It’s close to 10 in the morning and Walibi is about to open. I’ve been told this theme park is the go-to place in Belgium for those in search of some wild, rip-roaring fun. Just how wild and rip-roaring, we’re about to find out.
Located some 20 minutes away from Brussels, Walibi is the kingdom of roller coasters, ferris wheels, carousels, and all sorts of carnival rides in Belgium. It also has a waterpark called Aqualibi.
The name of the place has nothing to do with the marsupial animal, by the way. There are no wallabies to be found in Walibi, except for the mascots. It’s so called because the 60-hectare park straddles the towns of Wavre, Limal, and Bierges. Take the first syllables of these towns’ names and you get… WALIBI.
A few minutes later, a lady about six feet tall with exquisite features and a slender physique approaches me. She looks like she just stepped out of a Vogue magazine. Justien Dewil is the media relations officer of Walibi, and she’s about to introduce me to this wacky wicked wonderland.
Justien leads me into the park. Beside her towering figure, my 152-centimeter self feels like a little child being chaperoned by an adult into the dizzying and dazzling realm of adrenaline-pumping and gut-wrenching carnival rides. It helps to feel safe.
“People usually associate Walibi with extreme rides. But it’s actually a family park that offers fun rides for children and people of all ages,” says Justien.
Walibi features more than 40 different kinds of amusement rides, 16 for kids, 17 for families, and 9 ultimate rides for the thrill-thirsty daredevils.
For today, we will leave the kiddy and family rides alone and go for the third type. Just how frightfully exciting can things get in Walibi? These five crazy rides will give you an idea.
We’ll start by sampling one of the latest attractions at Walibi. Introduced in 2016, Pulsar is a steel roller coaster and a power splash so be prepared to get a little wet.
I’m strapped to my seat and ready for some action. The ride kicks off with the train pulling backwards and going upwards to a height of about 45 meters. It pauses for a millisecond at the top, leaving you hanging facedown. I swear my spirit just dropped out of my body.
Next, it rushes downwards to a speed of about 100 kilometers per hour and a splash of water greets you on the ground. But it ain’t over. This time the train shoots forward and catapults you skyward before pulling you backwards for some more water fun.
Brace yourself because the ride goes for another cycle. If you get all soaked, no problem. There are several drying stations at your disposal.
We move on to one of the veteran rides at Walibi. Justien tells me that Vampire has been around for 20 years. But boy does it feel like it was made yesterday.
Vampire is not your typical roller coaster. There are only about 40 installations of this kind in the world. What makes it unusual is that the trains are inverted so while you’re going round and round and up and down, your feet are hanging in the air the whole time. Make sure you don’t drop a shoe.
But things get freakier because while the train is looping and lurching, it’s also rotating around the rail at the same time. That’s why it’s called Vampire. Those bloodcurdling movements could just suck you dry.
This one is a wooden roller coaster. So on top of all the frenzy, you get the whole creaky-squeaky effect of wheels scratching against wood. Guaranteed to make you howl like a werewolf.
Luckily, Justien is there to keep me company. But while I’m busy screaming my lungs off, she sits there calm and composed like she’s getting a treatment in the spa instead of being tossed and hurled in every direction.
Obviously she has done this so many times before. But I also find out later on that she used to work at the European Parliament. No wonder roller coaster rides don’t scare her anymore. Off to the next attraction.
Now imagine going through all of the above, only this time, in total darkness. Everything happens inside a tube.
Psyké Underground goes as high as 45 meters and as quick as 85 kilometers per hour. And all the while, you have no idea where you’re going.
And now we’re down to the most terrifying ride there is at Walibi. The name says it all. Dalton Terror is a drop tower that takes you 77 meters above ground and then drops you like a hot potato.
This time, Justien begs off. She says she’s tried it once and never again. I hesitate for a few seconds but decide to take the plunge anyway. So I get myself buckled up for what promises to be one hell of a ride.
The train begins to lift off. I’m already screaming. The thing just won’t stop ascending. “O mon Dieu!” the girl beside me cries. Not helping, miss, not helping at all.
Finally, the train comes to a halt and you get a fantastic view of the world below. Like a trick to get your mind off the dreadful thing that’s about to happen.
Suddenly the train freefalls at an exhilarating speed of 110 kilometers per hour, my stomach sinking even faster than that. It’s all over before you know what hit you.
“Are you okay?” Justien asks me afterwards. I give her a thumbs up sign as I struggle to walk straight. It feels like that time you singlehandedly emptied a bottle of tequila and then did everything in your power not to look so intoxicated. Do you remember? Well, me neither.
“There’s another ride you should try. It’s called Cobra,” says Justien as I wobble beside her. Hmmm, it sounds spooky enough and I’m still reeling from the shock of the previous ride. So this time around, I decline. There’s only so much insanity I can take for one day.
At present, Walibi is undergoing a €100-million makeover that involves the creation of new zones with special themes.
Since last year, the park has opened three additional sections called Fun World, Karma World, and Exotic World, each with their own set of rides and attractions. More novelties and surprises will be unveiled in the coming years until the expansion project is completed in 2023.
So, what do you think? How much thrill can you take? Give Walibi a whirl and find out. The summer nights special will take place on August 8 and 10. Visitors can enjoy the rides until 11 in the evening or four hours later than the park’s usual closing time.