Finland had never exactly been on my radar; it was more somewhere that I thought "it'd be nice to go there one day", as opposed to a "I'll go there in a few years". Then, Taiga happened, and all of a sudden, my interest popped up dramatically. And so Linnanmäki happened this weekend. I looked at trying to combine the trip with other Finnish parks (like Power Park and Särkänniemi), but given how widespread they are, Finland being the 8th most expensive European country, and time being limited, I had to settle for just the one park.
The park was open 1pm-midnight, with it also being the first day of their Halloween event Iik!Week (weirdly, Finnish parks seem to do Halloween events in September, and it was very much a coincidence we ended up going to that too). On a Saturday like this, the park would normally be open 1-10pm, so still very good opening hours. The park is completely free to enter (not even a turnstile in sight), and a wristband for unlimited rides and attractions costs a slightly eye-watering €42. There's options to by 'tickets' for individual rides, priced at the even more eye-watering price of €9, or a 'bundle' of 6 tickets for...€42. Weird system but okay.
I've covered most of my thoughts on Taiga here, but just to sum it up for completeness here too: Taiga is absolutely brilliant. It starts off the day well, and when it warms up, it's a relentless beast. Twists that throw you out of your seat, crazy airtime, ongoing speed. It's stunning. Just sheer brilliance, and POVs don't do the ride justice in any way.
The ride has okay operations, with staff asking every single person as they check bars if their pockets are empty and, if not, making them empty them. A small thing, but annoying.
Finnish for 'Roller Coaster', this is a wooden coaster that's been going since 1951, and is a traditional brakeman wooden, with the brakeman at the back of the train. Also is heavily inspired by Bakken's woodie apparently.
This is genuinely an utter joy. From the hilariously quick lift hill, to the fun drops and double downs and the pace it manages to keep, it's actually really fun. And at the front of the train, you get some VERY strong airtime. Between this and Taiga, it's a wonder I didn't end up with bruised thighs after this trip. We rode it 8 times during the day, which I think speaks volumes about the quality of this.
The first ever Intamin Zac Spin. Not a phrase that fills you with joy. I wasn't sure how I'd react to this, and ultimately I didn't enjoy it. The spinning is okay until the end, when it does it's only flip but drops you down head first. The rest of the ride is okay, but still not great. I hate to think what longer versions of this are like. In fairness, we did it twice, so it can't have been THAT awful, but it is significantly less pleasant when you board the station in the backwards facing seats. It's sad to think about how there are such contrasting Intamins in such close proximity.
Staff were very insistent on balancing the cars too, which took some time, and we even saw some staff members having to ride it to ensure this balance happened. Those poor souls.
Oh dear. This thing. My first Maurer Sky Loop, and this definitely is up there with one of the most awful experiences I've had on any ride. Whoever thought that a vertical lift hill going back on itself and hanging you upside down was a good idea must have been a bloody sadist. We were sat near the front, which meant we had dreadful hangtime, and it was genuinely one of the most uncomfortable experiences I've had, along with the bad restraints of a Maurer too. Then you do an inversion, seesaw and get off, questioning your life choices.
The world's only standing Mack E-Motion coaster. What's an E-Motion coaster, I hear you ask? It's basically a coaster where the cars are meant to 'tilt' as you go round corners, thanks to some springs and stuff in the cars. You notice this as you board the cars, as they bounce around a bit. But after that, you hardly notice it at all. Except for the fact that this coaster is uncomfortable, bordering on rough. There's a drop where you literally shunt and jerk back and forth, and I slammed my back pretty hard. Another not pleasant one.
There's a couple of other coasters: Salama, a Maurer spinner that doesn't really spin, Pikajuna, a Mack powered coaster which, though not bad, has a long layout and goes round 3 times, making it boring, and Linnunrata eXtra, a custom Zierer built inside an old water tower. Linnunrata has optional VR goggles: I tried them on my first ride, selecting the horror versions (they had 3 choices). It was okay, nothing special, suffers from the same problems all other VR coaster have I guess, but since you don't have headphones, the atmosphere is hurt due to the lack of sound. Without the VR, there's some pretty cool space theming throughout the ride, and it's much nicer than the VR. Would recommend no VR.
Outside of the coasters, the park has some really decent rides: Kyöpelinvuoren Hotelli, a very well done ghost train with lots of special effects and surprises, Hurjakuru, a rapids ride featuring some scary waterfalls, an ever-flowing sprinkler tower with fire effects, and a generally decent layout and Kingi, a 75m tall gyro drop tower, which gives good views of the park and Helsinki.
(their Enterprise and Ferris Wheel align beautifully at night!)
But what about Iik!Week?
It was impossible to know what to expect from the event; finding information and reviews online was difficult, and they seem to change everything each year. This year, the event included:
-2 Halloween exclusive mazes, rated 13+
-1 Halloween exclusive maze, for families/all
-2 overlays of existing attractions, rated 13+
-An outdoor attraction, which was basically a walkway, rated 13+
-A zombie disco outdoor area; with live DJ, bar and actors, rated 18+
-The area where most of the attractions are transformed into a scare zone, again rated 13+
All attractions started at 4pm, except the Zombie Disco which started at 6pm.
Despite the park being quite small, this did lead to a 'Thorpe effect' where only a section of the park felt like Halloween, and the rest of the park feeling pretty normal. Anyways, onto the attractions (with spoilers)..
Visitors to the park's harshest site are horribly awaited by the victims of failed human experiments who have been locked away at a research facility.
The first maze we did and the one which was marketed as the scariest; this would set the scene for the event. Before entering the maze, you're given a rope for everyone to hold to keep you together; this seemed to just be an alternative to hands-on-shoulders in keeping the group together.
A pre-show by a military person explains the backstory, and warns us to stick together, don't touch anything because of radiation, and to walk slowly. The maze itself was very well themed - a surprise from a city park where theming is sparse! Each scene is basically a room from the laboratory, where a failed human experiment is behind a window / cage. The actors themselves also looked great - amazing costumes and make up. But they weren't very scary. One experiment came out of their cage and chased us a bit, and another slammed a door.
After barely a minute of slow walk, a sign pointing you to the exit appears, but then there's a monster for one final scare. The monster costume looked stunning, and must have been over 7ft tall. The actor did a really good job given they must have had limited movement, but they were also equipped with what looked like 3 large hairdryers stuck together as a 'weapon', which felt...odd.
So yeah, a very short maze with little scares, but with great sets and great costumes and a good number of actors considering.
A zombie invasion created by a nuclear fallout haunts amateurs in an old nuclear silo tunnel. Horror lovers have only one way to protect themselves - the green radioactive light source causes the zombies to retreat. Step into the twilight corridor where horror-zombies scare away!
The other Halloween exclusive maze takes place in a temporary structure in one of the kids lands in the park (with 2-3 kids rides actually closed for the event).
At the start of the maze, everyone is handed a green lightsaber (like a cheap pound shop one) to guide your way, with their in-story purpose being to scare away the zombies that await. These also serve a second, more obvious purpose though - to help you see. The maze itself only seemed to have one light throughout, and was otherwise very dark, so the lightsaber was essential to help you see.
The maze was again very short, effectively a horseshoe shape. There were quite a lot of actors (again, all with very good make up), but all bar one of them were stuck behind fencing, and all they could do was slam and growl. It was a very jarring experience, as there's no fear there whatsoever (even a girl who was in our group who looked around 13/14 wasn't the least bit scared). And given the theming for the maze was effectively fences and black tarpaulin, there wasn't much too it.
Again, a short maze with little scares, but a fun concept and a good number of actors.
Kauhusirkus (Horror Circus)
Do you dare to step into the Horror Circus of bloodthirsty clowns?
This is an 'overlay' of the park's other dark ride, Taikasirkus (Magic Circus). The ride was open before 4pm without actors, and we tried it - it was a suspended dark ride that goes through different scenes at a circus, with fun animatronics and such. The gondolas turn/spin slightly at different points throughout the ride too, to showcase different points within each scene. There was no audio, though apparently there usually is, which was odd..
After 4pm, the ride has actors (one in every scene, so about 6). The actors are allowed everyone - in the sets, in front of, behind and underneath the cars! The actors, were, unsurprisingly, clowns. This wasn't particularly scary (certainly a push to make this 13+..), but the actors occasionally hid and did (predictable) jump scares, making it a more fun/scary experience. Real highlight was an actor appearing in front of us, then as our gondola spun around, he decided to lay on the floor, as a fun way of surprising us.
Again, the actors looked really good, and this was well done.
Kammokuja (Abhorrence Alley)
The dead spirits have been wandering in the corridors of Kammokuja. There is also a large butcher living in the alley ...
An overlay of the park's 3D walkthrough (which was much like a spookier version of Hocus Pocus Hall at Chessington), which basically just included a couple of actors hidden around corners. It was fun, but the actors seemed very restricted in what they could do. For example, one actor literally just appeared from round a corner holding a tray of tea, said in a creepy voice 'Would you like some tea?', and then waited for us to move on with no further interaction.
The ending featured a large and loud male actor bashing on a wall brandishing a knife. Probably enough to get younger kids out quickly, but again, this felt a bit tame for a 13+ experience.
The outdoor walkway had some clown animatronics, the family friendly maze was just an outdoor labyrinth where the walls were spider webs (no actors) and the scare zone had a couple of sets of actors going round a couple of times.
The reason for this being 18+ was because of the bar; I imagine it makes it easier for serving drinks when you don't have to ID everyone when it's busy. As the park was very quiet, so too was the disco area, which meant it was lacking in atmosphere. However, the actors here did a great job; all interacting with every group personally, spending lots of time with any group there and staying in character very well. It was also nice to see zombies which don't grunt or growl at you, as many theme park mazes resort to.
A shout out to the zombie footballer, who at one point started a kick about with people in the area, then proceeded to do several keepy uppies (whilst remaining in perfect character!), and then carried on as if it was nothing. That was impressive!
So Iik!Week was a weird one. Clearly the park know their stuff when it comes to doing scary things: the costumes, set design (largely) and acting quality (mostly) were all very good in my opinion. Plus their ghost train is scary too. But it seems like they've held themselves back, like they don't want to create attractions which actually scare people, despite having everything there to do so. I really don't believe a park which has the creative levels they've shown wouldn't be able to get over the final hurdle of actually making something scary.
It's a shame, because they've got enough variation to do even one actually scary experience, and then keep the rest more fun. I hope that whatever their reasons, whatever their thought process, they decide to change their mind and do something actually scary in the future. In saying that, I still enjoyed the event, so can't really complain!
And that's that! Without Taiga, Linnanmäki would be one of those 'if you're in the area, visit' or 'if you've ran out of other parks to visit' types of parks. It's fun, but nothing standout enough. But with Taiga, they've got a truly exceptional ride, with enough of a supporting line up to be a really solid park which is well worth the visit!
How busy was it?
Surprisingly quiet! Thanks to some wet weather (which only lasted for a couple fo hours on and off), the park wasn't very busy, and we didn't queue longer than 15mins for anything. By about 8-9pm, everything was walk on.
How easy is it to get too?
The park is about a 30-40min bus ride from Helsinki airport
Is there anything else nearby?
Helsinki has a few bits; we did an indoor horror mini golf course, the Helsinki SkyWheel, Helsinki Flying Theatre and Helsinki SeaLife (which is joined onto the park)
How expensive is it?
Helsinki isn't cheap, and flying out there is a bit costly. We stayed in a hostel, booking a private room for 3 people which cost about €20pp, which helped reduce costs.
(and as ever, excuse the horrid photos..!)