Belle Isle opens 3 new attractions: sea creatures, slides, gardens


Belle Isle, Detroit’s island gem, is bursting with life as new attractions dot the park. This summer, a giant slide returns, a public garden opens and an eight-legged friend settles in the aquarium.

The popular destination was taken over as a state park by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in 2014 after Detroit went bankrupt. He is making a comeback after being overlooked as the city suffered financial difficulties.

Today, the island is thriving with upgrades and renovations. The 987 acres include a conservatory, museum, and beautiful woods and water views.

The park is open year-round from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. To access Belle Isle by car, a leisure passport is required.

From exquisite gardens and the spooky waterslide to spotting a slimy octopus, there’s plenty to do on the island.

Designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn in 1904, the aquarium is the nation’s oldest, celebrating 118 years and holding the announcement as part of the aquarium’s anniversary week.

Now, a year-old male octopus from the Pacific Northwest has made his way to the Belle Isle Aquarium.

The new Pacific Resident Giant Octopus is displayed to the public at the Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit on August 19, 2022.

The aquarium unveiled the octopus tank to the public Thursday and is the only aquarium in the state to have one, according to the Belle Isle Conservancy.

But the newly added resident to the space has yet to be named. Starting this Sunday, anyone with ideas for what to name the octopus can submit names on the aquarium’s Instagram page.

People can visit the octopus for free at the Belle Isle Aquarium, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The day after the arrival of the octopus whose name has yet to be named, a beloved monument reopened. The giant ride was reopened on Friday after being closed due to COVID-19. The children flooded the doors with enthusiasm, until they saw others descending.

The slide riders flew through the air and slammed down on the metal. The culprit: The blade was freshly waxed, according to staff members.

The children were limping after going downstairs. A crowd gathered to witness the chaos.

Few runners have managed to master the correct technique to avoid flying.

The best method is to lean forward with your arms planted firmly beside you on the pack, according to Todd Schultz, Department of Natural Resources Ranger. This keeps your solid body in place and keeps you from getting airborne.

Danai Aarons, 27, smiles as she reaches the bottom of the giant slide at Belle Isle Park in Detroit on August 19, 2022.

One rider crossed her arms across her chest and leaned forward, managing to conquer the huge ride.

However, later in the day a Facebook post said the ride would be closed for the rest of the day due to speeding.

Despite how the day ended, the kids still laughed over the weekend as a historic entertainment site was reopened that morning.

Apart from sea creatures and massive metal slides, Belle Isle is also home to wonderful nature. More than 35,000 locally grown perennials, creating 1,500 plant groupings and 15 flower beds, have been imagined in a new community garden in Belle Isle, designed by world-renowned master gardener Piet Oudolf.

Under construction since 2014 and open in 2021, Oudolf, 77, was finally able to see the finished garden for the first time on Thursday, previously prevented from doing so due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“It looks even better in person. When I said I was coming to Detroit to do a garden, I had no idea I would have to watch it being installed via FaceTime,” Oudolf said. “While I’m grateful to have been able to check it out virtually, there’s nothing like being back in Detroit to watch the pollinators dance through the flowers and see what I envisioned and designed come to life.”

Piet Oudolf, a world-renowned Dutch landscape artist, walks through the Oudolf Garden Detroit in Belle Isle Park on August 19, 2022.

After the Great Lakes reached historically high water levels and caused flooding in 2019, the garden had to be almost completely redesigned, as the site was a third under water. Now the garden is elevated and built into a beautiful landscape that slopes down to the Detroit River.

Piet Oudolf, a Dutch landscape designer, visits the Oudolf Garden Detroit at Belle Isle Park on August 19, 2022.

“The garden was built like a landscape, so when you walk through it you see that your eyes aren’t stuck in a bed, you still see the overall picture,” Oudolf said. “You feel something when you walk in and I think that’s very important.

“A garden shows a community. It doesn’t serve an entire city, but at least it serves a lot of people who are looking for something like that and they will feel connected.”

Thursday and Friday led to a whirlwind of events on the island. The two exciting days reminded us of the essence of the park: there is always an adventure waiting to happen.

Contact Liliana Webb: [email protected]


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