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Remembering the Lost Amusement Parks of Metro Manila

What are your fondest memories of amusement parks in Manila?
IMAGE Andrew Dunn | Wikimedia Commons
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During the late ’80s to early ’90s, amusement parks in Metro Manila represented the carefree, happy, and innocent summer days of childhood. Carefree is the operational word here because in those days, we never really minded that the rusty roller coasters and Ferris wheels could have broken down anytime. Still, the dwarfs in bottles, mermaids in fish suits, horror coaster rides from those carnivals animated the childhood of Filipino Millennials who grew up going to these places.

We look back on some of the most iconic amusement parks that existed in Metro Manila.

 

1| Boom na Boom Carnival

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Boom na Boom Carnival was an amusement park in Manila that operated from 1987 to 1994.  Families usually went here at night after spending the day biking in CCP or picnicking along Roxas Boulevard when the Baywalk was still a grass-covered lane.

Apart from its rickety rides, the carnival was famous for showcasing oddities, such as mermaids, elves, and other seemingly paranormal sights. One of the most sought after attractions at Boom na Boom was a tiny dwarf or dwende encased in a glass jar. Children actually believed this was real until they grew up and realized that it was simply a hologram projected inside the glass.

In the early 2000s, there was an attempt to revive Boom na Boom Carnival, which was erected near Star City in Manila. Unfortunately, it no longer had the appeal of fantasy and magic that it had once cast on children in the ’90s.

 

2| Big Bang sa Alabang

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Big Bang sa Alabang was a pop-up amusement park that materializes in Muntinlupa during the Christmas season. Among the top attractions in this carnival was the Adrenaline Rush, a giant multicolored slide that sent children hurtling toward the earth at an uncontrollable speed—you had to wear a cloth sack before sliding down to your demise.

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Another iconic attraction at the carnival was the Haunted House sa Alabang, a no-holds-barred horror house that didn’t care if you peed your pants or screamed in terror because you paid to be scared.

 

3| Fiesta Carnival

Fiesta Carnival operated in the early ’90s and was Cubao’s top attraction at the time. It was located next to Ali Mall. The carnival had indoor rides such as the horror train, which was like a horror house ride with a horrible gorilla chasing after you. There was also a robot train ride that took you on a cool three-minute tour of various robots and their blueprints.

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The carnival was also famous for its bumper cars, which still had vertical cables connected to an electric rig on the ceiling, producing sparks. Another attraction was the Moon Walk, an inflated structure where children bounced around.

 

4| Water Fun

Water Fun was one of the first water parks built in Metro Manila that featured tall water slides. It was opened in the early ’90s, and was located on the corner of the Sucat interchange at South Superhighway. It became a highly iconic park because of the life-size tyrannosaurus rex statue that moved its head.

Unfortunately, Water Park did not last for a number of reasons. At that time, Parañaque was notorious for being the only city in Metro Manila that had no access to water utilities. Residents petitioned to close the park because it allegedly took up precious water supply in the area. Another issue was the number of accidents that occurred in the resort, driving the park to bankruptcy in the ’90s.

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5| Payanig sa Pasig

Before Metrowalk became what it is today, the place was home to a carnival called Payanig sa Pasig. Like the rest of the amusement parks in Manila in those days, Payanig was simple, fun, and dangerous. Among its top attractions was a three-person rubber boat ride that took you over rough rapids in an enclosed area—never mind that you had no life vests on.

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It also had carnival staples such as a carousel, a Ferris wheel, and numerous carnival gambling games that you know were rigged but played anyway.

 

6| Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum

Ripley’s Museum in Shangri-La Plaza Mall was the coolest field trip destination of Metro Manila schools in the ‘90s to early 2000s. Although not exactly an amusement park, the museum offered a tour of the bizarre, otherworldly, and unbelievable, such as taxidermy mounts of animals that have several pairs of eyes or heads.

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Standout pieces at the museum included a replica of London Bridge made with 264,345 pieces of matchsticks, a Mini Cooper covered with thousands of Swarovski crystals, and a portrait of Princess Diana made of laundry lint. There was also a grain of rice that had been painted with a replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s "Last Supper." The painting could only be viewed through a microscope.

 

7| Glico’s

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How many times have you accidentally brought home tokens from Glico’s and attempted to pass them off as one-peso coins when you bought snacks from the village store?

Glico’s Great Adventure was the amusement park and arcade that you found inside malls in the ’90s. To many students in those days, Glico’s was the only reason you agreed to go to the mall with your parents, apart from watching movies. The amusement park had rows and rows of video game arcades, rides, and an endless supply of carnival snacks. Among its most popular attractions were Crazy Bus and Dragon Coaster.

Looking back, Glico’s was today’s version of Kidzania, only it was also frequented by adolescents and some college students.

 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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