Our next day was the first (of two) that we'd split between two parks. Both would be new to me, but both were on the smaller side, so it didn't seem like either would require all that much time. Thus it seemed to me the trip organizers were using good judgment in their allocation of time, but it did mean getting an early start. We were both a bit flustered when getting ready and packing up, and just made it to the coach on time. The general sense of disarray would continue through the day, with one particularly disastrous effect.
The first park to visit was Djurs Sommerland. It was like Fårup Sommerland in more than name, having a very similar character though not quite on the same scale, nor quite as wooded. But the overall scale and nature of the attractions were the same. I immediately liked it, though it wasn't as much of a surprise as Fårup Sommerland had been.
One of the oddities of the park was the large unisex bathroom near the entrance. Especially odd about it was that they seemed to span the entrance gate, making it look as though people could just enter or leave the park via the bathroom. I must have missed something that prevented this.
We continued on to the park's recently-introduced premier coaster, Piraten. It was a slightly new style to us, called "Mega-lite" by its manufacturer, Intamin (the same people who made Balder). It is a smaller version of their "mega" coasters, which feature classic wood-style thrills in a steel setting; they do no inversions or other outrageous gyrations. How would a shorter version of a ride featured for its height fare? We were eager to see.
I wound up riding three times. Piraten did indeed remind me of its larger brethren. The first drop was like a miniature version of the 300 foot drop on Intimidator in Kings Dominion. In fact, it was better because it lacked the unpleasant blackout G forces of the latter. The rest was a spirited, enjoyable ride. Not a world-beater, but perfect for the park.
Unfortunately, Piraten was also the scene of a momentous event for me. While getting off of one of my rides I fumbled my camcorder and dropped it on the station floor as I was getting it out of the bin. All seemed OK, but soon after I discovered a yet more serious problem. My PDA was gone! I tried looking around the area for it to see if I'd dropped it in the queue or left it in the cubbyhole at the exit, but it was to no avail. As best I could tell, it must have flown out of my pocket during a ride though I'd thought I'd kept my pockets zipped. I'd come back to the area a couple of times during the day as well as visit the park's lost and found, but it never turned up.
I'm oddly attached to my old-school PDA; I use it to take notes from which these reports--as well as my personal trip journal--are generated. Even more than the possibility of a broken camcorder, I found this loss distressing. That day I used some scattered sheets of paper for notetaking, and beyond that Janna loaned me a little notepad. Thus I was able to retain some continuity, but taking paper notes was awkward, not to mention my handwriting was difficult to read! Fortunately I'd also downloaded my notes to my computer each day, or else I'd have lost everything from the early part of the trip.
There wasn't really much more I could do and I certainly didn't want to spoil everybody else's day, so we eventually moved on to the next attraction, a water coaster called Skatteøen. It was comparable to Vonkaputous at Linnanmäki in that it had some dry track with twists to it. To my mind that made it more like a roller coaster than Tusenfryd's Supersplash, but still really only worth a single ride. I was glad that it wasn't too wet; I only got a bit of a splash in the face. In retrospect it seems a bit odd that water coasters are apparently so popular in Scandinavian countries where the climate is cool even in the summer.
In keeping with the Piraten ride, that area had a pirate theme, and there were quite a few cute touches that we noticed. There was a small kiddie flume called Piratfisken that looked well themed for a ride of its size. There was also a play area shaped like a sunken ship.
We were asked to do some media photos before we could leave the area; it was also the time that we had a group photo of the tour as well as several regional photos. I have to admit often skipping out of such pictures--when printed they're always too small to see myself anyway--but we had motivation to stay this time as this was when our lunch tickets were handed out! I did rebel just a bit as I was one of the few not wearing the tour T shirt that day. I'd already worn it earlier in the trip and wanted to have a clean shirt!
Further into the park we saw one of several large playgrounds with many sorts of attractions that one wouldn't expect to see at an American amusement park. Many were more physically engaging than most at US parks, such as large conical climbing attractions (free, unlike climbing walls in America which usually require extra money) and self-powered pedal carts. One interesting swing looked like a battering ram, and there were all sorts of other swings and slides. Janna and I even tried a trampoline for a while. There was no giant air trampoline such as there had been at Fårup Sommerland, but there were certainly plenty of more standard trampolines, with no sign of anybody to supervise. As far as I could tell, customers were responsible for their own safety.
We came upon the next coaster, Thor's Hammer. It was a small steel coaster of the "wild mouse" genre, but with a slightly more free-form layout than most mice (which typically have a series of hairpin turns before the drops). I liked the Viking theming, though I noticed that the operators wore Converse All-Star shoes beneath their Viking outfit. I enjoyed the ride itself quite a bit. It wasn't terribly thrilling, but just a lot of fun.
We next approached an African-themed area of the park, where we stopped to ride a jungle boat ride. It had a slightly unusual design, the boats (shaped like bananas) were attached in groups of two and were dispatched with a clanking noise. I get the sense that many such rides in Europe are somewhat homemade; this one certainly felt like it. The main theme of the ride seemed to be that monkeys had taken over, and were trying to do such things as fly planes or ride boats. The most impressive scene was of a giant King Kong-like ape head. There was also a fake-out waterfall. All in all it was a pretty fun, if inconsequential attraction. It was well enough insulated from the park that you could feel like you really were going somewhere.
My next goal was to ride a ride called Ørnen, a variety with the generic name Topple Tower. It was a type of ride I'd encountered once at Dollywood and been intrigued by, but it had been down all day. As a relatively rare style of ride, I hadn't had another opportunity to try one. I'd thought there was one at Fårup Sommerland, but it had turned out to be a different ride.
On a Topple Tower, riders are lifted to the top of the modest-sized tower and then rotate around it, while at the same time the tower itself dips down in various directions. Ørnen was topped with an eagle's head (in fact I believe "ørnen" means "eagle"), and it did at times look like the eagle was pecking at the ground. It was certainly an intriguing concept for a ride, but it turned out to be something of a disappointment, not very thrilling, but not particularly fun either.
We proceeded to the last coaster, a kiddie ride that we were all embarrassed to be seen on but had to wait a long time for. It happened to be Chris's 666th coaster, though, so it had some significance. The operator was very cheery and waved at us as we were on the lift.
After this we went to the Western-themed area of the park for a buffet lunch at their "saloon". We had a chance to observe some of the park's attractions and theming along the way. The log flume looked really interesting, with three drops, all from within a central mountain. But after our Liseberg flume experience, there was no way I was going to ask anybody else to try it! Something else we saw that was intriguing were some slides emerging from tunnels in a little hill. However when we went to the other end we saw they were closed up, unfortunately.
On the way to the kiddie coaster we'd also seen some other cute kids' rides. There was a "Troll Train" that we would have been embarrassed to ride though I was strangely tempted by it. There was also a pony ride with bouncing horse-shaped cars that I knew from experience would not have been comfortable, but are very popular in Europe apparently. There were also some cute pedal cars, but cutest of all was a little antique car-style ride that even had a little car wash. We did none of these attractions, but I appreciate a park that puts such clever theming touches even on their rides for the smaller set.
Our lunch at the Western saloon was a buffet, about what we'd come to expect for such meals by that point. They did also have a carving station, though I didn't take advantage of it. Their creamy potato casserole did not seem as good as that at Fårup Sommerland. Beer was not free, but we could buy it at the bar. We left enough room to get ice cream later, one of the less memorable ice creams we had on that trip.
While eating we couldn't resist playing with some magnetic toys from a bin nearby, creating whimsical animals out of various parts. Roller coaster riding must bring the kids out in us!
Back in the park we took our next ride on a heavily US-themed ride called Wild West Karusellen. It was what in the US would typically be called a "Wave Swinger", where riders sit in swinglike seats suspended from above by chains while the entire ride rotates. Wild West Karusellen had some additional features that made it more interesting than most. The double seats were unusual--most Wave Swingers have single seats--but didn't make too much of a difference. However, going backwards for half the ride was certainly more interesting. Add to that the feature of water fountains that could catch your feet if you weren't careful and it added up to a unique ride.
We more or less retraced our steps through the park to get back to the Piraten (and to see if Thor's Hammer had a short enough line to ride again, which it didn't). Along the way we came to another odd area of the park. There were vats of soapy water and wire frames with which patrons could create giant bubbles. I tried my hand at it with no real success; it was harder than it looked! There were also stilts for patrons to use here, but I didn't try these.
We managed to get one more Piraten ride, but ran out of time to ride the park's scenic train, partly because I had to (unsuccessfully) stop at lost and found to check on my PDA.
The reason we had to leave somewhat early was to visit our second park of the day, Tivoli Friheden. I really felt out of sync, perhaps still thinking about the missing PDA. First I spilled a lot of change on the floor while trying to buy a Coke from our driver, then I spilled the Coke itself. This made the floor very sticky for a while in spite of my best efforts with the Handi Wipes that had been provided in our tour bags. Perhaps the driver cleaned up overnight, as the floor seemed fine the next day.
Tivoli Friheden is the opposite of Djurs Sommerland in many ways. Rather than being in the middle of nowhere, it is right next to a residential district. For this reason, it also does not sprawl in the same way, but is concentrated in a very small space. Of the parks we visited on this trip, it was certainly the smallest. Also, though it had four coasters, none could really be considered a stand-out ride. I'm sure if it hadn't been as convenient to schedule along with the rest of the trip we wouldn't have bothered visiting. One of the most unusual aspects of the park was that the coasters were all at least partially surrounded by plastic enclosures. We guessed it was to mitigate noise from the park in the middle of the city. There certainly were houses around--in fact one homeowner was upset when our coaches parked in front of his house. But the overall effect was to give them a cheap appearance.
There was a somewhat natural order in which to take the coasters from where we entered the park, but we skipped past the first to try to get ahead of the rest of our group, who were our main competition for the rides--the park was otherwise not that crowded. This seemed to work, as we had no real problems getting on the rides quickly.
First up was a ride called Cobra. It was an inverted coaster where the train rides below the track, similar to many throughout the world but by a manufacturer I'd never encountered before. It was relatively small in dimensions, in keeping with the compact nature of its host park. Unfortunately, it didn't ride very well at all. It was rough and not at all thrilling, a real disappointment. The only thing I liked about it was the cobra-shaped train, complete with tail.
The next two coasters were not very memorable. First was the Crazy Mouse, a small coaster with spinning cars. We loaded with the heaviest people to the right in order to try to get the best spinning. It didn't begin too promisingly but I was dizzy by the end. The third coaster we rode, Dragen, was essentially a kiddie ride, about which there's not much to be said.
Finally we came to a small steel coaster called Orkanes Øje. It had a rather common compact looper layout that I didn't care for, but this one at least rode pretty well. It had the disadvantage that it loaded on a different platform from where it unloaded. Thus I had to leave my waistpack before riding, then go back to get it after I'd disembarked.
While we were in line for Orkanes Øje, a park manager came up to chat with us. Perhaps realizing that his own park wasn't too impressive, he asked us about one of the others we'd been to over the past couple of days, clearly part of the same chain. I don't remember which ride he asked us about in particular, but it was one we hadn't cared for much; we quickly changed the subject to one of the others we'd liked better!
One of the more interesting attractions at Tivoli Friheden was the Sky Tower. Such attractions have the much less appealing generic name of SCAD Tower. Riders would free fall from a height--without any restraint at all--into a net. I must confess I was a bit nervous about riding. Mike went up to investigate but found that he was a few kilograms too heavy. This didn't increase my own confidence! I never rode, but several other ACE members did.
Instead we wandered other areas of the park. We saw a lot of unusual touches, including some odd abstract mermaid fountains and a giant chess game. In a nearby outdoor theater a man dressed in a clown outfit was giving a magic show. A restaurant called "Mr. Big" was billed as "Eating the American Way". We also passed by a USA themed bumper cars ride called Stockar, but declined to ride. Instead we came to an obstacle course, but one much less elaborate than the one we'd seen at Fårup Sommerland. We wandered around it, trying a few of the obstacles. Even though it was less impressive than Fårup's, it was still something I would never expect to find at accident-averse US parks.
Coming out of the obstacle course we had a funny cultural encounter. We saw a water fountain, but simply couldn't figure out how to operate it. A Danish guy, probably too polite to laugh out loud at our problem, came over and demonstrated without words. To start the water, one had to push down on the bowl.
Tivoli Friheden had a fun house, but it was the least impressive of any we visited in Scandinavia. We missed part of it the first time we went through so we went around again, only to find that even the second time it only took us a couple of minutes to go through. The tilted room--a staple of fun houses--had a slick floor, which isn't really a good idea for a room where one can't stand up straight!
Friheden also had a ghost train-style ride, called Else's Hotel (the sign also indicated "Spøg-Else's Hotel", which I think essentially meant "Else's Haunted Hotel" or something of the sort). It commanded a long line, but in the end it was worth it. In fact I think it may have been the best thing at the park. There were several nice effects such as a knife popping up from the wall in a kitchen as if it had been thrown from behind us, and what looked like rats running through a boiler room. The one thing I didn't like was a loud air blast in my ear at the very end.
Our final ride of the day was the Pariserhjulet, or Ferris Wheel. While waiting we had fun with the animated figure of George Ferris in the queue. At the push of a button he'd address us in Danish. We had no idea what he was saying, but one part of his speech had a very herky-jerky singsong sound to it that we got a kick out of hearing again and again. The Wheel also was made to look like the gondolas--and the operator's booth--were hot air balloons, a nice theming touch though a bit inconsistent with the idea that it was one of Ferris's early wheels.
We had enough time left to get our per-park dose of ice cream. This time I deviated from my usual tendency to get soft serve and got scooped chocolate mint. By this point even really good ice cream seemed average, as was the case here.
All in all, the day offered two interesting but contrasting parks. Djurs Sommerland was larger and more spread out, while Tivoli Friheden's city location restricted it considerably. I liked Djurs pretty well, though not quite as well as Fårup Sommerland from the day before. Tivoli Friheden unfortunately suffered in comparison to either of the Sommerlands. If it had been in the US and possible to visit on a day trip, I might have enjoyed it more for its quirkiness, but in the context of this trip it was somewhat of a throwaway park. Nevertheless they were good hosts. We even got little Sky Tower pins on the coach the next day that they hadn't had a chance to give to us when we were there.
Our hotel for the night had just about the same room layout as the night before, but the rooms had no bunks this time. There was no elevator so we had to carry our bags up a flight or two of stairs, which was quite inconvenient. Another problem with the hotel that we soon discovered was that it was not very near to any place to eat. We just got ourselves some snacks from the hotel store, though they were probably overpriced. A lot of other people on the tour considered getting pizza. The poor desk clerk was put upon for a long time trying to take care of everybody who wanted help.
This post is one in a series. For the other installments, see: