With the theme park season drawing to a close in many countries and people forced to stay home again, we thought we’d bring you a brand new article series. Expect regular updates from myself as we explore one of the most beautiful, cultural and historical regions of Europe: Scandinavia!
We’ll be taking you from Norway across to Finland, through Sweden and then down to Denmark. We’ll be providing you with detailed insights and top tips into the theme parks each of these countries has to offer. We will also be diving into which rollercoasters and attractions you aren’t going to want to miss out on. So grab a cup of coffee, a slice of cake and enjoy!
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Today we’re riding on a direct train from the city of Gothenburg to the capital city of Sweden, Stockholm. Stockholm is one of the most stunning cities in the whole of Europe and is in fact an expansive Baltic archipelago which encompasses 14 different islands and more than 50 bridges. There’s lots of accommodation options given it’s the most populated urban area of Sweden, and we stayed in an Airbnb in the heart of the city. Bags unpacked, it’s time to explore one of the most awe-inspiring capital cities of Europe.
In the photo below you can see what is known as the Gamla Stan, which is the old town of Stockholm which is home to cobbled streets and towering buildings, mostly housing shops and restaurants, which are painted in a range of different shades of reds and yellows. In the old town you can also find the Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, which is one of the narrowest streets in the whole of Europe. The narrowest point in this street is less than a metre (35 inches) therefore you really have to squeeze through sideways! We’re visiting Gröna Lund in Stockholm today, which is situated next to the world famous Abba Museum. I hope you enjoy continuing to read below and share my love for one of the most scenic, atmospheric and quirky amusement parks in Scandinavia.
Gröna Lund is the oldest Swedish amusement park and was founded by James Schultheiss in 1883. In my opinion, the location of Gröna Lund is one of the most prominent and stunning features of the amusement park, and the skyline view of the park which can be seen from central locations in the city of Stockholm is simply beautiful. The park is owned by Parks & Resorts Scandinavia, which is one of the bigger park operators in the Scandinavian regions. Gröna Lund itself is located on the seaward side of Djurgården Island, which is easily accessible from central parts of Stockholm.
So how exactly does one access Gröna Lund given that it’s located on an island? Well, even though Gröna Lund is situated on an island accessibility is one of the things you do not have to worry about. If you are staying in the capital, then Gröna Lund is accessible by a number of different options, including bus or tram. Another option is simply to walk across Djurgården Bridge and arrive at one of the park’s main entrances by foot, or alternatively on a bike. In my opinion, the most exciting and scenic route to the park is by taking the Djurgården ferry from Slussen, which provides park-goers with beautiful views of Skeppsholmen and a direct trip to the park’s sea-front entrance.
Gröna Lund receives over 1.6million visitors annually, which is actually pretty impressive for a park of such a small size. The total size of Gröna Lund is 3.8 ha (9.4 acres) but they manage to cram over 30 rides and attractions into this space, as well as entertainment venues. The park is located very centrally in the city but is also very much a broad-walk style park given it is located on an island. At the park, you can take a stroll along the broad-walk which overlooks the calm waters and you can look out onto a stunning backdrop of the city of Stockholm, as well as seeing ferries and cruise ships sail past on the crystal blue sea water.
In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the culinary offerings at Gröna Lund, or in fact of Sweden in general. Of course I knew that meatballs are a signature dish in Sweden and we did go on to have some delicious Swedish meatballs on a boat in the capital later on our trip. Also having previously stopped by Gothenburg and other Scandinavian cities, I knew that fish dishes were a big part of Scandinavian culture. Gröna Lund actually somewhat subverted expectations of what I was expecting from Scandinavian food, and in fact from theme park food in general. The food offering at Gröna Lund was very classy, somewhat up-market in a respect and all very delicious.
Gröna Lund has a variety of different restaurants on offer for park guests. This includes a restaurant offering international cuisine, a restaurant offering exciting and colourful Mexican food and an Italian restaurant, known as Kaskad. The latter is the restaurant we chose to eat in, as there is a choice between tables situated inside, or tables outside which offer stunning views overlooking the waterfront. A pizza was my personal choice, which was absolutely delicious, but not a signature Scandinavian dish in any respect at all.
The food offering at Gröna Lund is actually really vast, and the park is dotted with various different huts selling a variety of different snacks, including langos, poke bowls and crepes, such as the walnut and goats cheese one you can see in the photo below. There’s a range of more fast-food style options, but also a lot of healthier options to choose from as well, which is really nice. The park is also home to various bars, either located on the waterfront or alternatively situated near to one of the entertainment venues, where guests can go for a drink during the day or alternatively before or after one of Gröna Lund’s concerts or performances which they put on for guests regularly throughout the year.
Rides & Attractions
Interestingly, Gröna Lund is split into two different halves, with an interconnecting tunnel-bridge which links the two sections of the park together. As said above, the park is home to over 30 different rides and attractions, as well as entertainment venues. This is pretty impressive given the small size of the park itself. If you enter via the park’s main entrance, located on the footpath near to the Abba museum, you are taken to the left hand side of the park. The left hand side of the park is opened first in the morning, and the right hand side with all the main thrill rides and attractions is opened up later in the day with a staggered approach. The left hand side of the park is home to a variety of more family based attractions, including two rollercoasters; Nyckelpigan and Tuff-Tuff Tåget. It’s also home to a variety of shops, restaurants and bars as well as an open-air dance floor and small stage.
Once you’ve crossed over the connecting bridge linking the two sides of the park, you’re taken to the heart and soul of the park’s atmosphere where the majority of the rides & attractions are situated. After crossing over the tunnel-bridge, the view you get scoping across the rest of the park is pretty awesome. In the foreground, you can see a centrally located fountain, as well as lots of different plantings and foliage, surrounded by benches for guests to sit and relax on. In the background, you can see a series of rides towering up above the rest of the park, including the Vilda Musen, Eclipse and Insane.
Once you’ve stepped out of the tunnel-bridge, if you immediately turn to the left you will be greeted with a view of a ride looming high in the sky above you. This is known as Fritt Fall Tilt. It isn’t one of the park’s signature attractions, however it’s still one of the most impressive in size and intimidation. It’s a 262 feet (80m) free fall tower, which was manufactured by Intamin and opened in 1998. In 2004, the “tilt” function was added, meaning riders can choose between sitting upright, or tilting forwards when you reach the top and dropping down, which provides an additional layer of intensity to guests.
The other major ride which immediately stands out to guests as you enter the park is the park’s Funtime Giant Wave Swinger known as Eclipse. I think this is probably the tallest star-flyer that I have personally ever been on, and one of the most impressive with impressive views over the city of Stockholm. Eclipse seats 24 riders at a time and is quite a low throughput attraction. Therefore, it’s probably one of the attractions worth hitting up first if you’re visiting on a busy day in the season. This star flyer stands at a staggering 400.0 feet tall (121.9m) and the feeling of gliding through the air whilst only being held up by a few chains is pretty terrifying.
If you head around the corner from Eclipse you’ll see the entrance to one of the park’s main rollercoasters. This is a Vekoma Suspended Family coaster with a fun layout. It’s known as Kvasten and is themed to taking a ride on a witches’ broomstick. We loved the theme of this coaster and the station building was nicely themed too. The rollercoaster itself was a good, fun family coaster with a smooth gliding layout, which made it very enjoyable. Unfortunately only one train ops on Vekoma SFCs are a bit of a pain though and can make for a slow moving queue.
Riders soar on the witches broom up and above guests walking through the park. The red track blends in well with the white supports and some of the supports are surrounded by theming in the way of haunted style twisted trees and rock work. Kvasten also glides right past the House of Nightmares, which is a ghost house for those aged 11+, where you enter Dr. Morphio’s cursed villa. Inside you will encounter the worst of your nightmares and various different horrors. We didn’t do this one, as it is an up-charge from the unlimited wristband, however it certainly looked very spooky.
Around the corner and intertwined with Kvasten is the Flygande Mattan, which translates to “The Flying Carpet” in English. This thrill ride is designed to give riders butterflies in their stomach as the flying carpet swings around the temple. It was manufactured by Zierer and has been in the park since 1983. I have particularly chosen this flat ride to focus on as I love the lighting design on it. It looks particularly vibrant as the sun starts to set in the background.
Gröna Lund is also home to a couple of dark ride style attractions. The first of these is a ghost train which is known as Blå Tåget. This is one of Gröna Lund’s most loved attractions, as it dates all the way back to 1935. In 2011 it was refurbished to offer an entirely new experience but to keep the old classic design and theme from almost 100 years ago now. That’s one of the things I love so much about some of the Scandinavian parks- the history and culture in some of the Scandinavian park’s main attractions creates a really heart-warming atmosphere.
Moving across round to the “main street” area of the park, which we will touch more on the atmosphere and theming here a bit later in the report. When you’re walking down the main street section of the park, if you look up you will see a tangle of track-work and a mish-mash of different attractions all toppling over one another. These include the beautiful Schwarzkopf rollercoaster known as Jetline, which has a lovely teal and blue colour scheme and a really smooth, enjoyable and snappy layout. In the foreground of the photo you can also see the Gerstlauer Bobsled coaster with a custom layout, which is known as Vilda Musen. This has been operating since 2003 and features a very snappy and thrilling layout for the whole family to enjoy, with the yellow and teal colour scheme blending in well with Jetline. Vilda Musen also features a ridiculously narrow cattlepen queue line, which is very hard to fit through! In the photo below you may also be able to spot Eclipse, which we have already touched on as well as Insane and Ikaros… which we will go into more detail about shortly.
Out of the main street and onto the park’s broad-walk overlooking the water front. Along the broad-walk are street lamps which illuminate the wooden walkways in the darkness as well as various benches for guests to sit down, have a picnic and enjoy the magnificent views over the shimmering waters and into the beautiful city of Stockholm. Heading down the broad-walk will also take you to the entrance of one of the park’s signature rollercoasters…
That’s right. Its called Twister and I’d go out there and say it’s potentially one of the most talked about rollercoasters in the park. I love how the entrance to this rollercoaster incorporates the vintage broad-walk theme and really creates a seaside style atmosphere. I especially love the signage over the main entrance, with the huge letters which illuminate in the darkness. In the queue line for Twister they also pay tribute to other famous rollercoasters around Europe, which was cool to see.
Twister is actually the work of Gravitykraft Corporation and was designed by Gravity Group LLC. Having not done many, if any, Gravity Group rollercoasters before, I was very interested to see how this would ride. Similarly to Thundercoaster at Tusenfryd, which I personally rated very poorly, Twister also has the Timberliner trains. However, they are nowhere near as uncomfortable on Twister as they are on Thundercoaster. In fact, I actually found Twister to be pretty enjoyable and had several re-rides. The layout was pretty quirky and unique and riders are provided with several pops of ejector airtime around the track. It’s fast paced, it’s compact and it’s fun. No complaints really.
What I also love about the setting and location at Gröna Lund is the way the park has utilised its location next to the water and integrated it so that several of the attractions actually overlook or pass over the water itself. Not only does Twister overlook the waterfront as you race down the first drop, they also have a couple of flat rides which actually lift you up and dangle you over the waters edge. Another of the attractions on the broad-walk at the park is known as Bläckfisken. This is a Schwarzkopf Polyp which bounces up and down as it spins you and lifts you up over the water. A fun ride, with the location being the best thing about it.
The park also have another flat ride attraction located on the broad-walk which is simply a Zierer chair swing but the location and detailing of the artwork on the ride make it look simply stunning. This is probably one of my favourite photos I’ve taken. I love seeing this attraction, which is known specifically as Kättingflygaren, swinging riders out over the waterfront as the sunsets with the impressive and layered backdrop of the buildings of Stockholm. One of my favourite attractions in the park simply due to its location and one of the best spots in the park for a photo opportunity.
Gröna Lund doesn’t stop there. There’s an even wider variety of attractions for visitors on offer. A signature image for some people of Gröna Lund is the fun house at the park, as this is known as one of the best funhouses from amusement parks and theme parks from across the world. The funhouse is known as Lustiga Huset and dates back all the way to 1917, although it was renovated in 1987. The original design of this funhouse provided inspiration for many other funhouses around the world. One of the signature elements is the moving staircase at the the entrance to the funhouse. Guests can try and take on an arguably dangerous giant moving staircase. Or if you’re less brave, like myself, you can opt for a normal staircase up the centre.
In the centre of the right hand side of the park is also another one of the park’s signature dark rides, which is known as Pop Expressen. This is a genuine Huss breakdance and although it operates on a less powerful cycle than the fairground models, the party atmosphere on this attraction is truly awesome. Your favourite tunes will play as you spin around a party room dressed with disco balls, flashing lights and laser effects. An awesome ride which showcases the party atmosphere of Gröna Lund in itself!
The other of the park’s main dark rides is called Kärlekstunneln. In English this is translated to “The Tunnel Of Love” and is the park’s signature dark ride, which has been operating since 1936 although subsequently renovated in 1987. It takes you on a heartwarming trip through a magical fairytale world with little twinkling lights. It was even built by Gröna Lund themselves.
So, even though we already talked about one of the park’s drop towers… the park actually has another two. The first of which you can see on the right is a S&S Shot n Drop Tower standing at 180 ft (55m). The drop tower you can see on the left you may well have heard of and seen before. It’s potentially my favourite ride in Gröna Lund and it’s a Skyjump manufactured by Intamin- known as Ikaros. Ikaros is probably one of my favourite drop towers of all time. It stands at a staggering 311 feet (95m) and elevates you slowly high above the city of Stockholm, providing incredible views. But when you reach the top, there’s a twist. All of a sudden the car tips forward 90 degrees and you find yourself facing down to the ground from a ridiculous height in the air. This attraction really isn’t for those scared of heights as you then plummet down the tower horizontally the whole way, before your chair swings back into an upright position as you hit the breaks. Ikaros is one of my all-time favourite drop towers and the sensations of weightlessness and the feeling of falling down face first is truly terrifying and also breathtaking.
The final attraction which is really worth talking about is located towards the back of the park. It’s an Intamin Zacspin which is known as Insane. I’ve got to say I actually love the colour scheme of this rollercoaster and its compact nature of the attraction but also its high elevation mean its a perfect fit for a small park like Gröna Lund. The ride experience itself.. well it’s pretty brutal and uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the most thrilling attractions at Gröna Lund but prepare to hold on tight as you stomach lurches as you drop down the track whilst your cars swings from side to side and flips you upside down. One of the most insane rollercoasters I have ever been on, however also one of the most uncomfortable contraptions.
Similarly to Liseberg, which we looked at last time, Gröna Lund is a park which is also extremely well known for the extra entertainment it provides to its guests. With Gröna Lund being an amusement park, not a theme park, it operates an entry fee and then a token/wristband system. Therefore the park really does rely on additional forms of entertainment and thus extra guests for the additional income boost. In the photo below you can see what I like to call the park’s “main street”. I love the modern American style design work, the neon lighting and the American drive-in style vibes you get from the theming and the atmosphere. I love the hustle and bustle of the main street and the lively atmosphere is part of what makes Gröna Lund such a quirky and unique park. I also absolutely love how everything is on top of one another, and the way Gröna Lund works with layers is truly outstanding.
If you read our last article where we visited Liseberg, you will have heard all about the somewhat Swedish obsession with tombolas and game stalls. Whilst tombolas aren’t such a big part of Gröna Lund compared to Liseberg, they certainly are a feature of the park. Around various parts of the park, including down the main street, guests are offered the chance to win giant prizes, such as the giant Marabou chocolate bars you can see in the picture below. Pick a number, spin the wheel and if it lands on you then you win the prize! It’s got to be said though that we saw far fewer people walking around with winnings at Gröna Lund compared to Liseberg.
The entertainment offering in Gröna Lund doesn’t stop at the abundance of game stalls dotted around the park. Gröna Lund also has various different characters, most of which are on stilts, which roam the park, wave and provide photo opportunities with guests. The roaming characters always have a smile on their face and love guests stopping and taking photos with them. They really add to the quirky, fun and unique atmosphere that Gröna Lund offers!
So, onto the main form of entertainment then which takes place at Gröna Lund: live music. We already discussed earlier in the article that Gröna Lund has a small stage with an open-air dance floor. However, there’s also the main stage, known as Stora Scenen, which is home to Grönan Live; where pop and rock concerts take place. On this stage various major names have performed to thousands and thousands of people, notably the Pixies, Blink 182, Macklemore, Tove Lo, Elton John and many more, When we visited the park, the Hellacopters were playing for the night and this was at no extra cost to the admission price, which was awesome. The largest ever crowd Gröna Lund has welcomed at one of its concerts was a show performed by Bob Marley, where he attracted 32,000 partygoers in 1980. I would love to go back one day and see the likes of Bastille perform in such an awesome atmosphere at the park.
In short, I would really recommend a visit to Gröna Lund for anyone who is looking to get out to Stockholm when it becomes possible again, especially if you are looking to combine your day in the park with one of their awesome live events. The park has a really quirky, upbeat and lively atmosphere and is done up with vibrant lighting which creates a different atmosphere in the night compared to the day. There’s an awesome selection of rides and attractions, notably Jetline, Twister and Ikaros and there’s a wide selection of really good quality food and snacks on offer to guests. The park also has the perfect location, as it’s located in the heart of Stockholm but also on an island which creates the perfect broad-walk atmosphere with beautiful views over the water and into the depths of the landscape of the city of Stockholm.
Thanks for joining me today for part 5 of my Scandinavian Series. In part 6 next time we will be taking a train and a bus to a far more rural area of Sweden for a day trip out of Stockholm, where we will be discovering the breathtaking Kolmården Wildlife Park. If you like our content and are looking to support our website, consider shopping on Shop Coaster Kings, or Shop Coaster Kings Europe this holiday season!