Tivoli Gröna Lund
“XXL fun on an XXS location”
Sweden is one of Europe’s premier amusement park destinations. The country’s total coaster count isn’t that extraordinary, but the overall quality is high and Scandinavian hospitality is a treat. Tivoli Gröna Lund is one of the country’s best parks and it’s easy to reach, as it can be found in the nation’s capital. This tiny amusement park lies on the island of Djurgården, which is dedicated to culture and entertainment. Locals as well as tourists come here to enjoy museums, concerts and coaster thrills.
Gröna Lund is everything but huge and that’s an understatement. It’s one big happy mess of intertwined roller coasters and narrow pathways. The park even features small piers and pontoons to benefit from its unique location to the fullest. Does someone remember that Roller Coaster Tycoon scenario called Micro Park? Well, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the park’s aspirant designers need to play this game during their job interview. Gröna Lund utilizes every square centimetre and they’ve put some flat rides in the attic, which enables them to use the ground floor for a souvenir shop or restaurant. Creativity is the key, amusement park awesomeness is the result.
During my visits, I noticed that one particular ride gets long queues during the day: Kvasten. That’s why we usually make this Vekoma family coaster our first priority in the morning. Kvasten’s main issue is the capacity. There’s only one train for 20 passengers, which is obviously insufficient for a ride this popular. Kvasten is a fine inverted coaster with a good layout and a smooth ride experience, so basically everyone wants to ride it. A second train would be greatly appreciated, but that’s not possible due to the lack of an extra brake section.
Kvasten is fun, but it’s not the most sensational ride in the universe. Luckily, you’ll find considerably more thrill right next door and that thrill is called Twister. At first sight, you may expect it to be a tame family coaster. Twister is only 15 metres tall and its track length of 470 metres isn’t impressive either. However, Twister turns out to be surprisingly more intense than some bigger and taller woodies. It’s a very fast ride, the airtime is intense and it contains some very forceful curves. What makes Twister even more exciting, is its cramped location and a few near misses with neighbouring rides. So don’t judge this thing on its size alone; it’s actually one of Europe’s finest wooden coasters.
In 1988, Zierer and Schwarzkopf worked together to create a masterpiece called Jetline. The result is a machine that somehow resembles those classic Schwarzkopf roller coasters on German funfairs. Thanks to its curved lift hill and the very compact layout, Jetline looks very similar to Alpina Bahn. However, the ride experience is a lot more thrilling here in Stockholm. The first drop creates a surprisingly high speed, which is maintained throughout the ride. Furthermore, Jetline is characterised by intense curves, smoothness and a ridiculously high capacity. By the way… the best moment lies just after the first brake section, where the train plunges down in a nearly vertical helix. Despite its age, Jetline remains a remarkable roller coaster.
Four of Gröna Lund’s roller coasters are tied toegether in an enormous knot of wood aan steel. This knot consists of Kvasten, Twister, Jetline and Vilda Musen. The latter is a Gerstlauer Bobsled Coaster, similar to G’Sengte Sau and Tiki Waka. They’re known as fun machines and that isn’t any different here at Gröna Lund. Vilda Musen is a coaster with some unexpected twists and forceful curves. The best thing about Vilda Musen is the fact that there are lots of near misses. This coaster was built between the Jetline structure, so there are a few close encounters with those Zierer trains.
Some things will remain a mystery forever. For example: what was Intamin thinking while designing their ZacSpin model? I never really liked the actual experience. It’s intense and it’s fun to look at, but it’s also very short and rather uncomfortable. That’s why Insane certainly isn’t my favourite ride at Gröna Lund. By the way… S&S’ newer 4D Free Spin Coasters are slightly better, but they’re still far away from being my favourites.
Gröna Lund’s newest coaster is called Monster. It was built in the southern section of the park, which was totally rebuilt to accommodate this B&M inverted coaster. Just like most other coasters at Gröna Lund, the ride’s statistics aren’t that extraordinary. Monster is 700 metres long, it features three inversions and it reaches a top speed of 90 km/h. However, the ride certainly doesn’t fail to impress. The first drop is incredibly steep, the layout is full of near-misses and Monster delivers awesome kinetic energy to this part of the park. Besides, I was also pleasantly surprised by the ride’s beautiful (underground) station. Monster may not be the most intense B&M inverted coaster on the planet, but it’s definitely a great addition to Gröna Lund’s lineup.
Gröna Lund has two medium-sized dark rides and especially Blå Tåget is worth a visit. This is a modern-day reconstruction of a good old ghost train. The attraction consists of simple scenes, but most scare effects are elaborate and the ride lasts surprisingly long. It’s definitely not a masterpiece like Disney’s Haunted Mansion, but I enjoyed Blå Tåget a lot. However, don’t confuse this dark ride with the nearby House of Nightmares. This is a horror maze with live actors, while Blå Tåget is a family-friendly experience.
THE SKY-HIGH CLUB
Gröna Lund is clearly visible from large parts of Stockholm. That’s mainly due to the park’s adoration for tower rides. Gröna Lund is the proud owner of four towers: Katapulten, Fritt Fall, Eclipse and Ikaros. Katapulten is a regular S&S Space Shot, Fritt Fall is an Intamin free fall tower and Eclipse is a 120-metre tall Star Flyer. Although it doesn’t provide the biggest thrill, Eclipse offers some amazing views over the Swedish capital and Gröna Lund. Make sure to take a look at the park’s iconic coaster knot for above. You’ll notice that there are many kilometres of coaster track on a very tiny piece of land.
Free fall towers aren’t exactly my cup of tea. Ikaros, however, looks so extremely crazy that I really want to try it. Ikaros’ main gimmick is the seat, which is tilted forward 90 degrees just before the drop. Passengers plunge down with their faces towards the ground and that sure looks terrifying. And you know what? Ikaros instantly becomes one of my favourite rides at Gröna Lund. This type of free fall towers is a lot more enjoyable than those regular versions. This seating position actually makes it feel like you’re riding a very tall B&M dive machine. And since I adore those vertical drop coasters, I automatically adore Ikaros. If this is how Icarus felt when he burned his wings to the sun, this guy’s life wasn’t that bad after all.
Space is precious at Gröna Lund. That’s why this park offers a lot of flat rides with a limited footprint. Gröna Lund features an old-fashioned flying carpet, a wave swinger and an octopus with a simply stunning location. However, the park’s most popular flat ride appears to be a break dance which is called Pop-Expressen. You will certainly recognise this attraction from funfairs, where it’s often characterised by loud music and lots of lighting. Some kind of open-air club, actually. Unfortunately, similar rides in amusement parks tend to be a lot less interesting. Ride programmes are often boring and there’s usually no show making at all. Gröna Lund proves that it’s perfectly possible to create an attractive theme park version, though. Just put the ride in a darkened building, add some disco spotlights and play a well-known pop song during every single ride. That’s how you create a great flat ride which always attracts big crowds.
Another fan favourite is Lustiga Huset. Even if you’re not into antique fun houses, you will notice that this version is big and elaborately themed. Most local visitors seem to love it and wait times are often considerable. If you’re not willing to conquer the queue, you may want to take a seat on the square right in front of this fun house. That will give some perfect views of the attraction’s moving staircase and believe me: that’s fun. Some people really have no clue about what they’re doing.
WORTH A VISIT?
I always get some kind of ecstatic feeling when I’m at Gröna Lund. Despite its ridiculously small size, this park delivers pure amusement park awesomeness. The park is impeccably clean, the location is amazing, staff members are very friendly (just like anywhere in Scandinavia) and Gröna Lund has some top notch food and beverage offerings. We had a delicious pizza for lunch and our dinner took place in an atmospheric German Biergarten. Each aspect of Gröna Lund has been refined with such intelligence that visitors truly get a world-class experience. I’m absolutely convinced that this is one of Europe’s finest amusement parks. That’s why I rank Gröna Lund higher than places like PortAventura, Alton Towers, Phantasialand and even Disneyland Paris. The recent addition of Monster has only made the park’s lineup stronger, so my love for this park did only grow. Gröna Lund, jag älskar dig.
Did you know that you need 80 Gröna Lunds to equal the surface of Disney’s Animal Kingdom? But which park deserves your preference? And what’s your favourite ride at Gröna Lund? Is this the best city theme park in Scandinavia? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.