Created in 1843, the Tivoli Gardens gave Walt Disney an idea, and look what he did with it. The original is still here, standing in an 8-hectare (20-acre) garden in the center of Copenhagen. Its greatest admirers call it a pleasure park or flower garden, its critics suggesting that it's one giant beer garden. Michael Jackson, after appearing here, tried to buy the entire complex but was turned down, as were the Disney interests as well. The Tivoli is the virtual symbol of Denmark, and no Dane wants to see it go to foreigners.

Let's face it: The Tivoli is filled with schmaltz but somehow with its glitz, glamour, and gaiety it manages to win over hardened cynics. Children prefer it during the day, but adults tend to like it better at night, when more than 100,000 specially made soft-glow light bulbs and at least a million regular bulbs are turned on -- what an electric bill.

It features thousands of flowers, a merry-go-round of tiny Viking ships, games of chance and skill (pinball arcades, slot machines, shooting galleries), and a Ferris wheel of hot-air balloons and cabin seats. The latest attraction at Tivoli, "The Demon," is the biggest roller coaster in Denmark. Passengers whiz through three loops on the thrill ride, reaching a top speed of 80kmph (50 mph). There's also a playground for children.

An Arabian-style fantasy palace, with towers and arches, houses more than two dozen expensive restaurants, from a lakeside inn to a beer garden. Take a walk around the edge of the tiny lake with its ducks, swans, and boats.

A parade of the red-uniformed Tivoli Boys Guard takes place on weekends at 5:20 and 7:20pm (also on Wed at 5pm), and their regimental band gives concerts on Saturday at 3pm on the open-air stage. The oldest building at Tivoli, the Chinese-style Pantomime Theater, with its peacock curtain, offers pantomimes in the evening.