When I heard that there was a Pippi Longstocking museum in Stockholm, I nearly died from excitement. Growing up, Pippi was huge in America. We had all of the original Swedish films dubbed in English on a seemingly endless loop shown on network television during the weekends. Even though it ended being terrible, I even eagerly anticipated the new American Pippi reboot movie, The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking. I remember kids in the neighborhood saving their allowance to go see it. It was a big deal!
The Junibacken was the one tourist attraction that I absolutely had to see while in Stockholm.
We set off for the Junibacken, which included a subway and ferry ride, on the first full day of our vacation. I was jet lagged, but excited. As we were leaving, it started to rain. It rained off and on, during our journey, sometimes pouring. If you look at the sky in our travel pictures, you will notice that the clouds are increasing and they are foreboding.
My favorite part of the ferry ride was the giraffe.
The Junibacken is located on an island with a ton of other tourist attractions. We came back four times to see other things. Here are some of the snaps that I took on the ten minute walk to the Junibacken. Our walk back, had quite a different landscape, as a destructive storm hit while we inside of the museum.
Finally, we reached the Junibacken. Quite honestly, the exterior was not what I was expecting and it underwhelmed me. It looked like a Costco.
I kept calling it the "Pippi Museum", but really it was dedicated to all of Astrid Lindgren's characters. She was quite the prolific children's author, although I had never heard of any of her stories, other than Pippi. Only a small portion of the museum is dedicated to Pippi, so there was a lot of unfamiliar characters. I believe, but cannot confirm, that there were some non-Lindgren Swedish stories also featured.
My first impression was complete chaos. We were visiting on the weekend and the place was absolutely packed. Beyond packed. We also visited during a heat wave and there was no air conditioning. This made the experience far less than ideal.
The entire museum is interactive, with tons of play houses. It reminded me of Mickey's house at Disneyland. The emphasis is for children to climb and touch everything. This would have been great, if not for the overwhelming crowds. It had to be over capacity! Even my step-kids got burned out quickly from the crowds. We stayed less than two hours, which far less than we would have stayed if it had not been so busy.
The Junibacken has one dark ride, a train journey through scenes from a variety of stories. This ride was long, at least ten minutes and part-way through, the ride vehicle lifts up in the air and flies through the scenes. It was cool and unexpected. The great thing is that the ride can be done in a variety of languages, in our vehicle, we got to hear everything in English. I finally heard the stories and made connections to the characters featured in the museum.
My favorite part was the giant animatronic rat in a story about little people. Very cute! Some of the stories are really intense, including the ride ending with a story about a kid who jumps off of a cliff and kills himself. Kind of a downer to end the ride.
Finally, we got to a two-story model of Pippi's house. Can you spot Mr. Nilsson?
I had hoped that there would be a live person dressed as Pippi for photo ops, but this is the closest that I got. This is my favorite picture of the day, although it looks like Pippi is trying to cut my throat..
As I mentioned, a major storm hit while we were playing in the Junibacken. The windows at the Junibacken were blasted with sheets of rain, like someone had a high pressure hose aimed at the building. Rain was seeping through the windows and doors. Everyone was standing around stunned. Judging by the reactions, I don't think this weather is normal in Stockholm.
When we left the building, it had stopped raining, but it was a mess. Outdoor cafes had been destroyed with broken glass everywhere. The International collection of flags that we had passed earlier, had several down. Tree branches were everywhere and there were enormous, ankle-deep puddles. A boat was on its side in the water. This summer destination was closed for business. Surprisingly, when we headed back to the Island the next day, most of the area had been restored.
I had to see the "Pippi Museum", but really I can only recommend it if you have very small children. If you visit, you have to do it off-peak. It's too crowded and miserable otherwise.
I really loved how the Junibacken promotes reading and houses the largest children's bookstore in Sweden. The bookstore has stories from around the world and in a variety of languages. The Junibacken seems to have an ultimate goal of bringing stories to life for children and to foster a love of books.
Lastly, one of my favorite things at the museum were the cool lockers, each had a different story themed design and the ends were designed to look like spines of books. Very cool.