After consecutive large, sprawling corporate parks, it was an interesting contrast to visit Grona Lund, a compact park in the heart of Stockholm that uses every inch of space it has and then some. Like the parks in England, Grona Lund had reduced hours. While Thorpe, Alton, and Blackpool were open from 10-5, Grona Lund was open 3-10. Of the two, I’d prefer the late afternoon/evening like Grona Lund since it still allows me to get my night rides in.
With some hours to kill once I landed in Stockholm, I decided to have a nice lunch and walk to Grona Lund, stopping to see a few sights along the way. I grabbed lunch at a small place called Phil’s Burger. The burger was very juicy and delicious. However, the portions were considerably smaller than what I’d find stateside. Because of that, I indulged in a French hot dog off a street. The hot dog was pretty average in taste, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the food’s phallic appearance.
The walk to Grona Lund was about 2 miles and quite peaceful. Stockholm’s architecture was beautiful. I think Boston is an old city. I mean it is, but Stockholm has years on Boston. Along with the architecture, the city is also on the water. Stockholm is right up there with San Francisco as my favorite city to walk around.
As I walked towards Grona Lund, I couldn’t help but notice a few rides running. I couldn’t believe how early they had started to test rides. Keep in mind, I’m used to Six Flags starting to test rides after opening. As I got closer to the park, I saw riders on the drop tower. Did Grona Lund open early? Sort of. They were open from 12-3 for students.
One of the benefits of Club TPR is one free admission to Grona Lund per year. Unfortunately the ticket booth wasn’t aware of the benefit, so I needed to make my way to guest services. It took two employees, but eventually I got my free ticket. But not before I saw the words “Trasig” next to Ikaros. Ikaros was one of my most anticipated rides at the park, so I scrambled to grab my phone’s translator. Though I’ll give you a hint; it’s an Intamin. If you guessed “out of order,” you would be correct. At least Tower Land had two other drop towers waiting for me.
I began with Vilda Musen, only to see a sign out front. Don’t tell me the students broke the ride! Instead of scrambling to my phone again, I asked the employee out front since a lot of people in Sweden speak better English than us Americans. Expecting another closed or out-of-order, I was relieved. The park was having a concert that night and Vilda Musen would close at 7:30. Before I ran in line, she also gave me a heads up the same would happen with Insane and Eclipse.
Vilda Musen literally translates to “wild mouse,” but it was much different than any other wild mouse I’ve been on. The ride had a series of twisting drops and banked turns instead of the tiny straight drops and hairpin turns on standard wild mice. The drops didn’t give any air, but they were quick and the whole ride was very smooth despite the compactness of the layout. The ride’s strength is really how well it’s shoehorned in the park above buildings and next to Jetline. 6 out of 10
I saw Ikaros testing (something I’d get used to) so I immediately got in line. For my first ride, I was stationed on the side facing the park. The ascent is interesting since you are staring at Fritt Fall and Eclipse during the ascent, which is particularly weird since the latter is taller. That’s something that usually doesn’t happen with a drop tower. The view of the rest of Stockholm was quite good though, but the view was quickly disrupted when the gondola rotated 90 degrees towards the ground.
Hurakan Condor’s tilt was child’s play by comparison. Staring directly at the ground was pretty frightening. Then the drop began and it was…good. I guess I was expecting more. I was expecting a drop on par with the other Intamin drop towers, but it felt slow by comparison. Not sure if it was just the added wind resistance of the gondola or something, but it didn’t have the air or stomach drop of Intamin’s other towers. However, the novelty of staring at the ground was still exhilarating.
Back to the testing comment, Ikaros had a ton of downtime. There were three separate times I got in line only to have the ride go down. The ride wasn’t more than a one cycle wait (like everything at the park), but it was still frustrating to see the ride go down repeatedly. After the second breakdown I was in line for, they closed one side of Ikaros only for that side to go down for good later that night.
I was able to get three other rides in. The other side facing the water was the side to ride though. The view of Stockholm looking over the water was absolutely stunning. While Ikaros didn’t quite meet my lofty expectations, it was still a very good drop tower because of its uniqueness. Interestingly enough, it didn’t end up being the best one in the park. 9 out of 10
Ikaros’s exit was adjacent to the S&S tower (spoiler alert, this wasn’t the best tower), Katapulten. Oddly enough this one had the longest wait of any of the drop towers, as it was a solid 10 minute wait all day. A combo tower, Katapulten looks odd with the paneling at the base and top of the tower, but it quickly became apparent why. The ride is eerily silent. For those of you who have been on an S&S tower, you know the booming sound these things make. Not this one.
Because of this, Katapulten’s launch is sudden and unexpected. It’s also pretty powerful as well, which leads to some great floater air atop the tower. Like Ikaros, the views from the top were just as stunning even though it was probably 100 or so feet shorter. Unlike the tower at Ferrari Land, Katapulten had a really strong drop with a powerful pop of air. As far as S&S towers go, Katapulten is one of the best. And that figures that it’d be in a park with two superior Intamin towers. 8 out of 10
Instead of completing the drop tower trifecta, I next went with Jetline. I’ve heard many people gushing over this and Lisebergbanan, but I was wondering just how good these coasters could be since their stats scream family coaster. Well Jetline is a surprisingly intense ride. The strength of the ride is its compactness and how it’s interwoven with itself, Vilda Musen, and a few buildings.
The first drop was far from steep, but the great tunnel at the conclusion of the drop makes it interesting. The real drop on this ride is the second one. It’s a surprisingly steep, twisting plunge that really whips you through it. Think of that crazy drop on a Windstorm, except make it 2-3 times taller. The Gs on the subsequent ascent were equally as wild. The rest of the ride consisted of a series of forceful helixes as the ride descended to ground level. Jetline was the park’s second best coaster. 8 out of 10
The honor of the park’s best coaster goes to another one with the stats of a family coaster, Twister. However, anyone who has ridden one of the compact Gravity Group woodies stateside knows just how intense these little coasters can be. If you thought Vilda Musen and Jetline were shoehorned in, wait until you see Twister. I have a feeling they probably got a few no quotes/no bids when they tried building Twister since it’s honestly mind-blowing they fit a ride into this space. The ride dives over buildings, pathways, and some other rides.
The back row is the place to ride Twister. The first drop has some powerful ejector air towards the back of the train and that’s followed by the highlight of the ride, the second hill. Every single rider in the train has 2 seconds of sustained air. There were probably 4 more hills with strong pops of ejector as well with the final drop before the camera being the most powerful. I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to ride Twister in the very back since even one row forward will sap the strength of that air considerably.
Let’s talk about the layout for a second. Gravity Group deserves a lot of praise for fitting a coaster into such a compact space. However, the compactness of some of the twists and turns leads to some bumpiness. I didn’t find it painful and it didn’t hamper rerides (I rode it 10-12 times in a row without getting off at the end of the night), but it was a very noticeable shuffle. I had a feeling that may be the case based on Roar-o-Saurus’s tight turns, so I came in expecting that. In the back row, Twister is a great little wooden coaster better than coasters 2-3 times its size. In the front, the air is considerably weaker but you can still appreciate this ambitious layout. 8.5 out of 10
While Twister may be the park’s best ride, the most unique is probably their classic fun house, Lustiga Huset. I knew I would be getting a classic fun house, but I wasn’t expecting a fun house this long. Lustiga Huset has every single gag and trick you can think of. The sliding staircase alone made this fun house a win in my book, but when you add the amount of gags inside here that I think are purposefully designed to mess with your equilibrium and cause you to wipe out like a drunk ice skater, it makes it even better. The person who thought it would be a great idea to put the spinning vortex tunnel effect right before the barrel is an evil mastermind. And that’s without talking about the misaligned staircases or inclined rooms.
Then there were also some effects I’ve never seen in America. I particularly liked the bouncing bridge, for a lack of a better term. There were two brides, side-by-side, that oscillated a good 3 feet. And they were moving pretty rapidly too. If you walked over the bridge as it was surging upwards, you’d get some pretty terrifying, never in America airtime. But the best part was the climatic slide at the end. While the fun houses in America often have that slow-as-molasses spiral slide adults can barely fit into, Lustiga Huset has a very fast and steep double down slide in total darkness. You plop down and the platform raises up like a wet/dry water slide to dump you down. I’m pretty sure with enough weight, you could get airtime on this thing. I built up a pretty significant head of steam and I only weigh 160 pounds.
The whole fun house probably takes 6-7 minutes to walkthrough and there isn’t a moment lacking a gag. I detailed several of the gags already, but there were even more I didn’t bring up such as the mirror room, spinning wheel, etc. Honestly, there were so many gags I couldn’t possibly remember them all. This is the pinnacle of fun houses with a great emphasis on fun. 10 out of 10
Having ridden Green Lantern at SFMM, I was intrigued to try Insane, which is universally considered better. While I didn’t completely hate Green Lantern, it definitely wasn’t as good as it could have been. The forces were intense, more-so than the S&S free flies, but it wasn’t really comfortable. It’s almost as if Six Flags restricted the cars from spinning so much that the forces are distributed in an unnatural way. I remember one ride in particular where our car got stuck upside down for the entire second half. Having blood rush to your head while stuck upside down isn’t an experience I want to relive.
As the cars began to rock a bit as they ascended the lift, I already saw an improvement. The raven turns were still just as intense with a truly gut-wrenching feeling as you traversed them. While the cars didn’t invert as much as I had anticipated, the allowed rocking on each dip made the experience much more comfortable. Some of the movements are still a bit uncomfortable due to the restraints being looser than those on a free fly, but overall I’d say this one was actually reridable. I mention there not being as many flips as expected, but without fail the tiny little hump at the end is guaranteed to violently fully invert you.
I would still pick a free fly over Insane for the superior comfort of the vest restraints, but Insane is the more intense ride in my opinion. The raven turns and flipping feel much wilder and more uncontrolled on Insane. For that reason, this is a ride that does genuinely terrify me before each ride. Typically Grona Lund tried to balance the cars, but on my last ride I was paired with a young boy who I would estimate was half my weight. That ride was absolutely bonkers and had the most intense flipping. I probably got 3 flips total as opposed to the lone flip at the end. If you, like most enthusiasts, hate Green Latern and have denounced ZacSpins as absolute hell, give Insane a try. 8 out of 10
I mentioned that Ikaros wasn’t the park’s best drop tower. In my opinion that honor goes to Fritt Fall. More specifically, the honor goes to one side of Fritt Fall. The park retrofitted one side of their second gen Intamin tower with the stand-up, floorless, tilting seats like Hurakan Condor. I would have preferred this side anyway over the sit down cars, but as an added bonus, the stand-up side also has the best view since it faces the water.
Like Hurakan Condor, this one has a camera fixed at the top, but the picture’s flash seemed to coincide better with the start of the plunge rather than tipping riders off a half second before. Then the drop is just as intense. My stomach was left at the top of the tower and I floated the whole way down, a really cool sensation as you’re standing up. It felt like we dropped like a rock unlike on Ikaros. For that reason, the tilt side is my favorite of the park’s towers. And unlike the early versions like Acrophobia, the braking didn’t squash my nuts. Not sure what Intamin did to fix it, but neither myself nor my future kids will complain. I also tried the sit-down side once and it was fun (probably a 9/10 type of ride), among the better 2nd gen towers, but I didn’t see the point to ride it when I could ride the superior tilt tower next door. 10 out of 10
The longest wait all day was for Kvasten, the park’s Vekoma suspended coaster. That wait was only 10 minutes, so that puts in perspective the kind of crowds I had during my visit. The ride’s station looks fantastic and is particularly eerie at night. While the layout is relatively basic, what elevates this ride is its placement over the walkway. The first drop in particular is memorable since it combines a headchopper with Jetline above and a footchopper with a pathway below.
The rest of the ride consists of a few helixes and cool tunnel above the station. The final helix in particular was more forceful than anticipated since the ride feels like it reaches its max speed at this point and the tightness of the maneuver pulls a few Gs. I got a few rides, including one in the front, and could have easily ridden it more if the park’s other rides weren’t calling me. I think the best aspect about the ride is its smoothness. Unlike the Arrow suspended coasters where the swinging is a tad jerky, this one was glass smooth. I’ll still take the Arrows with the large drops (Vortex, Bat, Big Bad Wolf) over this one, but after that I may honestly give the nod to this compact little Vekoma. 7 out of 10
I’m lucky enough to have a supersized star flyer at SFNE within a 2 hour drive of me, but I was certainly looking forward to Eclipse not necessarily for the height, but more for the views. Stockholm was an absolutely beautiful city from the ground, so I was eager to see it from almost 400 feet in the air. The views were as amazing as I anticipated (I got both day and night rides), but I was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the cycle. SFNE’s and SFOT’s jumbo sky screamers ascended once and descended shortly thereafter. It’s not exactly fast ascending a 400 foot tower! But on Grona Lund, it ascended the tower twice much like those smaller SkyScreamers do. As far as star flyers go, this one is definitely my favorite for the super long cycle, height, and spectacular views. It sure beat looking at downtown Springfield, MA. 10 out of 10
Usually I skip upcharges, but I had heard not to skip the House of Nightmares walkthrough. I’m certainly glad I listened. The walkthrough probably took about 5 minutes, but it was of much higher quality than most Halloween haunts I’ve seen. The closest thing I can think of in the US is the Ghost Ship at Morey’s Piers except have it take place in a more traditional Victorian house. It seemed like there was an actor lurking around every corner and that was combined with some pretty awesome animatronics. 10 out of 10
Bla Taget had some technical difficulties early in the day, but it eventually opened around 6 or 7. Based on the building, I was expecting an old school ghost house. I found out after the fact that the ride was refurbished a few years ago, so all of the effects were incredibly well maintained. As a man with simple tastes, I was entertained by the gigantic sparks, fire, and man pooping on a toilet. Yes you read that right. One of the “haunts” is a man pooping on a toilet.
But the real highlight of Bla Taget was the cars. I thought they looked sleek and modern when I boarded, but I didn’t realize just how sophisticated the cars were until they started to spook me. The cars are like the seats at Disney’s 3D movies. The one that comes to mind specifically is It’s Tough to be a Bug. At various points during the ride, the cars will blast you with air, vibrate your seat, and even punch you in the back. These effects completely caught me off-guard and really caused me to jump.
Bla Taget was one of the best haunted houses/ghost trains I’ve been on because of how well maintained it is combined with the surprises. I haven’t been on a haunted house that incorporated scares like Bla Taget did and that’s what made it special for me. 10 out of 10
I loved Santa Cruz’s break dance since they placed it indoors. The enclosed room combined with the music and lights amplified the ride much like an indoor scrambler. I have been shocked more parks don’t do this, but Grona Lund is an exception with Pop-Expressen. This ride had a pretty consistent 10 minute wait like Kvasten. But I had no problem waiting since I got to listen to crazy Swedish techno music and also the operators were crazy in a good way. All of the operators at Grona Lund were extremely outgoing and friendly, but the ops at Pop-Expressen took it to a new level. They were dancing across the ride platform as they checked restraints and that couldn’t help but bring a smile to my face.
I sat down and fully expected some more Swedish rave music. So I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when I heard “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want…” Growing up in the 90s, Wannabe is a staple of my generation and the randomness that it would pop up on a break dance in Sweden after hearing nothing even close to an American pop song was hysterical, especially when half the riders started singing along.
As far as break dances go, this one is run relatively fast and has some pretty strong spins. The cycle is also quite long and it seemed to coincide with the length of the song playing. Interestingly enough, people can submit songs to be played (presumably through an app). My second ride had a far less enjoyable song. There are only a few artists I genuinely detest and refuse to listen to their voice, but Justin Bieber is one of them. When I heard the sound of the mating dolphins, I knew I was doomed and stuck listening to Sorry for the next 3.5 minutes. I’m going to judge the ride off my Spice Girls fueled ride and say it’s one of the park’s best flats. 9 out of 10
Normally I’ll skip the wave swingers, but Grona Lund’s was an exception thanks to its placement over the water. Kattingflygaren is built on a little pier over the water, much like what Indiana Beach did with their’s stateside. The big difference here is that this is the superior wave swinger style swinger as opposed to Indiana Beach’s yo-yo style swinger. I rode it around sunset, so the view of swinging over the water while seeing the golden sun descend over Stockholm was really beautiful. The ride itself was your otherwise standard wave swinger. 7 out of 10
I almost missed Karlekstunneln, aka the tunnel of love, because of how the ride’s entrance is adjacent to the photo booth for the fun house (yet another reason why the fun house is awesome). I don’t think there’s any other way to describe the ride system than old and cute. The boats are extremely low to the ground and that compliments the ride’s scenes well, which consist of a series of miniaturized models. But the highlight for any guy is the exposed boobs along the way. You aren’t going to see that in America. 7 out of 10
Having gotten on all of the major rides I intended, I had some time to credit whore the two kiddie coasters. I started with the more embarrassing of the two, Tuff-Tuff Taget. Kiddie coasters are already small, but this one may have set a new low for me as it didn’t have a single drop on the ride. It was just a gradual downhill slope with a few hairpin turns. Those turns did have some laterals! Actually they probably didn’t have any and I was just trying to justify the ride in my mind. 1 out of 10
Nyckelpigan was actually pretty respectable. It was small for sure (it wouldn’t be a kiddie coaster otherwise), but the ride’s placement was fantastic. The first drop is situated above a building and also has a headchopper with a nearby tree. The final turn also has some laterals; this time I actually mean that. This was also one of my longer waits of the day as it was almost as long as Kvasten, but I guess that’s the price you pay for a quality kiddie coaster. 3 out of 10
I took a quick ride break to indulge in a meal. I had passed the fish & chips stand a few times during the day and kept whiffing the aroma of deep fried fish, so I knew where I was going to go. The fish was really good. It was pretty interesting how it was served in a cone, but the piece I got was quite big. While I ate, I watched a bit of the concert. I have absolutely no clue who Linnea Henriksson was, but her music seemed about on par with the stylings of US pop music.
After eating, there is no better time for a spinning ride so I hopped on Blackfisken, the park’s spider/polyp type ride. Like their swings, this ride was situated on a pier right over the water which already made it better. The cycle was oddly short compared to the rest of the park’s rides, but it was non-stop spinning from start to finish. 8 out of 10
Throughout the day I also sprinkled in several rerides on my favorites, punctuated by a 45 minute marathon of Twister until park closing. Grona Lund may have been the smallest park (by far) on the trip, but the amount of great rides packed into that space is impressive. And that’s combined with incredibly friendly, bilingual employees who went above and beyond what I expected from a service perspective. Stockholm was an amazing city I plan to revisit someday and that visit is sure to include a trip to Grona Lund, especially since they’ll be getting that B&M invert.
Also I just had to post this. Yes that guy is in the middle of a solo ride on the bumper cars.