Luna park occupies the northern pylon of the Sydney harbour bridge right on the foreshore, boasting views over the Opera house and the city from it’s brightly painted and somewhat scary gate.As thrill inducing as this amusement park is for the kids, it is not what I find most exciting about it.
Sydney’s version is just one of the dozens of Luna parks built in the 1930s around the world, most of which are now defunct after weathering fires and bankcrupcy. First ever park was ofcourse built at Coney Island in New York in 1902. Frederic Thompson and Elmer Dundy created a popular ride called “A Trip to the Moon” and got offered a permanent site for their invention, so they decided to use the latin word for moon instead, Luna. The name Luna park is now synonymous with amusement parks around the world.
When the Sydney version opened it was a huge hit and the place to be. I can imagine it was very spectacular for that time, brightly lit and hugely entertaining, geared for adults and children alike. During the second world war the lights had to be browned out in case of an aerial attack but Luna park was still where service men brought their girlfriends on a night out or came to meet someone new. This practice in turn brought prostitutes to the area and brawls between Australian an American troops. I would’ve loved to be there to photograph Luna park then, surely there was a lot of lovin’ happening on every corner and some awesome fashions !
Without doubt , the best place at Luna park is the Coney Island Funnyland ,a heritage listed original 1930s funhouse, the only one of it’s kind remaining in the world. Consisting of rotating barrels, moving platforms, arcade games and large slides this place is the closest you will feel to stepping back in time . Fascinating photos and restored original works by “the Rembrandt of Coney island” Arthur Barton align the walls of his “Sistine chapel”.
I wish today , like in the heyday there were more scary houses , rides and the habit of visiting this place for nighttime fun. It seems to me such a romantic date night destination…