Luna Park opens in Auckland

4 December 1928

Still from film of Auckland's Luna Park, 1928 (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, F6101)

Inspired by its famous New York namesake, the amusement park opened to the public on Auckland’s waterfront (opposite the site of Spark Arena) at 2 pm. Its construction had employed 250 men for six months, utilising attractions and equipment from Dunedin’s recent New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition. About 10,000 people paid the price of admission on the first day, with the switchback ‘scenic railway’ alone carrying more than 6000 passengers. Next most popular were the dodg’em cars, which offered ‘some of the sensations of motoring’ – including the thrill of frequent collisions.

Disaster struck less than three months later, when a fire destroyed the tea rooms, the funhouse and part of the railway. Luna Park soon reopened, initially without these attractions. The railway was rebuilt but lost some of its appeal that December when a man fell out of a car on an incline, suffering significant injuries. Following a second, less serious, fire in February 1928, the park stopped charging admission.

The cashflow from coin-operated arcade machines and refreshments was good at first, but fell away with the onset of the Great Depression from late 1929. Amusement Park Ltd went into liquidation, and Luna Park closed its gates for the last time on 7 February 1931. It was reported at the time that the plant was to be sent to Sydney. However, the following month the liquidators offered for sale, as a going concern, ’10 Modern Fun Devices, together with the necessary Structures and Buildings’. No one took up this challenge, and what remained of Luna Park was soon demolished. Today shipping containers and Ports of Auckland cranes occupy the site.

David Green

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