Linnanmaki is an amusement theme park in Helsinki, Finland. It is one of the few classic theme parks dating back and been running for more than 50 years. Much older than Thrope Park in the UK, which I last touched on previously. The park opened on May 1950 and is owned by Finish Children’s Day Foundation (Lasten Päivän Säätiö), a non-profit organization. To date, Linnanmäki is the most popular family amusement park in Finland by visitorship.
Moreover, it is unusual for a non-profit organization to run a commercial business. This Finish theme park here operates the park for charitable means. The park earnings goes into raising funds to Finnish child welfare work. Furthermore, the fund to date in 2016 has raised and donated a total of 4.3 million Euros into charitable causes for children.
Getting to Linnanmäki
Linnanmäki itself is not located in the Helsinki city central itself (unlike Tivoli in Copenhagen). Instead, it is located just on the outskirts of the city. But it is still very accessible directly via public transport. Tram service line 3 serves the park from the Helsinki central railway station. From the theme park entrance, the bright yellow Ukko looping ride dominates pretty much the park entrance. Unmistakably, it beckons you to go on a roll on its vertical tracks. There are two entrances in the park, the main gate and southern gates.
An open concept theme park
Moving on, you enter the park via an amusement area-like entrance, lined with rows of stores, carnival game stores and video arcades. The first thing you notice is the park’s open concept design with no entry turnstiles.
Admission to the park is free, where you can roam the entire park grounds and use the park facilities like a public amusement fairground. Besides sit-down rides, Linnanmäki also has other attractions. This includes games and activity areas, food kiosks, restaurants and an outdoor stage for summer performances.
Moreover, the park sees over 1 million visitors annually. If the amusement rides are what your fancy is, you have the choice to pay-as-you-ride. Also, most rides in the park can be ridden with the purchase of a single-ride ticket unique for that particular ride. There are different prices for each ride type, with roller coasters being the premium rides.
Additionally, if you are planning to stay in Linnanmäki and go on most of the rides, you can opt for the more popular wristband. This allows you to access to all of the park’s rides for the entire day of wristband purchase. The wristband costs the same for each customer, regardless of height and age.
Linnanmäki theme park spots a rather simple and open layout. It is home to over 43 different rides of different sizes for all ages, with the oldest ride being Karuselli (meaning “carousel”), a merry-go-round, built in 1896. The selection comprises of roller coasters, flat rides, along with other non-ride based attractions.
Notably, the park is well laid out with all areas of the park highly accessible. Even with users with children prams or wheel chairs have no problems getting around most of the park.
There are strollers parking in several areas around the park including individual ride entrance, painting the pro-family mindset of the Finish. Combinations of family and thrill rides are mixed well throughout the park. Hence, echoing the inclusiveness of the park in a rather typical Finish manner.
Linnanmäki Water Towers
A large stoned brick castle-like structure sits at the center of the park at the top of a hill. These towers are what Linnanmäki derived its name (Vesilinnanmäki) from. Also known as the Water Castle’s Hill, it is a name locals gave the area in early 1900s.
This is given its two tall unique water towers dominating the view. One tower had been built there over a century ago in 1876. The second water tower was completed in 1938 about 50 years later. This was to cater for increased water storage demands in the region.
Today, both water towers are no longer operational. One (the older) tower presently houses a maintenance and storage facility for the theme park rides. The park’s main ticketing booth can be found at the ground floor of the water tower too.
Furthermore, inside the other newer water tower is an indoor dark ride roller coaster. It is called the Linnunrata, a Zierer force roller coaster built indoors. A short climb into the water tower main entrance brings you into the coaster station and loading area. The coaster features a full hill climb and zips through a variety of tight helixes, there are no inversions. It is surprising how the engineers managed to squeeze in such as compact roller coaster into the confines of the water tower itself.
Rides in Linnanmäki
Linnanmäki is home to eight roller coasters. Major rides include three tower rides, a Ferris wheel, a river rapids ride and spinning flat rides, such as a traditional tea cup ride. The park also has a selection of family-friendly and kiddie rides to appease the younger ones.
If you desire a slow scenic ride around the park, you could take a ride on Maisemajuna, the park’s monorail system. Built by Gebrüder IHLE Bruschal, the ride was introduced into the park on 1979. The monorail train serves to transport, as well as to sightsee around the park as it runs around the perimeter of the park.
Kimu, an intamin Zacspin roller coaster is one of the newest rides on the block. The coaster is a compact 4th-dimension coaster introduced in 2007. It features freely rotating train cars which transverse back and forward via a compact vertically meandering track layout.
You definitely can’t miss the sight of it painted in bright orange and especially the screams coming from the riders riding it.
Panorama of Linnanmaki Theme park with Kimu
Vuoristorata Wooden Classic Roller Coaster
The most notable ride in the park is the wooden roller coaster Vuoristorata. Undeniably, it is the most uniquely recognizable classic ride in the park, also given the historical significance it has on the park. It brings much nostalgia to the generations before who grew up with the classic roller coaster.
With the exception of the Karuselli carousel Merry go round ride, the Vuoristorata roller coaster is one of the first original and permanent rides built at the park. It had been operating since it opened to riders on July 1951.
Go for a ride on a wooden classic Vuoristorata in an on-ride video:
Moreover, the side friction wooden roller coaster was designed by Valdemar Lebech. It has been the most popular ride in Linnanmäki every year. Also, it is one of seven existing roller coasters still operating in the work today to feature brakemen.
This works similar to a locomotive train carriage with manual brakes, which roller coasters in the past were largely modeled after. Hence, the on-ride brakemen (or lady) can adjust the speed of the train ride manually depending on the intensity desired by the riders, no two one ride will be the same.
Flat rides in Linnanmaki
Linnanmaki is a inclusive theme park. In addition thrill seeker roller coasters, there are rides here suitable for families of all ages. Littered around the park are a number of flat rides. These range from classics such as the Iconic enterprise wheel, a Top spin ride as well as staples such as bumper cars and a Ferris wheel.
Additionally, by the water tanks area, there is a plateau housing a number of kiddie flat rides. It is suitted just a level down from the water tower, with several park benches to rest.
The park monorail runs through this area around the water towers too, providing good over views of the park. Flat rides here includes a classic Enterprise wheel, bumper cars as well as the park’s iconic Ferris wheel offering views of the surrounding scenery.
Moreover, no trip to Linnanmaki is complete without a ride ont he park’s Ferris wheel. The ride is located right at the top of the park’s water tank hill. It offers great views overlooking the park and the suburban portions of Helsinki. Check out the views in the panorama below:
Panorama of Linnanmaki Theme park from the top
Ukko Roller Coaster
Furthermore, one of the more intense rides on the park will be Ukko, a closed circuit looping roller coaster made by Maurer Söhne. Ukko is a SkyLoop (XT 150 variant), a steel roller coaster built in 2011. In addition to its daunting looks, unmistakably, it is a very compact roller coaster, built tall thin and slender. It is also the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Finland too.
Humorously, the coaster is themed to the distinctive heart-shaped loop, with a number of heart elements leading up to the ride station. However, and ironically, Ukko is actually named after the Finnish word for sky, weather and thunder.
Firstly, riders start off a vertical hill climb before going completely upside down and doing a twisty barrel roll. Thereafter the train pummels vertically down the returning vertical spike, free falling and zooming through the ride station back up the front spike again.
Near the end of the ride, it is not long before being caught by interlocks on the ascending spike, where you are slowly lowered back into the ride station. Go for a ride on Ukkko:
Ukko on-ride video, Linnanmaki, Helsinki, Finland
Salama Roller Coaster
Also, some rides were built on top of one another. This is to maximise space efficiency in the park, given the park’s compact footprint, where space is a premium. One such ride is the Salama roller coaster. Notably, this steel coaster was being built over Hurjakuru, an existing rapids ride. Salama is a Maurer Söhne/Xtended SC 3000 steel roller coaster with free-rotating train gondolas. Here, it put riders through different G-forces as the car rotates around the circuit.
In addition, we have Hurjakuru, an Intamin river rapids wet water ride. Here, riders sit in circular river rafts, cruising along a 370 meter long custom layout lazy rapid river. Additionally, the coaster features ride elements such as a tunnel and two waterfalls. Both the Salama and Hurjakuru rides were built together and opened in 1998.
Go for a ride on the Salama roller coaster with an on-ride POV video.
Salama on-ride video, Linnanmaki, Helsinki, Finland
Moving on from Salama coaster. There is also another compact roller coaster with tracks seen inter-winding around the park. Come the Pikajuna coaster.
Additionally, Pikajuna is a kiddie coaster previously known as the City Express, until 2003. It is one of the family orientated thrill rides qualifying as a full-fledged roller coaster. Manufactured by Mack Rides in 1990, Pikajuna is a powered coaster themed after a locomotive train engine running through the park through a custom layout.
Moreover, the coaster is self-powered with its own propulsion motor. Hence, there is no need for a hill-climb typically found on roller coasters. Instead, you blast off from a standstill from the station itself, encircling the circuit two full rounds to make up for the short circuit length.
Pikajuna on-ride POV coaster video
Tulireki e-motion roller coaster
Tulireki is a rare six-seater high speed family roller coaster, and possibly the only e-motion coaster left in the world. It has a traditional hill climb and zips riders smoothly through a variety of drops, twists and turns.
Interestingly, the coaster trains are programmed to rock the train carriage as you progress along the track. This give the roller coaster the “e-motion” ride element. Therefore, adding to the additional dimension of the ride dynamics. However, I wasn’t able to feel much of this claimed rocking motion on the ride. Still a nice ride nonetheless.
Take a ride on Tulireki in the following video:
Linnanmäki Tulireki e-motion roller coaster
That’s all folks!
All in all, Linnanmäki is a rather enjoyable family park for family and kids. For die hard thrill seekers, there are a small number of rides such as Ukko, Kimu and the classic Vuoristorata could suffice, but hey this is no blockbuster-styled theme park.
Also, Linnanmäki is open during the summer months from April to October. With varying opening timings ranging from 11am to 10pm on summer months with most daylight and shorter hours approaching winter. The park is good for an entire day of visit from the late-mornings and early afternoons.
It will be a good idea to grab brunch before headed to the park, with time left at the end of the day after park closing to travel back to Helsinki for dinner in the evening.
View more photos of Linnanmäki theme park here.