In May Bellewaerde opened Dawson Duel, a dueling alpine coaster build 25 meters (82 feet) above the ground on supports. Those two scoops makes Dawson Duel unique yet odd as well. Though Bellewaerde is very proud on it’s newest addition, they gladly answered some questions we had about Dawson Duel and the park itself. Many thanks to Mrs. Taillieu, marketing assistant, who was so kind to make some time for us!
We just tested out Dawson Duel, which are alpine coasters. That’s not an evident choice since there’s no hill in the park. Why the choice for an alpine coaster?
We are always looking for unique rides to add to our catalogue, and since it is also family oriented it caught our eye. Dawson Duel is unique and is a double European first. It is the first dueling alpine coaster so you can enter a duel with each other, and it is Europe’s first alpine coaster which is built completely on supports and not using a hill which is the case for almost every other version.
There are not so much people in the park today, and we noticed the queue for Dawson Duel is longer than every other queue. Is the capacity of Dawson Duel not too low for Bellewaerde?
Of course the ride is only open since two weeks ago, and we see everyone running to Dawson Duel when the park gates open. Everyone wants to ride it immediately. The capacity is 800 persons per hour, which is a pretty good capacity for the ride. But we are always searching ways to improve like to get people in more efficiently, fasten the seatbelts, faster dispatching etc. We are constantly evaluating this with our technical service.
Dawson Duel has no manual brakes, which means the braking and the speed is controllable. Can and will it be adjusted over time?
No. The duel relies purely on the weight, the movements and aerodynamics.
Total investment was around 4 million euro for the park. Was this the best choice with that budget, with that budget a wooden roller coaster was a possibility too for example.
Yes, that’s around the budget we invested which is a great amount of money for our park. We always chose for a ride that is ideal for our target audience, which are families with children from 6 to 12 years old. Therefore we have chosen for this since it’s a great family ride that fits our catalogue perfectly.
In 2013 Huracan opened its doors, which is a beautiful family coaster. The Keverbaan is also still present. Was a more thrilling ride not a better choice to complete the parks catalogue?
No, I think we follow the line of previous investments and it’s a great addition for our target audience.
The Walibi parks got some big investments from the mother group CDA. Is Bellewaerde jumping on that train of investments too?
This morning we announced a serious investment. In 2019 we will open a new water park named Bellewaerde Aqua Park which is a huge investment. The budget we got for this new investment is around 17 million euro, which is the biggest investment Bellewaerde has ever done! That is a great investment which CDA gave us a green light for.
Bellewaerde is a mix of animal, theme and over two years also water park. Is it difficult to stay competitive on each part and how do you handle that?
We try always to keep that mix when investing. In 2014 we brought the Amur leopards to the park, in 2015 we renewed the show and introduced a birds of prey show. And now in 2017 we built a new ride, Dawson Duel. So we always look to enforce each part of the mix so we can keep that mix interesting and innovative for the public.