Bobbejaanland is the child of singer Bobbejaan Schoepen. Bobbejaan Schoepen was at the moment a popular Belgian artist who searched for a home location to perform after 15 years of touring. In 1959 he bought 30 hectare of swampy ground near Lichtaart, Belgium. On new year’s eve 1961 Bobbejaanland was officially opened. In those early years, the park was nothing more than a centre for shows and spectacles. It was halfway the seventies the park made the transition into the theme park we know today.
Small rides like a merry-go-round and a monorail paved the way. Later on Bobbejaan started buying bigger rides for his park, like a dark ride and Ferris wheel. A Schwarzkopf Wildcat coaster became the first roller coaster in the park, and some years later the iconic Looping Star opened. That Schwarzkopf looping roller coaster became an icon for the park, even today years after it was broken down in 2003.
Bobbejaanland lived his glory years in the eighties and nineties. In the nineties, Bobbejaan’s children started engaging themselves for the park. Especially Jacky Schoepen puts a lot of work into his fathers park. But his father was getting older and became sick. It is a hard decision to sell the park or to leave the park for his sons. Bobbejaan choses the first option, one reason being unsure if the park could stay operational and alive in an industry more and more dominated by big chain groups. In 2004 the Spanish group Parques Reunidos buys the park from Bobbejaan Schoepen. Bobbejaan’s legacy still lives on with the park carrying his name and a statue at the front gate.
From the moment Parques Reunidos bought the park, Bobbejaanland started to slip off into a neglected state. Bad and improvident policy makes bad new investments and a lack of maintenance. Attendance numbers are steadily decreasing and it seems like Bobbejaanland can’t offer an answer to steadily and good investing neighbor parks like Walibi Belgium and Plopsaland De Panne.