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RMCs & Poffertjes: Chuck & TPR 's 2019 Europe Trip


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I'm glad people are enjoying this TR. Andy, that top photo of Untamed that you "quoted" is my favorite of all the ones I took.

 

On we go.

 

Hot Times in Sweden, Part 1: Liseberg

 

Elissa summed up the last few days of the trip perfectly: “Who would’ve thought that the hottest days would be in Sweden?” It was warm in Poland, but the thermometer hit the 90s in a country know for cooler temps--defintely no parkas necessary.

 

It also took a bit of doing to reach Sweden after we’d finished up in Poland. We were supposed to fly to Amsterdam to catch our flight to Gothenburg, but a massive refueling system failure at the former put an end to that. Fortunately, everyone was rebooked on four different flights, with one group flying in the next morning (which required more reshuffling of our schedule at Liseberg). I can’t thank Robb and Elissa enough for getting us all over this hurdle.

 

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In 2006, the last time I flew into Gothenburg airport, I remember the terminal being rather small (as I remember it being about the size of two average McDonald's restaurants). It’s grown a bit since then.

 

I was in one of the groups who made it Gothenburg that evening. Some of us went over to Liseberg that night, but I stayed in, thanks to a nagging cold that I’d caught somewhere down the line (I blame Poland). This was my third visit to Liseberg with TPR, and the third time I’ve caught a cold going there. Some European virus has it in for me! I felt well enough the next day, though.

 

What can I say about Liseberg that hasn’t been said 1,000 times before? That it’s one of the most beautiful urban amusement parks in the world? That it’s home to Balder, one of the best wooden coasters in the world? That Hotel Gasten is the best permanent haunt ever? That the staff and the food are great? All these statements are true.

 

Let’s focus on what was new to me. I really enjoyed Valkyria, the park’s new B&M Dive Coaster. It was very well themed, and I liked how that part of the park, which includes Balder and Loke (a big “Frisbee” type ride), had been transformed into a “village” dedicated to myths and legends. I’d much rather ride Valkyria than Cedar Point’s Valravn.

 

I also liked Helix, the park’s launched Mack coaster, even though it was having technical problems off and on all day. There’s some good air in parts, and I like how it interacts with Lisebergbanan, the park’s old Schwarzkopf coaster. Helix is a good addition to the park, even though I still prefer Europa’s Blue Fire to it.

 

Unfortunately, I never got to experience Atmosfear, the park’s drop ride on what used to be its observation tower. It was out of commission that day--but it’s another good reason to return to Liseberg.

 

But if you’ve made the climb up to Helix and Atmosfear only to find them closed, don’t worry. There’s a new version of Desperadoes up there, too. Don’t miss it!

 

And a big thank you to Pontus Hallsberg, our excellent host at Liseberg. He's a credit to his park!

 

Care to join me? I’ll try not to cough on you.

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I’m getting to know this hotel pretty well. Well, at least the hotel itself. But I still get screwed up and turned around trying to walk back to it from Liseberg.

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So that’s where it is! Just turn left before you reach Liseberg.

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Through this portal you will find . . .

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. . . naked people . . .

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. . . and Valkyria--but no naked Valkyries.

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Too late to get off now, folks.

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The dragon out front shoulda told ya.

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Balder got a snazzy new sign since my last visit.

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Looks like the station got a make over, too.

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“Great horny toads! If Odin tells me I gotta kill that rabbit, then I’m a’gonna kill that rabbit!”

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Balder is still a crazy air- and hair-time machine.

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I was on my own for a bit, so I decided to wander around and take more photos. Have you ever seen anyone more terrified than the woman in the third seat from the right in the front row?

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This group seems to be having more fun than that poor lady.

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“That poor woman! I want to give her a big Swedish hug.”

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That’s Loke, and it certainly looks like a ride the God of Mischief would build.

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Helix is more my speed than Loke . . .

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. . . as is Lisebergbanan.

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This classic Schwarzkopf got some love last year . . .

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. . . not to mention new trains. It's still a very good terrain coaster with great views of the park and city.

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I had ice cream for lunch. Don’t judge.

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Everybody made it in time for the ritual signing of Balder.

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Pontus said, “Only those who are worthy may lift the Sharpie of Thor.”

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Here’s my lefthanded handwriting and part of my face.

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I couldn’t find my signature from previous trips, but I wasn’t entirely sure where to look, or even if those particular pieces of wood were still there.

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But Balder rocks on!

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Oh, there’s my Ten of Diamonds. Must’ve fell out of my sleeve.

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Here is my one terrifying photo of the eerie Hotel Gasten! It’s really scary, kids! More to come.

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One can never get enough Liseberg. I was lucky enough, along with a few others, to take a backstage tour of Balder, Valkryia, and Lisebergbanan, where Robb was shooting video and we were taking lots of photos. Thanks for being our guide, Pontus!

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Here’s the view from Balder’s control room.

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Remember: Al sees and knows all!

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Here’s an entrance to a haunt. The park was getting ready for Halloween.

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Valkyria is very photogenic.

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Three dudes in the front really know how to kick back and enjoy themselves.

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More happy riders on Valkyria.

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Balder is a bit trickier to photograph than Valkyria, but we got a good view of the first drop during the tour.

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There’s a wee bit of hair time on Valkyria, too.

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Hmm--these are either harnesses for climbing the lift hill, or Valkyria is into S&M.

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The water-filled dummies stand watch over Valkyria’s shop.

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On Walpurgisnacht, they come to life and roam the earth, looking for coaster enthusiasts to consume!

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Don’t touch the wheels, lest you risk the dummies’ wrath!

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“Captain’s log, supplemental. All is quiet on Valkyria’s bridge, but I still can’t shake the feeling that Loke has gone over to the Klingons.”

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How about a closer look at the elder statesman of Liseberg’s coasters: Lisebergbanan.

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We got a good look at Helix here, too.

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Helix says “hello” to Lisebergbanan.

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Poor, lost ducky!

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Someone done lost their chaw, too.

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Hmm--I’m a surprise guest star in this photo of Lisebergbanan’s shop. I look a bit “snooty.”

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Stats for those who care to translate them.

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Up close and personal with Lisebergbanan’s track.

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Thanks for letting us stop by, Lisebergbanan.

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Another angle showing why Balder is so awesome. 70 degrees!

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And our tour of control booths ended at Lisebergbanan.

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A look at Valkyria from atop Liseberg’s hill.

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I think the Swedish name for this ride translates as “Chuck Will Only Take Photos . . .

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. . . of Other People on this Ride.”

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It was nice to see Liseberg being lit up for the evening.

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I have ridden this flat before, but I wasn’t feeling great due to my Polish cold, so I skipped it.

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Are you ready to . . . er . . . rock?

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Yes, Larry is most definitely ready to rock. We had ERT on Balder and Helix with a British group that night, but I wasn't feeling great, so I called it a night. That’s all for now.

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Great report, Chuck! That ice cream looked delicious. It makes for a great lunch on a hot day when you're walking all over a park. You've got some really nice shots in this report, too. Balder looks top notch!

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I love this park, and these are some great photos of it! The control room / maintenance bay tour was awesome, and we got some nice angles of the coasters you can't get anywhere else. Helix was (sadly) disappointing in a few different ways, but Valkyria was fun, and Balder was running much better than when I visited in 2016.

 

Ice cream is always a perfectly acceptable lunch at a theme park.

 

I’m getting to know this hotel pretty well. Well, at least the hotel itself. But I still get screwed up and turned around trying to walk back to it from Liseberg.

 

Just past the 7-11, which was /actually/ open from 7 to 11!

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Hot Times in Sweden, Part 2: Kolmarden

 

Kolmarden hadn’t changed much since I was last there with TPR three years ago. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. This Swedish zoo is great just the way it is.

 

Why? Well, some zoos in the USA have amusement-park rides. Some even have coasters, even if they’re just “family” or “kiddie” coasters. But Kolmarden has . . .

 

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. . . a huge RMC in an incredibly beautiful location. This monster roars and tumbles and flips through and around rugged rock formations and beautiful woods. It’s hard to top this coaster’s setting, and our ERT session on it was loads of fun. My thanks to Robb and Elissa for that.

 

But there’s more to Kolmarden than Wildfire. It’s an excellent zoo with a unique gondola safari ride and lots of animal exhibits. It’s also huge, and you get quite a workout stomping from the entrance all the way to Wildfire.

 

I don’t have much more to add to what I said in my previous trip report about the park. Just put on your comfortable walking shoes and grab a bottle of water, because it’s a hot day. Let’s take a hike across Kolmarden.

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OK, where’s the entrance? It’s gotta be around here somewhere.

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“That’s right, hoomans. This way to the nice tiger. Yes, I’d love to have you for lunch.”

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Kolmarden is beautiful--and huge.

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A first tantalizing look at Wildfire.

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More on this bad boy later.

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“Oh, there you are, lunch, er, I mean, nice hoomans who I won’t eat!”

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There’s a beautiful view behind the Safari Restaurant, where we had lunch. The tiger was on his own.

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And here’s an idea of huge this park really is. Let’s see how the animals are doing on this hot-for-Sweden day.

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“Oh, boy, it's hot! Thought I was gonna black out passin’ that log!”

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“You might want to back off a bit, junior. I have a very high fiber diet.”

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“Now there’s something you don’t see every day, Chauncey.”

“What’s that, Edgar?”

“ Coaster enthusiasts taking photos of animals instead of random pieces of rides.”

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She insisted that I get her good side.

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“Er, little privacy, please?”

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“My one desire in life is to be an adorable meme.”

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Maybe it’s just the time of year, but this reminds of the woods the Monster wandered through in “The Bride of Frankenstein.”

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This is one of the best “safari” attractions anywhere.

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As you can see, it’s pretty popular.

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Up we go. It was hot that day, but the gondola works up a good breeze.

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Not only do you see lots of animals, but you get great views of Wildfire. More animals and Wildfire to come.

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Meanwhile, back at Kolmarden, which we're still at, so this segue seems a bit silly . . .

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Looks like it’s feeding time.

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“Feeding time? Did someone say feeding time?”

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“I say, Cyril, have you tried these leaves? They’re quite succulent.”

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“Indeed! You ladies and gentlemen in the gondolas should come down and try them. They are delectable!”

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“Hmm--I bet I could leap from this roof, grab one of them hoomans from a gondola, and no one would be the wiser.”

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Er, what happened to the bicyclist?

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Back we go.

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OK, who wants to ride Wildfire?

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This ride in no way reminds me of the cheesy hit single from the 1970s.

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This is a great ride in a beautiful setting. The station theming is great, too.

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It gives you great rides in any seat--from the front . . .

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. . . to the back!

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The woman in the front row looks far too relaxed.

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The black-haired woman looks like she snapped her neck.

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Wildfire is nonstop crazy . . .

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. . . as you’d expect . . .

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. . . from RMC.

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Hmm--a ride like this would look good in, say, Williamsburg, even if we do already have one in Doswell. ;)

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Look upon Wildfire with reverence . . .

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. . . or just have a blast on it. Your call. That’s all for now.

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Great looking zoo. And yay for Skyrides! And great shots of Wildfire, too, Chuck.

But - kind of sad to see only one front seat filled, in a couple of your photos of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hot Times in Sweden, Part 3: Grona Lund

 

“Our revels now are (almost) ended . . .”

 

Yes, we have arrived in Stockholm for the last two days of the trip. That’s the bad news. But we’re going to Grona Lund! That’s the good news.

 

Grona Lund is a classic amusement park on the water, just across the street from our hotel, the official ABBA Museum, and a place that makes damn good pizza.

 

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If you’re looking for a grand finale for your theme-park vacation, it’s hard to top Grona Lund. They always show TPR a great time, and they offer everything you’re looking for in a classic, old-school park, including some great coasters, a very enjoyable dark ride, every type of drop tower you could want, a lawyer’s dream of a fun house, and even some nudity (if you know where to look for it).

 

The park’s resident historian, Andreas, gave us an interesting presentation about the park’s history, as well as a tour of their latest project--a new B&M Inverted Coaster. Well, at the moment, it’s nicknamed “the Big Hole,” because they’re building the station under part of the park. That’s what you have to do when your space is a bit tight topside. This is going to be unique ride, especially during a time when Dive Machines, Wing Coasters, and launched coasters are sprouting on the theme-park landscape like dandelions. Sounds like a good reason to go back to Grona Lund someday.

 

So, let’s have a look at TPR’s last two “official” days in Sweden. But before we go in, I want to thank Robb and Elissa for another excellent theme-park tour--first rate all the way! And my thanks to Mathias, whose family owns Grona Lund and Kolmarden, for making the trip’s big finish even bigger.

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Welcome to Grona Lund! Can you not hear the ABBA tunes already?

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Andreas fills us in on the park’s history.

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Rides from the old days. The one on the right looks a tad sketchy.

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The park has been home to many great concerts by performers such as Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Elton John, Miles Davis, and, of course, ABBA.

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This classic Schwarzkopf is gone, but the park has another to make up for it.

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OK, who wants to see a Big Hole?

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The park put up some carnival games near the construction site of the new invert.

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These games hide a “secret entrance" to the Big Hole.

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Dracula could hide a lot of coffins down here.

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I’m sure Drac wouldn’t mind a little dampness.

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I was impressed with the size of this project.

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“Yes, I see it now. That water stain looks just like ABBA in concert.”

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Yes, the ride will start down here somewhere . . .

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. . . and head outside to add another coaster to the park’s skyline.

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Hey--I’ve been looking everywhere for that CD!

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Imagine what they could do with this rebar in “Friday the 13th: Jason Takes Sweden.”

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OK, Andy, careful! Slowly step back from the edge . . .

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Who wants to ride the Snake?

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“Whee! Serpents are evil, yet fun! Who knew?”

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Robb goes to work.

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“Er, is it supposed to do that?”

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“WE REGRET NOTHING!”

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“Er, we might have a few regrets.”

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People were also going (on) Insane.

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“Have mercy on us, Odin!”

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"Odin? Hah! You're in the hands of Loki, now!"

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Robb also did some filming on Ikaros, the park’s face-down drop ride. I didn’t get any decent photos of the ride running, but I liked it a lot.

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Jetline was my favorite of the Schwarzkopf coasters until I rode Olympia Looping.

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It’s a great ride, and the park takes great pride in it--lots of fun.

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Andreas gave us a backstage tour of the park’s concert venue, too. We got a good look at someone's elbow, too.

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Yes, many classic acts performed there, . . .

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. . . but none of them charmed the ladies more than Evert Taube.

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It’s too bad Gaga never had the chance to collaborate with Evert.

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Is Larry ready for the exquisite horror of the House of Nightmares?

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It’s amazing how many rides they’ve crammed into this park.

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Shaken by the House of Nightmares, Larry soothed his jangled nerves on this kiddie coaster. More to come.

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Oooooh Chuck this is all awesome of Grona Lund! So many memories I have, from my tours there.

Love re-seeing all the old stuff, and the new stuff, too. By the way, how was the new (for us)

Haunt House there? Still two levels, with stairs, etc.?

 

Looking forward to The Final Day from you.

 

p.s. Grona Lund is the "Blackpool of Scandinavia" to me. And then some!

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We're not quite done with Grona Lund yet!

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Ah, the fun house! Surely, this will assuage the terror of the House of Nightmares.

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It's fun! What's so scary about that?

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Agh! What is happening? This place is more nightmarish than the House of Nightmares!

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Angry spirits! Please stop warping the floor!

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In the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room! . . . not that song! Why are these ghosts so mad at us?

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You are getting sleepy . . . your eyelids feel very heavy . . .

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What place is this? There is some deviltry at work here! I sense the presence of . . . Loki!

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“So, Elissa questions my Whack-a-Mole skills, does she?” (Satan is standing behind Larry, grinning over the trouble he’s caused between two friends.)

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“Challenge accepted!”

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Behold the Towers of Grona Lund: Frit Fall, Ikaros, Eclipse, and Katapulten. (Larry suggested this photo. He was on quite a roll that day.)

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Grona Lund tore down this dark ride to build Twister (a wooden coaster), then rebuilt and upgraded it when the coaster was done.

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I’m happy that they kept this wonderfully weird facade.

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From a lost verse of the Book of Revelations: “And then I beheld an enormous bird with the face of a crocodile and swollen breasts cooking a demon with enormous ears in a pile of burning charcoal. And by this vision did I know the Beast was near.”

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“Hmm--that was a good one. Nine out of 10!”

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“We’re Sgt. Pepper’s Only Dead Club Band!”

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Brad and Larry are entranced by the swirling flames.

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Boogie, boogie, boogie!

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I didn’t know Jetline had working headlights.

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I like Eclipse, but I can understand why people are terrified of it. You’re 200 feet up, and your life depends on those tiny chains!

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Grona Lund had a bunch of these kites on the roof tops.

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Who doesn’t like Jetline’s retro station and lighting?

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How to make a great ride even better? Nighttime ERT!

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Who wants to ride the pink tower?

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As the sun sets on Stockholm . . .

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. . . Twister lights up like an old-time penny arcade. Again, I love this retro lighting.

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Are you ready, gentlemen?

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How about the rest of you?

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A study in contrasts.

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“My own personal train? YES!”

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One last half day in Grona Lund: How about a cruise in the park’s “Tunnel of Love” ride?

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It has some nice tableaus . . .

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. . . and, er, some nice . . . this. She must be thinking of Evert Taube singing ABBA songs with Lady Gaga.

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“Let’s see. There are naked women in here, but we’re doing this . . . we are so lame.”

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It was a beautiful last day in Stockholm.

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I’m going to go out on a limb here and say . . .

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. . . people like Twister, with the exception of the boy in the front row.

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“Hmm--turning him into a toad is so tempting . . .”

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My last beer in Sweden.

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Goodbye, Grona Lund! Farewell, Stockholm. Till next time, that’s a wrap. Thanks for reading this!

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OK, Andy, careful! Slowly step back from the edge . . .

 

The sad thing is, I have absolutely no memory of what I was even taking a picture of.

 

Sad to see this report come to an end, but what a fun place to end it. And I'd never dare go up against either Larry or Elissa in whack-a-mole, unless I wanted to lose!

 

Great report, Chuck!

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Re Kolmarden: With such upper-class wildlife - Chauncey, Edgar and Cyril - I'd LOVE to meet them after the gondola ride for High Tea. (Perhaps I'll exclude the lions tho...even if they ARE humming Hakhooman Matata.   Yes, Chuck, I think you've correctly sized up their body language.)

 

Great pix!  Great report!  Thanks!

 

Alice

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