I’ve written before about Europa Park, the place I’ve been visiting throughout my life that has given me incredibly high expectations when it comes to amusement parks. It was these high expectations that kept me from ever showing much interest in the amusement park right in Copenhagen’s centre, Tivoli.
Eventually, something changed. I started seeing more photos from inside the park, and I could catch a glimpse through the fence surrounding it on my way to work every morning. When Tivoli opened for the season at the beginning of April, I was suddenly biking every day past the smell of sweet waffles in the morning and delicious burgers in the afternoon.
My senses were stimulated just enough that when I came back to Copenhagen at the end of summer, I decided to check out the park one day, just for kicks.
I went on a Wednesday when admission prices are lower than the weekend and paid for admission with no rides included.
Tivoli is not your typical amusement park. Unlike Europa Park, I don’t think a lot of people go there to ride roller coasters all day – and I don’t think you could, since you can only fit so many rides within the few city blocks that Tivoli occupies. Rather, I think a lot of locals buy a year-long pass, which pays for itself in less than three visits, and use it whenever they feel like going out for lunch, strolling through the gardens, or watching fireworks on the weekend.
I got there just after opening at 11 AM, having been accustomed to getting to Europa Park as soon as the doors open at 9. I was surprised to find the park relatively empty as I walked around it. By lunch, things started filling up. I soon discovered that Tivoli is more of an evening park – none of the shows even started until 6 PM, which is around Europa Park’s usual closing time.
Time passes a lot slower in an amusement park when you’re not queuing for rides all the time. I bided my time until the earliest pantomime show by walking around the park at least four times, making sure I passed every possible path, and enjoying the scenery in what was a lovely, sunny day.
Tivoli also has some themed sections, though they aren’t limited to Europe. The park’s biggest roller coaster is located in an Asian-themed corner that boasts some familiar sights from China, Japan, and, er, the UK, in the form of a fish and chips shop.
There was one area of the park I couldn’t keep my eyes off. On one side of the lake there is a little red building, classically Scandinavian.
After photographing it from every angle imaginable, I decided to treat myself to lunch there. It was bustling with older Danes who seemed to enjoy coming to Tivoli regularly for the food.
Having finished my incredible lunch (seriously, probably the best meal I’ve ever had in Denmark), I walked around the park another turn before parking myself on the grass to read.
When I woke up from my impromptu nap in the sun, I decided I had to at least try one ride while I was in the park.
I settled on Rutschebanen, an old wooden roller coaster from 1914, and bought the two ride tickets required. While I’m sure the ride has been renovated in the past 100 years, it is still controlled by a person sitting on the train rather than by a computer. I felt old-fashioned, if not slightly alarmed (especially after the train departed before my restaint had properly locked), sitting behind the “conducter” and going through completely dark sections of roller coaster.
By the time I got off the ride I still had over an hour before the first show of the day. I bought an ice cream and people-watched before heading out for one more tour around the park, where I stumbled on a jazz band rehearsing for their performance later that evening.
Finally, it was time for 6 o’clock show: a pantomime display at the Pantomimeteatret. The show produced a good helping of chuckles from the crowd.
Most of the park events happen around dinnertime, so I’d recommend going into the evening. Tivoli is usually open past 11 PM and even has light shows along the lake after dark.
Unfortunately, by that point I was too tuckered out to stick around. Another time!
PS: Tivoli just closed for a couple of weeks but is re-opening for Halloween on 14 October!