We spent two days at Kolmården and had a wonderful time. We were a group of two families (four adults and three children ages 5, 2.5, and 2). The first thing you need to take into consideration when visiting the park is the size. Wear comfortable shoes!
Just inside the gates when you pick up your park map (available in many languages) notice the bottom where if give you distances and walking times to some of the popular attractions. The safari is about a half hour walk assuming you don’t stop at anything along the way. When you look up from your map you’ll notice the huge hill you have to climb to get to the park. Don’t worry, there is an escalator available to take you up this first hill if you’re not feeling up to the climb. Just don’t think it’s going to be easy walking from there. There are a few more places in the park with steep inclines (notably between the dolphin show and the safari).
Before you climb the big hill there are a couple of stops you may want to make. First, if you have small children you may want to consider picking up an identification wristband for them. These (free) wristbands allow you to write the child’s name and a cell phone number on them in case you get separated. As a mother of a two year old, I thought this was an awesome idea. I had no plans of letting him out of my sight but just knowing he had that wristband on gave me a little bit of comfort “just in case”. Next, if you’re carrying a bunch of stuff and don’t have a stroller with you, you can rent a little wagon thing to haul your lunch, bags or tired children through the park.
One of the first areas we came to in the park had a giant slide (the tallest in Sweden), slingshot target practice and a bungee/trampoline jumping area. My husband and I were shocked that the jumping thing was NOT an additional cost. I can’t think of place in the USA where that particular attraction would have been included in the regular cost of admission.
We then headed to grab a quick lunch. The food in the park wasn’t anything spectacular but it got the job done. We had some lunch at a taco place and then let the kids play at the giant playground. My son probably would have been happy to play at the playground the entire afternoon (or weekend for that matter). The playground had and area appropriate for my 2 year old and other larger things for older children.
After we managed to get the kids off the playground if was off to see the animals. Our friends took their children to ride the camels (our son was too small). This is another thing we were shocked was included in the cost of admission. In fact, we didn’t encounter anything in the park, aside from food, that was an additional cost. While our friends were riding the camels we took a walk with our stroller in hopes of getting our son to nap. We headed toward the savannah and we were awe struck.
The space the animals have in this park is huge. They have a ton of room to move around. It means more walking to get to see them all but you have such great views for seeing them that you don’t mind. The park is designed in a way that you’re rarely looking through a fence to see the animals. The animal areas are often sunken or raised or separated from the guests in some way other than a fence. There might be a small fence but it’s more to keep the guests from stepping off the walking path than to keep the animals in. This fact makes the park greet for strollers. Many zoos and animal parks have great walking paths for strollers but then you have to take the child out of the stroller for them to be able to see the animals. At Kolmården our son was able to see the animals while seated comfortably in his stroller. While he still wanted to get out sometimes at least we didn’t feel like we had to carry him through the entire park in order for him to be able to see the animals.
There are a couple of scheduled events throughout the day. As I mentioned, we were in the park for two days. Two attractions we made sure we saw both days were the safari and the dolphin show. The dolphin show is inside which was something I hadn’t seen before. The show itself was great and our son loved it.
In addition to the dolphin show, we saw a bird show and watched them feed the chimpanzees and gorillas. If you decide to watch the feedings make sure you get there early. The seats fill up quickly (we stood along the fence) and the gorillas and chimps definitely know it’s time to eat and start getting excited. It’s interesting to watch how they act and react.
The safari is amazing. Traveling over the animals in the gondola was an impressive way to do a safari and the views looking over the water are amazing. There are buttons on the ceiling of the gondola where you can choose the language of the narration (Swedish, English or Finnish, I think) or you can turn it off. We really enjoyed listing to the narration. The first day we did the safari in the last hour the park was open. While we didn’t plan it that way it ended up being an excellent idea. We had NO wait. Judging by the cattle shoots they have set up at the entrance to the safari, that’s probably not normal.
Overall, this was a great weekend getaway. I highly recommend it.
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