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The number one amusement park in Sweden if you wish to get your bones rattled in near death experiences and scream in mingled terror and delight is Liseberg in Gothenburg. Here, you may experience spectacular free falling in ”AtmosFear” – Europe’s highest free fall attraction. From 146 meters above sea level, you are dropped with a velocity of 110 km/h straight down into a black pit, and stopped just before your seat hits the ground. You may also go on the largest rollercoaster in Sweden, get really scared in the ghost hotel and eat spun sugar till you can no more. Your kids will have plenty of less horrifying rides to choose from while you get whirled about the skies in the “SpinRock”. Here you get strapped into your place in a row of seats that is itself linked to a whirling and twirling axis on a giant hub – well, you get the drift. In short, there are plenty of experiences to be had, not least culinary ones, since the park has some really good restaurants. Why not try the fruits of the sea in Liseberg’s harbor restaurant, for instance?

The most traditional amusement park is otherwise Gröna Lund in Stockholm. The rides are nearly as exciting as in Gothenburg, and there is a lovely old carousel with painted horses in the style of a more sedate age. Just opposite the park there is the outdoor museum of Skansen, with old farmhouses from the different landscapes of Sweden collected in one place, lots of Swedish animals like wolves, mooses and deer, and of course monkeys, crocodiles and turtles. Plus, there are some mild rides for smaller kids, to amuse them when the monkeys have lost their charm. Go to the area in the Djurgården ferryboat and you get a mini-experience of sailing the archipelago as well!

Kolmården in the forests outside Norrköping is strictly speaking not an amusement park at all, but nevertheless one of the most popular places to go with children. It is basically a really fantastic zoological park with elephants, monkeys, dolphins and tigers – but with other attractions thrown in.  The cable car safari tour that opens in the summer of 2011 will be an experience out of the ordinary – imagine gliding quietly over a savannah landscape, watching the wild animals below you, and slowly sinking down to get a closer look before you swing away again, towards new adventures! Or walk among Siberian tigers! You are enclosed in a safe passageway, but you come close enough to really feel the presence of the animals. Finally, the Marine World features a dolphin show and lots of sea-living creatures to study and admire, and here you find the Dolphin Express roller-coaster as well. The smallest children may not be up to tigers and roller-coasters, so they might instead visit the nice teddy-bear Bamse and his friends and enjoy a small show and suitable kiddy rides – there is something for everyone here.

A combination of theme park, amusement park and water park is Skara Sommarland outside the small town of Skara on lake Vänern. Here you can stay for some days in cabins for rent, park your caravan or motor home or pitch your tent on the camp ground.

It’s not a bad idea, since you’ll have lots to explore. The water slides are fabulous, long, fast and steep, twirling like corkscrews or dropping you in free fall – just choose your level of thrill. There is a pirate’s island and several fairytale pools as well, rafts take you through a larger water course at speed and you can try water skiing.  The next day you may instead take to go-cart racing, or watch the smaller children negotiate their safe and slow-moving vehicles through Traffic Town. If you have some energy left after this, there are a lot of amusement park rides waiting for you, the swing carousel being a favorite. Or try the “Air Boat” that spins you about just as hard as a hurricane would – do you have the stomach for it? If not, perhaps climbing, swinging and sliding about in the adventure playground is an option, or perhaps you’ll get yourself some calm strolling at the banks of the Carp Lake, watching the fish.

Have you read the children’s books of Astrid Lindgren and know of Pippi Longstocking, the Brothers Lionheart and the rascal Emil from Lönneberga village? Then a quieter experience waits for you in the form of a visit to the World of Astrid Lindgren in Vimmerby in the landscape of Småland. Here you can walk in all the storybook environments and meet the different personages impersonated by actors in special shows.  The park is large, and all the special places you remember from the books can be found, and best of all, played in. Be a robber in Ronja’s castle or explore the boat of Pippi Longstocking’s father, the pirate captain! Or walk through the small, small town that shows you how Astrid Lindgren grew up nearly a hundred years ago.  A nostalgia trip for the adults and a splendid adventure for children!

Other theme parks and water parks abound. There are the water slides, pools and rides of Fun City in Varberg on the west coast, the combined amusements park and zoo in Furuvik near Gävle on the east coast, the Kneipp village outside Visby on Gotland, which is more of a huge adventure playground than an amusement park, and many more. Finally, if Santa Claus is your (or maybe your children’s) passion, Tomteland outside Leksand in north Dalecarlia should suit you, although it may feel a bit strange in the middle of the summer. But if you know that the Swedish “tomte” is not only a Santa figure, delivering Christmas presents, but also preserves traits of a pre-Christian guardian of the house it may be easier to accept his porridge cooking and gift-wrapping while the sun blazes outside.