Who goes to an amusement park solo? Me. Yes – I’m a bit of a freak – but I refuse to let solo be an obstacle. There’s no better feeling than riding a roller coaster solo, or standing in line solo surrounded by young kids to ride the twister solo. Yup – that’s right – I’m hard core solo. I didn’t have to share cotton candy with anyone or deal with anybody else’s fear of roller coasters or motion sickness. I laughed and screamed as the rides jolted me about all – by – myself.
Ok – in all honestly this is not something I would normally do – but I had agreed to write an article on the Tivoli Gardens while in Copenhagen before I really knew it was an amusement park. (yes, that’s right – I’m not a great pre-researcher.) The client gave me the list of topics that I could choose from to write about and 3 of the 4 of them were shopping related – which I rarely do when I’m traveling. When you are nomadic and don’t have a home – there are very few reasons to shop. Which means that I spend more time taking photos and exploring an area instead of going into shops. So when I looked at the list and saw the word “park” I immediately decided that I would write about that site – it was a no brainer. I love parks after all. I envisioned me walking around a beautifully manicured colorful park, taking photos of flowers, watching runners, and sitting on benches – hell, I might even have a picnic. However, once I arrived in Copenhagen, I realized to my surprise that Tivoli Gardens had cotton candy, roller coasters, swings, game arcades, and lots of kids – not quite what I was expecting!
On top of it – my quick easy decision to write about Tivoli Park meant that this was going to be a hit to my pocket book that I hadn’t expected. As I mentioned previously – Copenhagen isn’t cheap, and I had been exploring Copenhagen trying to pinch pennies the last 2 days, however there was no way to pinch pennies when you have to pay an entry fee to the biggest tourist attraction a city has. I found out that the ticket price of 95 Krona (17 USD) was just the entry price and didn’t include any rides – I was a bit shocked – but at this point the price of things in Scandinavia shouldn’t really surprise me. I considered trying to get away with just buying the ticket to get in and not ride any rides. However I couldn’t figure out how I would be able to cover the park in the article if I didn’t actually experience the park rides.
I decided to suck it up and purchase the additional ride ticket that allowed me to ride an unlimited amount of rides in the park for the price of 199 Krona (36 USD). Quite frankly – I have no idea why they even sell just an entry ticket as I couldn’t find anything to do in the park if you can’t ride the rides – except eat – and that just cost more money.
Armed with my bright wrist band I wandered around the park alone. You could hear kids screaming caused from a mixture of an adrenaline and sugar rush no doubt. I felt really awkward and out of place. But I looked up in the sky at the giant swings and thought – I might as well go big or go home. I followed the stream of kids into the entrance of the Star Flyer. If there were an award for the tallest person in line – I would have received it. As I watched eager kids standing on their tiptoes measuring themselves against the wooden plaque to prove they were tall enough, I thought back to my own childhood and the many family trips to Six Flags that was full of excitement and anticipation – wishing I were a few inches taller.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I decided I might as well embrace my inner child, and the fact that I was tall enough to ride any ride this afternoon. I was determined to forget about the self-conscious side of how silly I looked at the park alone, or the logical side of how much the ticket cost, or how much other work I had to do and instead just enjoy. I smiled at the kids around me as we were allowed to go run and pick our own swing seat. The Star Flyer was the most visible ride in the park because the swings rose up 260 feet in the air (one of the world’s highest swing rides) providing a jaw dropping aerial view of Copenhagen. But from a kids standpoint – it provided some heart pounding excitement of being flung around in a little seat dangling and swaying over the park. It wasn’t until the swing started rising up that I realized the swing went high…very high…too high for my fear of heights. As we swung around I tried not to panic in fear, I had a white knuckle grip on the chain attached to the swing. The wind was gusty turning my stomach to knots making me tighten my grip even more. I tried my best to concentrate on the happy, screaming kids around me and tell myself not to freak out. When I landed back on the ground – I made a decision to maybe not get too caught up in following the kids any longer and stay a bit closer to the ground.
The park is said to be the model for the Disneyworld concept and I was amused wandering through the various ‘sections’ that represented parts of the world cultures. There was an Asian section, an Arabic section (which strangely include WWII bomber rides), and a futuristic section. They had tons of restaurants and game arcades that sort of went with the themes, yet I did have to chuckle at the Asian hotdog stand. During the day there wasn’t a lot of alternative entertainment, but in the evenings they had various shows and music one could attend – making it slightly more of a solo travel venue I suppose. And of course there was plenty of shopping to be done.
I spent the afternoon riding all of the roller coasters, The Spinning Top, and watching the more height challenged rides from the ground. The ride attendants gave me confusing looks among the children trying to decipher if I was a parent, or just a middle age amusement park enthusiast. I wanted to tell them that I was here doing a story – but I decided to leave them to their confusion. No one sat next to me on the rides, the kids stared at me at times, but that didn’t matter to me. The important thing is that I amused myself – I laughed, I screamed, and I felt little waves of joy that reminded me what it was like to be a kid again.