December 7, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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Opening of the indoor theme park Plopsa Station at Antwerp Central: s ... (Antwerp)

Opening of the indoor theme park Plopsa Station at Antwerp Central: s … (Antwerp)

At the end of 2019, Plopsa Group acquired the loser Comics Station theme park to turn it into a new Plopsa theme park, and is now the ninth member of the Plopsa family. Fifteen new landmarks have been added, including “De Vliegende Fietsen” by Mega Mindy, “Maya’s Speeltuin”, “De Bumbamolen”, “K3 Discocars” and “Storm op Zee” by Piet Piraat.

CEO Steve Van den Kerkhove. © Walter Senen

Comics Station’s masterpiece, the world’s largest indoor slide, has been sold out. “This chip was immediately Comics Station’s biggest weakness,” says Steve Van den Kerkhove, CEO of Plopsa. “We’ve unlocked the entire slide space, divided into three levels.” His venue now features many new attractions and a meet and greet stage.

Popular cartoon characters like Lucky Luke, Jommeke, Suske & Wiske, Urbanus and Smurfs live alongside Studio-100’s most popular characters in the new theme park. “We think this is a great added value,” says van den Kerkhove.

To the Wild West with Lucky Luke.

To the Wild West with Lucky Luke. © Walter Senen

“The biggest intervention we’ve made, besides replacing the slide, has been adding a number of mechanical elements. The play aspect was pretty much missing and that’s what kids love so much. Comics Station was more of an interactive museum. We turned it into an amusement park.”

An asset for Antwerp

Thus early visitors can discover the joy of that park on Saturday morning. The party included cabaret fans Leon Bruinincks (11) and Father Benjamin from Schotten. They were still last summer Antwerp newspaper When they took a road trip through 32 amusement parks in Germany and got a corona test stick in their noses no fewer than nine times.

© Walter Senen

So they have the knowledge. This is also evident when they allow themselves to teleport away to Lucky Luke’s Wild West and instantly achieve the highest scores in laser photography. Mission to capture Dalton: Completed.

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“We’ve been coming here since it was still a comics station. So we’re especially curious about the new attractions,” Benjamin laughs. “Although I miss the long slide a little bit. Hopefully the Smurfs are still there,” says Leon. “But I’m so glad it’s opened again here.” “It’s also easy because it’s so close. Maybe we’ll go to the zoo later.” So a busy day programme. “Tomorrow we will go to Walibi,” they shout excitedly.

Leon and Father Benjamin are true amusement park fanatics.

Leon and Father Benjamin are true amusement park fanatics. © Walter Senen

Brothers Jason (18) and Brandon (12) came from Vilford to Antwerp by train to discover the new indoor garden. “We have a Plopsa subscription and we’re especially fans of Samson and the Smurfs. We just got here just so we still have everything to discover. We dedicate every day to it. But it looks better now than before.”

Samson, Marie, and K3 are a favorite of little Florence (4) who with her parents and sister are visiting Plopsa Station and have just finished a Fun Tour. Did she like him? She nodded her head shyly.

Florence with her parents and little sister.

Florence with her parents and little sister. © Walter Senen

In the background, meanwhile, the entire Studio 100 repertoire plays with a symphonic performance. It’s impossible not to come home with an old Samson and Gert song or the latest K3 song in your head. (In our case the classic “Pirates of the Sea”).

Maaike and her son Rik, 5, take a seat in the Mega Mindy helicopter, while Robbert-Jan watches from the sidelines with Hanna (1) on his arm. “We came from Zeeland in the Netherlands and ended up here by chance. We wanted to go to Plopsa Park in de Panne, but then we heard about it and that is of course a lot closer to us.” What do they think? “Looks really neat. The senior is having a great time, but Hanna thought Big Pumbaa was a little scary,” he laughs.

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Do they come often to Antwerp? “About once a year. Maybe we’ll go to town for a while. This place is a beautiful asset to Antwerp. It is an attraction that draws visitors into the city afterwards.”

Mike and Rick.  The family from the Netherlands is among the first to visit the new Plopsa park.

Mike and Rick. The family from the Netherlands is among the first to visit the new Plopsa park. © Walter Senen

Too small in the long run

The opening of the Plopsa station this weekend is a minor opening. Next Monday, the indoor park will be closed again and the start will be finalized at the end of next week. Although the park won’t be fully completed until mid-December. “A few dozen more character figurines should be added next week,” says Steve van den Kerkhove. We also have a few containers in port and five more that are floating in the sea. Because of Corona, it is very difficult today to deliver everything on time.”

Brandon and Jason from Vilford.

Brandon and Jason from Vilford. © Walter Senen

But the CEO of Plopsa Group values ​​the future as rosy for Antwerp’s park, rosier than the one that Comics Station once had. “The indoor garden in Antwerp itself is a market hole. Although at first we had our doubts: can we correct it? But we believe in it. In fact, I am convinced that after a while this place will be very small.”

Plopsa station can receive about 1,750 people at the same time. “This is lower than in our other indoor parks. We are expecting 200,000 to 250,000 visitors per year. We are already seeing that there is a lot of demand from companies for family events and clients.” However, there are no possibilities for expansion of the central station. What is possible then? “We will hear each other again,” he asserts.

© Walter Senen