Lonely Planet Writer

Italy's oldest theme park reopens after being derelict for eight years  

Italy’s oldest fairground attraction, the Luneur Theme Park in Rome reopened this week to local fanfare and with a fresh makeover after lying idle since 2008.

Ferris wheel at Luneur Theme Park.
Ferris wheel at Luneur Theme Park. Image by Getty Images

The playground was a Roman favourite during its previous life spanning 54 years and was sadly missed when it closed eight years ago due to financial and legal problems. The Local reports that the new version Luneur – which is called after the EUR district of Rome where it is located – will particularly focus on catering for youngsters up to 13 years of age.

Featuring an interactive game called ‘The Elven Path,’ a Wizard of Oz-inspired yellow brick maze and children’s perennial favourites – dodgems, the theme park aims to replicate the unique flavour for which it was famous in the past. New facilities include a special breast feeding room and baby changing areas. Even pregnant mothers are being looked after with a series of events being line up specially to cater to their needs.

Before the cleanup: a decaying Luneur Theme Park before the recent renovations.
Before the cleanup: a decaying Luneur Theme Park before the recent renovations. Image by Getty Images

With a wide choice of trails and function tailored to meet school excursions, Luneur is also expanding to cover children’s eating habits by providing a new range of menus. Yesterday’s opening coincides with Halloween with extra festivities planned from this Saturday until next Tuesday.

The unusual thing about the park is that it was originally set up back in 1953 on a temporary basis. It was established as part of the city’s Agricultural Fair that year with rides for children. However, it was an instant hit and the authorities made the decision to keep the site going for a number of months each year.

A dilapidated Luneur Theme Park prior to the makeover.
A dilapidated Luneur Theme Park prior to the makeover. Image by Getty Images

The park’s popularity reached a crescendo in 1960 when Rome hosted the Olympic Games. It stayed open for the full year and continued that way for five years before reverting back to a more limited season. From that time on, the park built up a great reputation with the locals who felt a real loss when it was closed down in 2008.