Nothing says summer like amusement parks. While I always enjoyed going to them as a kid, I pass on any invitation to them as an adult because I’m too scared of heights and my stomach is too weak to go on any rides. And if I’m not going on any rides, what’s the point going?
My opinion changed, however, when I was in Copenhagen, Denmark recently and persuaded to go to Tivoli Gardens. Celebrating its 170th birthday this year, Tivoli is the second oldest amusement park in the world, and truly offers something for everyone.
As you stroll through the enchanting grounds of Tivoli, you will be treated to lush greenery, colourful flowers, numerous fountains and even a few lakes, one of which has an old pirate ship in it. The atmosphere is so calm and relaxing here and the sights are so picturesque, you forget you’re in an amusement park.
You also have the pleasure of seeing buildings and theatres with a range of designs. The Nimb Palace Hotel, for example, is a massive, white structure with a distinctly Moorish look, while the open-air Pantomime Theatre has a Chinese style, including curtains with a colourful peacock tail. There is a huge Chinese pagoda on the grounds as well.
Music also plays a major role at Tivoli, as everything from live jazz to rock is performed at the band stands and the Concert Hall. The basement of the Hall houses a salt water aquarium as well.
There are plenty of benches around the park for you to just sit back and take it all in. I quite enjoyed sitting within view of a white-knuckle ride to see people’s reactions both on it, and after it. It always made me laugh when people started screaming even before the ride started.
Tivoli isn’t one of the best amusement parks out there for rides and roller coasters. It has some, but definitely not as many and as monstrous as other parks. Still, the three-loop roller coaster, swing carousel and drop tower ride are enough to elicit high-pitched screams from thrill-seekers that echo throughout the park.
In addition to these newer rides, there are a few older ones that date back many years. The Mountain roller coaster was introduced in 1914 and is one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world. The small Ferris Wheel, meanwhile, dates back to 1943.
The Ferris Wheel seemed like the least scariest ride for adults here, so after some major convincing from my friend, I agreed to go on it. Only if we did it before lunch though.
Even though I don’t like rides, this one was far too charming not to go on. The carts are in the form of multi-coloured hot air balloons, so as the ride moves, you feel like you’re actually in one as your basket is slowly lifted up into the sky. Thankfully for me, the basket didn’t go too high, but it was high enough to get a spectacular view of the entire park.
Having successfully made it through the only ride I was going to go on, I was ready to eat. Part of the experience of going to an amusement park is definitely the food. Tivoli has everything from fast food stands and cute cafes to fancy, sit-down restaurants. While gourmet cuisine and cafe sandwiches were tempting, the one food I always look forward to at amusement parks is a hot dog.
I used to think hot dogs were just popular in North America, but after spending two weeks in Scandinavia, I discovered that they’re huge here too. The one I had at Tivoli, however, was different from what I’m used to.
Instead of the hot dog being sliced down the middle, the top is cut off and a hole is bored through the middle. Ketchup and/or mustard is then squeezed into the bun, and the extra long hot dog is put in. It’s definitely a better way of eating a hot dog because it’s not as messy. The condiments are neatly enclosed inside the bun rather than dripping from the hot dog and onto you. This makes it more portable, so you can eat it while walking around Tivoli. Now if only they could create something similar for my other amusement park favourite: waffles and ice cream!