Scandinavia Series- Part 1: Tusenfryd, Norway

With the theme park season drawing to a close in many countries and people forced to stay home again, we thought we’d bring you a brand new article series. Expect regular updates from myself as we explore one of the most beautiful, cultural and historical regions of Europe: Scandinavia!

We’ll be taking you from Norway across to Finland, through Sweden and then down to Denmark. We’ll be providing you with detailed insights and top tips into the theme parks each of these countries has to offer. We will also be diving into which rollercoasters and attractions you aren’t going to want to miss out on. So grab a cup of coffee, a slice of cake and enjoy!

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Welcome to our first article of the series! We’ll be flying you across to one of the more expensive countries in Scandinavia today: Norway! Norway is known primarily for its dramatic landscaping such as glaciers, deep coastal fjords and enveloping mountains. It’s also known for fishing villages, skiing and hiking opportunities, and a chance to spot the Northern Lights. However, the capital city itself, Oslo, is a haven of green spaces, harbours and museums.

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Norway isn’t really a “theme park country”, so to speak, however there’s a pretty major theme park close to the capital which is owned by the well known company, Parques Reunidos. A coach ride out of the city centre along the OsloFjord and past rolling hills will take you to our first destination: Tusenfryd!

As you can probably see from the photo I’ve taken, Tusenfryd isn’t a “city park”. Despite only being located a 25 minute drive outside of the capital of Norway, it’s located in the hills in a more rural area. That being said, however, the park is located directly off the E6, which is a 3088km long international road network. It runs all the way from the North of Norway to the very South of Sweden!

Once you jump off the coach or get out of your car you have to climb up a pretty steep hill to get to the park entrance. This was my first ever visit to a theme park owned by the operator Parques Reunidos, and therefore I really had no clue what to expect from my day out. I was greeted in the morning by a bright blue sky so was feeling positive. The park entrance is pretty stunning. It’s a simple building with a brickwork style roof and the park logo on the top. However, the integration with the park’s main coaster, an Intamin launch, really catches the eye. The tangle of blue track situated centrally above the entrance plaza really creates a sense of anticipation before entering the park. Once you’re through the turnstiles, you ascend an escalator, which is a pretty common occurrence with Scandinavian parks given the landscaping.

My first stop of the day was to the park’s Vekoma wooden coaster: Thundercoaster. I am a massive fan of the new generation Vekomas, but given this has been operating since 2001, I was somewhat skeptical. This Vekoma wooden coaster has been fitted with the Timberliner trains, however unfortunately this doesn’t save the uncomfortable experience. I actually found the Timberliner trains themselves to not have the most ergonomic design, as the restraints are pretty heavy meaning you really feel forced down into your seat the entire ride. Furthermore, the rollercoaster was completely relentless from start to finish with non stop rattling and jolting. Once we got to the final brake run, we broke down and got stuck for 20 minutes. This put the final nail in the coffin for me as I felt very restricted for movement in the coaster train. Safe to say I didn’t have any re-rides…

Tusenfryd’s theming isn’t particularly coherent. In some areas they have opted for more extensive theming whereas in others they have gone for a more generic “carnival” feel. It kind of works to be honest. One of the areas they have put more effort into is the Wild West section of the park, which I like to think of as the main street even though it’s in one of the back corners of the park.

Located in the same back corner of the park as the Wild West area is another of the park’s rollercoasters. This is a Vekoma Junior coaster which was actually relocated from Miribilandia in Italy. In Tusenfryd, it’s known as Steampunk Hunters. However, to make it even more special, it contains a virtual reality add on. This virtual reality add-on was actually pretty fun and unique. By tilting your head you could aim and shoot at various different targets and you would accumulate a final score during your rollercoaster ride. This competitive and interactive element of the virtual reality made it better than expected!

This leads me to my first major criticism of the park: operations. If you want to go to a park with efficient operations and fast moving queues, then Tusenfryd isn’t for you. In fact, I think Tusenfryd has the slowest operations I have ever experienced. On Steampunk Hunters, the rollercoaster was only running one train, however every other train was loaded with VR. There are separate queues for people who want to and don’t want to ride with VR. However, they both moved at an equally slow paced- perhaps the slowest moving queue I’ve ever been in.

On a more positive tone, the park has lots of quirky areas to explore. For example, they have a unique walkway through the forest which takes you across wooden walkways and over stepping zones past various troll statues. The location of the park has to be one of my favourite things about it, as it provides hidden gems such as forest walkthroughs for guests to explore which are really fun and enjoyable.

There’s also a Mack Supersplash located in the park’s Viking themed area. This area of the park doesn’t open until the afternoon due to staggered openings but it also features a river rapids and a dark ride. The super-splash itself was pretty bland on theming, and wasn’t particularly enjoyable given it had started raining once I was in the queue-line, meaning I got extra wet.

The rest of the Viking area is pretty nice and actually really well themed. It’s quite a walk from the main park down a steep zig-zagging walkway due to the terrain and landscaping. The dark ride is called Thor’s Hammer and is manufactured by ETF Ride systems. It’s pretty well themed and atmospheric. However, the main attraction for me in this area was the park’s Hafema River Rapids, known as Ragnarok, a map of which you can see below…

Now, this river rapids is something to rave about, and is actually the best ride in the park in my opinion. If you like water rides, then you should love Ragnarok. I’m not the biggest fan of water rides myself, but Ragnarok is up there with some others like Chiapas and Djengu River which I really enjoy. The theming is really immersive and nicely done and the ride itself contains some unique elements such as a whirlpool and a steep drop. It reminds me of River Quest at Phantasialand in some ways, but I actually enjoy it more because you don’t get quite so wet. Ragnarok is a real gem and a highlight of the park for me.

From a highlight of the park to a lowlight, we move on to the next major coaster in the park: Loopen. Now this coaster is truly a classic for Tusenfryd, as it’s a Vekoma which has been operating since 1988. It was actually much smoother than expected, but the layout is insanely short.

My main criticism lies again with the operations. This classic Vekoma can only run one train, which is understandable given it has no block section and the layout is so short. However, the attendants would only load the air gates once the previous riders had completely vacated the station, which resulted in a monotonous cattle pen queue line moving up incredibly slowly. Being a single rider, I was next in line but even though there were empty seats the attendants didn’t ask for anyone to fill the empty spaces. Given this was pre-covid, I would normally expect parks to try and fill up the empty seats, however I had to specifically ask to fill up an empty space, so that I didn’t have to wait until the next cycle!

I have to say though, that Loopen looks particularly striking when the yellow train rushes through the red track of the vertical loop, with an imposing forest creating a dramatic backdrop behind.

The park also has a rollercoaster called Dvergbanen, which claims to be “the smallest rollercoaster in the world”. Unfortunately, we were too big to ride and therefore couldn’t experience this attraction.

I decided to save the best rollercoaster in the park until last. Speed Monster. Speed Monster is an Intamin launched coaster, which is pretty old as it dates back to 2006. However,  I have to say that I was definitely impressed by this rollercoaster. Speed Monster launches from 0-52.8mph (85.0 km/h) in 2.2s using a hydraulic launch system, but reaches a top speed of 55.9mph (90.0 km/h) and a maximum height of 101.8ft (31.0m). Below you can see one of the elements of the ride, a classic corkscrew with an awesome backdrop.

Speed Monster was perhaps the only ride in the park which I thought actually had decent operations. They were running two trains which meant the queue moved quickly. Also given Tusenfryd is a very family park, not many people actually wanted to ride anyway. Speed Monster features over the shoulder restraints, which I was expecting to make the ride uncomfortable, but it was pretty comfortable on the whole. Perhaps if the rollercoaster got refurbished in the future I would like to see them add the new Intamin style lap-bar restraints. Below is a photo of a unique element that riders whizz through on Speed Monster, known as a “Norwegian Loop“, and it’s part of what makes Speed Monster such a unique and thrilling rollercoaster.

Tusenfryd is also home to an array of flat rides and other attractions for the whole family to enjoy. They even have a water-park style area with a swimming pool and water slide, all included in the ticket price! There’s also a second dark ride in the park. This is known as Nightmare and is a 5D shooting dark ride manufactured by Alterface. It’s similar to the Vengeance ride which was located in the London Dungeons. I found Nightmare somewhat underwhelming, and expected slightly more from a dramatic build up once you had entered the building.

The park is also home to an S&S Double-shot tower, which was unfortunately broken down at my time of visiting. They also have a Zamperla giant swing known as “Spinspider“. This flat ride was actually pretty thrilling, reaching dizzying heights. Spinspider gives riders a lot of airtime as they get the feeling they are going to be flung out of their seat, high up into the sky or across the dense woodland landscape.

As well as an array of thrill rides and dark rides, Tusenfryd is a very family-based park and has a lot of smaller rides for children and attractions for the whole family to enjoy together. An example of these is the classic Finkarusellen in the centre of the park. I love the central position of the carousel in the park, the detailing and the bright golden lights which surround the outer edge of the carousel. The flower beds around the carousel have been planted really thoughtfully too, and the location of the carousel in front of Speed Monster creates awesome photo opportunities!

After an action-packed day at Tusenfryd, it was time to head back to our Airbnb in Oslo for a good nights rest before city sightseeing the next day. Continue reading below to see whether we recommend a trip out to visit Tusenfryd…!

So would I recommend Tusenfryd as a bucket list park to visit? If you want to visit Oslo and other areas of Norway, or are planning a road-trip of Scandinavian parks, then I would definitely recommend Tusenfryd. The park has some lovely landscaping, some nice theming and planting in places and a couple of noteworthy attractions. It’s a nice day out overall. However, for those considering flying to Oslo just to go to Tusenfryd, then I unfortunately wouldn’t recommend the time and expense solely for the park. It really suffers from poor operations and a lack of good quality food choice. The food prices are also very high (as per the theme in the rest of Norway) but combined with poor park operations can leave you feeling slightly bitter. The park’s stunt show had also finished for the season when we visited which was slightly disappointing.

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Thank you for joining me for the first article of the series and I hope you enjoyed reading and discovering one of the many parks Scandinavia has to offer. Join us next time when we will be flying from Oslo, Norway to Helsinki in Finland, and discovering the incredible Linnanmäki amusement park..

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