Preserving our heritage
What happens to the $5 park entry fee?
Every $5 helps preserve Luna Park’s heritage attractions including:
The Carousel. Built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1913, it cost nearly $3 million to restore over 1999-2001.
It first operated in Sydney at the White City Amusement Park until it closed in 1918. It found a new and permanent home at Melbourne’s Luna Park, where some 6000 lights were added to give it even more pizazz for its reopening in 1923 after the tumult of World War 1.
The structure that now houses the Carousel wasn’t built until 1937. Over the years it became an unwelcome home for flocks of seagulls and pigeons whose poo, mixed with rainwater and the salty sea air of St Kilda, was a key factor in the decay of the Carousel.
In the late nineties world renowned ‘horse restorer’, Patricia Mullins was handed the arduous task of scraping back 22 layers of paint to return every element of the Carousel to its original glory. Its “War and Peace” theme was meticulously restored with each of the 68 horses and two chariots requiring uniquely painted livery and design. Twenty-six original oil paintings adorning the ride were also restored.
All of the mechanical repair work was carried out in Castlemaine under the oversight of Australia’s foremost amusement device engineer, Dick Baird, who also supervised local works at the Park.
Four of the Carousel horses are under restoration at any one time. All of the original paintwork needs careful refurbishment and varnishing.
It will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix a mechanical problem which has resulted in its closure since June this year. It’s likely this work will take several months and involve the manufacture or possible importation of parts from overseas once the issues are fully known.
The Carousel is listed on the Victorian and National Heritage Registers. The ongoing preservation of its beauty and magic is a perfect example of how Luna Park aims to conserve heritage in a modern context. Its 1909 Limonaire Freres band organ is the only one of its type in Australia and one of only five remaining in the world.
The Great Scenic Railway: Dating back to the opening of Luna Park in 1912, it is the oldest continuously operating wooden roller coaster in the world. It even kept rolling during World War 1 when the rest of the Park was closed.
Because it is wooden, it is able to be progressively rebuilt. Heritage repairs and maintenance on The Great Scenic Railway rollercoaster cost over $1 million over 2016 and 2017.
Other heritage-listed attractions requiring ongoing preservation include the Ghost Train and Mr Moon’s Face at the entrance. The Ghost Train is one of the four oldest ‘dark rides’ in the world.
How old is Luna Park?
106! Luna Park opened on 13 December 1912 to huge fanfare. Visitors paid sixpence to enter the Park.
Since then, millions of people have taken to heart its motto, “Just for fun”. It is the most recognisable and most photographed ‘face’ in Melbourne.
It is the best-preserved Luna Park in the world. The original Luna Park which opened in 1903 at Coney Island, New York, closed in 1946 and was replaced by a car park.
Luna Park as a whole is listed by the Victorian Heritage Register and Register of National Estate.
Does Luna Park get funding?
Luna Park gets no external funding and revenue from ticket sales does not cover the cost of preserving heritage.
Can Luna Park expand?
It can’t expand physically and there is a limit to the number of visitors the Park can accommodate at any one time. Unlike other theme parks and attractions on the Gold Coast, Luna Park sits on a very small footprint.
How much does heritage preservation cost?
More than $10 million has been spent on heritage preservation over the years 2008-2018 and as Luna Park’s heritage attractions age, maintenance, repair and restoration costs rise.
What is the vision for Luna Park?
To preserve Luna Park for future generations – Just for fun for years to come!