Dadipark was one of the oldest amusement parks in Belgium. But here’s the catch: Dadipark has already closed down and was an abandoned amusement park until its demolition.
It was also famous for being the scariest amusement park in Belgium. More of it had to do with its dilapidated infrastructure and the ambiance of the abandoned park. This landscape used to be dotted with rusted facilities and rides that look like they’re about to collapse. Graffiti on the walls were also a common occurrence. Overgrown vegetations that swamp the exposed rides with scrapped paint added to the eeriness of the deserted Dadipark.
Where Is Dadipark?
Dadipark is located just south of the border, in the village of Dadizele, Belgium.
History Of Dadipark
Believe it or not, Dadipark wasn’t always an amusement park. It was initially a playground that Pastor Gaston Deweer opened in 1950. Dadizele was popular for being a pilgrimage site. Hence, the children of pilgrims often spent their time at the playground when the pilgrims visit the nearby Basilica of Our Lady of Dadizele.
“waar kind koning is” (where the kids are king) — that was the slogan of Dadipark.
The slogan reflected Paster Deweer’s vision of what Dadipark would be when it later grew into a huge amusement park for children.
Dadipark became a hotspot for kids and was successful. It contained various attractions and rides. From large blue and yellow slides, kart racing, to carousels and train rides… you name it. Additionally, the iconic 800 metres long suspension bridge was one of the park’s best highlights.
While Dadipark was popular back then, it inevitably became more run-down as the years passed. That has resulted in incidents related to security and safety.
The Dadipark Accident And Its Subsequent Closure
2000: The Accident
In 2000, an unfortunate accident took place in Dadipark. A 9-year old young boy from Kortrijk almost lost his arm while on the Nautic Jet ride. While it wasn’t the first safety incident to happen, it was the worst one and that hammered the final nail in the coffin.
After the accident, more people began to complain about the safety of the park. The number of visitors decreased further.
The once vibrant Dadipark last saw its visitors in 2002 before it closed down indefinitely. Initially, in 2002, the park closed for renovations. It was slated to close for a year. This was in a bid to put up more safety and security measures. Besides investing in quality staffing and internal organisation, there were also plans to value add to the park to make it more enjoyable. The new programmes included music festivals, special guests, and time-limited events.
However, despite such claims, the park never reopened. Financial reasons and strong competition from other amusement parks forced Dadipark to close its doors. Trying to maintain its own identity also proved to be an uphill battle.
2004-2005: Failure In Procuring Investors
In 2004, there were companies who showed interest in buying the theme park. There were talks of improving and making Dadipark more contemporary. To do so, there were plans to install modern attractions and schedule events. However, the strict urban development regulations had turned off potential investors.
In 2005, the Save the Dadipark committee was set up. Their goal was to aid in redeveloping and reopening the park. However, because the theme park was registered as a recreational area, it made attracting investors difficult.
2011: Last-Ditch Attempt To Save Dadipark
By 2011, the future of Dadipark seemed bleak.
There were already announcements and plans to demolish the park at that time. Thus, in the last-ditch attempt to save the theme park, the Dadipark Blijft group formed in 2011. However, the group’s efforts fell through. Dadipark would be demolished.
2012: Demolition Of The Amusement Park
A decade after the park shut its doors, the park started its demolition. The amusement park that had been standing tall in Dadizele before it fell into ruins was no more.
2016: Future Plans In Place For The Park
In June 2016, a few years after demolishing the abandoned amusement park, the authorities planned to make Dadipark a green recreational space. Besides greenery, there were plans to transform the site into a place for residents. There were propositions for sports such as mini-golf too. In addition, the authorities were accepting design proposals as well. The authorities also brought up concepts of a zoo and possible shops. All in all, the plan was to find a way to revitalise the place once again.
However, despite all the planning, the site remains unchanged today. It’s possible that it’s still in development.
The Loss of Dadipark
Before its demolition, many people went to visit Dadipark. Many photographers with a taste for abandoned sites visited Dadipark for the creepy images of the abandoned carousel, swings and more. Moreover, it attracted more people to visit when the demolition of the park was inevitable. People wanted to visit the site before it truly disappeared. Perhaps it was the prestige of having been to a place that would be gone in the year to come. Or maybe the curiosity of checking out what’s the deal with the abandoned amusement that had people talking.
Of course, there were also people who were convinced that the place was haunted. Reports of ghostly sightings consequently emerged. Thus, this also attracted various ghost hunters to the abandoned theme park.
Furthermore, many graffiti artists take the opportunity to make their mark on the walls of the deserted park.
After demolishing Dadipark, there was nothing left for people to see. All the attractions were taken down and no traces of the old Dadipark were left, except for the preserved trees.
While the authorities continue to make plans for the site, nothing concrete has started. It’s likely that it will take some time before the green plan begins to take root in the area.
Whatever the outcome is, it would be a while before people forget about Dadipark and for it to become a relic of the long past.