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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Welcome back to our Scandinavia Series for our 8th instalment so far. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed coming along with us so far and discovering lots of different cities and theme parks across Scandinavia. If you joined us in the last episode, you will know that we are currently staying in a hotel in Aarhus and after checking out Tivoli Friheden last night, we’re heading to a brand new park today. If you didn’t join us in the last instalment, Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark and is located on the east coast, meaning there are stunning views over the sea from the city. Aarhus also contains the principal industrial port of Denmark and therefore contains many harbours as well as quirky buildings and architecture.
It’s an early morning start as we’re actually heading out of Aarhus to a village known as Nimtofte. Therefore, an early-morning wake up call and a walk to the central bus station in Aarhus was necessary. It was actually particularly difficult to find the bus stop in the morning as we were some of the first people there, which led to a lot of confusion. This leads to quite a major complaint that I had for our day trip out of Aarhus to the well-known Danish amusement park, Djurs Sommerland. We were visiting Djurs Sommerland on a peak day meaning the park was open from 10:00-20:00, yet the bus service was running an off peak schedule. This meant there was only one bus running to the park in the morning, at around 09:00 and only one bus running back from the park in the afternoon at 16:00. This meant that we lost four hours of potential time that we could have had in the park, meaning that the day became a little bit of a race to get everything done as the park was pretty busy. It’s worth noting that Djurs Sommerland pretty much sits in the middle of nowhere- the bus out of Aarhus is the only public transport connection and a taxi is pretty much impossible- it might be worth considering hiring a car if you a plan a trip to the park. It’s also worth taking a look at the photo below; because there was only one bus running to and from the park, it was completely packed- and this definitely wouldn’t be considered safe in the current world we live in!
Luckily the bus connection got us to the park at just before park opening time, meaning we were lucky enough to beat the rush of crowds into the park gates. The entrance to the park itself is pretty quaint, nothing grand, just a canopy with turnstiles underneath it and hosts greeting you as you enter the park. However, it’s got to be said that I was really excited for this park and the quality of theming and atmosphere really lived up to my expectations. The park is divided into 8 themed areas, which is really substantial considering the park has only been operational since 1981 and has an area of 33 ha (82 acres). If you’re reading this in 2021, the park is now also constructing a brand new dinosaur themed area with a new rollercoaster which is set to open in 2022. If you’re planning on visiting Djurs Sommerland, it’s worth noting the season runs pretty short and is usually only from May until October, but only full-time opening during the summer. Anyway, onto the park, the first area we were discovering ahead of the crowds was Wild Asia. Wild Asia is located right at the front of the park and was a risky approach starting here in some respects, as it meant I was working from the front to the back of the park, so I really had to try and keep ahead of the incoming crowds.
It’s got to be said, I think the theming in the Wild Asia area is absolutely outstanding. Living in the UK, at a local park to me, Chessington World of Adventures, we also have a Wild Asia themed area, so this area at Djurs Sommerland had competition for sure. Wild Asia is one of the newest areas in the park, and the quality really shows. It’s home to two rollercoasters, one of which we are checking out now and the other which we will return to later. It’s also home to a few other various attractions which we will re-visit later. The quality of theming in Wild Asia is absolutely phenomenal, with tibet style flags hanging up above the pathways in addition to various theming pieces and props around the area. In my opinion, Wild Asia at Djurs Sommerland beats the competition at Chessington. Wild Asia here is also home to one of the park’s newest rollercoasters. This happens to be Europe’s fastest family suspended rollercoaster. It’s manufactured by Intamin and it’s known as DrageKongen.
I love the atmosphere which is built up as you enter the queue-line for DrageKongen. The entrance area is surrounded with various set pieces such as plant pots and massive dragon sculptures which guard the temple you are about to enter. You can see the temple behind the dragons which guard it, and it has walls detailed with complex and mystical patterns and tibet flags which hang down from the roof. The entrance sign itself is simple yet effective, with the dark red logo sitting bold in front of a yellow-golden background. To ride DrageKongen you must enter through the temple walls which surround and guard the temple itself. Once you are in the queue-line, there are various more props to look at as well as watching the coaster head up the lift hill and race around the track. As our first ride of the day, there was no queue, however we also returned to the attraction later in the day when the queue had dropped to 20-25mins after peaking at around 90mins in the late morning.
DrageKongen had to be one of the rollercoasters I was most looking forward to at Djurs Sommerland. The park is home to 7 rollercoasters in total, none of which invert, which in some respects makes it a very family-based park. However, Djurs Sommerland could be said to be home to the most thrilling rollercoasters in Denmark. Anyway, DrageKongen is an example of this as it’s very much classed as a “family coaster”, although it’s pretty thrilling. Beware that the following description contains a few spoilers about the experience. DrageKongen is manufactured by Intamin, and is very much Intamin’s rival model to Vekoma’s SFC. Once you’ve navigated the outdoor section of the queue-line, you enter the temple where DrageKongen is fast asleep. You then board onto the monster, DrageKongen, where it awakes from its 1000 year long sleep in a startled manner. Once DrageKongen has awoken, it hurtles out of the station and launches you into a series of twists and turns in the dark where flashing red strobe lights dizzy riders into a sense of disorientation. DrageKongen then ascends a 98.4ft (30.0m) lift hill before completing a huge twisted first drop into a smoke-filled pit before ascending up again into an over-banked turn. DrageKongen then completes a series of further twists, turns and airtime hills, reaching top speeds of up to 52.8 mph (85.0 km/h). Once DrageKongen has completed its course, you return to the subterranean lair where the monster falls back asleep again. This coaster was pretty awesome and one of my favourite family coasters that I’ve done- although I personally might call it a thrill coaster. It’s much better than the Vekoma inverts although not quite as smooth as there was a slight noticeable rattle to the train as it raced through the track.
After our first ride of the day on the awesome DrageKongen, it was time to exit Wild Asia, although we will be returning here a bit later. It was time for us to head over to another themed area of the park, perhaps one of the most popular, which is also located towards the front side of the park. This area is known as Piratland and is home to the most well known attraction in the park. In total, Piratland is home to 2 rollercoasters as well as a few flat rides, kids rides and a playground. Piratland also opened in 2008, and whilst the theming is nice around the area and pretty consistent on the whole, it’s not quite as high quality as in some of the more modern areas such as Wild Asia. One of my favourite theming elements in the area is the skull-rock themed water fountain you can see on the left hand side and I also love the park’s use of water with islands containing pirates, palm trees and various treasure chests and the like.
It’s still early in the morning and as you’ve probably guessed we’re heading to the park’s most well known rollercoaster, which is the park’s most thrilling attraction. This is an Intamin Megalite which is known as Piraten. It’s pretty well known by theme park enthusiasts all across Europe as a staple rollercoaster which has much more to it than it looks from first impressions. I love how Piraten stands dramatically behind the shallow lake with sand and palm tree covered islands, and the silver and brown colour scheme of the track fits the theme of the area really well. The coaster is very much nestled into the trees towards the back of the Piratland themed area, which feels like it works very well from a scenic perspective in terms of layering and use of heights to create a dramatic viewpoint.
We headed straight into the queue-line for Piraten where there was no more than a 5-10 minute wait ahead of us. The rollercoaster was operating on 2 trains and operations were pretty smooth across the board in Djurs Sommerland so queues were always moving up at a fast pace. When you enter the queue-line, you get views across the lake, over the sand covered islands and a panoramic perspective of the Piratland themed area including all the dramatically detailed buildings. In the background you can also see DrageKongen setting a picturesque skyline view as the rollercoaster train ascends to the top of the lift hill and races down the first drop. In the queue-line itself vibrant and lively music is played and there are various props and set pieces as well as animatronic characters to entertain you while you wait. You can also get awesome views, photos and videos of Piraten whizzing round the track while you wait as there are some cool perspectives from the queue-line.
Piraten is undoubtedly the most thrilling and intense rollercoaster in Djurs Sommerland. It is definitely a highlight attraction for the park but wasn’t personally one of my favourite rides of the day. Piraten is a very fast-paced, airtime-filled and thrilling rollercoaster, filled with twists, turns, airtime hills and sharp and dramatic dips and drops. Piraten has been operating since 2008 and you complete the course of the rollercoaster after ascending to a height of 101.7 ft (31.0m) at the top of the lift hill and reach top speeds of 52.8mph (85.0km/h) as you speed around the track. All in all, Piraten was a really solid, thrilling and fun rollercoaster- one that I came back to later in the day when the queues had settled for a couple of re-rides. But I must say, one of my personal highlights about Piraten is the theming, atmosphere and immersion created by the whole experience. The queue-line is nicely decorated with props and theming and lively and upbeat marauder music plays while you wait. However, the station itself is beautifully decorated and features an awesome soundtrack. An absolute highlight for me is the staff members working on the ride being dressed up in costume and acting in character, and utilising props such as swords in guest interactions.
Staying in Piratland, it was time to check out the other major and popular attraction in the themed area. This is Northern Europe’s biggest water coaster and it’s known as Skatteøen and is manufactured by Mack rides. It’s similar in layout to other water coasters, and I think it is pretty much identical to the first half of the layout of Poseidon at Europa Park. If you’ve read some of my previous articles in the series, water rides can be a bit of a hit or a miss for me, but given it was such a hot and sunny day (look at the blue skies!) I decided to give Skatteøen a go. With it still being the morning, the queue was pretty much straight on and I don’t think I came off too wet!
Skatteøen translates from Danish into English as “Treasure Island”. So that essentially encompasses the theme of the attraction. In the queue-line you pass under dramatic engraved rock work which has been carved intricately into a menacing skull design. You also pass by an abandoned shipwreck as well as lots of other theming pieces, sets and props. The queue-line also provides awesome views and photo opportunities of the splash down as the boats race into the water- but be careful not to get wet while you’re waiting! You then enter the station where you board into your boat and get ready to start your treasure hunt. The station is intricately themed and once you set sail on your adventure you pass through rock work, dramatic props and pirate-skeleton animatronics which warn you about your journey ahead. You then pass by an animatronic octopus which is tangled up in a shipwreck before setting sail on the rest of your journey to try and find the skeleton captain’s treasure before he catches you with his bony fingers. Overall a really fun and enjoyable attraction with an immersive theme and awesome set pieces and animatronic figures.
Djurs Sommerland is home to even more water attractions than just Skatteøen, including a range of other water rides and attractions as well as a water park. The park isn’t really home to any dark rides or indoor attractions which is the main thing I noticed about the structure and set up of the park. However, with being lucky enough to have lovely weather, indoor attractions weren’t needed and it makes sense for the park given it is only really open during the height of the summer months, from May to October. One of the other water attractions in the park was located in the Wild Asia themed area and it’s known as Long Cun Expedition. I didn’t ride this log flume but nonetheless it looked like a good fun water attraction with nice theming and foliage surrounding the ride.
From one water attraction to the next, we will take a look at a major water ride which is located in the park’s themed area which is known as Westernland, which has a wild west style theme. This water attraction is a family river rapids attraction which is known as Rio Grande Rafting. It’s been in operation since 1998 and each boat, which can hold up to 6 passengers, takes riders on a wild and merciless voyage past gushing waterfalls and water effects, through tunnels and past an Indian village on the way. A perfect attraction for a hot summer, or perhaps a hot Indian summer’s day!
Sticking on the Indian and Wild West theme, it was time to explore the rest of Westernland, which in my opinion is one the best detailed and most atmospheric themed areas of Djurs Sommerland. Westernland has a replica of an old Texas wild-west style town where cowboys roam the streets and children can play Indians in the playgrounds located around the area. The area is home to the Buffalo bumper cars, where you battle it out with other cowboys in a huge rodeo arena. I love the theming and atmosphere in Westernland and I also loved exploring the various themed shops and other buildings which line the streets in the old wild west town.
Westernland is also home to a really nicely themed wave-swinger style attraction which is themed with wild west style flags and emblems, wagon wheels and studded cowboy style star emblems which detail around the top mechanism of the ride. This wave swinger attraction is known as Wild West Karrusellen. As I was on a limited time schedule, unfortunately I didn’t get to ride this attraction as by this point in the day the queues were building up to pretty long and I didn’t have much spare time to give this one a go. However the reason I wanted to highlight upon this ride is because first of all you do a forwards cycle and then you stop and do a second cycle- but this time, backwards! All of this is happening while dancing water fountains splash up below you and soak riders as they fly high above the ground. I’m really annoyed that I didn’t have time to give this a go as I’ve never seen a wave swinger at a park go backwards before and it looked super fun. Perhaps I’ll have to return in 2022 for the new Dinosaur themed area so that I can explore the park fully and finally get a ride on this wave swinger!
Anyway, we were wandering towards the back of the park (Westernland is located pretty much in the middle) to head to another one of the park’s most well known rollercoasters. This rollercoaster is located in another of my favourite areas in the park, which is known as Mexicoland and is really well themed and intricately detailed. This rollercoaster is actually the longest in Denmark, but more on the rollercoaster and the rest of the themed area in a second. I just wanted to mention by this point in the day we had done a few attractions but queue times were really starting to build as it approached midday. As operations were pretty quick on the whole in the park, the queue times for the main attractions were never too long as lines moved fast. Although it is noticeable DrageKongen gets ridiculously long queues, so it’s worth heading their first. It’s also pretty necessary to download the app for queue time updates, although the park has queue boards at the entrances to main attractions.
Ok, so time to check out Mexicoland and one of the rollercoasters I was looking forward to the most in the park. This rollercoaster actually ended up being my favourite in the park and is now one of my favourite rollercoasters in Europe. It’s an Intamin family launch rollercoaster and it’s called Juvelen. Although, once again the use of “family” here is pretty loose as it’s a really thrilling coaster. We had about a 20-30 minute wait for this but it was well worth it. Juvelen is based on and themed around a hunt for an Aztec king’s jewels as you speed and swing through narrow ravines in a Mexican jungle. The theming and immersion created by this attraction is phenomenal. I love the entrance archway which has the bold lettering and the jewel placed among Aztec symbols. I love how the rock work has tangled vines upon it and is covered in moss. It creates a sense of suspense and tension as you make your way to the Aztec temple to try and find the king’s jewels. Once you’re in the queue, you make your way into the Aztec temple which has a dark and dangerous atmosphere before boarding onto Juvelen.
Once you are seated in a quad bike style seating position and are strapped in, place your hands on the handle bars and make your way into the depths of the Aztec temple. You are greeted in an unwelcoming and sinister manner by the guards of the Aztec temple and then you are addressed by the king himself who is unhappy to see you and laughs in a sinister manner. He then catapults you out of his temple where you are launched by a drive tyres into a Mexican jungle. You complete a series of twists and turns through foliage, over water and through rock work at speeds of up to 52.8 mph (85.0km/h) before entering a second drive tyre launch where you are propelled even faster through the narrow ravines of the Mexican jungle. Juvelen is seriously brilliant- it’s fast paced, it’s well themed, it’s fun and the whole family can really enjoy this thrilling experience. That’s what makes it one of my top rollercoasters in Europe and hands down the best rollercoaster in Denmark.
Anyway, from a more thrilling attraction in Mexicoland to a more family based attraction. This is another one I was really looking forward to and it’s one of the most well known attractions at Djurs Sommerland due to it’s catchy and quirky theme tune. This is an absolutely awesome addition to Mexicoland for the whole family to enjoy. It’s called Solguden and reminds me a lot of the flying jumbos. However to fit in with the theme of the the area, it’s themed to an old sun God who never sleeps. We had a pretty long wait for this as it’s extremely popular and quite low throughput but it was worth the wait for sure. Once you’ve got on board onto Solguden, if he’s in a good mood he’ll raise you high up over the park on a fantastic flight. However, if you make him angry the magic gods will get their revenge on you, and it’s a wet one! The key to this attraction is to listen to the quirky theme tune- just listen to what it tells you to do and you will avoid a soaking!
After an awesome ride on Solguden, we headed out of what was arguably one of my favourite areas of the park, Mexicoland, and into another themed area called Vikingeland. This themed area feels a bit more dated compared to some of the others but is well themed and immersive like all the other areas nonetheless. It features a playground including features such as stepping stones over water, a pirate ship and viking themed do-it-yourself drop towers for kids. It also features water bikes and canoes for the whole family to enjoy as well as a family rollercoaster. This rollercoaster is a fun family Gerstlauer bobsled rollercoaster and it’s called Thor’s Hammer. The theme is based on Thor, the Scandinavian God of war and thunder, who is the strongest of all gods and always carries his hammer. On this rollercoaster you’ll set off on a viking quest on the hunt for Thor’s hammer. It’s well themed with wooden huts, buildings and other set pieces although the theming is slightly more dated than some of the other areas. You also traverse a section of the rollercoaster over a moss covered lake which makes it even more fun and exciting.
Vikingeland is located right at the back of the park near to the water park, which was actually closed upon visiting as it was out of the summer holiday season. Therefore, we started making our way back towards the front of the park to check out everything we hadn’t done yet. Djurs Sommerland is very much a family park- pretty much all of the attractions are designed for the whole family to enjoy even though some are more thrilling and there’s lots for younger kids too. There’s also loads of playground areas dotted around the whole park for younger kids to enjoy and I believe the water park is designed more for a younger audience as well. As I said before, the theming of Djurs Sommerland is pretty amazing, but they also have picturesque garden areas too with lovely plants, trees and other foliage, as well as lakes with water features which create a really beautiful and relaxing atmosphere to the park.
Continuing to head from the back section of the park towards the front. In the middle of the park is quite an extensive themed land with a lot of rides and attractions which is more aimed at younger children. This is called Bondegårdsland and is one of the park’s newer areas themed to life on a farm yard. The area contains 11 rides in total which are mostly aimed at younger children but can certainly be enjoyed by the whole family for sure! This area has a really fun and cute theme and is detailed with lots of farm yard animals and other props. In this farm-yard themed area you will also find one of the park’s family coasters- this is called Vilde Hønsejagt. This is a Zierer Force rollercoaster which is themed to a wild chicken hunt where you sit in a train themed to a fox and race through houses and around vegetable patches as you chase the chickens and try to catch them. A good fun family coaster with nice theming however unfortunately one of the longer waits in the park and perhaps I would have rather used the time queueing for this attraction to do the wave-swinger instead or another ride.
So we’re back towards the front end of the park and we’ve decided to head back into Wild Asia as there’s a couple more exciting attractions to check out there which we haven’t discovered yet. The first of these is located near to DrageKongen in the heart of Wild Asia and it’s the newest rollercoaster addition in the park. It’s called Jungle Rally and it’s a Zierer Force family rollercoaster which is mainly designed for younger children to ride with their family. Whilst the layout of the rollercoaster itself is nothing hugely special, the theming and landscaping of this rollercoaster is really nice and makes for a really atmospheric trip on the rollercoaster. The station is beautifully detailed with Tibet style flags and as you are racing around the track and soaring through the wild jungle you also pass an abandoned truck and various dragon sculptures on your journey. A really cute and fun addition to the Wild Asia themed area which is certainly popular with the whole family and younger children!
Staying in the Wild Asia themed area, it’s time for us to go and check out the park’s brand new attraction for 2019 and the latest addition to the park. This is an Intamin Gyroswing and it’s known as Tigeren. I was a massive fan of Intamin Gyroswings already having previously tried Loke at Liseberg so I had high expectations for this attraction at Djurs Sommerland. Given this was the brand new attraction and also arguably Djurs Sommerland’s most thrilling ever investment, the queue was a bit longer for this attraction, but I don’t think we had to wait anymore than 25-35 minutes or so. And we did ride twice!
Even though Tigeren is located in the Wild Asia themed area, it is located a bit off to the side in front of an open plain of grass which provides a lot of room for spectators to sit and watch the spectacle. I love the theming and atmosphere around Tigeren. At the front of the ride there are fountains detailed with tiger heads which have water coming out of their mouths into the pool below. There’s also little waterfalls flowing down from the ride platform into a big lake which is at the front of the ride, which is filled with lily pads and creates an Asian style atmosphere.
Tigeren’s queue-line starts off outside but then takes you into an enclosed chamber with a dramatic, tense and immersive atmosphere. Lanterns hang from the ceiling and dimly light the chamber which has low ceilings and stone pillars surrounding the walls. An atmospheric Asian style soundtrack plays surrounding the ride area and throughout the queue, building tension and drama. The queue line is also filled with posters on the walls as well as giant sculptures of Tigers and other breeds of large cats. Once you reach the front of the queue, it’s as if you are trapped in a cage yet you can peer out through the gaps in the fence and watch Tigeren swing majestically from side to side. You then board onto the ride and await your skyward flight.
Tigeren has actually become the tallest and fastest ride in the entire history of Djurs Sommerland. It is arguably the most thrilling attraction they have ever installed as well. It has a top speed of 62.1 mph (100.0km/h) and reaches dizzying heights of 147.6 ft (45.0m). I’ve got to say, I preferred the theming and the atmosphere of Tigeren compared to Loke at Liseberg which made for a much better ride experience on Tigeren as a whole compared to Loke.
After a couple of goes on Tigeren, we headed around the park to explore any areas we had missed and a couple of extra re-rides on favourites such as Juvelen and Piraten. Once it was approaching 16:00 we had to head out of the park to the bus stop to take the bus back to Aarhus city centre so we could get a good nights sleep.
I have to say that on the whole Djurs Sommerland is one of my favourite parks in Denmark and also one of my favourites in Europe. With it being located pretty much in the middle of nowhere and having low annual visitor numbers, I see it as a bit of a hidden gem for Denmark and Europe. Each themed area is detailed beautifully and has a really immersive atmosphere. Furthermore, it actually has a really good selection of rides and rollercoasters including Juvelen, which I put up there as one of my favourite rollercoasters in Europe.
All in all, I cannot fault Djurs Sommerland. If you are considering visiting this park, then I strongly encourage that you do as it’s a hidden gem waiting to be discovered with awesome theming and attractions. My one point of criticism lies with public transport to and from the park, as the bus service on offer was truly horrendous in terms of timings and overcrowding. So I would like to see the park coordinate with the bus company to provide a better service as the park continues to grow.
Anyway, thanks for joining me in this episode visiting Djurs Sommerland. After a night in the hotel in Aarhus we are heading off to Billund via a direct bus, where Emma will be taking over from me in the next episode and taking you around the famous Legoland Billund. So join us next time if you’re interested to see what Denmark’s very own Legoland has to offer!