NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
Scandinavia… oh, I love Scandinavia. This northern part of Europe is great because of its breathtaking nature, its picturesque cities and the friendly people living here. I have to admit that such a trip to Scandinavia is surprisingly expensive and local weather is even less predictable than here in Belgium, but hey… who cares? Since I realized that it’s been one and a half years since my last visit, it was definitely time to go back in 2017. And just like last time, we choose Denmark as our destination. However, the circumstances of both trips couldn’t have been more different. In 2015, we visited Copenhagen during the Christmas holidays. It was bitter cold and it got dark at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. During our trip in 2017, Scandinavian days seem to last forever. It’s early July, summer holidays have just started and we’ve planned a visit to three popular Danish amusement parks. And the first park on our agenda is… Fårup Sommerland.
Fårup Sommerland lies in the northern part of Denmark, just 35 kilometers from our hotel in the center of Aalborg. If you search for this city on a map, it may seem a little remote. However, thanks to a direct flight connection between Aalborg and Amsterdam, we got here pretty easily. Aalborg certainly isn’t the most exciting city on Earth, but there’s one big benefit: rush hour just doesn’t exist here. Traffic jams? Never heard of. That’s good news because we rented a car and it can be nerve-racking to navigate a new city sometimes. But luckily, that’s not the case over here.
After we’ve had our breakfast (Danish pastry… yum), it only takes 30 minutes to get from Aalborg to Fårup Sommerland. During our drive, we notice that this park literally lies in the middle of nowhere. That may be a good thing: great parks like Alton Towers and Nigloland can be found on remote locations as well. At our arrival, Fårup Sommerland immediately shows us that it’s different from most other theme parks. Since the admission gates lie in front of the parking area, we actually enter the park with our rental car. That’s unusual, but it’s also pretty handy if you like to drop your jackets during the day or if you want to get the picknick you brought. Another advantage of this unique parking location: we get to park our vehicle right next to some beautiful coaster tracks. And that certainly adds to the excitement.
The square at the gate looks pleasant on this sunny morning, but it’s nothing like ‘Main Street USA’ or whatsoever. Instead, after entering the park, we immediately get this simple choice: left or right? We choose the path on the left and that brings us at this trip’s first coaster credit: Pindsvinet. Please don’t expect a huge thrill while riding this coaster, because this kiddie ride is very small and also kind of rough. Luckily, there is absolutely no queue during the morning and the hedgehog on the lead car is too cute to hate.
On to more spectacular roller coasters. Just behind the corner, we encounter a wooden coaster and the photogenic Orkanen. Just everything about this family inverted coaster is stunning. Clear blue tracks are shining in the morning sun, the station was designed beautifully and the recently opened ‘Fårup Hotel’ is an amazing backdrop. The ride itself is convincing as well: especially ‘Orkanen’s first drop, the underwater tunnel and the following turnaround are surprisingly fun and intense. Besides, this coaster is fast and incredibly smooth. The only negative aspect of ‘Orkanen’ is its limited capacity. Due to the lack of a brake section, it can only run one single train. That’s no big problem on this day with average crowds, but I can imagine long queues during the busier times of year.
Next up is the neighbouring wooden coaster Falken, which reminds us of ‘Orkanen’ when it comes to operations. This ride is running one train as well and there is one single staff member at the platform. Therefore, the line moves pretty slowly, but we hope that ‘Falken’ will provide as much fun as the Vekoma we’ve just ridden. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Don’t get me wrong: ‘Falken’ features some good drops and it caters to the airtime lovers, but the turns are just way too rough. The final helix is particularly shaky and this painful curve takes away every sense of joy. I’m kind of surprised by the unpleasant ride experience, as this is actually a relatively medium sized wooden roller coaster. ‘Falken’ is a beautiful coaster to look at, but one single ride is more than enough for me.
Water plays an important role in Fårup Sommerland. Next to ‘Orkanen’ and ‘Falken’, you’ll find a small scale water park which is included in the admission price. Due to a chilly breeze, this area isn’t particularly busy today. But it’s never too cold to hop onto a boat, right? And what a coincidence… there are many different ways to float your boat here at Fårup Sommerland. Whether you like a canoe, a small motor boat, a rowing boat or a pedalo… they’ve got it all. These are the things which give Scandinavian amusement parks a very unique atmosphere. The Danish don’t necessarily ask for the most thrilling, record breaking rides. Instead, they just want a day of fun for the entire family.
We encounter even more water-based fun at Fårup Rafting and Træstammerne, a rapid river and a classic log flume respectively. These aren’t particularly tall or unique, but both rides are fairly long and they have been nicely integrated in the natural environment. ‘Fårup Rafting’ can hardly be seen from the pathways, which certainly adds to the excitement once on board. Although decoration has been limited to an absolute minimum, this is a very solid attraction. The fact that we exit this raft ride almost entirely dry seems a good thing with temperatures around 20°C. Unfortunately, the log flume gets us soaked anyway. ‘Træstammerne’ offers three drops and the second, smallest splashdown happens to be very wet. So please skip this one if you’re afraid of water. Due to the lack of theming, this ride is kind of uninteresting anyway.
Opposite to the log flume, we enter the small building of 4D Biograf. The era of 3D cinema experiences with wind and water effects is definitely over. Most standard movie theaters offer the same possibilities, so I usually skip this kind of entertainment in amusement parks. Still there is one reason to enter Fårup Sommerland’s version: the fact that we can see a movie about Europa-Park here. MackMedia sold its motion picture ‘The Secret of Balthasar Castle’ to this Danish park and that’s why Euromaus, ‘Eurosat’ and ‘Silver Star’ can be seen in it. That’s in a way bizarre, but it’s also a cool way to dream about my beloved German home park.
Having lunch is fun here at Fårup Sommerland. Of course you can order some generic fast food and there are a few all-you-can-eat buffet offerings. But you’ll find more healthy meals as well. I’m having a delicious and fresh chicken salad for example, which I enjoy on a peaceful terrace next to the small lake. Be prepared to pay a lot: Denmark is an expensive country when it comes to food and beverages. And maybe that’s exactly the reason why many visitors bring their own lunch. Unlike most amusement parks in Europe and the USA, Fårup doesn’t care if you bring a pick nick. In fact, the park even offers a huge pick nick area where you’re able to use free barbecues and tables. So don’t act surprised whenever you see park guests carrying enormous amounts of BBQ meat, because that’s very common here.
Fårup Sommerland isn’t the easiest place to navigate. A big part of the park is located within a dense forest and pathways are narrow. I hardly ever use maps while visiting amusement parks, but it’s necessary in Fårup Sommerland to find our way to the remaining coaster credits. Family fun is guaranteed by Mine Expressen and Flagermusen, rides which are respectively built by Vekoma and Reverchon. Both rides are hidden in the woods and that delivers some unexpected fun. However, you must not expect amazing thrills. These rides can easily be described as that classic Vekoma coaster which is built at almost every European amusement park and that painful funfair coaster with spinning cars. Nothing special, but these rides seem to work well for the Danish audience.
If you’re searching for dark rides, then you’ll be disappointed in Fårup Sommerland. At first, we guess that Ræven’s Hule should be some kind of haunted house, but it isn’t. In fact, there seems to be a spooky fun house behind this facade. It’s a pretty decent walk-through and the crooked room is a true brain teaser. Right next to this attraction, the fun continues with an outdoor maze and an obstacle course. This kind of infill-attractions would be ideal for every amusement park on Earth, but it’s still a typical Scandinavian thing. Also very characteristic for this part of Europe: grass-fields filled with trampolines and huge bouncing pillows. The crowd seems to enjoy it thoroughly.
This is a quite family-oriented theme park. However, there is one area within the park where the rides are clearly more spectacular. The big novelty of 2017 is ‘Hvirvelvinden’, a stomach-turning flat ride. It’s located right next to Lynet, the main draw of this park area. ‘Lynet’ is one of very few Danish roller coasters to feature inversions and it’s certainly Fårup’s most thrilling ride. Unfortunately, it’s not constructed by B&M or Intamin. Instead, Fårup Sommerland opted for Gerstlauer, a German manufacturer which often delivers rattly, uncomfortable coasters. ‘Lynet’ isn’t any different: curves are quite rough and the restraints are too big to be pleasant. But always look at the bright side of life: the initial launch feels surprisingly powerful and the second hill has a great amount of airtime. Overall, this coaster actually isn’t that bad. But just don’t ride it too often, as it’s able to create a major headache.
You’d expect the opposite on a nice day in July, but queues are actually short today. I won’t complain about that, since it enables us to ride several coasters again in the afternoon. Speaking of those coasters… it becomes clear that ‘Orkanen’ is the true superstar within Fårup Sommerland. I have never thought I’d say this about a Vekoma, but this beauty should be built at every single amusement park in the world. It’s a fast, smooth and very comfortable experience in a wonderful setting. ‘Orkanen’, you’re definitely amazing.
‘Orkanen’ turns out to be the only ride at Fårup Sommerland which is more than just fun. You’d therefore expect my overall opinion to be moderate, but it isn’t. Although most rides are quite mediocre, the atmosphere in this park is beyond amazing. Fårup Sommerland is all about unique experiences which can’t be found at most other European parks. It’s not only about coasters and water rides, but those canoes, mazes and free-to-use barbecues add to the experience as well. Fårup’s biggest strenght is the fact that it’s a little different. This is nothing like Europa-Park, PortAventura or other well known places. And although I still prefer those big theme parks over this one, I undoubtedly enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere in Fårup Sommerland.
Should you book plane tickets to Aalborg right away, just to visit Fårup Sommerland? No, that’s certainly not the case. But if you could combine your park visit with a city trip, some hiking or a visit to another local park, please do so. Our plan is to travel further to other Danish theme parks as well. Tomorrow morning, we’ll drive about 100 kilometers to the village of Nimtofte. You’ve probably never heard of it, but this small village on the countryside is home to ‘Juvelen’, ‘Piraten’ and ‘DrageKongen’. Anyway… we’re going to Djurs Sommerland!