Piratfisken

The Djurs Sommerland success story

Once there were 2 visionary men, who in 1981 looked out over a piece of flat land in Djursland in East Jutland and saw within a summer land filled with happy and playful guests. Today Djurs Sommerland is Scandinavia's largest summerland and an amusement park with international prestige and recognition.

Success from the start
Many people probably laughed when Ole B. Nielsen and Børge Godsk Jensen came up with the idea of an activity park in Djursland in 1981.

At that time the concept of a summer land was far from established among the general population. However, Ole B. Nielsen and Børge Godsk Jensen sensed that something was about to happen. Danes were increasingly demanding a wider selection of holiday and leisure activities. At the same time East Jutland was experiencing an increasing flow of tourists, and they lacked an option for days when the weather was not good enough for bringing time at the beach - a place where the entire family could enjoy fun experiences.

So the pair of friends started to search for a suitable piece of land for an activity park. The dream was a place in the southern part of Djursland but this wasn't feasible. The choice therefore fell to the area in Nimtofte in the middle of Djursland. This location later turned out to perfectly fit Djurs Sommerland's future development with its focus on new rides and expansion.

In 1981 the success criteria were to be noticed. Their greatest expectations were therefore exceeded when the turnstiles revealed then Djurs Sommerland had 100,000 visitors by the end of the first season.

"The interest was overwhelming. At the time the concept of entertainment by keeping active was a ground-breaking idea. Activities such as archery, rowing in small boats and obstacle courses characterised the offer. In popular terms: no pain, no gain. This was the driving concept for Djurs Sommerland throughout the 1980s," explains managing director, Henrik B. Nieslen.

From physics to mechanics
However the park's guests demanded faster and newer rides. Larger, mechanical rides were therefore a natural part of the summer land's experience.

"Previously we had one single mechanical ride, but from the start of the 1990s there was a clear expectation of more, larger and slicker rides. The concept of what a summer land should provide became wider. A new experience dimension was added," says Henrik B. Nielsen.

Colorado River opened in 1991, while the first larger roller coaster was Thors Hammer, which was built in 2002.

From ride to an integrated experience
The 1990s were also the decade in which the brothers Henrik B. Nielsen and Michael B. Nielsen took over the helm from their father, Ole B. Nielsen, and since then the amusement park has gone from strength to strength. Djurs Sommerland was constantly extended throughout the 1990s and 2000s with more and more rides, while at the same time the park has performed targeted work to give the rides an extra dimension.

"In addition to keeping our finger on the pulse and understanding the public's expectations, it has been important for us not just to set up a new, large ride but also to include it within a larger story. We would like to give guests an experience in addition to just butterflies," explains Henrik B. Nielsen.

The park was therefore divided into 8 different themed countries each with their own consistent appearance. The first countries were Sommerland and Vandland, followed by Afrikaland, Mexicoland, Cowboy- og Indianerland, Piratland and Vikingeland and Bondegårdsland which is the park's newest area.

The themed decoration of the park also means that each ride is simultaneously built into a narrative. For example, the public does not just experience a shiny metal construction when they get on board the popular Skatteøen water coaster, but rather a complete Pirate's Castle where you have to find the Skeleton Captain's treasure. The same applies to Juvelen which is built into an extensive Mayan universe.

Throughout Djurs Sommerland visitors experience changing atmospheres as they move between the smart, decorated rides, restaurants and play areas in the park's different areas.

Denmark's largest roller coaster
Djurs Sommerland's development has proceeded at full speed ahead since 2008. The park was extended with a new, large Piratland where the main attraction is Denmark's largest and fastest roller coaster, Piraten.

Piratland doubled in size in 2011, when Djurs Sommerland presented the greatest innovation in a Danish amusement park at that time: Skatteøen, which is North Europe's largest water coaster.

In 2013 Mexicoland was extended by 12,000 square meters with Juvelen, which is Denmark's longest roller coaster and Europe's only double launch coaster.

In 2017 yet another big rollercoaster was bulit - DrageKongen, the fastest and longest Family Suspended Coaster en Europe. 

International recognition
Djurs Sommerland has reaped success outside of Denmark's borders as well. In 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 the park was awarded the title of Scandinavia's best summerland by Sweden's biggest travel site, Barnsemester.se, and since the inaugaration of Piraten, Piraten has been voted either the world's fifth or sixth best roller coaster each year.

Historic milestones
1981: Djurs Sommerland is established by Ole B. Nielsen and Børge Godsk Jensen
1985: Vandland, the first of its type in Denmark, opens
1991: Colorado River is built
1993: Afrikaland opens
1998: River Grande Rafting is built
2002: Thors Hammer is built
2004: Speedy Gonzales and Hawaii are built
2005: Wild West Karrusellen is built
2006: Ørnen is built, 2018 Ørnen is closed
2007: Texas Town - Western Legeland opens
2008: Piraten is built and Piratland is inaugurated
2009: Piratfisken, Det Skøre Kompas and Klatrebjerget are opened
2010: Sablen, Junglesti and Mini Junglesti as well as Edderkoppenettet are opened
2011: Skatteøen built
2012: Solguden, Buffalo Bumper Cars and Mini Buffalo Bumper Cars open
2013: Juvelen built
2014: A new themed area, Vikingeland, opens with two new rides
2015: A new themed area, Bondegårdsland, opens with ten new rides
2016: Søulken is built
2017: DrageKongen is built
2018: Safaribussen and Jungle Rally is built

Visitor numbers
2004: 480.500
2005: 453.000
2006: 495.000
2007: 487.000
2008: 528.000
2009: 550.000
2010: 575.000
2011: 662.000
2012: 623.000
2013: 752.000
2014: 705.000
2015: 801.000
2016: 745.000
2017: 808.000