Scandinavia Series- Part 2: Linnanmäki, Finland

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 back everyone! Today I’m so excited as I’m going to be sharing one of my favourite regions of Scandinavia with you. The term “Scandinavia” in local usage normally just refers to the three kingdoms: Denmark, Norway & Sweden. However, it refers more broadly to other countries such as Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. If you joined me in the last article, you will know that today we’re exploring Helsinki in Finland! Helsinki borders on the Baltic Sea and is interestingly located incredibly close to Estonia and St Petersburg in Russia.

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Our top tip for getting to Helsinki is simple: To fly! That’s exactly what we did. We took a direct connection from Oslo to Helsinki. Once you arrive at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, it’s simple- take a connecting train direct from the airport to the city centre. You’ll be pleased to know Finland is one of the cheaper countries in Scandinavia too- as the local currency is the Euro! Once you’re off the train and have put away your bags in the accommodation you’ve chosen to stay in (we opted for Airbnb again here), it’s time to explore the city. There’s loads to do and see in the capital of Finland, including a visit to the Finnish design museum or a trip to Senate Square to see the beautiful cathedral.

There’s more good news for you today as well! We’re heading to the beautiful Linnanmäki amusement park!  There’s even better news too! Linnanmäki is what I like to call a “city park”. We’ll be coming across a few more of these further along in the series as well, especially in Sweden and Denmark. This means the park is an integral feature of the city, meaning that from “tower” rides in the park you receive stunning views over the whole of the city; in this case the capital of Finland. Furthermore, this also means Linnanmäki is incredibly accessible. A short tram ride from the central station will take you to the park entrance- it couldn’t be simpler!

Linnanmäki has been around for 70 years now- that’s pretty crazy. The park opened in 1950 but I personally hadn’t heard much about it until the introduction of the Intamin Blitz coaster- “Taiga” in 2019. But more on that later. What I find so intriguing about Linnanmäki is the admission concept. The park is free entry to all visitors, with the option to pay tokens for rides or buy a wristband for unlimited attractions. However, what’s even more special is that guests who don’t want to pay can experience 9 of the park’s attractions completely free of charge! These are mostly kids rides, but also extend to the park’s 4D cinema, the panorama tower, and a kids coaster cred known as “Pilotti”. We’ve never seen an admissions concept like this before and think it’s exceptional customer service for guests who don’t like the more thrilling attractions, children and those who can’t afford tokens or a wristband.

Below you can see one of the lovely fountains which greets you on your way into the park.

Linnanmäki  has a somewhat-carnival vibe. But that’s not to say that the park isn’t well themed and detailed. The park’s theming and décor is actually really extensive and we absolutely adore the range of different plantings around the park, as well as various different fountains and sculptures dotted around all over the place.

To give you a bit more of an insight into how well detailed the park is, the theming in the park even extends to the restrooms! Normally you’d expect to see themed toilets in the likes of Phantasialand, Efteling or Europa park, but Linnanmäki certainly impressed us going to such efforts with their detailing for a park which is much more local to natives of Finland rather than being an international success. Here’s a picture of one of the toilets below, but there are other toilets around the park to discover as well, each with different themes too!

You’re probably thinking by this point that you want to know some more about the attractions that the park has to offer. Well, Linnanmäki is home to a total of 9 rollercoasters (if you include Pilotti) as well as a whole host of other flat rides, dark rides, shows, tower rides and children’s attractions.

On the way into the park itself there’s two tall rides which immediately catch your eye. One of these is the S&S shot tower known as Raketti. The other is more intriguing for sure. It’s a Maurer Rides Skyloop- and it’s known as Ukko. Having never done a Maurer Skyloop before I was certainly intrigued as to what the experience would entail. The stats for the ride itself are pretty impressive. The rollercoaster stands at 151.6ft (46.2m) tall and reaches top speeds of 65.3mph (105.0km/h). Normally, those sort of stats would make for an impressive coaster. But with Ukko- well the word horrendous comes straight to mind. The restraints are extremely uncomfortable and the vertical-upside down lift hill is pretty horrendous and results in a massive head rush when getting off. I wouldn’t like to know the feeling of getting stuck vertically, or worse upside down on the lift if the rollercoaster broke down.

Moving on from that questionable yellow contraption… we’re going to take a look at another of the park’s insane contraptions… I mean rollercoasters. This is an Intamin 82.0ft (25.0m) Zacspin named Kirnu. Rather than having a yellow track colour like Ukko, Kirnu has a bright orange track colour and is themed to a clown. There’s two separate queue-lines depending on which side of the track you want to sit on. I’ve only ever done one Intamin Zacspin before, and I found it pretty intense and uncomfortable- so I was expecting Kirnu to be just as crazy an experience. Surprisingly however, I actually enjoyed this model a lot more than the larger model. It wasn’t particularly uncomfortable and the short layout means less speed is built up and it’s actually pretty fun and not too intense. I had a couple of re-rides later!

In the background of Kirnu you can probably see two notable points of interest. To the left is a building which houses Linnunrata eXtra– a Zierer Force coaster with a VR add-on. Safe to say it wasn’t anything special and the VR was poor quality so we don’t need to dwell on that one. On the right is a Ferris wheel- one of the park’s staple rides. It’s called Rinkeli and it’s one of the “tower” rides I was talking about before- along with the panorama tower. It provides some pretty awesome views over the city for those who want to jump on board.

The park has another notable “tower” ride which provides stunning views across the city of Helsinki, but also provides a thrilling experience too. This is known as Kingi and it’s a Moser Rides free-fall tower. I personally thought the design of the seating around the tower looked a bit strange and outdated, even though the ride only opened about 6 years ago. The restraint system didn’t also look the most comfortable. However, I was proved wrong. This drop tower was both pretty thrilling and enjoyable. It reaches heights of 246.0ft (75.0m) and top speeds of 51.4mph (82.7km/h). It was good fun but not my most highly rated Scandinavian drop tower!

As mentioned above, the park is home to various different flat rides, some more thrilling than others, but mostly models which you would normally find on the travelling fairground circuit. One of these is a Huss topspin, known as Kieputin. I don’t actually remember riding this attraction. I believe I didn’t ride it as the cycle looked pretty standard and nothing special for a Huss topspin, and I’m more interested in ones with more unique programs such as the likes of Talocan etc. Nonetheless, the bright colour scheme works well for the park and the attraction is surrounded by a lot of nice foliage and contains dancing water effects as the gondola flips round and round, over and over again.

Another one of the park’s thrill attractions is a flat ride type which can be seen on the German or Dutch travelling fairground circuits. This is a flat ride manufactured by Technical Park and was manufactured and installed into the park in 2017 and therefore is a relatively new addition. In Linnanmäki, it’s known as Magia. The attraction has a black magic style theme and has lots of tricks and illusions which you can see while waiting in the queue-line. I enjoyed this attraction as I’ve never done one of these models before, although the cycle was slightly tamer than what you would see on the fairground circuit and gentler than my personal preference. Perhaps a more family-thrill style attraction if you like.

Magia is located in the back section of the park, which is hidden down a slope behind Linnunrata eXtra. This section of the park also includes lots of kids attractions and family flat rides as well as lots of beautiful flowers and foliage, an area with an interactive water playground, and various canopies with lights for guests to sit and relax under. Below you can see one of the most relaxing and beautiful spots in the park to sit and have a rest, surrounded by flower pots and foliage, with twinkling fairy lights hanging up above.

We visited Linnanmäki right at the end of August, and we were blessed for the weather to be hot and sunny, and with bright blue skies. It was definitely ice cream weather. And in my opinion, a day out at a theme park can be make or break depending on what types of ice cream they have on offer. Luckily, Linnanmäki didn’t disappoint. Our first ice cream stop of the day was to an ice cream parlour just across from Magia, where they were serving salted caramel and popcorn soft whip ice creams. The ice cream was absolutely delicious!

If you keep on strolling down into the back section of the park, which is more hidden away into the foliage and surrounding trees, you come across Pilotti, the kids rollercoaster, and various more kids attractions and family flat rides. One of these flat rides is a Schwarzkopf Octopus style ride, called Mustekala. This was a good fun, traditional octopus flat ride, where riders are swirled and spun around and bounced up and down as the octopus moves its tentacles. A good fun flat ride for the whole family to enjoy.

Quite a lot had been packed into our day so far and therefore it was time for us to stop and rest for some more food. It was worth noting that when we visited the amusement park, it was only open from 1pm-9pm. This was more than enough time though, as the longest queue throughout the day was 20 minutes for Taiga, and this was to be expected with it being the new attraction. We had managed to do quite a lot of the park already, so it was time to sit down and have a rest for a meal. We opted for a more fast-food style meal, although we shared the salad and the chips with frankfurters between us. The park also has various sit down options, such as a pizza and pasta restaurant. There’s also various shops around the park containing a huge selection of different treats including sweets, liquorice laces and bags of popcorn! The food we ate was tasty, but not the best theme park food that I’ve had.

Keeping on the topic of food, we headed back out to the main section of the park. In the background, you can see the park’s funhouse with the spiralling slide on the right hand side. In the foreground, you can see a raspberry and liquorice soft whip ice cream. There were lots of different flavours to choose from, but seeing as liquorice is a big flavour in Scandinavia, we opted for this one…

Now, back to the action. It was time to check out a couple of the dark rides and indoor attractions the park has to offer. The first is called: Kyöpelinvuron Hotelli , which is the park’s ghost train. Riders explore the darkest corners of this hotel with haunted rooms, which are creepily lit with dim lighting and a spooky ambience. A good, fun ghost train, but not the most memorable one I’ve been on.

Another dark ride that the park has to offer is called Taikasirkus. As you can probably insinuate from the name of the attraction and the picture below, it’s themed to all things circus and features a lot of clown animatronics on the inside of the ride. I really don’t remember much about this attraction, which probably speaks for itself. But the thing I remember most is that the gondolas sit below the track and move really slowly in an eerily manner. From further research, it’s manufactured by REX Studios LTD. A company I’ve not personally heard of before myself.

Heading back into the centre of the park, there’s lots of lovely gardens to explore, with beautiful plantings, sculptures and fountains. The sculpture below, a peacock made of flowers, is one of my favourites in the park. In the background, you can also see the park’s scenic railway wooden coaster: Vuoristorata, which has a brakeman and has been operating since 1951.

I believe Vuoristorata has a similar or perhaps even identical layout to the scenic railway wooden coaster at Bakken in Denmark, which we will elaborate on in a future episode of the series. The only difference is that the wooden coaster at Bakken no longer functions with a brakeman and they have instead installed magnetic brakes, whereas the wooden classic at Linnanmäki still runs with a brakeman to this day. Below you can see some history of the coaster, which can be viewed from the queue-line.

Vuoristorata even has it’s own liquorice sweets which can be purchased in the gift shop and are shaped to the wooden coaster itself!

Around the classic wooden coaster there’s more scenic props and sculptures dotted around the place, including this sculpture which includes water wheels. In the background you can also see the park’s traditional carousel…

The park’s carousel is a centrepiece of the park. It’s known simply as Karuselli and is really beautiful. It’s detailed with really vibrant colour schemes and artworks and has traditionally carved animals which really catch the eye. This carousel was actually manufactured in Germany in 1896 but was installed in Linnnanmäki in 1954. This therefore makes it Linnnanmäki’s oldest ride, where families can enjoy a relaxing ride with atmospheric organ music. The elephant is probably the animal I find the most striking on this carousel… the detail is phenomenal.

There’s just so much to see and do at Linnanmäki, hence there’s so much to talk about. We only had the one day at the park, but if you had more time in Helsinki you could easily add on a second evening there’s that much to do. There’s just so much to explore, such as this old windmill which you can go inside and learn about Linnanmäki’s history by listening to different music and soundtracks which relate back to Linnanmäki’s 70 years of history.

Ok, so I’ve saved the most important bit to last. Whilst I’ve dived into detail about every nook and cranny of Linnanmäki, we are the Coaster Kings and therefore it would only be right that I detail into the other main coasters the park has to offer. The first of which is known as Salama.

Salama is a Maurer Rides spinning coaster which has been operating since 2008. It has a rich blue track colour with teal supports and a wooden station. It reaches a maximum height of 55.8ft (17.0m) and top speeds of 37.3mph (60.0km/h). I thought Salama was a good fun family coaster with an interesting layout. I particularly liked the landscaping of the coaster and some of the theming pieces and effects such as the fire effect that you can see below.

What makes Salama even more exciting is that the layout of the rollercoaster is intertwined with the park’s river rapids ride- which is called Hurjakuru. This is an Intamin river rapids attraction which has been running since 1998. I rode this and actually quite enjoyed it. The layout isn’t anything interesting but the integration with the spinning coaster and the landscaping around the ride makes for a fun experience. There’s also various water effects such as the one displayed below and a large gushing waterfall which you pass by. Luckily I didn’t get too wet!

One of the park’s most unique and interesting rollercoasters is called Tulireki. This was one of the coasters which intrigued me most and one of the coasters I was most interested to ride when visiting Linnanmäki. Now, Tulireki is a Mack Rides E-motion custom rollercoaster. It’s worth pointing out that there were only two of these ever manufactured in the world, and the model at Linnnanmäki is the last remaining operating one. So it’s pretty unique in that respect. Tulireki was installed in 2004, and the other Mack E-motion coaster was installed in the Amsterdam Dungeons in 2005. Safe to say Mack’s concept never took off. And I can see why.

The issue with this rollercoaster is the concept falls flat on its face. Not a fault of Linnanmäki’s, but more one from Mack Rides. It’s kind of like a wild mouse coaster except the trains are supposed to move with the track as it goes round the corners ie. they are supposed to tilt from side to side with the track. I didn’t really feel like this was executed as well as it could have been, as the movement from the trains themselves was minimal. In addition, the rollercoaster was really rough and jolty. Not something to write home about unfortunately.

For those of you who are eager-eyed, in the photo below you should be able to count a total of four rollercoasters. On the left hand side you should be able to see the Maurer spinning coaster; Salama. Just beneath Salama, you should be able to see the track work from another rollercoaster- this is a Mack rides mine train coaster called Pikajuna. In the bottom right corner, you should be able to see the Mack Rides e-motion coaster, Tulireki. And standing gloriously above it you should see Taiga: the brand new for 2019 Intamin Blitz coaster, which we will dive into more detail about now.

Taiga becoming the latest addition to Linnanmäki was essentially the reason I heard about the park. However, I’m so glad that Linnnanmäki installed Taiga and that we were able to come and visit such an incredible and unique amusement park, as well as explore the beautiful sights in the capital of Finland.Taiga translates to “Forest” from Finnish to English. As you can see below, Taiga is essentially a tangle of light blue track which navigates its way through a forest landscape.

The story and journey of riding Taiga starts as soon as you enter the queue-line. The queue-line and the station itself are beautifully detailed with scenery pieces and theming such as rock work and bird’s nests with eggs laid in them. The journey of Taiga is an eagle which takes flight through a dense woodland forest, and riders can experience the feeling of flying on the birds wings as they take a ride on Taiga. The station and the queue-line are filled with surround sound of a beautiful Imascore soundtrack as well as eagle sound effects. The coaster train itself is a vibrant mix of yellow, orange and red and has a fierce looking eagle at the forefront. Once you have boarded and are secured on the eagle’s wings, you depart from the station into a rolling launch and immediately enter a Zero-G Winder, an awesomely unique element with loads of hang time.

The eagle then navigates a series of s-bends, bunny hop airtime hills and helix elements before entering the second launch. Don’t get me wrong, the launches aren’t as powerful as Taron’s for example, but they still pack a punch and the coaster reaches a top speed of 65.9mph (106.0km/h). Once the eagle has been boosted by the second set of LSMs to that top speed, the eagle train then glides over the top hat of the rollercoaster. This is the highest point of the rollercoaster and stands at 170.6ft (52.0m).

The second half of the rollercoaster is even more crazy, fun and airtime filled than the first half. After the top hat, the eagle then plummets downwards and makes a descent towards the ground, before rising up again into a Zero G stall. This element is absolutely insane as the rollercoaster throws you upside down and hangs you there, providing incredible amounts of hang time. Immediately following the Zero G stall you dive straight into a bunny hop which throws you out of your seat. The coaster train racing through the Zero G stall with the sunset in the background looks absolutely beautiful.

Straight after the bunny hop you go into an Immelman. You really race through this element as by this point the rollercoaster has picked up so much speed you really feel like you are flying. The eagle then navigates a series of further twists and turns, airtime filled hills and an S-curved sequence before racing into a Zero G roll. After the Zero G roll, you take to a sharp turn before entering the brake run where the eagle returns back to its nest.

So how would I rate Taiga as an overall rollercoaster? Well, after my first ride I was speechless, and after several sunset rides later on in the evening my opinion of the rollercoaster had improved even more. This rollercoaster is so impressive; for me, it’s a number one coaster, joint with Taron at Phantasialand. Everything about it is perfect. It’s so smooth, there’s so much airtime and the inversions and elements are so unique and different to anything else I’ve been on. All in all this rollercoaster is just so much fun, and the theme and soundtrack is so upbeat too. Taiga truly is a world-class rollercoaster and sets up a new generation of investment for Linnnanmäki as an amusement park.

Well, enough about Taiga (although I could not get enough of Taiga!). How was our experience at Linnanmäki as a whole? I actually struggle to criticise Linnanmäki as an amusement park. And that’s judging it based on it being an amusement park, rather than a theme park, although a lot of the detailing and areas are of theme park quality. Linnanmäki has such a broad selection of rides and attractions, for the whole family to enjoy. Dark rides, flat rides, tower rides, shows, rollercoasters and they normally host a selection of events throughout the year too. The park has a very fair pricing structure and it really works well for the park with the free entry system. There’s a good selection of food and drink on offer at reasonable prices and the park operations are very good on the whole. Not to forget that the park now has a world-class rollercoaster on top of the already diverse line up. Helsinki is such a beautiful capital city and Linnanmäki complements the capital perfectly. I couldn’t recommend a visit to Linnanmäki more.

Thanks for joining me again in another article from this series! I hope you enjoyed reading along and discovering Linnanmäki amusement park with us today, as well as learning more about Helsinki and Finnish culture in general. Join us next time when we will be taking the train from Helsinki to Tampere and discovering the picturesque Särkänniemi amusement park.

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