Bellewaerde is a theme park in the West-Flemish countryside near Ypres (Belgium). Established in 1954 on grounds that were the location of the Battle of Bellewaerde during World War I, named after the old castle that to this day stands near the main entrance of the park. Bellewaerde is the oldest operating theme park in Belgium. Originally a zoo and safari, the park expanded in the early eighties to become more of a general theme- and thrillpark, catering towards teens and families. The 54 hectare park is famous for its beautiful gardens, marvelous landscaping and its attention to theming. Bellewaerde draws about 850,000 - 900,000 visitors a year and is the main theme park in Flanders.
Major rides include the first Boomerang coaster in Europe (1984), a dark ride with a pirate theme (Los Piratas), a Vekoma Mad House (Houdini's Magical House), several water rides including a log flume, a river rapids ride and a spillwater ride, the Screaming Eagle vertical drop tower, a large number of stock rides such as a pirate ship, a swing carousel, a monorail, an original Zierer beetle coaster, old-timers, carousels, an octopus, tea-cups and a Jungle Cruise-like boat ride, and an entertainment schedule that changes every year. Bellewaerde's latest additions are the world's first Topple Tower from Huss, El Volador (2005), the breakdance-carousel El Toro (2006) and a 4D Cinema.
Originally opened and run by the Florizoone family, which also operated Meli-Park in Adinkerke, Bellewaerde was sold in the early 1990s to the Walibi group which in itself became part of the Six Flags Chain in 1998. Six Flags sold all of its European parks, including Bellewaerde, in 2004 to the British investment company Palamon. Bellewaerde is now part of the Grévin & Cie group, which is fully owned by Compagnie des Alpes.