In the Danish city of Aarhus, just south of the city center, lies a small amusement park called Tivoli Friheden. The park contains all elements of a classic Scandinavian city park, such as roller coasters, flatrides, entertainment and a concert stage. In the middle of all these fun rides and attractions, we can find the parks sole dark ride: Haunted House 5D. Tivoli Friheden was kind enough to give us an interesting backstage tour of this hidden away ride in Denmark.
Tivoli Friheden has a long history that originates in the early 1900’s, when the people of Aarhus came to the forests of Marselisborg for leisure on Sundays. This became the reason why the northern part of the forest was named ‘Friheden’ (Freedom). In 1903 the city was notified that the forester was busier selling coffee, beer and snacks then performing his duty. The council decided to let Hans Rising, a young restaurant owner, construct a pavilion in Friheden that opened in the summer of 1904. Friheden became more popular in 1909 when concerts started to take place on a music stage.
Hans Rising retired in 1954, after running the pavilion in Friheden for 50 years. The city of Aarhus found local theatre manager Dan Christophersen to take over management of the Friheden area. Chrisophersen brought new idea’s to the area, which led to the opening of the amusementpark “Tivoli Friheden” on May 2nd, 1958. Nowadays, the park counts almost 30 rides (including 4 rollercoasters) and still hosts concerts on a regular basis.
Among the rides of the park is a dark ride called “Haunted House 5D”. In the introduction we called it a ‘hidden’ ride. It is not really hidden in the park. When you make your round through the park, you should be able to find it rather soon. But the ride is hidden quite well on the internet. Before our visit to Tivoli Friheden, we did some research on the ride. We found that the ride is a zombie/horror themed car ride with interactivity made by the Canadian company Triotech. That, and opening year 2013 was the only information to be found. We figured that there must be more to this ride than that, so we contacted the park to see if they could tell us more about it. They were very happy to give us a backstage tour of the ride after closing hours of the park.
To start getting to know the ride, we took a couple rides during the operating hours to experience. It is a combination of a classic ghost train type of ride, with an interactive 3D shooter. Three four-seater cars take riders through the building. Every once in a while, the car arrives at a 3D screen and when the car stops the shooting starts. In three scenes it is up to you to shoot as many zombies as you can and prevent them from spreading. In between the 3D screens, the car passes through a number of scary rooms and creepy corridors with horrific sound and light effects. The complete ride takes a little more than three minutes.
The origin of this ride starts over 45 years ago, on April 22th 1972. On that day, the Spøgelsestoget (Danish for Ghost Train) opened in Tivoli Friheden. The ride, including the car ride system, was built by the park themselves and was divided over two floors. It contained six cars, which drove riders through various spooky scenes with decorations and sound and light effects. That ride system is still in use today, although the ride lay-out has changed multiple times and only 3 cars are currently left in operation.
The ride was refurbished for the 2003 season and was renamed (Spøg)Else’s Hotel, a word play of the name Else’s Hotel and the Danish word for ghost: spøgelse. This version of the ride was conceived together with Danish public television network DR. In this transition, the second floor of the ride was removed. (Spøg)Else’s Hotel closed at the end of 2012 to make way for a new experience. All that remains of those previous versions are the building and ride system. Haunted House 5D opened on April 26th of 2013. New scenery was created by MK Themed Attractions.
A walk through the Haunted House
It was couple minutes after closing time when we got back to the Haunted House. We notified an employee that we had an appointment with Morten Lyngsoe of the technical department. After a short call, the ride operator, Mads Laustsen started our tour of the ride by showing us the control room.
The controls of the ride are rather simple. There is a start button to send a car into the building, buttons for the control of the vehicles in the station and an emergency stop. There are two screens in the control room. One shows various camera’s in the building, the other is an electric panel that shows the location of each vehicle. Both of them are of course to monitor the safety of the ride. On the camera’s they can see if all the riders are still alright and did not step out of the vehicles during one of the stops.
After this short instruction of the ride control we started our walk through the building. In the first room, right after the station, the cars make a sharp right turn and come to a complete stop. A monitor here shows a short clip with an explanation of the story (unfortunately, the monitor was down on the day of our visit). After the introduction, the cars move through the first hallway.
In the experience of the riders, this part seems to take place outside. The moon is shining the complete time and the road sign to Creepville tell you to take a right turn, which we obviously did. One of the things that we could not miss during the ride were the sound effects. Inside the building, there is a loop of horrific sound effects and background noise playing through the ride. This really enhances the ride experience, , but were really loud during our tour by Mads. Luckily, it did not take long before someone was able to turn them off.
After the sharp turn, the cars stop in front of the first interactive screen. The animation starts and shows the exterior of a creepy house with a graveyard in front of it. The graveyard is completely overrun by zombies, mad dogs and giant spiders. Riders can shoot the monsters during 25 seconds. After that, the screen goes black and the car starts moving again.
What follows next is the longest part of the ride without a stop. In this part of the story, the cars make the transition from outside the haunted house, to the inside. There is no noticeable entrance to the house (it’s too dark for that anyway), but scenery changes to hallways with bookcases, staircases and other props you might find inside a creepy mansion.
After this part of the ride, the car comes to a stop again and the second interactive scene starts can be found after this part of the ride. This scene takes place in the garage of the mansion, where the zombies try to enter. It is up to you to prevent that from happening.
The cars take another sharp right after the garage scene and enter the last corridor of the ride. Here you pass an undead dismembered man who screams at you. At the end of this corridor, the cars stop for the third and final interactive scene, taking place on a highway. You have to shoot all the zombies that are coming for you and surprise here: they keep coming! After another sharp right, the cars return to the station. Every rider can see his/her score and exit the vehicles.
The technical working
After this nice walkthrough with Mads, we were joined by Morten of the technical department of Tivoli Friheden. Morten was able to tell us more about the technical aspects of the ride, starting with the cars. As stated before, the ride system was built by Tivoli themselves. We noticed that the cars had some sort of pantograph going up to an overhead power rail for electricity. Morten explains that this new power supply system was built a year ago. With the old system, the cars used batteries during the ride, that charged while in the station. These batteries did not always make it throughout the day. With this new system, power can be supplied directly to the cars and they will not have empty batteries anymore.
Morten opened up a lid at the back of one of the cars, showing the surprisingly elaborative computer and electronics inside. These are used to control both the cars and the interactive shooting system. He explained that the car ride and the Triotech interactive screens are separate systems that work together during the ride. The ride starts with the car ride system that will automatically take the car to the first screen. The car stops and communicates with the Triotech system to start the clip. After the interactive scene has finished, the Triotech system will communicate back to the car to start moving again. The systems communicate with each other through WiFi. If for some reason, the WiFi is down, the cars will not stop but make their round back into the station. This is to prevent the cars from stopping while nothing happens.
Morten took us all the way around the building to a room with three large servers. These are part of the Triotech interactive system. They control the screens, process information from the cars (with the guns) and will communicate back to the cars and screens in the station that show the scores. There are two screens in the station, one at the exit station that shows all the scores of the previous ride and one on the front of the station that shows the best scores of the day and the overall top scores.
The view inside the server room concludes our tour of this unique ride. For us it was really special to see how the old ghost train, a ride system which already lasts for forty years, is still maintained in good condition. Even better, the park still keeps making improvements to keep the ride up to date, especially by adding the interactive system. This rather unknown and hidden ride thus turned out to be very special. Once again we would like to thank Mads and Morten for their stories and time. We would also like to thank Kasper Norup Sørensen of Tivoli Friheden for arranging this backstage tour for us.
Tivoli Friheden has another entry in the Dark Ride Database: “5D Cinemagic“. We expected it to be a 3D film, but found an interactive theatre instead, also built by Triotech. If you are in Tivoli Friheden, don’t skip it!
©2020 Dark Ride Database
Article by: Erik
Photo’s by: Luc