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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tivoli Gardens - The Park That Inspired Disney World

There is something so special about Tivoli Gardens.  

It has that old world charm, a mix of an amusement park and a garden, a lot of history, so much beauty and it's thrown right into the middle of the city.  If you are wondering why you would spend your time visiting an amusement park while traveling abroad, know that Tivoli is not your average park and you should get the images of a junky Six Flags out of your head.  

This is Europe baby, and there is something for everyone behind these gates.  You walk through beautiful gardens by day and stroll under the thousands of beautiful lights reflecting off the pond by night.  You walk by castles and roller coasters, flume rides, and ornate stages, expansive lawns, intricate gardens and restaurants on boats.  It's really like the rest of Copenhagen, clean and orderly, beautifully manicured, well thought out and constructed.  It's an ambiance and experience that is hard to describe and really has to be felt for yourself.  It's no wonder that Tivoli was the inspiration behind Walt Disney's famous park. 

Part of what makes Tivoli such a gem in this city is its history.  It is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world after Dyrehavsbakken (also in Denmark).

The park was created when Tivoli's founder Georg Carstensen obtained a five-year charter to create Tivoli.  He received the charter by convincing King Christian VIII that "when the people are amusing themselves, they do not think about politics". Georg Carstensen created Tivoli from the inspiration of parks and the gardens around the world.  

On August 15, 1843 the garden gates opened for the first time.  Guests were immediately impressed by the elegant and exotic gardens (giving the park the name Tivoli Gardens). The famous writer Hans Christian Andersen was one of the impressed guests who was inspired by Tivoli to write the fairy tale the Nightingale.

During Nazi occupation of Denmark in World War II, large parts of Tivoli were sabotaged and burned down.  The park was closed for several weeks, rebuilt, and opened back up to the public.  The park has changed throughout the years from the effects of war to new rides and updates.  Tivoli's wooden roller coaster (1914) is one of the oldest wooden roller coasters still operating in the world. 

Walt Disney paid several visits to Tivoli, where "he was fascinated by the mood and atmosphere".  It was the ambiance of Tivoli that Walt wanted to incorporate into his own amusement park.  In 1955 the original Disneyland opened in California thanks to some inspiration from Tivoli.  Walking around Tivoli, it is so easy to see some of the similarities between the parks from similar rides to the Epcot "around the world" feel as you pass oriental palaces and a german side street. 

Entrance (8 years +): 130 DKK ($19.16)
Unlimited Rides: 240 DKK ($35.37) 
Individual ride tickets:  30 DKK ($4.42) a ticket (rides require 1-3 tickets) 

11:00 to 23:00 Sunday to Thursday, 11:00 to 24:00 Friday to Saturday 
The park has three seasons: Summer Season, Halloween in Tivoli and Christmas in Tivoli
Tivoli has about 4 million visitors per year over these three seasons.
Summer (April 4 to Sept. 22), Halloween (Oct 11 to Nov 3), Christmas (Nov 16 to Jan 5)

You can bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages inside the park to enjoy on the lawn/outdoor areas.  They had these amazing chairs spread out on the lawn where everyone just kicked their feet up and relaxed - lovely. 

It is a seasonal amusement park - It is not open year-round (Summer, Halloween, Christmas) so don't show up in February. 

They had a Bring Your Dog Day (1 day a year).  It happened to be the day we showed up and it looked epic - EPIC.  There were doggie stations, water bowls, and happy dogs and people enjoying the park. 

There's an app that will help you get around the park (maps, ride information, tickets, everything you really need to know). 

The Park is on the Copenhagen Card.  The card grants you one admission pass into various museums, events, zoos and attractions around the city.  You can purchase a card for 24 hours or up to several days.  A one-day Copenhagen Card is 54 euros. 

Tivoli has rides that will please the toddlers to the thrill junkies.  28 of them if I counted right.  I am on the side of toddler rides while Adam certainly enjoys the more exhilarating options.  We picked a few rides and had a blast shooting laser guns on the flume ride, riding flying trunks (a very it's a Small World sort of ride).  Here are a few we went to. 

The Flying Trunk - Den flyvende Kuffert (2 tickets) - Basically the Danish version of "It's A Small World".  Go on a journey through 32 fairy-tale scenes from Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales?  It was a cute whimsical ride playing "what book was this?"

The Star Flyer - Himmelskibet (3 tickets)  With an impressive height of 80 meters, the Star Flyer can call itself one of the highest carousel in Northern Europe.  Adam went on this one and it looked absolutely terrifying. 

ThreMine - A fantastic (flume ride) journey through the land of the Grotes, guarded by the dragon, Mistress Mother-of-Pearl.  There is a laser game where you can shoot targets along the journey and compare scores at the end.  It reminded me of Buzz Lightyears game in Tomorrowland... a very toned done version of course. 

If that intro, the history and these photos weren't enough of a reason to convince you to got Tivoli, let me sum it all up.  Our evening at Tivoli was a highlight of the trip and even if you aren't a "ride" person, Tivoli is an amazing place to spend a day - you just have to go experience it for yourself. 

  • With admission and ticket prices being separate, you don't have to be a ride junkie to enjoy the park, and you don't have to pay a large "everything inclusive entry" like Disney when you won't enjoy the rides.  If you chose to just dine and walk around, all you have to pay is the entrance admission.  If you wish to enjoy the rides, you can purchase ride tickets individually or get the multi-ride ticket (introduced in 1983).  It's the best of both worlds.
  • There is something for everyone (rides for all ages from thrill-seekers to kiddo rides).  Even if you don't like rides, there is so much more to enjoy at the park from at the shows at the Outdoor Theatre to walks along the garden.  
  • It is easy to get to as it's only a 2-minute walk from Central Station.
  • The park covers an impressive 82,717 square meters downtown in a City.
  • Tivoli Gardens was founded in 1843 and has become a national treasure and an international attraction. 
  • Fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen visited many times, as did Walt Disney who even found the inspiration to his own Disney World here.
  • The park is magical at night.  There are around 850 trees in Tivoli and the trees buildings, and walkways are all light up. 
  • Tivoli started as a summer-only park but now opens up for the Halloween and Christmas seasons as well.  What's more fun than a seasonally themed park?
  • Tivoli is known to have some amazing food (check out a dining guide here)

When in Copenhagen, spend an afternoon at Tivoli.  
Wander through the gardens, have fun on a few rides, grab dinner, 
and watch the park sparkle at night. 

Happy Wandering,

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