By Madison O'Hea
KidScoop Media Correspondent, age 13 

Forgotten Amusement Park, Found in Los Angeles

 

February 29, 2024

By , Luna Luna was an amusement park where all the attractions were created by famous artists such as, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Salvador Dalí, Roy Lichenstein, Sonia Delaunay, Jean-Michael Basquiat, and many more. Called the "the world's first art amusement park" It was an idea by artist, peace activist, and pop singer, André Heller who was born in Vienna after World War II. Luna Luna opened to the public in the summer of 1987 in Hamburg, Germany. Almost 300,000 attended to see the rides, games, and other attractions. Heller's plan was to have the amusement park travel around the world. Luna Luna was a huge success but quickly became very problematic because of disagreements between Heller and the people in charge of the American debut which led to drawn-out legal action that lasted years. Eventually most forgot about Luna Luna and it was dismantled and stored in shipping containers that brought the objects to the Texas desert where it sat for 30 years. It was rediscovered in early 2022 by a team led by the rapper Drake who helped bring it back to life in the heart of the Arts District in Los Angeles.


When I arrived at the exhibition, it was pouring rain and dark even though it was mid-day. But when I stepped inside, I was confronted by the beautiful, odd shapes of the rides, the colors and the live entertainers in the exhibit. After a short video I was on to the real experience!

There were so many attractions, there are two connecting warehouse rooms to display most of what is left of the original exhibit. Entering the first room, you are headed towards a carousel made by Arik Brauer. The seats of the carousel were very unique, the horses are mostly surreal structures like a moon-inspired sculpture, a hand that is part horse, and other odd creatures. Originally, kids sat on top, behind, and even inside the creatures. Next to that, a vibrant and eye-catching swing ride, designed by Kenny Scharf. Next to the swings were figures of what looked like aliens that were supposed to go on the swings. Another carousel, my favorite, was Keith Haring's carousel, which was also very stunning and adorned with his famous drawings. The seats on it were some of his classic figures and it was covered in drawings by him too. After that, we found a big circular room designed by David Hockney, where when you walked in, there were colorful lights all around and classical music playing. The walls looked as if they changed colors along with the lighting (in 1987, an opera singer would stand in the middle and sing). There was a big mural with a bunch of people on it farting which was made by Manfred Deix and was called Palace of Winds, this made me laugh.


In the second room, the first thing you encountered was a large white Ferris wheel designed by Jean-Michel Basquiat. On the back of the Ferris wheel, there was, among less graphic things, a monkey butt painted in the middle. Next, Salvador Dalí's mirrored-dome funhouse had intense lights and many mirrors that changed space and perspective all around you. There is a definite echo inside as part of the experience. Next to it was another big board that was painted to look like a fancy building with columns. On two of the columns were pieces of "crap", this was made by Daniel Spoerri and was called Crap Chancellery, meant as an insult to the Nazi party HQ, the Reich Chancellery. There were glass cases that held old shirts, posters and souvenirs and hand drawn plans from the original Luna Luna and even a little altar where you could marry anyone, or anything, made by André Heller himself!


In both of the rooms, I was surrounded by live acts, such as jugglers, people wearing costumes, a man on stilts, and puppeteers, mostly characters from the original Luna Luna. Some of the attractions had moved occasionally which was really cool! The gift shop had many things that were similar to the attractions such as pins, a hat that was shaped like something called the Dream Station that was also made by André Heller, posters, and even a monkey butt towel!


If it was this amazing to see Luna Luna: Forgotten Fantasy after its decade's long absence, I can't imagine how fun it might have been to ride and experience these in their first run. Big props to Drake for bringing it back to life and bringing it to LA.


 

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