Australia, Review, Theme Parks

Luna Park Sydney is a rare oddity in the world of theme parks. The park isn’t gated. It still operates a pay-per-ride or day-pass scheme. At 330 meters long it is tiny and it is overlooking arguably the world’s most famous harbor. Luna Park Sydney takes us back to the days of boardwalk amusements inspired by the success of Coney Island with vintage style amusements and interesting attractions. With 80 years worth of history and multiple closures, re-openings, and changes of management, it’s doing incredibly well to survive in the Sydney theme park market where most others have failed. 

Family Rides – 5/10

Luna Park Sydney features a nice variety of kid rides with a smaller selection of rides which can be enjoyed by the entire family. The park features many staple attractions such as a Merry-Go-Round, Dodgem cars and a Ferris Wheel with one of the best views of Sydney.

Whilst these attractions are a welcome addition, they don’t provide anything unique that makes the park a must-do as a family. Many attractions also feature limited seating options with a maximum of two or three per carriage which makes it hard to experience these rides as a complete family. Often times you’ll need to be split up due to weight concerns.

Keep in mind that the family is able to experience the Coney Island portion of the park as a group and this will provide some unique experiences that you can’t experience as a family anywhere else in Australia.

Thrill Rides – 4/10

Apart from a wooden wild mouse coaster located in the center of the park, the thrills that Luna Park has to offer are comparable to that which you’d find a traveling fair. Luna Park utilizes the traveling models of many attractions in their park but through the years much of their roster hasn’t changed.

Many of the thrill attractions make heavy use of repetition instead of multiple thrilling elements which often can make guests feel sick from repeated motion; myself included. However, there are standouts such as the Hair Raiser which is a pleasant drop tower experience and the Wooden Wild Mouse Roller Coaster which makes you fly around the tracks holding onto dear life as this coaster is near ancient coming to the park in 1962. It is the only permanent roller coaster in all of NSW and is also the only Wooden Wild Mouse left in operation in the world.

When riding the Hair Raiser I highly recommend that you grab a seat facing the Harbour Bridge as it’ll provide a brief moment of tranquility and scenic awe before you plunge to the ground at 80kmph.

Experiences – 5/10

Luna Park Sydney gets this score almost purely based off of one attraction in the centre of the park, Coney Island. This medium-sized, paid area (which is included if you buy a day pass) features many throwback attractions to the early days of amusement parks which are pretty much unique to the park.

Inside this area are legitimate vintage pinball and arcade machines which felt like a merging of two worlds because both Luke and myself love a good pinball machine! The vintage attractions are great to fool around in and provide some light fun to which are an excellent change of pace to the other rides in the park. Remember to battle your friends on the Joy Wheel, as it’s a Luna Park Sydney tradition for any Australian!

The slides and devil’s drop are a throwback to a simpler time when there was a legitimate sense of danger behind an attraction. Nothing prepares you as you take the plunge down these giant slides with nothing but your body to guide you. In a world ruled by modern health and safety laws, this ride is a standout for thrill seekers!

Entertainment – 4/10

Luna Park Sydney features a decent amount light entertainment that is mostly catering towards younger families even though it is pretty hard to figure when and where things are happening. We stumbled across a couple of street parades, dancers, clowns and a nifty show dedicated to turning on the lights to the park. This show took a guest from the park and let them push a button which would bring Luna Park Sydney alive for the night time.

The parades and dancers were very simple but I commend Luna Park Sydney for having an actual singer performing different songs down the street as I’m used to hearing the recording. The clowns that wandered around were hilarious, and would often banter to people on rides and in the street. If you’re brave you can confront them for a photo… But they’ll do everything in their power to embarrass you!

Keep in mind that you don’t need to buy a ticket to the park to experience any of these offerings which we thought was wonderful for those who were just wandering through.

Staff – 8/10

The staff at Luna Park Sydney were friendly, accommodating and respectful. Everybody seemed to be attentive to their duties whilst also showing enjoyment in their work. Counter service for food was quick even at busy peak times like lunch.

Operations were barebones with some attractions taking an abnormal amount of time for seatbelt checks and pre-check procedures but it is respectable that many of these jobs were being done by a single person at maximum efficiency.

Theming – 3/10

Whilst the atmosphere of Luna Park Sydney is commendable, the theming leaves a bit to be desired. There is a lack of cohesion and flow in the theming with different styles and architecture types being squished together. There are particular parts of the park which literally feel like it used to be a car park (and I honestly think it might have been) and other parts where the theming is simply just Sydney. And not stuff themed to look like Sydney, it is just Sydney and Milson point. People actually live in the apartment blocks just meters away from the park.

However! I’d like to give 5 stars to the extremely commendable painting department. Many of the murals, signage, painted objects and furniture are painted on-property by a small painting department and I think that is excellent especially in the modern theme park era where so much is outsourced to third-parties. You can see a reflection of passion in the work that they do.

Merchandise – 9/10

The merchandise at Luna Park Sydney is simply excellent. Park-specific merchandise is a clear winner in my books and Luna Park Sydney has plenty of it. They’ve taken a really fun approach to their merch with the example of Luna Boy slippers and little miniatures of the Luna Park entrance. There is barely any fluff which is often seen in theme park stores.

One of the best things was that the merchandise was reasonably priced. You could get a T-shirt for $20, a hoodie for $50 and from memory, the slippers were $25. It’s great to see a theme park taking pride in their merchandise and I’m sure it pays off as often it’s seen by visitors extended family and friends.

If you’re interested in some merchandise but are short on time remember that you don’t need a ticket to get into the park so you can always go and get some merch whenever you please.

Affordability – 5/10

In terms of what you get for the ticket price, I believe what Luna Park Sydney is asking for is fairly decent. Per attraction, it isn’t amazing, but per hour it is a steal considering that on the Saturday that we visited the park was open for 12 hours compared to the usual ten till five offerings at other parks. For the $47 AUD ticket price, if we stayed open till close, it would cost us 3.92 dollars an hour to ride whatever we wanted. Weekend crowds don’t appear to exist at LPS as we didn’t have any waits above 10 minutes on the Saturday that we visited in this was the first Saturday of the largest event in Sydney, VIVID.

Food and drink in the park were relatively cheap with a high-quality burger and chips setting you back about 14 Australian Dollars. It was incredibly filling and destroyed the burgers on the Gold Coast in terms of taste and value.

We had a cheeky beer at the end of our day as we are two Aussie blokes, and this was also decently priced for being smack bang in the middle of an amusement park.

Atmosphere – 6/10

Luna Park Sydney has a unique atmosphere, unlike many theme parks I’ve been to before. Due to it being open to the public and not just paid guests. Walking alongside the harbour and getting glancing views of the Harbour Bridge and the opera house makes wandering certain parts of the park very rewarding. Interestingly, the backdrop of high-rise buildings adds to the overall Coney Island feel.

Having the park non-gated makes it feel and being unobstructed in where you venture is a nice change. However, the park lacks some of that immersive theme park atmosphere which is achieved by isolating the guests from the outside world and it can sometimes be odd knowing that people could be using the park as a shortcut to get to their home.

Services – 5/10

Luna Park Sydney is pretty barebones when it comes to the services but for a smaller park, this is to be somewhat expected.

Lockers are a must have for somebody like me who always has a backpack full of camera gear and thankfully Luna Park Sydney provides these for a decent fee of $10. The locker fits two large bags full of our stuff which is always a good sign. On some attractions, you are able to leave your bag on the ride platform, but we always say do this at your own risk.

Signage around the park gets a solid pass and there are a few digital sign boards which show you what is on between advertisements. The layout of Luna Park Sydney couldn’t get more simple as it’s literally a straight line.

The toilets were mostly clean and decent but those in the middle section were rather uninviting and I wouldn’t recommend them. They didn’t quite hit the mark in terms of cleanliness that we’ve come to expect to our modern theme parks.

Final Thoughts

Luna Park is a glimpse into the past world of boardwalk amusement parks. Its strengths lie in embracing the Coney Island feel and the atmosphere that it provides. The looming Harbour bridge and Sydney harbour create an amazing backdrop to one of Sydney’s last surviving theme parks. Whilst it doesn’t provide the quality ride offerings available to Australia’s Gold Coast parks, it still provides an enjoyable day for those that are up for a small, vintage adventure.

Luna Park Sydney gets a score of 54 / 100.

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