De Waarbeek: Home of the World’s Oldest Steel Coaster

Alexander: Ok guys, who here has heard of De Waarbeek?

*crickets*

No worries, peeps! De Waarbeek isn’t one I’ve heard of much of either, but boy were we in for a treat when we decided to fit this little park into our itinerary.


– Over the years, many of our images have popped up on other sites and forums, awesome that our coverage spreads, not so awesome that not everyone mentioned where they got the images from. We are totally fine with our audience using our images, BUT ONLY IF credit is given to californiacoasterkings.com. Thank you!


De Waarbeek is a charming, quintessentially European kiddie park with a very special designation: It’s home to the world’s oldest steel roller coaster!

Rodelbaan was built by De Waarbeek’s original owners in 1930. It was made from retired tram rails that were shaped into roller coaster track by hand. 

At their peak, the custom coaster vehicles max out at about 12ft off the ground. The lift hill carries guests up and over the small building that houses De Waarbeek’s main entrance.

De Waarbeek is a simple, charming place. Kids have free run and make their own rules. 

Left to their own devices, the children pursue a myriad of entertaining hijinks.

Anything goes, here. It is Europe, after all.

While we waited for our first ride on Rodelbaan, we pondered the world’s population of vintage steel coasters.

Arrow Development and Walt Disney are credited with the creation of the modern steel coaster, but what about the world’s handful of pre-Matterhorn Bobsled steel coasters?

There’s Wild Chipmunk at Lakeside,  a couple flat-railed “jet coasters” in Japan, five Herschel Little Dippers, and Rodelbaan. That’s it. 

Of the 8 pre-1959 steel coasters left, Rodelbaan predates the next oldest steel coaster (Conneaut Lake Park’s Little Dipper) by exactly 20 years. 

Because De Waarbeek is an “anything goes” kinda place, I decided to maximize our first ride by filming with one hand and photographing with the other. 

Remarkably, I didn’t drop any of the $700+ worth of electronics during my ride. 

Rodelbaan gives an excellent ride. Smooth, swift, and well-paced.

The little coaster encircles a portion of the park; various pathways above and below the ride offer great views (and some narrow clearances).

There’s even a water feature! 😉

Back to the station!

The park guests and staff were entertained by how excited we were about Rodelbaan.

Once we finished our initial fangirling over Rodelbaan, we continued into the rest of DeWaarbeek.

De Waarbeek has a wonderful collection of kiddie attractions.

And a few animals, too! 😉

There’s also some larger flat rides that are great for parents and kids to enjoy together. 

*GASP* do you see what I see?!

It’s a rare Schwarzkopf 4×4 Calypso! What an amazing find! 

There’s also a unique, circular flat ride that looks a little bit like a cross between a Whip and a Tilt-A-Whirl, where passengers can swing themselves around using a large rope.

Another classic: a Chance Trabant with its original flower motif. 

Hey Disneyland Paris! De Waarbeek still has their bucket-themed kiddie Ferris Wheel!

These kids have it so good  – little do they know they’re riding a very important piece of history! 

Perhaps the most thrilling of De Waarbeek’s rides is their custom Nautic-Jet ride. 

Like the ubiquitous Butterfly coasters found throughout Europe, a ride on the Nautic-Jet starts with a slow reverse climb up the back spike. 

After a thrilling dive back down to earth, your ride climaxes with a leap into a body of water – in this case, DeWaarbeek’s natural pond. 

Butterflies and Nautic-Jets are user-operated: once a passenger is seated, the person behind them in line closes the entry gate. The rider then dispatches themselves by pulling a rope that dangles above the station. De Waarbeek’s hang glider zip lines work in a similar fashion.

De Waarbeek’s impressive collection of self-operated rides and recreational  equipment bridges their status somewhere between “small amusement park” and “giant playground”,

Rodelbaan is the only coaster here, but I can’t blame the park for stopping at perfection. 

I will say that this park seems like a good candidate for something along the lines of an SBF-Visa Spinner. 

#tallpeopleproblems

Onride photo!

Have a look at De Waarbeek’s little skating rink. Rodelbaan‘s first turnaround is right above us!

Part of De Waarbeek’s entertainment empire includes an elaborate pancake restaurant with additional kiddie diversions.

Here’s a child with a large wall. Maybe he’s German?

Here’s the view of the park from the dining room.

I can’t get enough of this gnome eating a pancake by candlelight inside of his tree. 

This place just keeps going! A large indoor/outdoor playplace can be found behind the pancake house. 

Sitting on a floating terrace eating pancakes and watching rides seems like a nice way to kill a few hours.

Heading back towards the entrance, we were flagged down by one of the park associates; management found out we were here and wanted to meet with us!

The manager of De Waarbeek, Michael, gave us a private tour of the park!

He took us to the engine room, where power is provided for the miniature train, Rodelbaan, and other rides. 

Look! It’s De Waarbeek’s brain!

Next Michael took us into the machine/maintenance shop!

So many little treasures!

Here’s where the magic happens!

Nerd shot: A light board for one of the rides!

Bumper car!

Recently replaced are the seats on the park’s vintage chairswing; the old ones are now here. 

Next Michael took us for a visit under the Trabant!

NERDTASTIC.

Look! A detailed schematic of the park! So much detail!

The cherry on top: the biggest surprise of our surprisingly wonderful visit to De Waarbeek was a WHEEL FROM RODELBAAN!

That’s a wrap! Bye-bye Rodelbaan! You are an amazing piece of history!


Thank you De Waarbeek for your amazing hospitality! Your park is a real gem and we look forward to many future visits!

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