I admit. I’m a Disney-holic, but on Tuesday, I was invited to tour Linnanmäki, the oldest amusement park in Finland, and was sceptical. How would this little Nordic park in Helsinki compare with all that is Disneyland?
My Husband and I have visited Disneyland four times out of the last five years. We have our favourite places for lunch that we reserve tables for months in advance and we have secret spots that we use to just sit and drink the Disney atmosphere in.
Linnanmäki is a not for profit organization owned by Lasten Päivän Säätiö (Children’s Day Foundation) that gave just under 4 million euros to children’s charities in 2014 alone. Moreover, it is estimated that Linnanmäki has donated approximately 90 million euros to children’s charities in it’s over 60-year history. On the ground level, Linnanmäki continues to give, as it is free to enter and has a free young children’s ride area.
After learning this, my heart began to open to the Linnanmäki experience and I began to see it with fresh eyes. The rides are colourful and in excellent working order, and staffed with happy, shining faces. The Kahvikuppikaruselli is absolutely charming in its Delftware blue and white. The Raketti (the Rocket) looks absolutely terrifying and there is even a new human powered ride called the Propelli (the propeller).
The park has thirty-three sparkling rides to keep attendees of all ages happy. They even have an arcade that has a game that stopped me in my tracks. The Star Wars Battle Pod is a wonder to behold. For only two euros, one can step into a small cocoon surrounded with 360 degrees of screen that put you in the driver’s seat of a mission set on action!
With each step I took, I was warming up to the absolute charm of Linnanmäki. At the end of the tour, I was sold on its mission and commitment to a safe and happy experience for all and to its golden beating heart of helping the welfare of Finland’s and those children abroad.
The truth is that Linnanmäki doesn’t compare to Disneyland, and that’s how they like it. “We aren’t out to try and be Disneyland,” said Rilla Engblom, the marketing and communications director for Linnanmäki. “We are a nice space for children and families to come and enjoy the flowers and the attractions.”
That’s the way I like it too.
Linnanmäki opens April 23 at 13:00.