Luna Park: Melbourne, Australia

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Place: Luna Park, Melbourne, Australia
Weather: Lovely, warm, sunny, 90+ degrees.
Crowds: A lot of people .. but it's free entry, and in a very popular suburb
Date: Sunday December 15th, 2002

Luna Park is quite the awesome place. Set right on the sea, in the very fun Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda. Services inside the park are not terribly extensive (mainly junk food (snacks), drinks and a small store), but St. Kilda is so covered with great places to eat, that you really don't need
much inside the park itself. There is no charge to enter the park, so there is a constant flow of people walking around. To ride, a ticket must be purchased (or an all day or several hour arm-band).

There is quite a bit packed into this small triangular space:

The three main attractions are Scenic Railway, Metropolis and the Carousel.

The Scenic Railway (the whole park, in fact) was built in 1912, by several people who had a hand in Coney Island. The railway is a side-friction coaster, with a brake-man, and it's the second oldest in the world (free jar of Vegamite for the person who first names the oldest coaster in the world - but the winner HAS to eat it!).

The railway only runs one train, made up of two cars, with 5 rows in each car. The cars are in lovely condition, and the seats are padded with dark purple leather (or vinyl). The ride itself runs well .. the lift (a cable, not a chain!) engages without any jolt, and hauls the train up at quite a surprising speed. The hills are nice, the speed is good, and the ride in general is very fun. Oh yea, the view is spectacular! (This is pretty much as far from a 'parking lot' coaster as you can get!). The ride circles the entire park twice, and lasts surprisingly long.

Before the train leaves the station, the ops tell everyone to hold their arms up during the ride (but make a point about not holding arms to the side), they also encourage everyone to scream and have fun.

One curious thing .. it was very 'bouncy' at the base of the first few drops (to the point that I bounced up off the seat) .. it was 'soft' bouncing, though .. like sitting in a car with someone jumping on the rear bumper. Only a few people seemed bothered by it, most people rode several times over (even with the 30+ minute wait!) .. I just thought it was odd, and can't think about what might cause it (other than 'it's old').

Next up was Metropolis, which seems to be quite a standard Galaxi (the same as the one at Indi-Beach). This was running very smooth and fast, with no brakes until the end of the ride. They were running two trains, of two cars each.

The centerpiece of the entire park is, without doubt, the Carousel. This is just beautiful. This was built in 1913 by PTC, and is the largest in Australia. It was under restoration for over year, by Luna Park Operations, Heritage Victoria, and Friends Of Luna Park. (Victoria is the state in which Melbourne lives). The whole park is Heritage listed (meaning it can't be torn down), which is good because it's on some pretty prime land - right on the beach!

The park was full of families, and lots of kids .. The parents drop the kids off, go for a walk or coffee, and return to pick them up. There is also a great atmosphere inside the park, with the Railway running around the place, and the sunshine, and sea-breeze. The new rides are well placed, often with small theming touches (like the pyramids near Pharoah's Curse).

It really is wonderful to see the place thrive, and I hope the $10 million restoration is just the start of ongoing meticulous care.

I only got two rides on each coaster (didn't have much time there), so I can't report on the other rides (sorry!)..

Edit: Link to the photos..


Cameron Silver

*** This post was edited by Cameron on 12/31/2002. ***

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