We are huge Disney fans, and every good Disney fan has heard the legend of Tivoli, the amusement park that Walt visited that, at least partially, inspired the creation of Disneyland. When we began planning our trip to Denmark, Tivoli was at the top of our list of must-sees. Read on to get tips on getting there, learn some fun facts, and find out just how much Disney was inspired by the Tivoli.
While everyone around you in Denmark is riding bikes, chances are, unless you’re staying nearby, you’ll need to drive in and park. We read about the terrible parking and driving conditions in downtown Copenhagen before we left, but decided we’d have to brave it. The funny thing is, it wasn’t that bad at all. Sure, there was more traffic there than in the rest of Denmark (mostly caused by droves of bicyclists) but compared to driving in a big city in the U.S., it was a breeze. There was ample parking in a garage right around the corner, but you will have to pay 280 DKK (about $40 US Dollars) to park there for the entire day, and it was just a quick walk around the corner to the main gate. There’s also public buses, as well as taxis, so a couple of other options as well.
Entrance into the Park is a bit like Disneyland in the early Days. Once you pay a nominal fee to enter the park, the attractions are all priced separately on a ticket system. However, if you plan on doing more than one or two attractions, then an all-day wristband is by far the best value. People 8 years and older must pay 110 DKK (about 17 American Dollars to enter the park. This includes all the shows and entertainment. The all day unlimited wristband is 230 DKK (about 36 American Dollars) and will get you on all the rides throughout the park for the day. There are many free entertainment opportunities around the park as well, but the wristband is a must if you want to get the full Tivoli experience.
MVP (My Vacation Pants) Fact:
According to our awesome Danish friend that we met on this trip, “Tivoli” is really just a generic word for amusement park, and there are several Tivolis throughout Denmark. The one in Copenhagen is, obviously, the most famous. Oh, and as for the “Gardens?” Well, that’s not really a part of the name. Apparently it has become known as Tivoli Gardens because of a confusion with the Tivoli’s Youth Guard (A.K.A. tivoligarden), a sort of marching band/boy and girl scout group that parades through the park on a regular basis.
There are a ton of food options while you’re at the Tivoli. They have everything from sit-down restaurants to carnival type street food, and everything in between. One particular area has a string of restaurants with food from several different countries around the world, not unlike a miniature version of the World Showcase at Disney’s EPCOT. We ate at an Austrian restaurant, the Biergarten, complete with Bavarian décor, music, big pretzels, and a relatively affordable menu.
MVP Tip: The Tivoli offers a refillable soda cup for sale for 65 DKK (about 10 American Dollars), which can be refilled every 15 minutes at one of two stations in the park. If you’re familiar with European dining at all, you know refills are not a thing there. So make sure to purchase one early, and get your money’s worth throughout the day.
Rides and Attractions
The Tivoli has something for everyone, from kiddie rides, to dark rides, to intense thrill rides, and everything in between. As we mentioned above, if you plan on going on the rides, the all-day wristband is by far the better value over the individual tickets.
We spent a full day at the park, and had a chance to go on almost everything, and some of our favorites more than once. Here are some of the highlights:
This was probably my favorite ride at the park. The Rollercoaster (or Rutschebanen) is one of the oldest operating rollercoasters in the world, and it’s a pretty thrilling one too.
There are three things you’ll notice immediately upon seeing The Rollercoaster:
1. The similarities to The Matterhorn at Disneyland are unmistakable. (This one came first, another clear inspiration for Disney, although the actual mountain part has had a complicated history. At one point, the mountain peaks were removed as the city of Copenhagen felt they misrepresented the geography of the country. However, they were recently restored to their former snowcapped glory.)
2. The cars are operated by brakemen. Yes, there are people whose actual job is to ride a rollercoaster all day, half-standing in the middle of the train, making sure the train doesn’t go too fast. They also pose for fun pictures during the ride.
3. The locals hop on and off the ride as it is rolling into and out of the station. No “permanecer sentados, por favor” on this ride.
-The Star Flyer:
Not only does the Star Flyer share a name with one of my favorite bands (Starflyer 59), it is a super tall, spinning swings-type ride that offers stunning views of the park and surrounding city, if you can handle the heights.
This ride is a combination flume and dark ride, with some impressive animatronics and fun effects. It centers around a huge group of troll/gnome type creatures who are in charge of caring for a giant dragon who lives deep in their mine. No spoilers, but there is a fun little surprise on this ride that made everyone in our group shout out loud.
-The Fun House:
I have wanted to visit a classic Fun House like this my whole life. I’ve seen pictures of classic fun houses at carnivals, and watched movies where characters run through them, but this was the first time I’ve gotten to experience one myself. It was awesome! The Fun House at the Tivoli had everything from moving platforms to rotating barrels, spinning floors to moving sidewalks, crazy slides to self-climbing stairs, and everything in between. This is a must visit for kids, and kids at heart.
-The Odin Express
The Odin Express is another great rollercoaster at the Tivoli. It is a steel track type, and it races through trees, spirals above the rooftops, and zips above the crowds below. It’s thrilling enough for adults, but not too scary for young thrill seekers. Oh, and they usually let you go through the track twice in a row. Another cool locals-only tip: As the ride zooms past the branches of the trees, everyone reaches out to try and touch them, like reaching for a ring on a classic carousel.
This is a high caliber, super intense, modern thrill ride. This coaster is one of the newer attractions in the park. It has a premium option, in which you can pay a little extra to wear virtual reality goggles on the ride for an enhanced experience. We opted for the regular reality version, and the three upside down flips, tight turns, and high speeds were plenty thrilling on their own.
-The Flying Suitcase-
One of the most famous figures to come out of Denmark is Hans Christian Andersen. Whether you know the name or not, you definitely know the stories he wrote. The Flying Suitcase is a world-class dark ride that takes you on a journey through many of his famous tales. Style wise, the animatronics are somewhat reminiscent of It’s a Small World, but the art and design definitely gives this ride its own style. The vehicles that you ride in are more like the ones on Peter Pan at Disneyland, and the ride actually travels up and down through multiple levels throughout the building, all with interconnecting set pieces. It’s really very impressive. MVP Tip: There is a switch on the ride vehicle that toggles the narration between Danish and English. Make sure to let the ride operator know if you need it in English, and the ride will make a lot more sense.
The Tivoli has many live shows and performances that are included with admission. When we first entered the park, the pantomime show was just beginning at the stage near the entrance. First of all, the stage itself was a thing of beauty, with intricate decorations and an amazing mechanical peacock that functioned as a kind of curtain in front of the set. Second, although we don’t understand a word of Danish, the pantomime style of performance was perfect since the broad gestures, music, dancing, and slapstick humor transcend language barriers. It was a fun show, with beautiful costumes, and felt like a uniquely European presentation.
Later some of our party watched the parade, which included the marching of the Tivoli Youth Guard. There was also a skateboard park, which seemed to be a temporary installation, with demonstrations throughout the day. (Both, once again, entertaining without needing to understand Danish.)
In other words, tons of entertainment, which just adds to the overall feel, and value, of the Tivoli.
In case you couldn’t tell, we absolutely loved our visit to the Tivoli in Copenhagen. It ranked among the top of the list of favorite attractions for many of our family members that visited there with us. It was somehow a perfect balance of big city amusement park excitement, nostalgic fun, and authentic Danish experience. If you are visiting Denmark, visiting Tivoli is a definite must-do. Check out http://www.tivoli.dk/ for more information.
Photo Log of Tivoli
Nighttime at Tivoli
* My family and I were invited as guests of Tivoli, but as always, all opinions are my own.
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