Luna Park Sydney in Sydney

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Luna Park Sydney (originally Luna Park Milsons Point, also known as Sydney's Luna Park) is an amusement park, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Luna Park is located at Milsons Point, on the northern shore of Sydney Harbour.

The park was constructed at the foot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during 1935, and ran for nine-month seasons until 1972, when it was opened year-round. Luna Park was closed in mid-1979, immediately following the Ghost Train fire, which killed six children and one adult. Most of the park was demolished, and a new amusement park was constructed; this originally operated under the name of Harbourside Amusement Park before resuming the Luna Park name. The park was closed again in 1988 as an independent engineering inspection determined that several rides needed urgent repair. The owners failed to repair and reopen the park before a New South Wales government deadline, and ownership was passed to a new body. Reopening in 1995, Luna Park closed again after thirteen months because of the Big Dipper rollercoaster: noise pollution complaints from residents on the clifftop above the park caused the ride's operating hours to be heavily restricted, and the resultant drop in attendance made the park unprofitable. After another redevelopment, Luna Park reopened in 2004, and as of 2011 is still operating.

Luna Park is one of two amusement parks in the world that are protected by government legislation, and several of the buildings on the site are listed on the Register of the National Estate and the NSW State Heritage Register. The park has been utilised as a filming location for several movies and television shows.



The location of Luna Park was formerly occupied by a series of workshops, cranes, and railway sidings used to provide for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. When the Harbour Bridge was completed in 1932, North Sydney Council opened applications for tenders to develop the site. At the same time, Herman Phillips, David Atkins, and Ted "Hoppy" Hopkins, the minds behind Luna Park Glenelg in South Australia, began to search for a location to establish a new Luna Park, due to difficulties with Glenelg Council and local residents.

Despite initial resistance from North Sydney Council towards the idea of an amusement park, Herman Phillips won the tender for use of the former construction site in March, 1935. Immediately after this, Luna Park Glenelg was placed in voluntary liquidation. After a successful opening season, the park closed down for the winter months (a process which was repeated until 1972). The park's external lights were 'browned out' in case of a Japanese sneak attack on Sydney, the neon lights were disconnected, and non-essential uses of electricity (primarily for ride facades) were curtailed. Arthur Barton redesigned and reconstructed the enormous face over the park's entrance, which had begun to sag and distort. Hopkins and Barton, the last of the 'original showmen' that had built, run, and maintained the park, retired in 1970, leaving the park in the hands of the purchasing consortium. This plan was rejected by the New South Wales government, and after a reshuffle within the consortium, the decision was made to continue operation as an amusement park. After consultation with Hanna-Barbera, Luna Park's slogan was temporarily changed from "Just for Fun" to "The Place where Happiness is". However, when Neville Wran became State Premier in 1976 the negotiations ground to a halt. The park was allowed to continue operating. The fire quickly destroyed the ride, which was understaffed and not adequately covered by the park’s fire hose system, although it was contained before spreading to the nearby Big Dipper and River Caves. Two rounds of tenders failed to produce a satisfactory result for both the government and the applicants. A third round of tenders was called for in March 1980. As these tenders were being considered, 'Friends of Luna Park', a group founded by former and current Luna Park artists and concerned citizens, organised a "Save Luna Park" protest march from the Opera House to the Face. On 31 May and 1 June, an auction was held to sell everything in the park that could be removed. Two days later, everything that had not been sold (with the exception of the Face, Crystal Palace, and Coney Island) was bulldozed to the ground and burnt.

In November 1988, Harbourside's lease was transferred to Luna Park Investments Pty Ltd. The directors kept putting forward excuses to try to gain an extension, even declaring a trade union ban on their own site.

1995 reopening

In 1991, the first two stages of the three-stage redevelopment and restoration plan for Luna Park was given the green light, with $25 million granted by the Open Space and Heritage Fund towards the project. The third stage, involving the demolition of sections of the old North Shore Line (in use as a holding area for trains outside peak hour since 1932) and construction of parkland, an amphitheatre, art gallery, and museum, was not approved. The actual construction plans were approved by North Sydney Council in August 1992, with Ted Hopkins also supporting the plans shown to him.

During the reconstruction, there was vocal opposition from a number of nearby residents and companies, on a variety of issues. The main points of opposition were the noise levels of the park after opening, and the installation of a 40 m tall steel roller coaster (to be named the Big Dipper after the original). The Environmental Protection Authority approved the construction of the new Big Dipper, on the condition that the Trust abided by strict noise control guidelines and covered the cost of soundproofing for any residents affected by excessive noise. Legal claims against the operation of the park and roller coaster were filed by some local residents, and supported by business figures whose tenders for the redevelopment had not been accepted. There was also 'grass roots support' for the reopening of Luna Park; one example of this was the collection of a 5,000 signature petition by a pair of high school students. After a month of public viewing and comment, a 'diverse-use' plan, encompassing rides and amusements, restaurants, cafés, and function capacity was announced as the winning plan. Metro Edgley Group (consisting of Metro Edgley, Multiplex Facilities Management, and a group of private investors) was awarded the tender. A revised proposal was submitted in early 2000, but this was not approved by the Council until 2002. On top of this, specific applications had to be lodged for each element of the plan, each of which in turn would require community consultation. The development eventually began in 2003.

During the long decision-making and approval process, Luna Park was permitted to operate for several charity-organised events, including for Variety Club and the Spastic Centre. The park was also allowed to operate on selected weekends and school holidays in late 2000 and early 2001, under strict, court-appointed conditions. The rides were removed, restored, and in some cases upgraded to comply with modern safety standards. Despite rain and low temperatures, several thousand people attended the opening day, and an cumulated attendance figure of 200,000 was reached within two months. The claim was of noise nuisance from the amusement rides, particularly those in Maloney's Corner. Stating that they had been misled as to the types of amusement ride that were located in the Maloney's Corner area, the residents and developer attempted to claim over $20 million in damages, and demanded the relocation or permanent closure of the Ranger and Spider rides.

In October 2007, Multiplex announced that it was intending to sell the lease to one of the undeveloped sections of Luna Park. The section of land, advertised for approximately A$7 million, was initially leased from the New South Wales Government for A$1, on the condition that any profit made from property built on the site was invested in the amusement park. The ride, named after the Tumble Bug operated by Luna Park from 1935 to 1973, is the only one of its type in Australia. Also, during this decade, sequences were filmed for the Six O'Clock Rock and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo television series'.<ref name=Marshall95-6/>

In 1976, television soap opera Number 96 had the characters Dorrie and Herb Evans (Pat McDonald and Ron Shand), Flo Patterson (Bunney Brooke) and "Junior" Winthrop (Curt Jansen), visit the park, including scenes of them in Coney Island, eating fairy floss, and riding on the Big Dipper and the Topsy-Turvy House. This footage has been preserved in Number 96: And They Said It Would not Last, a bonus feature on the DVD release of the feature film version of the show, Number 96: 2 disc Collector's Edition.

Following the 1996 closure of the park, Luna Park (in particular the Big Dipper) was used for a section of Our Lips Are Sealed starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The 'memory sequences' in Farscape episode "", material for the two-part '100th episode' of JAG, "Boomerang", and scenes for the Bollywood film Dil Chahta Hai were filmed at points between the 1996 closure and the 2001 removal of the Big Dipper. During this time, the documentary Spirits of the Carnival - The Quest for Fun was filmed about the history of amusement parks named 'Luna Park' in general, and Luna Park Sydney specifically. Following Luna Park's reopening in 2004, material was filmed in the park's Rotor for the 2006 film Candy.