Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, Luna Park has something for everyone. The moment you walk through the mouth of the enormous smiling face, you enter a lively atmosphere full of colour and fun.
The original Luna Park was located at Coney Island, NY in the early 1900s. The idea of the theme park was brought to Australia and the first Luna Park to open was in Melbourne in 1912. Around 23 years later, Sydney’s Luna Park opened using relocated rides from Adelaide on the site that was previously used by contractors to build and assemble pieces for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The park hit the ground running and has been a huge success ever since… except for one tragedy.
In 1979, a deadly fire ravaged the Ghost Train and killed seven people! The park closed and much of it was dismantled and destroyed, including the infamous Big Dipper. Over the next twenty years, Luna Park reopened and closed several times, undergoing renovations and redevelopments and working its way through red tape. They even got a new steel rollercoaster to replace the noisy, wooden Big Dipper but even though it was really quiet, the merry screaming of people enjoying the ride caused some party-pooper neighbours to complain and the ride was sold to Dreamworld.
The park finally reopened in 2004 with a fresh face but plenty of traditional 1930s character. Heritage buildings like the Big Dipper Entrance, Crystal Palace and Coney Island Funnyland still stand today and contribute to the nostalgia of Luna Park.
Luna Park has all the classic rides. There’s a huge Ferris wheel that gives you amazing views of the harbour, while the Wild Mouse Rollercoaster takes you on a thrilling 400 metre trip through zips and dips. They have a beautiful Carousel with pretty horses, the ever-popular Dodgem City, and the timeless Rotor, a gravity-defying ride that has been open since the 1950s.
Along with the golden oldies are some newer, more extreme rides, like the Hair Raiser, which takes you up around 50 metres before dropping at 80km per hour! Because we visited during the school holidays, there were a few more rides available than usual. Dave was brave enough to go on the Freak Out, a high tech thrill ride with a ‘claw’ full of passengers that swings and rotates. Dave got off the ride a little giddy and with an unravelled beard.
Apart from all the rides and games, there’s also the fantastic Coney Island, a house of eccentricity and craziness. There are wacky walkways, jerky floorboards, rotating tunnels, a mirror maze, and giant slides that you ride down in hessian sack. Juz had a hard time mustering the guts to go down the steep drop at the beginning of the slide, but she did, and she screamed, and her legs turned into jelly. Dave had a few turns on the slide because it was so much fun. We were the oldest kids playing in Coney Island.
Entertainment is on offer all over the park, with crazy characters on stilts and in costume. At dusk, there is a fantastic ceremony that gives you the chance to flick the switch and turn on the 30,000 globes that light up the park. It was really fun to participate in the fan fare and hope for our names to get pulled out of the barrel.
After the lighting ceremony, we had an insightful interview with Mr Luna himself, an exceptionally tall fellow with a cheery disposition and charming smile. He gave us the scoop on how Luna Park prevents ‘protein spills’.
Because fat and dairy are the main culprits for ‘protein spills’ on rides, all of the food at Sydney’s Luna Park is specially formulated to contain less fat and dairy than regular foods while still tasting great. This drastically reduces the number of incidents, with any rainbow projections usually being the result of food from the outside world.
Juz had to taste it for herself, and went over to the ice cream parlour for two scoops on a waffle cone. While her meticulous palate could detect that there was something different about the ice cream, it was still bloody good.
Sydney’s Luna Park is located at 1 Olympic Drive, Milsons Point and it’s easily accessible by public transport. The Milson Point train station is less than half a kilometre away, the bus travels along Alfred Drive and is a short walk from the entrance, or catch the ferry to Milsons Point Wharf.
For more information about Luna Park, or to purchase your tickets online, visit their website.