The leisure industry is hundreds of years old, as evidenced by the good health of some of the world’s oldest amusement parks, still open and in operation. We have selected the 5 oldest amusement parks in existence, and accompanied them with a gallery of images:
-Dyrehavsbakken, better known as Bakken, is the oldest park in the world. Started in 1583, it’s located in Denmark, about 10 km north of the capital Copenhagen. The origin of the park is a spring discovered at that time, which became widely popular amongst the city’s inhabitants. Many artists and travelling salesmen came to the park due to the influx of people. With time, the attractions became permanent. Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Denmark, visited by between 2.5 and 2.7 million people each year.
-The next oldest is in Leopoldstadt, Austria. The Wurstelprater, or Prater, opened to the public in 1766, after Emperor Josef II made public a forest that had been used until then as a hunting ground exclusively for the court. Small bars and restaurants were established there, followed by puppet theatres and other attractions, including a reproduction of Venice on an existing lake, known as Venice in Vienna.
-Followed in antiquity by Tivoli Gardens, also located in Copenhagen, but this time in the city itself, it began its activity in 1843. Hans Christian Andersen, the famous writer of fables, was one of the park’s first visitors and it is said that the beauty of its gardens inspired him to write Nightingale.
-In the town of Bristol, Connecticut, is the oldest amusement park in the USA and the fourth in the world: Lake Compounce. A local scientist convinced the landowner to allow him to conduct an experiment with explosives. The event attracted a large crowd and made the landowner decide to open his land to the public in 1846. It was a place for picnics, barbecues and boat trips in the early days, but other attractions were added later.
–Hanayashiki is the oldest amusement park in Japan and the fifth oldest in the world, opening in 1853. It began as a botanical garden, followed by a zoo. The park suffered a fire and then the ravages of World War II, but reopened and is still in operation today.
These 5 amusement parks are followed in age by two more, located in the USA: Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio, from 1870, and Idlewild and Soak Zone, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, which opened in 1878. Finally, we must mention Gröna Lund, from 1883, located in Stockholm, Sweden.
Sources and images: Dyrehavsbakken, Prater, Tivoli, Lake Compounce, Hanayashiki, Cedar Point, Idlewild and Soak Zone, Gröna Lund, Oldest.org.