The happy smiling face of Luna Park in Sydney
The big smiling face of Luna Park in Sydney

In 1935, a new park opened in Sydney. Sydney’s Luna Park was based on Coney Island’s Luna Park, an idea brought to Australia by entrepreneur Herman Phillips, who had opened a similar park in Melbourne in 1912. Rides were brought from another Luna Park in Australia, and the park proved to be extremely popular with Sydneysiders. Luna Park grew and expanded over the next several decades, but during the 1970s, it began to experience a decline. A group of developers attempted to develop a trade centre on the site and redesign it. Portable rides replaced some of the older rides, and when a devastating fire on one of the classic rides resulted in seven fatalities, the park was closed down.

The park remained closed from 1979 until 1995, when the Luna Park Reserve Trust and a private carnival operator reopened and jointly managed it. The project was short-lived, however, and it closed down just a year later. In 2007, Luna Park was placed on the register of the National Estate, and just two years later, it was granted a 40-year operating lease. Since that time, the park has undergone a complete refurbishment of its buildings and rides, and in 2004, it reopened. Its unique heritage and distinctive personality was carefully preserved, and today, it provides Sydneysiders and other visitors with a one-of-a-kind getaway the entire family can enjoy.

Luna Park Sydney, which is located at Milsons Point near the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s northern pylon, is open year round. However, hours may be limited on Sundays, and the park may be closed from Tuesday through Thursday during some months. The park features free entry, but rides require the purchase of tickets or passes, which cost $44.95 during the off-peak season or $49.95 during the peak season. The purchase of all-inclusive passes includes a ferry pass as well.

The view from across the harbour of Luna Park and North Sydney
A view of North Sydney and Luna Park.

The 1930s carnival-style atmosphere of Luna Park is fun for the whole family. Visitors can take in Coney Island, an old-fashioned fun house, or ride on the Wild Mouse, an incredible 400-metre roller coaster that lasts a breathtaking 61 seconds. Those who are slightly braver at heart can try the Rotor, which uses centrifugal forces to hold guests against the walls as it spins and spins, or shoot off 20 metres into the sky by way of the Moon Ranger before flipping and spinning into the stratosphere. If you are not feeling so adventurous, there are plenty of options for you, too, including the lazy but colourful ferris wheel, the antique carousel with cut glass mirrors and stunning lights or the Turkey Trot, one of Luna Park’s original attractions, complete with bouncy walkways and wiggly passages.

Luna Park is not just the site of family fun. It is the site of events, weddings, shows and fine dining. Luna Park may be “Just for Fun,” but it has certainly proven itself so much more over the past decades. Come for a visit, but stay and play.