I think the best way to describe an amusement park is that it is a physical manifestation of a child’s dreams and Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, is no different. Tivoli, is the third oldest amusement park in the world, having opened in 1843, but is certainly the largest in Europe and it has entertained many a child and adult over the centuries. Tivoli is also believed to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Disneyland. [Fun Fact: Bakken (Dyrehavsbakken – Animal Hill) which opened in 1583, is the oldest amusement park in the world and is also found in Denmark]. Tivoli Gardens however is home to the oldest wooden, still functioning, roller coaster in Europe. Rutschebanen (“Roller Coaster”), was so popular that during WWII when gas was scarce, the staff resorted to using capstans to manually pull the train up the hill so that the ride could continue!
Rutschebanen is a 625 metre long, 13 metre high, gravity propelled roller coaster that uses friction to slow down and is one of only seven in the world roller coasters that is operated by a brakeman. Yes, a brakeman, this person sits in the middle of the train, perched on a highchair, without a seat belt, and manually brakes the roller coaster so as to keep everyone safe and to ensure a wonderful smooth riding experience. One such person who maybe followed a childhood dream, is Jorgen Jensen who has been doing this job for the last 49 years. With approximately 100 rides per day that is one serious long roller coaster ride.