Sweden 06/16 – Gröna Lund
It’s a long drive from Gothenburg to Kolmården and it felt all the longer when what we called ‘the main road to Stockholm’ became single track lanes through dense forests. With no confirmation either way from the park about whether they had fixed the issues with thier new ride yet, we were continuing the trend of the trip and taking it easy, 50:50 on whether we might just be wasting our time at this point.
As we approached the particularly beautiful and scenic part of the country that houses a hidden zoo and RMC, we saw several signs which seemed to indicate there had been either low level protests or strong showings of support to the construction of the ride. Hay bales and paint on trees spelled out the name. This amused us.
What didn’t amuse us, after finally reaching the car park, paying for parking and walking to the entrance was hearing the staff break the bad news – Wildfire was not open yet and wouldn’t be for another week. As we now knew we would HAVE to come back another time, the obvious choice was to walk away, not use the pre-paid tickets already ordered online, get back in the car and drive to Stockholm to buy some cheese.
I’m certainly no stranger to spite in this hobby, but this was by far the biggest blow I had ever experienced. Don’t get me wrong, I was having a great time on this fantastic trip, but my primary goal of the whole week was to ride this thing and it didn’t happen. What hurt a little more was the conviction with which the park had advertised the opening of the ride and unusually for me (I rarely care about anything before it’s built) I had been hanging on their every word. During construction, Wildfire had a massively detailed documentary series put out by Kolmården every few days showing every step of the build. They released cinematic trailers of grizzly men battling hard against all odds to piece the wood together, covered in sweat, mud and rain. Fires raging through forests – Wildfire… is… free…
One particular video that stood out was the park manager himself declaring ‘I’ve just walked the track of the completed ride and it WILL open on the 18th June. Steal a car, buy a boat, hire a plane – do what you MUST to come and ride the greatest wooden rollercoaster in the world.’ This quickly became a great source of parody for us as we had done exactly that, and it was closed.
Day 5 – Gröna Lund
We dropped the car off in the centre of Stockholm the following morning, at the smallest hire premises imaginable. They had a single space outside in which to park and no one was making it easy for me – road works on all sides, two men carrying a pane of glass like a comedy sketch and cyclists getting angry at me merely for existing.
From there it was a short tram ride to the final park of the trip.
I started off the day really happy. All these coasters crammed together into such a tight space – it’s ride interaction heaven here, right up my street. Sweden have it so good. Or do they?
I loved the look of this ride, a classic Schwarzkopf diving in and out of the tracks of 3 other creds. Riding its big brother Lisebergbanan on the same trip made it seem rather underwhelming on the whole though. Moments that look strong from offride only do so from certain angles – you get up close and it all feels a bit tamed down. It was fun, but nothing special.
As was my first Gravity woodie. The restraints were slightly off on this, coming in almost over the chest meaning what airtime it had was mostly eliminated by having to brace my rib cage. Whether it’s the wheels or the steel supports, having to queue inside such a tight structure is loud to the point of obnoxiousness and it also gave me a headache both on and offride.
The positives – I really do admire how long this ride feels to go on for, given the size. With less than 50ft of drop to begin with it just keeps on finding things to do. It also has an exhibition of other wooden coasters from around the world throughout the queueline. If you could shut the noise out, recognising and reading about these was great fun.
The Gerstlauer bobsled is another of the intertwiners here, though my time on it never seemed to capitalise on any exciting interaction. As a model they have their odd moment of success, but most of the way it’s a glorified wild mouse.
No more than a few weeks prior, I had ridden the brand new installation of this same Vekoma SFC layout at Paultons Park. Being older and seemingly not that well looked after, this version paled in comparison.
Even if Twister hadn’t given me a headache, this abomination would have. The Intamin zacspin is an evil invention, the seats can flip freely as the cars negotiate the horribly lurchy layout. Pitching head over heels and being dropped onto your brain in sudden bursts of random force is unpleasant at best, damaging at worst.
I dread the fact that more of these exist and that I need the creds.
Talking of creds, there were two more baby ones to tick off. Nyckelpigan – a small Zierer Tivoli with a fun name to say and Tuff-Tuff Tåget – a Zamperla that barely qualifies as a coaster. If you’re at all worried about the embarassment of riding children’s rides as an adult, it’s tough tough to get. Yeah, that one’s fun to say too.
Blå Tåget is a traditional ghost train with some bonus modern features in the refurbished cars. I can appreciate that it was a good example of the genre, but the ride hasn’t left a lasting impression on me.
Gröna Lund has almost as many towers as it does coasters. We did both of these. Fritt Fall on the left is a huge Intamin drop tower that packed a massive punch over a long period of time – one of the best of its kind.
Eclipse on the right is an even huger Wave Swinger, once the tallest in the world. If chairoplanes don’t scare you any more, getting on a 400ft version just might. I wasn’t nervous until I looked up and considered how thin the chains look. It sure is windy up there, buffeting all over the place.
I was a little disappointed with the park on the whole. That initial buzz of excitement I had was soon washed away in a sea of middling rides and noisy guests. It didn’t have the charm of the rest of the country – something just didn’t click with me and there’s nothing outstanding enough to make me want to return for another attempt.
As it was only ever getting busier and louder as the day wore on, with a concert being set up for the evening, we didn’t feel like queueing longer for anything again so headed out a little earlier than anticipated for some food and a relaxed train to the airport.