Wallonian tourism is set for a big boost with the reopening after a major facelift of Walibi and Aqualibi, near Wavre.
Both Aqualibi, the indoor swimming/leisure complex, and the adjacent Walibi, one of the best-visited theme parks in Belgium, have undergone a major, multi-million-euro refurbishment.They have now reopened to the public just in time for the upcoming busy summer season. The aim, says a spokesman, is to create “more fantastic moments for the public” and to “continue to be at the summit of theme parks.”
As both Walibi and Aqualibi are two of the most popular visitor attractions in Wallonia, the move will give a much-needed boost to tourism in the region.
The transformation is a new chapter in the history of Walibi, which first opened way back in 1975 and is one of the country’s oldest theme parks. Currently, about 110 people are employed fulltime on site, rising to 1,000 during the peak season. It all amounts to an investment, so far, of some €12 million with a total of €100 million foreseen in the overall investment plan for the next five years.
The spokesman said they were enlarging the park by 4.5 hectares and will be creating eight new themed zones with individual landscaping, four new restaurants offering different culinary experiences, and 10 new rides.
In addition to Aqualibi being given a Caribbean-style theme and brand new 700 square metre zone for children who cannot yet swim, Walibi has opened its first “Exotic World.” The water park Aqualibi has been completely remodelled in what is called a “Caribbean style”, along with the new “Kiddie Bay,” a first for Aqualibi. Kiddie Bay is a zone for kids who cannot swim with 36 water animations, 70 water sources and 5 slides.
Walibi, meanwhile, now boasts “Exotic World”, another first for the theme park, which was inspired by an exotic tiki theme with exotic decorations. At the heart of the new zone is “Tiki-Waka”, a family fun-coaster for children from 1 metre in height. Tiki-Waka is 21m high, 564 metre long and is the longest and tallest attraction of this style (Bobsled Coaster) ever built. Manufactured by German attraction builder Gerstlauer, Tiki-Waka, reaches a speed of up to 55 km/hour. The aim is to give children who are more than 1 metre high their first roller coaster experience.There is also Tiki-Trail, an adventure trail over the fun-coaster. A total of €7.8 million has been invested in Exotic World.
Commenting on the new attractions, Jean-Christophe Parent, Managing Director of Walibi and Aqualibi, told Brussels Express “We are very pleased to present the first important phase of our investment plan.”
Parent added that “this very important” re-development and investment will give both regular and new visitors to Walibi and Aqualibi “even more reason” to visit both parks in the future.
Expansion of the site has been based on customer satisfaction surveys completed by visitors and studies into future sociological and technological trends and visitors, Parent says, will be “more immersed” in the park than in the past. The aim is to increase daily visitors but the maximum figure is 20,000 with Parent saying, “It’s important that people feel comfortable here.”
The park was founded in 1975 by Eddy Meeùs under the banner “Walibi Wavre”. In its early years, it was known as a water-skiing area. About a decade after, in 1987, a waterpark, Aqualibi, opened next door. In 2006, the park was taken over by CDA Parks, a French leisure group.