Today’s Wheel of Adventures has stopped at 2007, and off we go. . .
In the years leading up to Walt Disney’s construction of Disneyland, Walt did a lot of research on various amusement parks. Tivoli was one of the most important parks to study, According to radio and TV personality Art Linkletter, who recalled his 1951 trip to Tivoli Gardens with Disney, “Walt walked through the amusement park scribbling down notes about the seats, gardens, rides, food, and every other detail he noticed”. Even after Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt returned to Tivoli a second time in 1958. Walt still was learning about park design and operations in 1964 when he visited Tivoli yet again. It later turned out that his Disneyland was much inspired by his early visits to the Tivoli Garden. He came back to visit several times, perhaps for further inspiration.
In summer 2007 I was on a sea cruise in the Baltic with specific intention to see with my own eyes just why Walt was so interested in this beautiful park. Yes, there’s nothing quite like quaint and historic Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli Gardens (or simply Tivoli) is a famous amusement park and pleasure garden in Copenhagen Denmark. The park opened on August 15th, 1843 and is the second oldest amusement park in the world. With 4.033 million visitors in 2012 Tivoli is the second most popular seasonal theme park in the world, the most visited theme park in Scandinavia and the fourth most visited in Europe, only behind Disneyland Paris, Europa-Park Rust and the Efteling.
Tivoli’s founder, Georg Carstensen obtained a five-year charter to create Tivoli by telling King Christian VIII that “when the people are amusing themselves, they do not think about politics”. I think Disneyland has the same effect today! From the very start, Tivoli included a variety of attractions: buildings in the exotic style of an imaginary Orient: a theatre, band stands, restaurants and cafés, flower gardens, and mechanical amusement rides. After dark, colored lamps illuminated the gardens. On certain evenings, specially designed fireworks could be seen reflected in Tivoli’s lake. Certainly seems a similar description to current day Disney Parks.
One of the most famous features is the 1874 Pantomime Theater where the absence of spoken dialogue is an advantage, as Tivoli is now an international tourist attraction. Tivoli is always evolving without abandoning its original charm or traditions. As Georg Carstensen said in 1844, “Tivoli will never, so to speak, be finished,” a sentiment echoed just over a century later when Walt Disney said of his own Tivoli-inspired theme park, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” Walt Disney, during a trip overseas with his wife Lilly, visited Tivoli Gardens. Walt was so impressed with the Danish amusement park, he immediately decided Disneyland should try to emulate its “happy and unbuttoned air of relaxed fun.” So, you can see that Tivoli really is the genesis of Disneyland.
The world’s most popular city park appeals equally to the local population as it does to visitors to the city. Tivoli Gardens is more than an amusement park, it is equally as popular as a place to go dining and people-watching. The 21-acre park is beautifully landscaped with fountains and flower beds. The park prides itself in the more than 111,000 custom-designed lights that illuminate it at night and the more than 400,000 colorful flowers, including 65,000 tulips. The architecture of the buildings in the park is wonderful. Behold the stately Nimb Palace Hotel with its Moorish-style facade sporting magnificent towers and minarets. The Chinese Tower was built in 1900 and looks magical at night with the light reflecting off the central lake where the 18th century frigate St George III beckons attention. Other notable structures in the park include the Glass Hall Theater, the Concert Hall, the Pantomime Theater.
After touring Tivoli for a day and a night, I roamed thru charming central Copenhagen and sampled the delicious seafood delicacies in the harbor, Nyhaven. Certainly one must go see the original Copenhagen “Little Mermaid”, and visit the great Danish beer factory, 1873 Tuborg, now owned by Carlsburg since 1970. Since I was in the Baltic neighborhood, visits were made to Tallin in Estonia where I bicycled thru a beautiful green forest, Helsinki in Finland, and also Stockholm in Sweden.
Future True-Life Adventures will explore St. Petersburg Russia, Paris Disneyland (and Paris too), with a special tour of the famed French Versailles Palace.