NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
Good morning from Denmark! The second day of our theme park tour has arrived and I’ve been looking forward to this particular Wednesday for several weeks. That’s because today, we’re finally going to Djurs Sommerland. This park always gets great reviews from park enthusiasts and the coaster line-up is quite spectacular. But before we’re able to discover all of Djurs Sommerland’s rides, we need to get there. And just like Fårup Sommerland – the place we went to yesterday – this park lies in a rather remote area. After exiting the freeway close to the city of Randers, there’s another 30 kilometers to be driven over local roads. This route brings us through endless agricultural fields and dense forests. You certainly wouldn’t expect a world class theme park here, but all of a sudden I can see an Intamin lift hill above the treetops. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get at that moment, but it’s very similar to visiting a candy shop during your childhood.
Whenever you visit a theme park for the first time, you just want the conditions to be perfect. Nobody likes to ride coasters in the rain and you don’t want to encounter an overcrowded park either. Luckily, everything seems just fine at our arrival. We’re able to park our car very close to the main entrance and the weather is so nice that a T-shirt will do for today. While getting a first glimpse of the legendary roller coaster ‘Piraten’, I realize that this is going to be a wonderful day.
Djurs Sommerland’s main gate is particularly unremarkable and there’s no kind of cozy main street or square. Instead, we immediately see pathways leading to the different themed areas. There’s a brand-new Asian part on the left and a huge pirate themed area lies on the right. We decide to walk straight on and we enter a cute, farm-like section.
The so called Bondegårdsland is the park’s heavily themed children’s area. Despite its original decoration, the ride selection is kind of predictable: there are several carousels, miniature free fall towers and a tractor ride. We’re obviously not a part of Bondegårdsland’s targeted audience, but I do enjoy the beautiful scenery and the nice atmosphere. Furthermore, this area includes a coaster credit called Den Vilde Hønsejagt. This kiddie coaster was built by Zierer and it opened in 2015. The ride’s lay-out is quite ordinary, but the decoration certainly isn’t. You could translate this attraction’s name as ‘Wild Chicken Hunt’ and that’s why it features a fox chasing poultry. Chicken-themed roller coasters should get their own like-button, don’t they?
As we move further through the park, we arrive at Mexicoland. Please don’t ask me why Djurs Sommerland added that useless suffix, but I should admit that this South-American area doesn’t look bad. The attraction line-up consists of ‘Solguden’ (a beautiful flatride with a refreshing surprise) and Juvelen. This isn’t just the longest, but also one of the fastest roller coasters in Denmark. In fact, ‘Juvelen’ features one kilometer of curvy track, two launches and a top speed of 85 km/h. Most of the ride’s lay-out is close to the ground and they added some cool near-misses. That’s why this coaster feels very fast and it’s extremely smooth as well. The theming of this ride is at least as elaborate as the ride experience. Both the exterior and the interior of the station building – which has been designed as an ancient temple – look amazing and there’s a cool dark ride part just before the first launch. Honestly, this is one of the best family coasters I’ve ever experienced and I hope Intamin will build more of these.
It’s always a good idea to discover the back side of a theme park early in the morning. Here at Djurs Sommerland, this golden rule applies as well. According to the park’s smartphone application, the wait for ‘Piraten’ is approximately 45 minutes and you need to queue up to 75 minutes for the brand new inverted coaster. We on the other hand sense no crowds at all. There was no queue over at ‘Juvelen’ and the neighbouring Thor’s Hammer is a walk-on as well. This ride is a so called Gerstlauer bobsled coaster, but that’s a very misleading name. This coaster type has nothing to do with bobsleds, as it’s more like an XXL-version of a classic wild mouse. ‘Thor’s Hammer’ is practically identical to ‘G’sengte Sau’ at the German Tripsdrill theme park and that’s a good thing. Both coasters are fast, surprisingly intense and well themed. The castle from its German counterpart has been replaced by a viking village here in Denmark, but it’s nonetheless spectacular.
If you ever plan to open your own theme park in Scandinavia, you have to keep in mind that there are certain rules here. And the most important rule is that you need to build loads of DIY-attractions. While visiting local amusement parks, you immediately understand why Danes, Swedes and Norwegians are notably fitter than most other Europeans: they’re even into sports during a theme park visit. We recognize lots of elements from our day at Fårup Sommerland. A huge field full of trampolines? Check. An enormous bouncing pillow? Yup. The possibility to row a boat in a beautiful lake? Double check. The coolest DIY-rides in Djurs Sommerland are the go-cart track and an extensive obstacle course called Junglesti. It reminds me of a similar installation at Toverland in the Netherlands, but this one’s considerably bigger. Steven asked me not to write about him getting hurt during this rope course, but oops… I just did. Luckily, one visit to the first aid a simple band-aid managed to get him back on track.
‘Junglesti’ brings us to Afrikaland, an area which has been built around stereotypes. Djurs Sommerland seems to believe that Africa is all about cannibalism, bananas and frightening wildlife. So if you’re one of those people who find Efteling’s attraction ‘Monsieur Cannibale’ politically incorrect, then you’re probably going to hate this area as well. Jungle Safari is the main attraction and it’s also filled with clichés. This calm boat ride carries us through an exotic jungle with some plastic animals and bongo drum music. The crocodiles and a giant gorilla are designed to scare us, but it’s actually a kind of ridiculous sight. This is what ‘Jungle Cruise’ would look like if it was built in Six Flags instead of Disneyland. And I really missed that joke about the backside of water, too…
Afrikaland is full of clichés and I could say the same about Westernland. That’s not necessarily negative: Westernland is a nicely themed country village with a few cool details. It includes buffalo bumper cars, a wave swinger (turning both forward and backward) and a gold digging activity. The main ride however is Rio Grande Rafting, where the wait is approximately 30 minutes during the afternoon. This rapid river reminds me of the one in Fårup Sommerland: it’s a surprisingly long ride within a dense forest. Even the wetness is similar, because we once again exit the ride fairly dry. ‘Rio Grande Rafting’ is a fun ride, but if you want to get soaked, this is not your place to be.
That place to be I was talking about lies just around the corner and it’s known as Colorado River. If you’re in desperate need of refreshment, then you really should visit this log flume. Yes indeed, this ride literally feels like someone pours three full bottles of water over your head. That’s not an issue on a hot day like this one, but I just wasn’t expecting this. The lay-out is similar to the one at Fårup Sommerland, but it’s decorated slightly better here at Djurs Sommerland. The only thing which bothers me, is the fact that maintenance should give some attention to this ride. Those rocks really need a major clean-up.
Steven often checks his app and he notices that the wait for DrageKongen has been shortened considerably to 30 minutes. That’s why we immediately decide to enter the queue for this recently opened roller coaster. ‘DrageKongen’ is built within a brand-new Asian area and just like most parts of the park, it looks very attractive. Djurs Sommerland created a pleasant queue line and the main building is wonderfully decorated as well. Inside the station, a great atmosphere is created by mysterious lighting and gong music. It somehow reminds me of ‘Black Mamba’ at Phantasialand: every train dispatch is accompanied by loud sounds and light effects. And believe me: that sure adds to the excitement.
‘DrageKongen’ is a family inverted coaster and it reminds me of the ingenious ‘Orkanen’ at Fårup Sommerland. They even seem to have copied the first drop and the following turnaround. Despite this resemblance, there is one huge difference: Fårup’s version was manufactured by Vekoma, while ‘DrageKongen’ was built by Intamin. In principle, you’d expect the latter to be the best, especially because ‘DrageKongen’ is considerably longer, higher and faster than ‘Orkanen’. But unfortunately, this assumption is wrong: ‘DrageKongen’ doesn’t provide the amazing ride experience I was expecting. Roughness, that’s the big issue. Intamin succeeded to construct world-class coasters like ‘Taron’ and ‘Intimidator 305’, but they seemed unable to create a smooth, simple family coaster. The rattling can be felt in every row (we tried the second row and the back seat) and it doesn’t stop during slower parts of the ride. So honestly, this turns out to be the park’s only coaster which doesn’t live up to our expectations.
We try to forget the disappointment by having a tasty (and affordable) lunch at the ‘Pirate’s Food Market’. This well themed food court is logically set within Piratland. This is the most extensive area in the park, both in terms of surface as in terms of decoration. It includes a stunning octopus-ride, a heavily themed free fall, a junior log flume and two different coaster credits. While designing Piratland, Djurs Sommerland used every possible pirate cliché and some statues look a bit cheap, but I have to admit that the end result is visually appealing.
Piratland is a spot where roller coaster enthusiasts flock together and you probably know why. The main attraction of this area is Piraten, one of those legendary Mega-Lites. Djurs probably won’t win any awards for the decoration of this ride, but honestly… who cares whether this Intamin masterpiece is themed or not? A few years ago, I was lucky enough to test its Japanese double ‘Kawasemi’ and I can clearly remember those huge forces and tight curves. ‘Piraten’ reminds me about how much I loved it. At the moment that train de-connects from the lift cable, a minute full of speed and power begins. Turns are extremely narrow and the airtime is so much more intense than you’d expect from such a tiny coaster. Bigger isn’t always better, that’s exactly what ‘Piraten’ tries to prove. And yes: the amount of fun Intamin has put into these 800 meters of coaster track is unique. So please don’t judge this ride by its size alone, because ‘Piraten’ is without any doubt one of Europe’s craziest coaster experiences.
We obviously fancy some re-rides on ‘Piraten’ and we’re lucky: the queue doesn’t get any longer than 15 minutes during the afternoon. In between, we also ride the adjacent water coaster Skatteøen. This Danish name means ‘Treasure Island’ and this ride has a very pretty theme indeed. If you’ve ever visited Europa-Park, ‘Skatteøen’ will probably remind you of ‘Poseidon’. That’s normal, since this is a compact version of that beloved German water coaster. The good thing is that ‘Skatteøen’ doesn’t brake as much as ‘Poseidon’ and the ride is a lot smoother as well. The bad thing is that it’s a very short experience. ‘Poseidon’ has two lift hills and two splashes, whereas ‘Skatteøen’ only features one single lift hill. This is a fine family ride, but it’s over in the blink of an eye. Luckily, the queue was very short despite warm weather.
Low crowds give us the chance to ride every coaster several times and we even manage to make another canoe-journey. Afterwards, we unanimously conclude that Djurs Sommerland is an amazing place. First of all, it offers some great roller coasters. ‘Thor’s Hammer’? Fun! ‘Juvelen’? Awesome ride! ‘DrageKongen’? Could be great if Intamin would install other wheels. ‘Skatteøen’? Short, but powerful. And then there’s ‘Piraten’, clearly one of the best coasters in Europe. Djurs Sommerland is often considered as a park which is solely relying on ‘Piraten’, but that’s a giant misunderstanding. Most other coasters, the water rides and some wonderful family rides are worth a visit as well. On top of that, there’s the unique Scandinavian atmosphere which reminds me a lot of yesterday’s visit to Fårup Sommerland. Locals are barbecuing in the middle of the park, others enjoy the sun while relaxing on a grass field. It’s very uncommon and I can’t imagine these things in other European or American theme parks. It’s a true vacation feeling which has nothing to do with the stress and the uncomfortable crowds you’ll often encounter at bigger parks. Last but not least, I’d like to note that Djurs Sommerland’s staff is amazing. These people really seem to enjoy working within the park and they smile every second of the day. And of course, some staff members look quite handsome as well. Yeah, that’s another great thing about Scandinavia!
If you’ve read the entire text above, you’ve probably noticed that Djurs Sommerland made an unforgettable impression on me. If you’ve just looked through the pictures, then I really hope you’re jealous about that empty queue line photo at ‘Piraten’. If you’ve enjoyed my report, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. And if you’ve enjoyed it a lot, please join us again tomorrow when we’re heading to one of Denmark’s most popular tourist sights. Just before checking in for our flight back to Amsterdam, we’ll spend a few hours at a place which is all about toys and bright colors. See you at Legoland Billund!