, if you look in detail. After the park opened its paths, we first explored the petting zoo area of ​​the park, where unfortunately none of the rides had opened. Basically, there was hardly anything open in the hours of the day. Our plan to directly ride the new for 2009 roller coaster Anubis was directly cancelled and we focused on the other roller coasters first.

The first one was the Caripro Batflyer Vleermuis. Due to the operation schedule there was already a longer line. Nevertheless, we queued up with the expectation of a funny little Suspended Coaster, but this coaster turned out to be the created by the devil. The entry and exit of the gondolas is not at all easy for adults, if you are not careful enough you could even get stuck on something and fall down to the floor. The worst part of the ride, however, is the lift. The entrance is so harsh and painful, you will definitely regret your choice. After all this pain, the ride itself is rather boring.

With time, more and more rides opened to the public and so we could test all of the park’s rides by the German manufacturer Mack. The Super Splash has a great lift, as well as a decent track layout. It even crosses under the HUSS Pirat. Unluckily, it is quite dry.

Like in Bobbejaanland, the Powered Coaster Draak is one of the longer and newer version. Unfortunately, the ride itself did not know what the term power in powered coaster actually means, as the train for most of parts just crawled over the track. However, the integration with the log flume is very  nice.

At half past twelve we walked into the queue of Anubis – the Ride, which is based on the television series Het Huis Anubis (House of Anubis). The house looks nice from the outside and the coaster just looks beautiful. As the coaster was brand new, a very long line formed behind us. With the soundtrack in our ears, we ran through the well decorated queue.

While the roller coaster has a wonderful launch, an awesome top hat, an intense DiveLoop and a sick Heartlineroll towards the end of the ride, the Immelmann is nearly as disappointing as the capacity of the ride. With just three cars in operation, where two were always waiting for the discharge, there is something extremely wrong with the ride. The narrow exit area and the small storage space for bags and other items was not a good idea.

By contrast, the loading progress of the park’s Tivoli roller coaster was a bit faster, as the capacity of the large train is just big. Dongo’s Race is nicely themend and not easy to miss. The typical jet like noise is hard not to hear at most corners of the park.

At the Vekoma roller skater everything was a little bigger, at least as far as the environment is concerned. The ride is ok and crossing a huge washing machine is always a nice feature. Unfortunately, to entry one of the cars was not at all easy..

As the time progressed, Plopsaland became more and more crowded and the hunger of Bernd and Stefan grew bigger and bigger. The fast food restaurant in the tree stump has fascinated the two, whereas the prices simply shocked them.

Regarding flat rides, Plopsaland is very well equipped. Their cog ride offered a delightful ride. Unfortunately, the queues at all the other rides where annoyingly long, so that we decided to only have one other ride and leave the park afterwards. We took a ride on the park train, where the train enters the petting zoo and you were allowed to feed the animals. Interestingly, while driving along the course, the train derailed.

Slowly we lost all our desire and moved on in the early afternoon towards our next destination, the Dutch theme park Efteling.


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