Though our bus was named "Norge", Norway was the country where we spent by far the least time during our Scandinavian trip. There was only one park to visit, Tusenfryd. Since it could be reached via a day trip from Sweden we weren't even going to stay overnight in Norway. I'd have liked to have had some more time to visit Oslo, a city that I'd enjoyed during our brief visit in 2004 (this was just a few days before the Oslo terror attack). However, conditions were not very good anyway; the forecast for that day was pretty dreary, and indeed we got quite a bit of rain while at the park, though it was fortunately not constant.
We drove to the park with no breaks. The border crossing from Sweden (and the one later that day on the way back) was very scenic. I heard lots of cameras snapping as we passed near a lake. We arrived at about opening time, and were admitted to the park quickly. Tusenfryd was the first park on the trip that didn't give us a wristband to wear.
Tusenfryd's entrance is distinctive. The entire park is built on a hill, so we had to take an escalator just to get inside. The escalator went directly through the loops of the park's newest coaster, SpeedMonster. It made for a dramatic entrance, particularly when a train went right over and then under us as we rode up.
SpeedMonster was where we went first. Its extended layout, much of it due to a long, straight section of launch track, meant that we had to walk a considerable distance just to get to the station. We chose the back seat for our first ride. It had a general dragster theme, including an engine revving noise as we were waiting to be launched, but it was soon left behind as the train sped along the track away from the speakers.
Certainly the most memorable moment of the ride was the first loop, the one wrapping around the escalator. It was configured to twist the train such that it almost didn't go upside down (there were a later full inversion though). There were also two later hills with sharp twists as the train went over their tops. One was so sharp that Janna went "ow" during the ride, but this was the only negative thing about the ride; the rest was good.
Since we had a special ride time set up on SpeedMonster for after the park closed, we didn't ride again at that time, though we otherwise almost certainly would have if not for that. Instead we began to make a wide loop around the park to sample the other attractions. The first would have been a coaster called Loopen but it was down for some reason, so we took the opportunity for our ice cream visit at the Isslottet (Ice Cream Castle) nearby. This time I got regular ice cream rather than soft serve, chocolate mint flavor. It was good, but not the best of the trip. While ordering and eating we got into a conversation with the woman serving us. She was going to be visiting Ohio later that summer, and was interested in talking with the Americans.
By the time we were done, Loopen was open. There's not much to say about this coaster. It dates from about the late 70's or early 80's and goes upside down three times, back when doing such things was fresh and new. Now it seems rough and outdated. Janna even skipped it entirely. For the rest of us, it was one and done.
Nearby was a much more interesting attraction called Nightmare, a kind of combination ride and show. It had replaced an earlier walk-through haunted house that I'd liked because the live actors within had been quite aggressive about scaring people, but Nightmare also sounded like a worthy attraction and we wanted to try it. As we approached, it began to drizzle. Shelter in the queue was limited, so we were particularly glad when we were admitted to the ride after two rather long loading cycles.
Nightmare had two stages for us to go through. First was a "preshow" where we just stood and watched a bit of film explaining the ride's story. Of course we couldn't understand the language. Even if we did, we'd have had trouble hearing the soundtrack over the intriguing sound of the ride within the next room. It kept making sounds as if a motor was revving up and slowing back down. It kept drawing my attention away from the story. From what I could determine, the villain of the ride was a female model from the early 20th century, and her photographers were her henchmen. But why she was evil I could not tell.
The ride room at least cleared up the source of the sound. It came from a rotating platform that could face in different directions while we watched 3D scenes. The noise I'd heard was the rotation of the ride. Each person's seat had a light gun which we could use to shoot at things and rack up scores, though I really didn't have any idea of what to aim for. At the end of the ride the scores were posted next to pictures of our faces, but I only realized this too late and didn't catch what my score was. I doubt I did very well. The only way I knew I'd hit anything at all was that my gun vibrated with each hit. In addition to the shooting and rotation aspects of the ride, there were a few gimmicks in the seats that led to our feeling like we were being poked in our necks and backs at various points. All in all it was an entertaining and unique ride, and we would try it again later in the day. As a bonus, it had stopped raining by the time we got out.
Being atop a hill, there is a lot of climbing involved in navigating through Tusenfryd, and we began to make our way to the upper parts of the park. About halfway up was a new-to-us ride called SpinSpider. It is a pendulum-style ride, but it looked ridiculously big. I can't recall ever having seen a bigger one. This meant that riders were swung out very high; in fact somewhat past 90 degrees. This gave us a chance to look down on the dense pine trees, actually perhaps one of my most iconic visual memories from Norway. We loved the ride and returned to it later in the day.
While riding the SpinSpider I spotted an interesting-looking attraction, the "troll path". My attention was first attracted by a troll figure made to look like it was buried beneath a pond, with only its head and hands sticking out. After our ride was over we went to investigate further. It was a kind of mild obstacle course with troll figures scattered throughout. The isolated path gave Chris and Mike a good place to sneak a smoke, as otherwise smoking was only allowed in designated areas. It also offered a great alternate vantage point to watch the SpinSpider, and some friends of ours later found wild raspberries growing there.
The troll path let us out by one of Tusenfryd's premier attractions, the Thundercoaster wood roller coaster, so that's where we went next. We could walk almost entirely through the long, heavily planted queue that wound aimlessly amidst the coaster's structure before we got to the point we had to wait.
I wound up riding Thundercoaster three times that day, twice near the front and once near the back. There were several moments of intense airtime, particularly on the second hill where the rollover was very steep. However, the turns were somewhat rough and the bumpiness in the valleys gave me a bit of a headache. Overall I found the ride to be peppier than it had been on my 2004 visit, though better in front than the back, but not easy to ride repeatedly. It was a shame because I really wanted to like it. Underneath all the pounding roughness is a good ride wanting to come out.
We were fortunate to get on our first ride when we did because shortly after we got off, the skies opened. We waited for it to abate under an awning of the shop that all riders exiting Thundercoaster have to pass through. Judging from the sound, they were still running Thundercoaster, though I suppose it could have been actual thunder (I certainly saw no lightning, though). But we had no desire to ride under those conditions. We stood there just watching the water stream down the paths. The muddy water even got into a little fountain set in a rock on one of the paths, making it run brown for a while.
Finally the rain abated (it would rain on and off throughout the day, but never again as hard as that), and we eventually continued our tour of the park. The next section we visited was a cul-de-sac with only one item of real interest to us, a water coaster called Supersplash. There was also a very impressive dragon's head cave, but it didn't seem to be associated with any kind of ride or show. I didn't go in, but was told it led to a large open room, apparently for catered events.
Supersplash's status as a coaster is somewhat questionable too. Passengers ride in a boat that goas over a minor dip on dry track, then made the big plunge into the water, followed by a final small hump out of the water and back in for the final splashdown. It was less interesting even than Vonkaputous at Linnanmäki had been. It did have a bit of lateral force on the turn at the top, an element one doesn't expect from a flume, so at least there was some minor justification to count it as a coaster. Janna, having ridden once before, decided not to ride, which allowed us to give everything to her that we wanted to keep dry. In the end it wasn't too wet anyway, just a bit of a splash in the face.
There was one other coaster at the park, but it never ran. This wasn't much of a loss anyway, as it was a kiddie coaster called "Teeny Weeny" and billed as the smallest roller coaster in the world. It is no more than an oval with one five foot tall hill that the train (with cute automobile-themed cars) makes several circuits of. It would have been embarrassing to ride it. I know, since I had done so in 2004. In fact when I rode it that time, I'd engineered it then to be the 500th coaster I'd ridden.
It was lunchtime, and we had no paid meal that day. Had we been able to get to a restaurant without getting drenched it would have been a good way to pass the time during the rain. We compared a few options, and decided to go with the park's full buffet since it was not much more than what we'd have paid to just get pizza. I think the buffet even had pizza though I didn't get it. They also had a choice that included tacos, pasta salad, a couple of casseroles, salmon, and a drink. One odd thing I noticed throughout the trip was that the Danes seemed to like marinated garlic cloves. I'd see them at several buffets. Incidentally, we noticed that the silverware was supplied by Ikea. We'd been keeping an informal Ikea count through the trip and I believe had seen three by this point. I don't remember the final tally.
After lunch we completed our climb to the highest portion of the park. The main attraction here was a vertical ride called "Japp Spaceshot" (Japp is apparently a variety of candy). The ride itself, in which riders are shot up rapidly and then bounce a few times, is fairly routine, but it certainly does offer a good view. Unfortunately, riders are only shot high enough to enjoy it for a brief time. A drop ride with a slower trip to the top might have been a better choice.
Another attraction in the area I'd been looking forward to was a flat ride called the Rollover. It was a variant of a rather common ride with the generic name Top Spin, in which riders board a long platform that can travel around in a large vertical circle while executing flips. However, Rollover, as was often the case for European rides, was more extreme. A typical "good" Top Spin ride will get about 5 flips. We counted 18 on one Rollover cycle. In addition, the platform can tilt from the horizontal to add to the fun. Unfortunately our ride in 2004 was not up to the level of 18 flips, and I had been hoping to get another chance. No such luck, the ride was gone, one of my bigger disappointments of the day.
The others rode a ride nearby called Polyp but I sat it out. It was a spinning ride, not my style, and I'd ridden such rides before. This one was unusual because the usually sour faces carved into the ride tubs had smiles painted on them.
There were several interesting occurrences on the way down from the hill that give some sense of the character of the park. First we passed an odd sculpture of a guy with a body made of pieces of fruit. This was odd enough, but two other things really highlighted the European flavor of the park. First, we ran into a group of our friends having fun next to a ground-level portion of the log flume. By "next to" I mean really next to, as in they could have slapped hands with riders if they'd wanted to. Instead, they were doing something cleverer, hiding beneath the trough until a log floated by and then popping up to scare the riders. They got some good reactions! This is a kind of fun that would be completely impossible in any American park, where any area so close to a ride would be completely restricted.
We could see another such indication of cultural differences just up the path. A restricted area was delineated simply by a sign saying that we shouldn't walk any further. There was no fence or gate at all, customers were just expected to respect the sign.
We'd run out of new attractions to ride, but at least there were several that we cared to repeat. Everything we did from that point until our ride time after the park closed was a repeat of something we'd done before: SpinSpider, ThunderCoaster, and Nightmare. The Nightmare ride was the most memorable because the ride broke down midway through. They tried to get it running again, but all they could do was return the platform to a position where we could unload and exit.
Finally our extra ride time on SpeedMonster had arrived with the park's closure to the regular public. However one member of the public managed to delay us anyway, as he'd lost some item on the ride and he and some security people spent some time looking for it while we cooled our heels in the station. Fortunately this wasn't too much of an impediment. We still managed to get four rides, and probably could have taken one more before we had to return to our coaches. SpeedMonster is a fun enough ride, but that was plenty for us.
All in all, I enjoyed Tusenfryd well enough, and certainly would have enjoyed it better given more favorable weather. However, under the best of circumstances I don't think it matches up to my favorite parks on the trip, such as Gröna Lund. However, like almost all European parks, it was very pretty and well-groomed. I remember one patch of marigolds near the SpinSpider, a bold orange color even when the skies were greay.
We had a fairly long drive to Sweden that evening with just one rest stop. At least this one had toilets and even an area to walk around in, but still no place to shop or get a snack, apart from what the bus drivers supplied. Fortunately Janna and I had packed some snack foods and had them handy, otherwise we'd have been in trouble. Even so it wasn't a very satisfying dinner.
Fortunately, the coach driver had a movie to play for us for the long drive back into Sweden. Unfortunately, it was "Music and Lyrics", which didn't appeal to many of us. Another of the coaches got to watch "Borat", which I would have liked much better! About the most interesting thing about the movie was the opening mock pop video sequence, and the fact that the washed-up artist played by Hugh Grant was said to be playing at many amusement parks I was familiar with!
Our accommodations that night and the next were great. The Gothia Towers hotel was right across from our park for the next day, Liseberg. We had a great and tantalizing view of the park from our room. This would be convenient as it would allow us to spend an entire day there without having to worry about the coaches. It was also the nicest hotel we'd stayed at on the trip. Among the many nice touches was a pair of Toblerone candy bars arranged to look like the towers of the hotel. Tired from a long day and looking forward to another one, we got to bed quickly.
This post is one in a series. For the other installments, see: