Tim's Turn: Food Fights and Fun at Liseberg
Unbeknownst to me, I returned to the “scene of the crime” when I visited Sweden in May. The week started in Gothenburg at Liseberg for an Applause Award Board of Governors meeting and ended at a site that holds special value to IAAPA.
Liseberg CEO Andreas Andersen and Executive Vice President Tina Resch were our hosts at their new Liseberg Grand Curiosa Hotel, which had just opened a month prior to our visit. The theming was inspired by the history of Gothenburg and the West Swedish East India Company, all combined with the 100-year-old park’s whimsical DNA.
Contributing to the whimsy is an enclosed slide from the second floor into the lobby and a French-built carousel from 1923, inside a sun-drenched atrium next to the hotel’s restaurants. Our meeting overlapped with IAAPA EMEA Spring Summit 2023, also held at the hotel. It was a great opportunity for Andreas and his team to show off their original hospitality concept.
My wife Kathleen joined me and following the meetings, and we traveled to the Marstrand Island resort area where we celebrated our anniversary. I’ve been to Sweden several times, but probably the most memorable visit was in September 1993 when Liseberg hosted the IAAPA Summer Meeting.
An evening dinner during the event was listed as a Viking Feast, to be celebrated at an historic 17th century castle tucked away amongst the fjords of Sweden’s West Coast. That was the night of the Great IAAPA Food Fight that took place inside the dining hall of the magnificent castle.
We were all dressed in burlap and wore Viking helmets, complete with horns. More than 250 people representing 20 countries and dozens of parks and attractions were in the hall where many attendees relieved the stress of a long operating season by flinging food at each other. (You can read the full details of this innocent fun-filled evening in my column in the September 2015 issue of Funworld).
I seldom think of that event of 30 years ago and it was probably the last thing on my mind as Kathleen and I strolled around Marstrand Island, enjoying the scenery and architecture. Then it happened. As we turned a corner and started up a very steep incline, a huge castle appeared high atop the hill.
It looked familiar and suddenly I remembered being there three decades earlier. The steep hill, the street, and the castle all looked familiar. Only thing missing were the dozens of friendly lords and lasses handing out mysterious adult beverages as we ascended to the castle.
Kathleen and I carefully plan our anniversary celebrations around places neither of us have been. This year we did the same—I thought. I expressed my wonder to her at being here again as I relayed the saga of the epic food fight.
That night, just to be sure, I texted Mats Wedin, 2007 IAAPA Chairman of the board and retired CEO of Liseberg and asked if the food battle had taken place at that castle on Marstrand.
“Yes, Tim, it is exactly where we were in 1993,” he replied.
Later, as we enjoyed our anniversary dinner at the Marstrand Hotel, I promised Kathleen that I would love her always and that I would never, ever throw food at her—even if I was wearing a burlap bag and a helmet with horns!