Tivoli Grona Lund is an amusement park in the heart of Stockholm, Sweden. It has thrilling rides, summer concerts, countless eateries, a few watering holes - and a dance floor full of fun-loving Swedes. But how was the Lionel Ritchie concert?
Ikaros is the latest ride to be launched at Stockholm’s Tivoli Grona Lund, an amusement park located in the heart of the Swedish capital. And it’s NOT for the faint of heart!
Billed “the worst fall in history”, the contraption lifts eight thrill-seekers 95 metres into the air, tilts them 90 degrees until they are suspended horizontally facing the ground, and then drops them at a speed of 90 kilometres per hour with a G-force of 3.5 G back to earth.
All while their feet are dangling! Are they serious? Do people really pay to do something like this?
Having opened 29 April 2017, Ikaros is one of 31 rides at the amusement park, including seven roller coasters.
Most of the rides include stomach-churning elements of height and speed. If you suffer from vertigo, you would probably want to give most of the rides a miss.
The amusement park tries to open some kind of new attraction each year, and the House of Nightmares - one of the other newer attractions - opened in 2015.
A classic haunted house, the House of Nightmares is full of rooms and hallways where all manner of terrifying experiences await.
Other attractions include a variety of games, with prizes such as stuffed animals to be won.
The park hosts concerts practically every second or third night during Stockholm's warmer months. During the summer of 2017, for example, approximately 50 concerts are planned.
During my four-week stay in Stockholm, for example, there was a Lionel Ritchie concert, which attracted a standing-room only crowd.
I’m a huge Lionel Ritchie fan, but I was disappointed that his selection of songs didn’t live up to his introduction, which promised that “tonight it’s gonna be all about hits”.
What hits? Most of the initial songs were songs I can't remember ever having heard before.
The hits only started at least 30 to 45 minutes into a rather lackluster performance. I found suffering through tune after tune that never made it to the Top 10 a bit tedious – why do performers insist on doing this?
Are they hoping some of their lesser known songs will catch on? Maybe there's a reason why they never caught on in the first place.
It was made worse by the very restless crowd of people that just wouldn’t stay put. I was constantly being jostled by people pushing their ways forward or aft – a very annoying experience.
At one point, I decided to stand my ground and not move out of the way when someone tried to push past.
I was, in fact, tempted to leave before the concert ended until the hits that I had come to listen to finally began, and suddenly I was glad that I had stayed.
There was “Lady”, “Endless Love”, “You Are”, “All Night Long”, “Say You, Say Me”, “Hello”, and “My, Love” as well as a few covers such as “We Are the World”.
When Lionel launched into a couple of his biggest hits, he would speak the lyrics of the next stanza, and the crowd would sing along with him. It was pure magic.
Following the concert, I wasn’t sure how to spend the rest of the evening until I heard some very tuneful Country and Western music emanating from an open-air, circular structure. Was it a bandstand?
I approached and was captivated by what I saw: a dance floor covered with dancing Swedes, moving clockwise, doing various dance steps – some more intricate than others.
What I liked most was their unbridled joy, and I really wanted to join them, but there were two problems: first, I didn’t have a partner. I had come to the amusement park alone.
Second, I felt intimidated by the quality of the dancing. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. But even if I did, I doubt that anyone would have cared. They were all simply having much too much fun to make fun of someone with two left feet.
I filmed a few segments of people dancing, hoping to make a video to post on YouTube. And then it happened. A woman about my own age walked up to me and spoke to me in Swedish. She had a very serious look on her face.
Was I doing something wrong? Was it against to rules to film people without their permission? Had the musicians complained?
I remembered that someone had filmed something at the Abba Museum during TBEX Europe, and it was taken down when they posted it on YouTube. Was it because of a copyright violation?
Do You Wanna Dance?
When I apologized to the woman, saying I didn’t speak Swedish, she switched to English and solemnly asked, “Do you vont to dahnce?”
OMG! I hadn’t done anything wrong after all. She wanted to dance with me!
I DID want to dance. In fact, I was DYING to dance, but I was afraid I would make a fool of myself.
Everyone else seemed to be such talented dancers. They obviously knew what they were doing. Had they taken lessons? I thought I was out of my league.
“I don’t dance very well,” I said. “You will have to lead.”
The woman led me onto the dance floor … I tried to copy what some of the others were doing … the woman nodded disapproving and rearranged our grip.
“OMG!” I thought. “She wants to do the Bop!”
The Bop has always been my favourite dance, but few people these days know how to do it.
[Note: the bop was a variation of the swing, which was popular in the early 1960's. When I searched for it on line, I discovered a clip of people doing some kind of line dance, which was completely different to the dance we were taught how to do when I was attending junior high school in Oakland, California, in the 1960's.]
Suddenly, it was as if I had been transported back in time to the Seventh Grade. I was in the multipurpose room of my beautiful junior high school in the beautiful Oakland Hills.
Each time I spun the woman left or right, she threw her head back and laughed uproariously.
Other dancers were giving us the thumbs up. When the number ended, the woman was laughing and clearly out of breath.
“You dahnce VERY well!” she said to me enthusiastically.
“It vuz a PLEASURE to dahnce vith you.”
The woman gave me a big hug and walked off the dance floor with a friend, saying to her, “I need to sit down and take a rest.”
Where (and What) to Eat
Visitors to Tivoli Grona Lund will not go hungry. There are several food and beverage outlets as well as a food court, with everything from fast food to comfort food to more sophisticated fare.
I didn’t eat at any of the outlets. Before the concert, I had eaten at the flat I had rented on Airbnb, but the reviews I've read on TripAdvisor say that they were good - but a bit overpriced.
Here's an overview of what's on offer ...
- Fiesta Taqueria and Bar – serves ceviches, tacos, and quesadillas.
- Hekto – serves barbecue and side dishes with a view of the water.
- Biergarten – German style beer garden.
- Kvasten – a family style restaurant serving pizza, salads, pasta, and other kinds of comfort food overlooking the water.
- Kryddhyllan – a family style restaurant with a global menu.
- Classic Café – lasagna and pancake buffet with pastries, sandwiches, and other light dishes.
- Holy Monkey – sushi, noodles, and other Asian favourites.
- Sommarbaren – drinks
There is also a Food Court with 19 outlets serving everything from Asian to American to Mexican.
The park is a bit cramped compared to similar amusement parks in other European cities, and lines can be long. At peak times, waits of up to 60 minutes are possible at some of the most popular rides.
But the park is easy to reach, and the location along the waterfront is superb. It has an undeniable buzz.
While I’m not much of a thrill-seeker, I would have to say that if you ARE an adrenaline junkie, the views when hoisted high into the air for some of those rides must be absolutely sensational!
Having said that, keep in mind that cameras and other loose objects are not allowed! You can either leave them with friends or check them before climbing aboard most of higher velocity rides. So much for selfies!
The highlight for me was clearly the dance floor. It was my penultimate night in Sweden. If I had discovered this place earlier, I might have been there every second or third night.
Tips for Seniors
Baby Boomers will be pleased to know that the entrance fee for attendees over the age of 65 is waived - as with children under the age of three.
Grona Lund, Lilla Allmanna Grand 9, Stockholm Sweden. Telephone: +46 (10) 708 91 00.
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