Theme parks of our yesteryears (part 2)

We lovingly reminisced the theme parks that thrived during our generation. Here we revisit 3 more fondly-remembered ghosts of our past and tell you what has since taken their place.

Big Splash (1970s-2000s)

Their massive rainbow-coloured waterslides were the stuff of legend; by my own experience, it was the fastest ride of its time. Built some time in the 1970s, Big Splash also featured a huge wave pool fronted by a performance stage for massive pool parties, and a kiddy pool for the little ones. At one point there was even a discotheque following its first renovations in 2002.

But then off in the distance came a competitor. When Wild Wild Wet was first opened in 2004 at Pasir Ris, comparisons were undoubtedly made. Compared to its much newer and diverse rival, Big Splash was a grand old dame, and her age was beginning to show. Its popularity dropped, attracting only a handful of thrillseekers who had both the stamina to climb its towering spiral staircase, and the courage to do stunts on its gargantuan slides.

Following a 2nd major revamp which saw a closure of the park stretching a few years, the slides and pools have since been removed; only its landmark rainbow-coloured dome tower, visible as cars drive past the East Coast Parkway, remains. Today, the grand dame of East Coast Park has been remodeled into a revamped Dempsey-styled lifestyle village called Playground @ Big Splash, featuring hip restaurants and cafes, childcare and enrichment centres, as well as a spacious carpark that features weekend car boot sales.

Fantasy Island (1994-2002)

Fantasy Island was a 90’s Singapore icon; the $54 million Sentosa water theme park was open in December 1994, and struggled through its existence for a good 7 years. Its biggest draw was the giant 8-lane slide that was so fast it could launch riders up in the air momentarily midway down.

Considering that you’d have to pay an entrance fee into Sentosa before paying the entrance fee into Fantasy Island, and the fact that public transport into Sentosa back then was restricted to a couple of SBS buses, the theme park was really set up for a hard fall. But the hardest hit that the water theme park suffered — and never recovered from — was the wide media coverage of numerous accidents (and even 2 deaths), and the resulting public concerns about its poor safety standards.

Fantasy Island closed its doors on 2 November 2002; the place where it once stood has now been overtaken by the Universal Studios movie theme park.

New World Amusement Park

Way back in 1923, two brothers decided to set up an amusement park that would quickly become the crowning glory of entertainment in Singapore. In fact, the New World Amusement Park was so steeped in our national heritage Raintree Pictures made a movie out of it (and it’s actually really good).

And what an attraction. Back in the day, people would flock to the park, from local blue-collar types to Malayan tourists to European settlers and businessmen, to revel in striptease acts, opera shows, boxing matches and makeshift hawker stalls that complemented the park’s ferris wheel rides, carousel, dodge’em cars and signature Ghost Train attraction. And it cost 10 cents per entry (rides and shows sold separately).

For the next 40 years, New World Amusement Park would continue to thrive under the management of Shaw Organisation — up until Singapore’s independence, when the nation’s urban redevelopment and globalisation introduced shopping malls, discos, and television. Shaw Organisation sold the property off in April 1987 and now City Square Mall stands in the very spot where Singapore once housed its most glorious of entertainment spots.

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About Winston Tay
Our staff aims to Discover and review family friendly activities and places that never bores kids.