This weekend I went to Budapest’s answer to an amusement park: Vidampark. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience. What followed was a strange clash of time periods, and cultures.
The whole park was a juxtaposition of the old and new. Elements of the park were oh so very old. You can see the rusty nuts and bolts, all the gears and wires hanging off these rides that all seemed to go on abnormally long. Then there are the teens manning the rides half-heartedly. Am I really suppose to trust these machines with my life? In contrast to these old rides, were some really new and well maintained.
We wandered into a random building thinking it was some sort of haunted house, but in reality it was as if Disneyland’s ride It’s a small world meets Spaceship Earth in Epcot. There was a speaker narrating the whole experience in Hungarian. I caught two words: francia (French) and kiraly (king or cool). Who knows what its about? Thank goodness it was short. Later we did end up in the haunted house. Any one that knows me will know that I hate horror movies and anything slightly scary. At first I wasn’t going to go in (I thought you had to walk through), but when I saw there was a buggy, I went. It really wasn’t all that scary. In fact it was almost comical. I’m sure at the time it was built, people found it scary, but compared to the special effects available today, it was nothing. I think I was more terrified of the prospect of something tapping me on the shoulder or dropping in front of me when we were in the complete darkness moving.
Walking around the park, you really get the sense that it is an amusement park past its prime. The misty rain that day just made the whole experience even more eerie – as if we were stepping into a time past. You can imagine the park in its hey days, but now it sits mostly empty. Maybe its because we went in the off season and the weather was bad, but I find it hard to envision it being busy in the summer.
The last ride we went on was the merry-go-round which has been around for over 100 years (if I remember correctly, I think it was built in 1906, but I can’t find that online to confirm). There were no horses that moved up and down, instead you had to move it on your own and there was no music! What is a merry-go-round without music? But the horses and the painted ceiling of the merry-go-round were beautiful – each delicately painted and decorated. The whole experience reminded me of a children’s book I read years ago about The Boxcar Children. In one of their books (The Amusement Park Mystery), an old merry-go-round features proximately in the story and I remember envisioning that merry-go-round to be similar to the one here. It was really cool!
The whole experience was disjointed – a mixture of the old and the new. I don’t think I’ll ever go back, but it was cool to see a relatively untouched part of history in this city.