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.

Main entrance to the historic Tivoli Gardens with beautiful night lighting
Main entrance to the historic Tivoli Gardens with beautiful night lighting
Walkways in side the Gardens feature fanciful hanging lanterns
Walkways in side the Gardens feature fanciful hanging lanterns
Some of the pathways are narrow, which creates an intimate feeling
Some of the pathways are narrow, which creates an intimate feeling
Each side of the little alleys is highly detailed - walk too fast, you'll miss it
Each side of the little alleys is highly detailed – walk too fast, you’ll miss it
The charm of the Gardens is partly due to a mishmash of conflicting themes
The charm of the Gardens is partly due to a mishmash of conflicting themes
The Chinese themed Pantomime Theater has attracted folks for decades
The Chinese themed Pantomime Theater has attracted folks for decades
An outdoor live orchestra pit provides the music for the delightful shows
An outdoor live orchestra pit provides the music for the delightful shows
Tivoli Garden amusement rides have sweet and charming themes
Tivoli Garden amusement rides have sweet and charming themes
This full size gunboat is certainly a contrast to it's setting in a tiny pond
This full size gunboat is certainly a contrast to it’s setting in a tiny pond

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.

Every spot in the Gardens creates a delicate and peaceful scene
Every spot in the Gardens creates a delicate and peaceful scene
One can dine in a cute pavilion while watching silent little electric boats
One can dine in a cute pavilion while watching silent little electric boats
This wildly colored little restaurant rests charmingly in a lush green forest
This wildly colored little restaurant rests charmingly in a lush green forest
The multi-sided band stand provides classical European band concerts
The multi-sided band stand provides classical European band concerts

 

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.

This little kiosk has a goofy blend of styles and themes - works for Tivoli
This little kiosk has a goofy blend of styles and themes – works for Tivoli
Just outside Tivoli Gardens are located the friendly areas of Copenhagan
Just outside Tivoli Gardens are located the friendly areas of Copenhagan
A number of Copenhagen streets are pedestrian only
A number of Copenhagen streets are pedestrian only

 

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 Nyhaven is always the center attraction for Copenhagen visitors
The Nyhaven is always the center attraction for Copenhagen visitors
All kinds of delectable Scandinavian seafood can be enjoyed at Nyhaven
All kinds of delectable Scandinavian seafood can be enjoyed at Nyhaven
Visitors may see Copenhagen up close by canal boat excursions
Visitors may see Copenhagen up close by canal boat excursions
Disney has a Little Mermaid, but Copenhagen's Little Mermaid came first!
Disney has a Little Mermaid, but Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid came first!

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.

If you're in Tivoli, visit other nearby Scandinavian countries by train
If you’re in Tivoli, visit other nearby Scandinavian countries by train
In summer 2007 I traveled Baltic countries on the Celebrity Constellation
In summer 2007 I traveled Baltic countries on the Celebrity Constellation

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.

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A quick sample of central Stockholm Sweden

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Quick look at Tallin Estonia

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Future True-Life Adventures will explore St. Petersburg Russia, Paris Disneyland (and Paris too), with a special tour of the famed French Versailles Palace.

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Bob Gurr is a true Disney legend who was hired on to design the Autopia for Disneyland. Over nearly four decades, Bob would become famous for developing the Monorails, Submarines, Flying Saucers, antique cars and double-decker buses of Main Street, Ford Motor Company's Magic Skyway (at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair), Omnimover ride system, Matterhorn and lots more. It has been said that if it moves, Bob probably played a part. Upon leaving Imagineering in 1981, Bob worked on a number of "leisure-time spectaculars" and "fantastical beasts" for parks and developments all over the world. Most notably, he created King Kong and Conan's Serpent for Universal Studios Hollywood, A UFO for the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, and the memorable T-Rex figure featured in Steven Spielberg's motion picture "Jurassic Park." You can find Bob's column, Design: Those Were The Times, right here on MiceChat. Though don't pin Bob down to a schedule, he's busy being "retired."
  • Larry Parker

    A small replica of the little mermaid statue is atop Walt’s grave in Glendale.

    • TimmyTimmyTimmy

      Is it really not. The mermaid is by the pond. The grave has a girl on a rock. She has legs and is not a mermaid.

  • Ken Goldenberg

    Great article Bob! I really hope to go there one day. Thank you.

  • Klutch

    I hope to one day enjoy a Baltic cruise. Mr. Gurr, would you recommend the Celebrity Constellation?

    I’ve been to Copenhagen, but really didn’t get a chance to explore much. It was in the fall and Tivoli was closed.

    The Little Mermaid statue is actually very small. It’s also out in the water where you can’t get close to it unless you wade out and don’t mind getting wet up to your waist; which some Japanese visitors did while I was there. 🙂

    • Bob Gurr

      Just go to http://www.cruisecritic.com/ and search for Baltic cruises and you’ll enjoy the reviews of various ships – pick a ship and time of year and enjoy.

      • Klutch

        Wiill do. Thank you, Bob!

  • Disneykin Kid

    Maybe a trip to Tivoli Gardens should be required for top Disney execs, so they can feel what Walt felt.

  • Well, that’s it, I’ve got to go visit Tivoli Gardens. These photos are stunning!!!

  • JDN

    Thanks for the great pictures. I’ve always wondered what this famed “Tivoli” was like.

  • victoriaskitten

    These pictures are so beautiful. Now I want to go and visit. Thanks for Sharing Bob. As always spectacular work, much appreciated.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    Once again, stunning photos, Bob! I love seeing photos and hearing about theme/amusement parks over in Europe. They can be a little wacky, but they usually ooze charm. They just look like a blast to visit!