Saturday, 23 June 2007

Day 14 - Gronalund and Parken Zoo

Having survived the overnight Ferry crossing, and surprisingly having got some sleep, we arrived in Stockholm and after a short journey (you can see the park from the ferry terminal) found ourselves at Gronalund.

We were welcomed by the park staff and given a brief presentation on the history of the park. including some great pictures of Bob Marley's concert, where over 20,000 people squeezed into the park to hear him play. The park had also kindly made exclusive T-shirts for us all but as I don't wear coaster merchandise decided to not take mine.

Gronalund is a lovely little city park on one of the northern islands that make up the city of Stockholm. Although its small in size it doesn't prevent them from expanding and they squeeze the rides together very well.

Kvasten was the new ride for this trip. An inverted coaster tailored for families. I'd ridden similar in the states last year but this one was uniquely themed around a group of flying wizards and their battle with a troll (ok, if you read Harry Potter it's not that unique but until Islands of Adventure build their Harry Potter island this is unique). Kvasten is Swedish for "broomstick".

It was another glorious day but it meant shadows were cast all over the place making photography tricky.

You couldn't fault the sky though!

This is the troll at the centre of the midcourse helix. As you pass it it roars and breaths fire, so if you want the effect be sure to ride on the left.

The most famous ride at this park is the Jetline, another of Schwarzkopf's babies. This is the first drop into the tunnel.

This is the blue train, the park's historic ghost train, which is great and has been updated without losing the historic charm, I particularly liked the Marilyn Manson segment where you hear a brief clip of "Beautiful People"

You can get an idea of how cramped the park, that's the jetline in the background running around Vilda Musen and the shot tower pretty close too. Yes it's HDR again.

The park has a great fun house, which is superb for kids but a workout for us more unfit grown ups.

This is the Jacob's Ladder at the entrance to the fun house. It's seen as some sort of rite of passage for the youngsters who live here. The park have realised that it is great watching people suffer trying to climb this so conveniently put down some seating for people to watch. The only attraction themed around schadenfreude maybe?

As well as the rides the park has some nice artistic touches too but they're often hidden amongst all the steel and you have to keep your eyes open.

In Paloma, Spain there's a famous running of the bulls ritual that attracts people from all over the road. In Stockholm there's the running of the cows, portrayed by this artists impression. Looks much safer.

Vilda Musen is a fun mouse coaster that was built around the existing Jetline structure.

You get an idea of how close the two can run, it's just poor timing that I never managed to get a shot that showed it!

The amusing diving helix that makes riders looks like they've broken their necks.

Game stands go through various phases one year to the next. The last fad was the "Fool the guesser" stands, this time around it seemed to be oversized chocolates and sweets. Jeppe won this oversized Dime bar and we were a little disappointed to find that inside the box wasn't a giant bar, just a hell of a lot of normal sized bars, enough to send around the coach twice and still have some remaining.


The Swedish take on The Blue Man Group were also in the park.

Good weather means good crowds but didn't necessarily mean long queues, as we're used to back home. I attended a presentation last year where the manager of this park was quoted as saying that his job was exactly the same as a train or coach company and to move people efficiently even though in his case the start and end location was the same. A healthy attitude to have and indicative of how a park should be run.

Plenty to look at I'm sure you'll agree. :D

Fritt fall isn't the attraction where they drop chips on you but is Swedish for Free Fall. Since we were here last time they'd modified one side of the ride to tip the seats forward, hence the Tilt sign.

Unfortunately the itinerary was pretty tight here and we didn't have time to see much of Stockholm, unlike last time where we had a full day here. So here's some shots taken from the park across the water.

Stockholm is built on 14 islands and is often referred to as the "Venice of the North", which is a bit unfair as this a much nicer city and Venice should be called the "Stockholm of the South". That's a shot of the old town.

This is Kastellholmen a small citadel on a small island west of Gronalund. Nice HDR sky.

In the distance is the Katerina Church, one of the more recent large scale religious constructions on the trip. Originally built in the 1600s this was rebuilt 10 years ago following a fire. Famous Swedish people are buried in the grounds around the church such as the Chef from The Muppets, who was killed for his stereotyped portrayal of Swedish speech.

Is the smallest wheel in the world?

This is Nyckelpigan, which is Swedish for ladybird. Special mention to Odd seen here holding a 200 sign on this ride. This was actually his 201st ride, he just liked holding the sign!

This is close to the entrance of the park and I liked this as it showed the park was proud of its history. That's two of the staff on the right guarding our bags which had been stowed in the auditorium.

I had half an hour or so before the coach arrived so went for a quick walk just so I can say I didn't just go to the park. This is the entrance.

This statue is outside one of the concert halls just along the road from the park. Each of the islands has a theme and Djurgarden is the entertainment island, home to the theme park, music venues and the like. For those interested in drinking another island is home to the brewery! (thats one snippet of information I retained from the boat tour we did the last time we were here - before the classical music sent us all to sleep)

Another statue, this time outside one of the university complexes.

That in the background is the Nordic Museum, I didn't really have time to run around and take it from it's good side. But it was built in the 1880s and was supposed to be expanded for the city expo in 1897. It now holds a history of the city going back to the 1500s, which you can relive if you have a spare 500 years to catch up.

Another shot of the Nordic museum.

Some shots taken from the coach as we left the city for the next park.

This box like building is the Stockholm Royal Palace on Riddarholmen island. It has over 600 rooms and is one of the largest palaces still used for its original purpose; playing hide and seek with the Royal Family.

Having said goodbye to Stockholm we headed out to Parken Zoo, which proved to be very difficult for our coaches at it seemed to be surrounded by low bridges. But we eventually found it, our coach being first to arrive, which ended up being a good thing...

In 1970 there was a nuclear explosion in Sweden and not every one was able to run for shelter in time, such as these poor souls. Just kidding, this is just a piece of art leading up to the zoo.

Parken Zoo is situated in the city of Eskilstuna ("he murders tinned fish") west of Stockholm.

The zoo has a small theme park designed to keep the small number of thrill seekers that visit zoos happy. It's not really designed to cope with 140 ride enthusiasts. The were only running one train and at a casual pace.

We only had one hour at this park, some of which had already been eaten up by not being able to get to the park via the route given by the GPS, and there was no way everyone was going to get to ride this in the time. What made matters worse there was a second coaster to ride too, albeit a kiddy coaster.

There were only five people who managed to get on both rides within the time allotted; I was one of them so our consciences were clear. Some credit counters (people who like to ride everything) were prepared to delay the coaches to get their ride, one person wasn't even prepared to let a coach go early as "it had his medicine on it". Others tried getting their partners to hold their positions in the queue whilst they went off to ride the other coaster and caused arguments on trying to get back in line; It was all a little sad to be honest. Some people did forgo the chance to ride in order to get back to the hotel at a decent time, so hats off to them.

It was a pretty decent ride though, with some good g-forces at the bottom of the drops!

That's the other coaster, told you it was a kiddy one.

We didn't have time to do the other rides.

Old school tilt-a-whirl ride.

From Parken Zoo, we headed to the next hotel in Karlstad.

A cool looking cable car type ride that seemed to go on for miles! I would have liked to have ridden in that!

Karlstad was just a quick stopover place and didn't really have any reason to go exploring. Instead we just went to the town centre where the late opening restaurants are located for dinner. I didn't eat many burgers on the trip but the one here was really really good!

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