There are some things in life you don’t really want to hear. Your doctor saying, “Hmm, I’ve never seen that before,” or your tattooist saying, “Actually, that spelling doesn’t look quite right.” So I was very glad no one told me that the man standing at the back of the rollercoaster we went on at Linnanmäki was there to ensure it didn’t derail.
Linnanmaki (literally: Castle Hill) is an amusement park in Helsinki that was opened in 1950 and is owned by non-profit organisation, Lasten Päivän Säätiö (Children’s Day Foundation). We visited in May, and the sun shone brightly on the crowds as they swooped and screamed through the air enjoying the 40+ rides on offer.
Entry to the park is free and you can pay per ride or buy an all-day pass for unlimited access. There are also many rides available at no cost, which is especially good when you have young children. Miko and I went on the Panorama together, a circular ride that rose high in the air and turned slowly, giving us unlimited views over the park and city beyond.
Jonny and the guys went on the Raketti (Rocket), a free fall tower where you are launched from the ground high up in the air before being dropped back down towards earth. My favourite ride was the Salama (Lightning), a spinning rollercoaster set over another river ride far below.
I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to rides but was quite happy to have a go on the wooden Vuoristorata (vuoristo = mountain range, rata = track) as it is the most popular ride at Linnanmäki every year. Built in 1951 in time for the tourists arriving for the 1952 Summer Olympics, it was one of the tallest rollercoasters in Europe at the time.
Vuoristorata is the last built rollercoaster in the world to use side friction technology. Unlike modern rides that have an extra set of wheels that keep the cars from becoming airborne, side friction rides could derail if they take a corner too fast and require a brakeman to ride on the train to slow it down when necessary.
I’m so glad no one told me that, as I thought the man standing behind us as we flew around the track was just there to add to the park’s old world charm. Had I known I might have just suggested that Miko and I just take another slow safe spin on the Panorama…