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Luna Park Sydney

By on 05/10/2014

In January 2014, I found myself in Sydney, Australia for business. Since I arrived a day early, I had some personal time to kill and decided to check out whatever theme parks they had to offer. I was surprised to find out that a city the size of Sydney only had one small amusement park, Luna Park Sydney. Fortunately for me it was just across the world famous Sydney Harbor Bridge from my hotel and easily within walking distance. It only had one roller coaster, but it did not disappoint. I spent the entire day at the park and had a great time!

Luna Park Sydney first opened in 1935 under the name of Luna Park Milsons Point. It was built on land on the North side of the harbor that was used for construction of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. After the bridge opened in 1932, they were looking for a new use of the land and the amusement park idea won out. The park has had many ups and downs over the years, including multiple owners and name changes, and was even bulldozed and completely rebuilt at one point, but today it’s going stronger than ever.

What looks like the park entrance as you approach is actually the entrance to the parking garage, which dips underground. However, it provides a beautiful shot of the Ferris Wheel just on the other side, which stands 115′ tall and has 24 gondolas:

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The actual entrance is just to the left and down a flight of stairs:

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Luna Park Sydney, like other Luna Parks, is famous for its 30′ wide “Luna Park Face” entrance. This is the eighth face that has presided over the entrance since the park opened in 1935:

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The park entrance, or Face, was situated in such a fashion that it actually looks out over the Sydney Harbor so that folks could see it from the Sydney Opera House, the main ferry/cruise ship terminal known as Circular Quay, or even as they were crossing the bridge. You can see in the following selfie of me that the twin towers of the entrance, just above my head, face out over the water towards the bridge and opera house:

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This is what the face and park look like from the Sydney Opera House across the harbor:

 

One of the things I like about traditional amusement parks is that there is no admission fee. Anyone can walk in and check it out. You only need to buy tickets if you want to go on a ride or experience an attraction. The ticket booth was located just inside the entrance:

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You can buy different level ride passes based on how tall you are. Since you have to be taller to go on some of the more thrilling rides, those passes obviously cost more:

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I wanted to go on everything I could, so I bought an unlimited yellow ride pass for the day. I didn’t realize it at the time of purchase, but the passes have an RFID tag built into them that you hold up to a sensor at the entrance to a ride and it lets you in if you are allowed on that ride:

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As soon as I turned around from purchasing my ride pass, I was already being entertained by wandering stilt walkers. I’m not sure what they were called, but they were all hams and quite funny:

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My first stop of the day was the lone roller coaster, Wild Mouse. Originally built in 1962, it’s one of only five wooden wild mouse roller coasters that exist in the world. Be sure to check out my full Wild Mouse profile for more details:

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The midway is extremely colorful with lots to see and do. The white tower is a 160′ tall Super Shot drop tower. It had only opened a few days prior to my arrival so I was lucky to get to experience it:

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Called Hair Raiser, the drop tower seats 12 riders in a circular fashion facing outwards. A cable slowly raises them to the top of the tower, and then drops them. Gravity does the rest:

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People absolutely loved this ride! I found it amusing how scared and hesitant some people were of it, but I had no qualms at all. Of course, I’m also used to the 400′ Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom drop ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain, so this was nothing for me. It was still a very fun ride:

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Nothing but screams as first time riders were dropped from the top of Hair Raiser:

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Like all good amusement parks, there was a very nice little carousel for the younger kids to ride:

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There was also a Music Express called Tango Train, but it was closed for the day:

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At the far end of the midway, there was a big building called Coney Island Funny Land. Opened with the park in 1935, it’s the last remaining example of a 1930’s funhouse in the entire world:

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The inside is almost identical to how it was when it was new. There are giant slides, rotating walk-through drums, shaker floor boards, and many more fun things to see and do:

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Some of the more modern additions include video games and claw machines:

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If you look in the very top-left corner of this next photo, you’ll see two slides that look like they disappear through the roof. That’s where I wanted to go:

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The top of these slides were so high that you literally start higher than the building rafters. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but it was pretty intimidating. Trying to get your feet in the sliding mat without falling over the edge was a challenge of its own. The sliding part was a blast:

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A very popular ride for the kids in the funhouse was called the Joy Wheel. They would all sit in a circle with their backs to each other at the top of the mound and it would start spinning. As it increased speed, centrifugal force would eventually start flinging them off the wheel into the padded ring around the perimeter. The last one remaining would be declared the winner. It looked like a lot of fun. I’m curious if we have any of these in the USA due to how litigious our society is. I can see US parks not wanting them due to the risk of being sued for injury:

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As I was leaving Coney Island, a group of entertainers called the Electro Swingers pulled up in a golf cart and started singing and dancing. They were fun to watch:

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There was an entire wall in the funhouse that showed old pictures of the park over the years. It was fascinating. The one that jumped out at me was a photo of the very first roller coaster that opened with the park in 1935 called the Big Dipper. It was demolished and burned in 1981 during one of the park’s transformation periods:

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The original station for the Big Dipper, or at least a building that was built to resemble it, acts as a stairwell to get up to the Tumble Bug ride on the second floor:

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Inside the stairwell is a mural that represents a steel coaster that was built in 1994, also called Big Dipper. Noise complaints from neighboring residents forced the ride to close the following year. It was relocated up the Australian coast to Dreamworld and is now known as Cyclone:

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A fading plaque on the outside of the building tells the story of the two Big Dippers:

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The Tumble Bug ride I mentioned above is a HUSS Troika. I had never been on one of these before and liked it quite a bit. I rode it multiple times:

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Trying to take a break from the hot summer sun, I decided to take a spin in the Ferris Wheel. From high above the midway, you can easily see where the entrance to the parking garage slips underground, as well as the brick stairs that lead down to the face entrance:

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The other side of the Ferris Wheel reaches way out towards the harbor, providing gorgeous views of both the bridge and the opera house:

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One can never have too many selfies in front of famous landmarks such as these:

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Looking the other way down the midway, you can easily see the white Hair Raiser tower, as well as the Wild Mouse roller coaster just past it. What looks like a giant yellow and white tent is a multi-purpose venue called the Big Top. Capable of hosting 2000-3000 people, it’s frequently used for concerts, award shows, sporting events, and trade shows. At the far end of the midway is the Coney Island funhouse:

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The midway wouldn’t be complete without games, and there are plenty of those. These heads were spinning and they really looked freaky:

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There are lots of food options along the midway as well, including Fairy Floss:

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Every time I turned around, there were more performers on the midway entertaining guests. I don’t know who these ladies were, but they were funny:

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Right near the entrance to the park was something that I’ve long heard about, but never had the opportunity to try. It’s basically a human centrifuge called Rotor:

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Roughly ten people stand in the middle of a small round room while the floor is raised a few feet up in the air. Everyone then stands with their back against the wall and the entire room starts to spin. Once up to speed, the floor is lowered back down to it’s original starting position, however you remain pinned to the wall. As the spinning room starts to slow, you gradually slide down the wall until you meet up with the floor. This was a lot of fun for me, but a few people got a little sick from it. There is no roof and you can watch from a viewing area above the room:

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I saw this next to one of the ride operator’s stations and just had to share it. This is the attitude that every theme park and amusement park employee should have, but unfortunately not all of them do. I am glad to report that every single employee I encountered at Luna Park Sydney was happy, enthusiastic, and genuinely wanting to make my time in the park special:

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In addition to the above comments, I’d also like to thank Luna Park Sydney for showing me a little extra attention that I wasn’t expecting. A couple of different park employees recognized me and came up to introduce themselves and made sure I was enjoying myself. It was very unexpected and put an even bigger smile on my face. Thank you Luna Park!!

I thought my day was done and I went back to the Wild Mouse to collect my on-ride photo that they were holding for me. As I was leaving, something caught my eye from behind Coney Island and I realized that there was more to this park than I realized. I dropped my photo back off at the Wild Mouse and headed around behind Coney Island:

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Yay…more rides!! The first one that caught my attention was a spinning pendulum ride called Freak Out. Not only was it swinging much higher than any other similar ride I’ve seen, but it was coming very close to the apartment building behind it. This thing was a blast! I ended up going on it multiple times, as there was a lot of weightlessness involved. It was listed as a temporary ride, so I have no idea how long it will be there, but definitely ride it if you get the chance:

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The next ride I went on was a HUSS Ranger called Moon Ranger. It’s the only one in all of Australia. I had only recently went on my first full spinning pirate ship, so I was eager to compare the experience. This one had a padded roof that my head fit against perfectly. I was able to wedge my body between the seat and the roof, so I was very comfortable and the restraints did not dig into me as we went upside down. We ended up doing multiple revolutions in both directions. It seemed like the ride went on forever, but I was glad it did because I really enjoyed it. I did end up with a slight headache afterwards, but I’m still glad I rode it:

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My next ride was a HUSS Breakdance ride called Spider. I had seen one of these before while visiting Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, but I had never ridden it. This was also a very fun ride. I ended up riding this one twice:

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I was surprised when I ran into a big fan of mine while waiting in line:

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In addition to the big rides, there’s a good mix of rides for the little tikes as well:

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At the end of the day, I exited through the face and walked back across the bridge to my hotel:

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I had an absolute blast during my time at Luna Park Sydney! It’s a really fun park with great employees. If you ever find yourself in Sydney, make sure you take the time to visit! Have any of you been there? If so, what did you think?

4 Comments

  1. Andrew the Epic

    05/10/2014 at 11:27 pm

    Magic Mountain used to have a rotor called Spin Out. I went on it just before it was removed! So much fun! Are there anymore in the US?

    • Brandon

      05/21/2014 at 6:35 am

      There’s still a Rotor at Worlds of Fun.

  2. Eric

    05/13/2014 at 8:09 pm

    The U.S. is too litigious to have a lot of the attractions that this park has. And that’s too bad because there’s a lot of fun to be had—and it’s all perfectly safe.

    There was a wooden Wild Maus at the Pike in Long Beach. I went once in the early ’70s, but didn’t ride it for some reason. But it’s still fresh in my mind.

    Thanks for the report, and I’m glad you got to experience this park.

  3. Evan

    05/19/2014 at 5:05 pm

    Great in depth review, thanks for sharing.

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