I left one day this week work early to meet my husband and children at the Linnanmäki amusement park. For many families in Finland Linnanmäki, or Särkänniemi, the equivalent in Tampere, are must do’s in the summer. For me it felt like the real start of the summer doing something fun with the whole family with no time strains and a sunny and warm weather with a light breeze.
I think nobody expects an amusement park to be completely free even though entering the area is free. However, Linnanmäki has free rides (I think 9?)!!! A bracelet to enter all rides costs 39e/person (accompanying adults need to pay too) and a single ride is 8e, so a day at the amusement park could cost a fair bit for a family. However, with the free rides every child regardless of the income level of their parents is able to get a feel of the fun, which I think is great.
Most of the free rides are mainly for the smaller visitors. But there also ones like the Panorama, which gives a great view over Helsinki, is free and even a faint-hearted adult like me don’t mind the height nor the ride in this. (It was a bit of a different story with the Ferris wheel my 5 yo daughter absolutely wanted to go in: of course children had to be accompanied by adults, so I had to go in. But I wonder who was really supporting who when I heard my daughter say sentences like “don’t worry, this is quite safe”, “it’s ok, it is supposed sway a bit in the wind” and “Mum, you should really look down, the view is awesome”…)
We made a compromise; our kids like the free rides but we also let them both choose a ride each that cost. At this age they where quite happy like this. And we might even pop in again later this summer to try rides we didn’t queue to this time. But the satisfaction of a few free rides may change in a few years time if they get used to going there every year… Quite a genius marketing strategy really, to get kids used to going when they are young and then just add to the price the older they grow!
Going back to the thoughts I had when I started this blog: Me and my husband decided a couple of years ago that amusement parks need to be treats, that is, not something our kids get to go to every week or so. Not because we can’t afford it but because we want them to appreciate things. And because there are other ways to have great fun together as well. However, as we are fortunate enough we are happy to treat our children (and ourselves) every summer to one fun park, maybe another if it is not for a full price. Last year we skipped Linnanmäki and did a lovely daytrip to Puuhamaa instead.
But it was definitively worth going to Linnanmäki, we had so much fun! Our 5 year old seems to be fearless, lucky she is too short for the worst rides (and even though I typically promote equality I think joining kids for horrible rides at fun parks must be the dads duty. I am happy to take pictures with my feet firm on the ground…)! And I couldn’t believe how quickly our 3 year old picked up how to drive (and crash) cars showing real skill. What a way to get into proper summer holiday mood!