Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
59Trip End Oct 27, 2010
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Where I stayed
Leuven City Youth Hostel
We took a nice early train there and arrived about 20 minutes before the park opened- we could get into the first area that had a couple gift shops, but the main gates leading to the rides were still closed until 9:00. Costumed mascots were wandering around just past the ticket takers, and for some reason Glennica really wanted a picture with one, so I ended up posing, bewildered and half-awake, with a hippo in a grass skirt
The gift shop was actually kind of small... there was a larger gift boutique (ooooh) nearby, but it wasn't open yet, so we just waited for them to open up the gates... what happened next was unexpected. Whereas a lesser park might just have some employee in a park baseball cap wander over and unlock the gates, the Belgians apparently take this kind of thing dead seriously, because Walibi himself was chauffeured over on a little go-cart while music played- music so momentous, so grand and suspenseful, that you'd think the fate of the world hung in the balance. He (or rather, a voice playing over the speakers that I assume was supposed to be him) shouted a bunch of stuff I didn't understand in French, which just made the tension even more unbearable. The giant orange wallaby stepped up on a platform next to the gates with a giant key, selected a little boy from the audience, and, together, they inserted the giant key into a giant lock and gave it a giant turn
So, I guess I could try to describe the exact path we took and all, but it's probably simpler to just list all the rides and what they were like- it wasn't that big a park, so we rode pretty much everything that we weren't too tall to be allowed on several times, with time to spare.
Cobra- This was a pretty simple roller coaster, just a loop and a twist. What made it interesting was that after going through it once, you do it again in reverse. It was the first ride we went on, and a good wake-up ride, though not really very scary compared to the stuff I rode at Lakeside not long ago- it was made of metal and felt very solid and modern, instead of rickety and wooden. Also, a bird flew through the loop right as we were going upside-down. It was awesome.
Radja River- This was a river ride with one of those big circular 8-person rafts. There were no seatbelts or restraints, so you just stepped in, sat down and got jostled around like crazy every time the raft slammed into a wall. Whether you actually got wet or not was up to random chance- the raft could go under a few waterfalls or make big splashes that would soak whoever was in the seats closest to the rapids. The nutcases riding with us would actually jump out of their seats and stand in the center every time one of these splashes happened, even though there were signs telling you not to do that exact thing. I'd think getting a little wet isn't as bad as getting violently tossed from a raft because you were standing up when it smacked into a rock, but then again, I spent the rest of the day rather damp as a result of this ride. The only other thing of note was that there was a pond next to this ride that was visible from the line, and it had some huge fish in it! By the way, this ride, the next one and the Cobra are all part of Ali Baba Land. There was also a little kiddy ride, but it was so crappy that nobody was even manning it, let alone riding it.
Le Palais du Genie- We weren't even sure what this ride was, and it was closed when we first stopped by, so we kind of ignored it. We saw it later and realized we'd totally forgot about it, so we went and stood in line
The Teacups- One of the few rides we didn't bother with. There was a sense of tragedy to the teacups. Both times we saw them, they were totally empty except for one lonely loser, spinning in silent ennui as the ride operator gazed on with a thousand-yard stare.
Tuf Tuf Club- The bumper cars. We didn't ride them either, but the name is awesome.
Flash Back- Another water ride, this one had a vague, implied plot, the entire ride made up to look like some de-aging machine created by a wacky professor. From the line you could see his office, which had a couple laser kaleidoscopes projecting red and green dots all over the room, as well as an old clock and typewriter and some other neat stuff. It was pretty fun, though only worth riding once or twice, and in keeping with the theme of the ride, you end up going backwards a couple times.
Zoo Terror- This one broke my heart. We wandered past it at the very beginning when 3/4 of the rides were still closed, and I vowed to ride it later
Octopus- Glennica insisted we ride this one. A really boring ride with eight legs that spin and go up and down a little. I swear it took them longer to shut down the ride than the actual ride portion lasted!
French Can Can- Another boring ride, but still kind of fun, in a relaxing way. You sit in swings dangling from chains and get spun around and tilted. I wish I'd gotten a video of Glennica next to me on this one- the sight of her looking ready to fall asleep while the background spun in a blur was pretty surreal. This one had some neat art nouveau paintings on and around it, which added to its appeal a lot
Werewolf- One of the two main roller coasters, and a lot of fun! It was a wooden one, and had some very steep hills, sharp turns and rolling bumps that made you feel like you were flying out of your seat. The first time we rode it, there was a huge line. Walibi was almost line-free for the entire day, with waits of five minutes maximum for everything, except this one time, when apparently everyone in the entire park including us decided they wanted to ride the Werewolf. We were stuck in line for ages next to a group of girls wearing perfume that was apparently made of wasp pheromones, and a bunch of guys drinking beer and smoking. This is something I haven't mentioned yet: in Belgium, everyone smokes, and it's impossible to avoid it if you're outside, even if you're at the goddamn amusement park. We even rode the Werewolf again later that day and there was pretty much no line. We're still not really sure what was werewolfy about it... I guess it's brownish-grey... like a werewolf?
Buzzsaw- It was a big line of seats that spun around all crazy-like. It made me dizzy for a bit, but then spun me the other way and undid it. This, along with Calamity Mine, the Dalton Terror and Gold River Adventure was part of an Old West-themed area, with lots of signs advertising "Hay fer sale" and "cow rooms"
Dalton Terror- It was one of those rides that raises you up really high and then drops you. I skipped it since I'd done the exact same thing at Lakeside not long ago. The name confused me, but I think it's named after some old west gang I'd never heard of before.
Calamity Mine- You ride a train through some caverns and twisty tracks. A small, tame roller coaster that was mainly notable for a couple sharp, sudden stops that smashed the safety bar into your gut. Definitely not for pregnant women, this one!
Gold River Adventure- Oh boy. Okay, so this one looked like just a duck pond with a bunch of boats sailing in a circle around it. Out front there was a taco place Glennica wanted to eat at (which never opened) and a bunch of weird coffins and tombstones painted in bright primary colors with stars on them. This was the Old West section of the park, so I just assumed that Europeans thought we were really patriotic, to the point of painting our coffins red and blue and putting stars all over them. Glennica said it looked like Spiderman's grave. Pretty much everything else in the park was closed at this early stage, so we decided to give the duck pond ride a go, just to kill some time
I was still waiting for the adventure... it really looked like they'd put no effort into this one, especially when we floated past what was obviously supposed to be a waterfall, which they hadn't bothered to turn on. Glennica herself asked when the adventure was going to happen, and I said it must be around the next bend- this was the only part of the ride not visible from the entrance. I wasn't really expecting much- maybe a couple more gravestones, then we'd loop back around to the beginning. We slowly rounded the corner, and there in the bushes was... a clown? Wait, WHAT? On the other side, another clown slowly came into view, this one holding a shovel, like he was halfway through digging a hole. Suddenly all those gaily-painted coffins made sense. I think that shocked me more than the sudden and inexplicable appearance of murderous clowns in what was supposedly an Old West Mexican river adventure ride- that having those clowns show up made the equally inexplicable coffins seem perfectly reasonable
The parade of evil, shoddy-looking backwoods clown scarecrows continued for far longer than I'd expected... apparently this hidden part of the ride was longer than I could have guessed, or maybe the repetitive steel drum music just sent me into a trance. It seemed so much more sinister now. Of course, even with the clowns, it still looked like no effort had been put in- they looked like they were made out of old clothes and the kind of masks you can buy at a Halloween store for 10 cents, and when the dinosaur appeared, it was obvious that they had just had it lying around and felt like putting it somewhere. Murderous clowns in the woods south of the border? Revisionist history, to be sure, but okay, I'll buy it. But a parasaurolophus hanging out next to a bloodstained circus target, trying to pass itself off as a run-of-the-mill evil river clown? GOOD DAY TO YOU, SIR.
Afterward, all I could think of was how awesome it would be to play a prank on the Gold River Adventure employees. Imagine you've been working there, listening to that steel drum music for 8 hours and helping people into and out of the boats
Cilindri Rotani- You spin in a bunch of wine barrels around a statue of a pudgy grape-stomping woman. Nothing special, but I was starting to feel compelled to make up plots for the rides now. This one is really about an evil gypsy sorceress who makes her wine from human blood! And grapes. Of course, I think the clown ride tainted everything that came after rather darkly.
Vampire- This was another of the main roller coasters, a big red and black metal one full of loops and corkscrews. I have to say, it was trying with the theme a lot harder than the Werewolf. There were spooky castle bits and horror movie music in the line, and the ride itself swooped down through some fog-machine generated mist at one point, which was pretty cool
Challenge of Tutankhamon- This is the main reason we came to Walibi, actually- I'd done some internet searches on dark rides (you probably remember me ranting about them a lot back in Blackpool), and Challenge of Tutankhamon was rated one of the best dark rides in Europe. And it really did turn out to be pretty awesome! You start by walking through the line past an animatronic old man sitting on top of a broken statue head, talking in French, but most likely telling you the usual stuff- the tomb of the pharaohs is cursed by the evil magic of Seth, turn back now or you're doooomed, etc. You get into your vehicle and each person gets an ankh-shaped laser blaster, which you can use to hit targets during the ride. You have a few statue heads for target practice, then the ride begins- you're moving through the tomb and boxes of crates and statue heads are tumbling towards you. You round the corner and an archaeologist waves at you frantically, trying to get you to turn back, but as you watch she screams and is transformed into a skeleton, frozen in her frantic pose (this was a really cool effect, actually, and probably the best in the whole ride- I'm guessing it was done with mirrors somehow)
So, that was pretty much everything at Walibi. It was a fun park, but we had our fill of the rides before it closed, so we made a quick stop at the gift boutique on our way out (which had aprons featuring Walibi strangling a chicken and making it drop an egg into a frying pan!) and left an hour early.
We explored Leuven a bit more after we got back, and saw a cool building with really elaborate decorations and a lot of tiny doors in the roof. We're not sure what it was, maybe city hall. We found a lousy dinner in a local pub, I stayed up blogging a bit, and that was pretty much our day!