In all honesty this trip, that goes from Ivo Lake in northern Scania via Oland’s Animal Park, Astrid Lindgren’s World, Noisy Village, Katthult and the movie Village in Mariannelund to Brio Lekoseum and the Ring Lake, again in Scania, is a trip designed for the children.
Not to speak ill of vacations abroad, but we who live in the Oresund Region do not need to go that far. Admittedly, what you are after makes a difference. To meet new cultures is absolutely valuable and uplifting and that may speak for holidays abroad. If you are not, that is, brave enough to contact the representatives for all the different cultures that are already in the region. When the summer is like this one, there is anyway no reason to go abroad for sun, swimming and adventure. It is around the corner.
Within the region itself there are ample opportunities to sun, swimming and experiences. The whole area is criss-crossed by beaches and there are plenty of possible experiencing, especially for families with children. On the west side we have e.g. Tivoli, Bakken, Zoologisk Have, BonBon-Land, Den Blå Planet and Hans Christian Andersen Museum. On the east side we find e.g. Skånes djurpark, Ystad djurpark, Tropikariet in Helsingborg and many theme playgrounds in Malmo. In addition there are a lot of interesting museums on both sides of the sound, Eslövs Leksaksmuseum, not least. But to us Oresund residents this is all commonplace and perhaps rather something you visit on a weekend, or even on an afternoon.
If you want to go on a little longer (but yet short) trip that neither requires flying nor booking half a year in advance, there is Juteland with its Lion Park and its Legoland. Or you can choose to go to Smaland and Oland. I chose the latter. And for it to be an experience trip worth its name, I brought both a child and a tent. Because, as we will see further on, in all honesty this trip, that goes from Ivo Lake in northern Scania via Oland’s Animal Park, Astrid Lindgren’s World, Noisy Village, Katthult and the movie Village in Mariannelund to Brio Lekoseum and the Ring Lake, again in Scania, is a trip designed for the children. The strange dad probably enjoys it the most when wandering around in the forest, pitch the tent and cook dinner outdoors. Even on a summer when you are not allowed to light a fire.
The Ivo Island offers both walks in beautiful scenery and a lovely swim in amber water. In addition there is the free and very slow ferry trip. However, the walks quickly make the children tired and as the swimming area doesn’t offer more than water, the three hours we spent there was more than enough. It was, however, a nice stop on our way to Kalmar.
Oland’s Animal- and Amusement Park was probably the highlight of our trip. The fact that we spent the two days there with another child and another grown-up and that we lived for free indoors, admittedly improved the impression, but the marking was sat without taking that into account.
The area consists of four major parts, you might say, which all of them appeal to the child, but that also give the adult quite a lot of pleasure: Animal Park, Dinosaur Land, Amusement Park and Water World. This is in many ways a smart concept; cool days the animals are considerably more active and hotter days the water world comes to the rescue. In our case it meant that we could spend the first and the last hour both days with the animals and some hours with the dinosaurs and in the amusement park. Most hours, however, were spent in the Water world, under a baking-hot sun.
In the animal park you find everything from amusing monkeys and lemurs, cute pat friendly goats and colourful flamingos to alligators, lions and tigers. Admittedly there is a lot to say about keeping animals in cages, but in comparison with many other animal parks we have visited during the years, these animals’ situation is rather good. Some years ago Oland’s animal park was heavily criticized for their way of treating the animals, but since then, they are getting better and better. There are, in addition, a lot of informative signs about both animals kept at the zoo and other animals. Whether the information is correct or not, I don’t dare to say, especially since they are full of strange lingual mistakes. I cannot help to wonder why they let a dyslectic person write them and why no one checks them afterwards. An extra plus, however, for the case with a mirror and a sign saying “The world’s most dangerous animal”.
The dinosaur land consists of a large number of dinosaurs, more or less in full size, on which the children are allowed to climb. Also here is a lot of informative text, but because of the above-mentioned reason, you may want to be a bit doubtful.
In the amusement park there is a reasonable number of merry-go-rounds for different ages on which you go for free when you have paid the entrance fee. There is, however, almost as many attractions that are not at all free, and the restaurants, of which the most is within the amusement area, is a complete disappointment; bad food to high prices. To bring your own food is highly recommendable. On the other hand there is a Ferris wheel from which you can see the whole area.
The Water Land, finally, contains two different areas, of which the newest, is called Pirate Island. Here is everything from high water slides where you can come up in quite a speed, to quite calm children’s pools. And above all here is cooling, something you really appreciate on a hot day.
We chose to buy a two-day ticket, which severely lowered the price per hour. On the other side our morning inertness caused us not to fully take advantage of the 16 hours we had paid for, and considering how much there is to do, we had probably could have filled also those hours. Had the children got to decide, we would have stayed for a whole week.
Astrid Lindgren’s World
We chose to buy a one-day ticket here, and in retrospective that was probably smart. Admittedly here is enough to do to fill two days, and we missed a lot of shows, but considering there are no places where you can cool off, eight hours was almost too much to cope with, despite the fact that we were constantly enjoying ourselves.
Here are a lot of places to visit; everything from the small town, which is a miniature model of a somewhat changed Vimmerby from the days of Astrid Lindgren’s childhood, to all the famous places from the books and the films, and chutes from Karlsson’s roof and an obstacle course. In addition you get the chance to meet many of the different characters and watch plays at the different locations. The child was clearly more impresses by the plays then was the adult who though the acting left a lot to wish for. One brilliant exception was there, however: The man who played Mattis did so a lot better than Börje Ahlstedt, I have to say. And it surprised me. Not until now I have realised that the overacting in the film was not at all necessary.
The child’s favourite, however, was none of these things; you may experience The Seacrow Island from a carriage, similar to the ones in e.g. a tunnel of love. On the way you meet Melker, Tjorven and the others in shape of pretty badly made wax dolls. It pleased the child, however, to such an extent that she took the ride five times, the last two rounds without her father.
The day ended with us buying quite a lot of too expensive stuff in the many different stores. All in all we left Astrid Lindgren’s World quite satisfied.
Noisy Village and Katthult
When you are in the vicinity, you must of course visit Noisy Village and Katthult, as they, since they became the locations for two wonderful TV- and film series, nowadays are called.
Noisy Village did not offer very much and to pay 60 kronor an hour to park on a gravel spot was a bit too much. On the other hand it cost nothing to walk along the houses of Noisy Village. But what was there to charge for? A small quiz and some hay for the children to jump in was it. But in Café Sörgården you could a t least get a cup of coffee and an ice-cream to reasonable prices.
Katthult was considerably more enjoyed, both by child and by adult. Admittedly there was an entrance fee, but on the other hand the parking was free. And you could visit both the carpentry shed and the farmhand cottage. At that you could pat and watch rabbits, cows, horses and pigs, play on a picturesque playground and have a coffee to okay prices. We spent around four times as much time in Katthult as we did in Noisy Village and we could probably have stayed a little longer.
Smaland is full of small cosy lakes and if you just keep your eyes open, they will show up every now and then. In the summer heat they were also necessary. Our favourite was absolutely the little lake close to Katthult.
Film Village Smaland
As can be seen, the film village got the lowest points in our comparison. This is mainly due to the high price per hour. I had to pay SEK 325 for one adult and one child and after 1.5 hours we were completely satisfied. There was simply not more to do. On the other hand we got to see many of the actual film sites and make both movies and song recordings, which we could send to our e-mail, and that was highly appreciated by the child. We were not at all dissatisfied and we do not regret our visit.
Apart from the finishing swim in the Ring lake, Lekoseum in Osby was our final stop. And as can be seen, this place got the highest total score. It is mainly due to the low price per hour. In all honesty the adult was a little surprised that this stop got as many child points as did Oland’s Animal Park and Astrid Lindgren’s World, although there was a whole lot to do and a whole lot of toys on display. The dad was most fascinated by how you could follow the change of beauty ideal during time by looking at the Barbie exhibition.
All in all a trip like this one can be highly recommended. The child was fully occupied and enjoyed every minute, and even if you disregard that – which really also was the great profit of the trip – it was also a pleasurable vacation for an old man who has lost some of his imagination and wish to play. In addition it was a very cheap vacation. As we chose to sleep in a tent and cook most of our meals ourselves, we managed to get a week’s vacation for under SEK 5000, including petrol money. That’s not too bad, is it?