Do you share your birthday with a famous celebrity? I do, turns out Taylor Swift was born on the same day I was! But as fun as that little bit of trivia is, I doubt I’ll ever get to share a Birthday party with ‘Tay Tay’.
Taylor Swift is ok I guess, but I was so much more delighted to discover is that I share the same birthday with Melbourne’s most iconic attraction Luna Park. In December 1912, Mr Moon opened his giant mouth to St Kilda, and thousands of people flocked in, 103 years later Emma and I went to celebrate his birthday at big party bash with a ton of Luna Park’s closest friends.
It’s been years since I’d been to Luna Park, way too long really. Ask anyone that grew up in Melbourne and they’ll each have their own memorable story about Luna Park, most like mine revolve around, joyous laughter, screams of excitement and quite a lot of dizziness after stepping off a spinning ride. Ah those golden memories! I was keen for Emma to have some fun and develop her own personal connection with Luna Park, just like so many generations before her.
It was the perfect Melbourne evening for a party and we sure did have a blast.
There was carnival performers on stilts to greet us as we walked in, music and lots of roving entertainers. The hard part was choosing which ride to go on first, Emma started conservatively on the Arabian Merry – who could resist those cute little elephants.
I’m a bit of a sucker for an old fashioned carousel and the one at Luna Park has quite a story.
It was the thirtieth machine made by the prestigious Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) in Pennsylvania, USA, and built in 1913. Dubbed PTC #30 it was one of the company’s finest four-row machines and the only one exported. Sadly it fell into disrepair in the 80’s and many of the wooden horses were broken or missing. But in 1991 ‘Friends of Luna Park’ was formed with the aim to save the carousel. Missing horses were found beneath the park’s scenic railway and one head was bought back from a St Kilda second hand shop.
It took over two years, 50 skilled professionals and cost over $2 million, but the Carousel is now restored to it’s former glory. It still boasts the 68 original horses, 2 roman chariots and 36 cherubs – all hand painted and elaborately decorated just like when it was originally built.
I have such fond memories of riding carousels as a child, and even now that I’m all grown, it still makes me insanely happy.
We also rode on the Ferris Wheel and got some spectacular sunset views of the bay. As soon as we got to the top Emma had a mini panic and wanted to get off, but she braved it out and by the end was disappointed we had to get off.
Of course what party would be without balloon animals, face painting and an elephant?
This delightful elephant puppet looked so real that I did a double take.
As the sun set, thousands of lights transformed the park and I was a little dazzled by all the sparkle. I’ve never been there in the evening and now my future visits will be at twilight because the place looks a little more magical all lit up.
Quite the birthday party we both had, I hope I look as good at 103 as Mr Moon does. I know he’s had a little bit of work done (I mean just check out the teeth whitening) but I think we can forgive him, and after all, you are only as old as you feel.
The 1923 advertising slogan sums it up:
Your life must not be lived in the rain, see Luna Park, you’ll smile again
Some interesting Luna Park Historical facts:
- It is the oldest theme park in Australia and the only one in the world completely enclosed by a roller coaster.
- The park was modelled on the very first Luna Park, which opened at New York’s Coney Island in 1903.
- When it opened it was illuminated by 15,000 electric lights which was not a common sight in 1912. 22,300 people came on the first night.
- Seven Luna Parks were built in Australia, but only those in Melbourne and Sydney remain.
- The Scenic Railway is the oldest continuously operating roller coaster in the world.
- The Luna Park Carousel is still the largest and most ornate of the 24 carousels known to survive in Australia. A full restoration was completed in 2002 at a cost on $2.2 million dollars.
- In 1981, Luna Park was classified by the National Trust and registered by Heritage Victoria six years later.
18 Lower Esplanade
St Kilda VIC 3182
Opening Hours: Luna Park is open weekends, Victorian school holidays and every public holiday except Christmas Day. See website for times as they vary during the year.
Getting there: Stop No.138 on routes 16,3a & 96. On street parking available $5/hr ($12 daily)
How much: Luna Park is FREE to enter, Single Ride Tickets $10.95/$8.95/$4.9 Adult/child/toddler, Unlimited ride ticket $49.50/$39.50/$16.50, Discounted family passes and annual passes available.
Thank you to Luna Park and Flourish PR for inviting me to this event