Thursday, March 9, 2017

Luna Park, Melbourne, Victoria

Melbourne's Luna Park may have seen better days, but try telling that to the hundreds of thousands of children, teenagers and adults who flock to this fun park throughout the year. Entry is free, but of course the rides and attractions are not. I visited on a Monday afternoon, and the place was buzzing with activity, and excitement. The rides and attractions are somewhat 'old school', and small in scale  compared to large, modern fun parks, but it is very popular just the same.

Overlooking Port Phillip Bay, this historic park—now in its 105th year—has been a favourite destination for generations of Melbourne families, and visitors alike. NOTE: Luna Park is open every weekend, and every public holiday except Christmas Day. However, it is not open during the week during school terms—or to put it another way, it is only open during the week when school’s out for summer, and other mid-year vacation periods!

Having said that, just to confuse the issue, the Park does open for the occasional special event during school terms, so I highly recommend readers check the Luna Park Opening Hours page to see if it is open for just such a special occasion.

The Ride of Your Life?
Luna Park offers 18 attractions which are suitable for a wide range of ages. However, all rides carry a minimum height restriction (and in some cases a maximum height restriction). Very young children may have to be accompanied on some rides by an adult.

Check Luna Park’s Rides and Attractions page to see a complete list of rides and which restrictions (if any) apply to them. Speaking of which, among the more exciting attractions Luna Park features the Circus of Screams, Power Surge, Twin Dragon, and Spider rides, and those ever present fair ground staples, the Sky Rider Ferris Wheel and of course—Dodgem Cars.

Life is a Carousel, Old Chum…
Luna Park’s wonderful Carousel is said to be the largest and most elaborate in the Southern Hemisphere. Visually stunning, its 68 horses and chariots are individually hand painted and intricately decorated in brilliant colours. Each horse is unique and even has its own name.

The Carousel was built in 1916 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, and was number 30 out of a total of 80 carousels built by the company.

The Great Scenic Railway
With the Great Scenic Railway roller coaster, Luna Park lays claim to “the oldest operating roller coaster of its kind in the world,” although how they substantiate that claim, is unspecified. I assume the “of its kind” part of the claim relates to the fact that the Great Scenic Railway was originally built entirely of wood! Even more improbably is the fact that the carriages are still controlled by a brakeman who stands in the centre of each carriage and controls…what? Speed? Ascent and descent? Oncoming traffic? Okay, don’t panic. I’m only joking. That crack about oncoming traffic was put there to see if you are paying attention. 

Mummy, I’m Hungry!
The food franchises are of the fast food 'pie and chips' variety, along with the ubiquitous Fairy-floss (or Cotton Candy as Americans like to call it), pop-corn, snow-cones, and hot-dogs. While the prices are quite reasonable the choices on offer leave much to be desired.

Café Luna is a little more upscale, and sells gourmet pizzas, deli-style sandwiches and burgers. Apparently the café also caters for vegetarians as well. Personally, if you are planning a long visit—and given that entry is free—I would recommend patronizing one of the local cafés or restaurants nearby where the meal choices are broader and healthier.

Visitors with Special Needs
While the main Luna Park site is accessible for visitors with special needs and disabilities, many of the rides and attractions are not able to accommodate people with major disabilities, or who are wheelchair-bound. Check Luna Park’s Special Needs page for a complete breakdown of what visitors with disabilities can expect when they visit the park.

Getting There
Visitors without their own means of transport, can get to Luna Park with a minimum of fuss and expense from the CBD by taking either a number 3a East Malvern-bound tram, or a number 16 Kew-bound tram from the tram stops on St Kilda Road by Federation Square.

Another option is the number 96 St. Kilda Beach tram which runs along Collins Street, and also takes visitors directly past Luna Park.

Here’s a video compiled from multiple roller coaster rides that give you a good look at what a ride on the Great Scenic Railway entails.


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IF YOU GO
Address: 18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda, Port Phillip, Victoria. Phone: +61 3 9525 5033
Yarra Trams… for public transport options.


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