‘Big Dipper’ to return in Luna Park refurbishment

An overview of a redeveloped Luna Park from the north-west. Image: artists’s impression/supplied.

By DAMIEN NOVAK

The ‘Big Dipper’ will return to Sydney’s Luna Park after a 24-year absence, and will be joined by eight other new attractions, NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism Stuart Ayres announced today.

The ride, which was the centrepiece of the park from 1935 to 1979 – and again briefly in the mid-1990s – will return in mid-2021, after the park closes for six months of refurbishments, the minister revealed in a media statement. 

The Big Dipper – which closed after the infamous Ghost Train fire in 1979, and was removed altogether in 1981 – will be smaller and quieter than the original version, having been designed with the neighbouring Milsons Point apartment towers in mind.

The attraction, billed as a state-of-the-art “one seat wide” train, is being described as “the first inline seating launch roller coaster in the world”.

An animation depicting the new Big Dipper at Luna Park Sydney. Video: supplied/Sydney Sentinel/YouTube.

The ride will be joined by eight other new permanent rides – “six new children’s rides, a family coaster and a thrill ride”, said Peter Hearne, the Managing Director of Luna Park Sydney.

Ayres said the redevelopment would signal that Sydney was back in business after Covid-19.

“An investment of this size is great news for all of Sydney as it will create hundreds of jobs, help boost local tourism, and assist in the economic recovery of NSW post-Covid-19,” he said. 

“It is yet another sign of confidence in NSW and our economic future – and a sign of confidence that Sydney is back in business.”

He said the $30 million works would ensure the park was a world-class amusement park and tourist attraction.

The heritage-listed Luna Park first opened to the public on 4 October, 1935 and operated seasonally during the warmer months until 1972, when it began operating year-round. 

The park closed immediately after the 9 June, 1979 Ghost Train fire, which killed seven people, before reopening in 1982.

The park closed again in 1988 over concerns about ride safety, reopening in January 1995 with a new Big Dipper rollercoaster. 

Noise complaints relating to the Big Dipper and legal action from nearby residents forced the park to close again in February 1996, however it reopened sans the Big Dipper in April 2004.

It has remained operating ever since with the exception of a temporary closure from 19 March to 3 July this year, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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