Melbourne’s Luna Park is a historic amusement park located on the foreshore of Port Phillip Bay in St Kilda, Victoria. It opened on December 13, 1912 and has been operating almost continuously ever since.
In the years before WWI the park was a great success, with attractions such as the Scenic Railway, Palais de Folies (later Giggle Palace), River Caves of the World, Penny Arcade, a Whitney Bros ‘while-u-wait’ photo booth, the American Bowl Slide, as well as live performances in the Palace of Illusions and on a permanent high-wire.
Closed for WWI, it did not re-open until an extensive overhaul in 1923 added new and improved attractions, such as the Big Dipper roller coaster, a Water Chute, a Noah’s Ark, and a beautiful 4-row Carousel.
Between the wars, a number of new attractions were made, including Dodgem cars in 1926-7 and in 1934 a Ghost Train. In the 1950s the park was refurbished, including the addition of The Rotor in 1951. The park remained popular throughout the 1950s, 1960s and into the late 1970s, when finally some of the earlier attractions began to be replaced by modern mechanical rides.
A fire in 1981 destroyed the Giggle Palace, and in the same year the River Caves were declared unsafe, and demolished. In 1989 the Big Dipper was demolished in anticipation of a new large roller coaster which never eventuated.
The main historic features of the park to remain include the iconic “Mr Moon” face entry and flanking towers, the Scenic Railway (1912) which is the oldest continuously-operating roller coaster in the world, and the Carousel. Other historic attractions include the Ghost Train (1934), and the fairytale castle-style Dodgem’s Building constructed to house the newly patented ride in 1927 (the ride itself was relocated from the first floor of this building to the ground level in the late 1990s).
The park remains popular with children and their parents who have fond memories of the park from their youth.
I had an obsession for Luna Park & it’s location “St. Kilda” throughout my early childhood. Whenever an adult asked me “what do you want to do when you grow up”, I always replied “I want to work in St. Kilda”. During the 60’s & 70”s St Kilda was famously known as Melbourne’s red light district, so my reply often amused!
I also remember my mum was never all that keen on visiting Luna Park & I always felt that my dad would have given in & taken me, had it not been for mum’s reluctance. If I was reprimanded by my mother, she’d often say to me “What would you do without me?”, I’d cheekily reply “go to Luna Park with Daddy”.