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MANILA, Philippines – The Araneta Group, owner and developer of the 35-hectare Araneta City, is banking on nostalgia to attract people to its central business district in Cubao, Quezon City.
Last Saturday, December 9, it reopened Fiesta Carnival, an indoor amusement park of today’s Baby Boomers and Gen Xs, hoping that people now in their late thirties, forties, and up will bring their kids to what was one of their memorable entertainment destinations in the capital from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Also called the Philippines’ “mini-Disneyland” in its early years, Fiesta Carnival was launched in 1971 as an indoor amusement center that was open all-year round. It had attractions such as a large carousel or merry-go-round, roller coaster, skating rink, go karts, bump cars, and various perya or carnival games such as ring toss and shooting hoops.
It closed in the early 2000s as newer amusement parks and indoor electronic arcades opened in malls in Metro Manila and other cities, and more kids turned to playing computer games at home. Shopwise Cubao, then owned by the Tantoco family, was put up in place of Fiesta Carnival. The grocery chain, now owned by the Gokongwei family, transferred to the south wing of the basement of Araneta City’s Gateway Mall 2.
“Fiesta Carnival holds a special place in the hearts and minds of its guests before. With this exciting reopening, we want them to revisit their unforgettable experiences, and bring their kids or grandkids to create new delightful memories,” Lorna Fabian, vice president for leasing of Araneta City, said on Monday, December 11.
“The legacy of Fiesta Carnival lies beyond simply being a colorful, inviting amusement park. It is a place of happy experiences – both for the earlier generations with their amazingly fun stories and memories, and for the younger generations who will enjoy new exciting adventures to last a lifetime,” she added.
“Parang gusto namin i-pass on sa new generation yung experience ng mga older generation (It’s like we want to pass on to the new generation the experience of the older generation),” Marjorie Go, assistant vice-president for marketing of Araneta City, said during the soft launch on Saturday, December 9.
Fiesta Carnival’s largest attraction is the Wii Jump Playground where kids can play on trampolines.
Here are photos of some of the attractions in Fiesta Carnival, which is open from 11 am to 11 pm on Mondays to Thursdays; and from 10 am to 11 pm on Fridays to Sundays. On December 24 and 31, from 11 am to 7 pm.
Wii Jump Playground
Ball Battle City
F1 Go Kart
Christmas on Display
Nostalgia was also a sentiment tapped by the Araneta Group when it brought back in recent years the C.O.D. or Christmas On Display, a show of moving mannequins with structures such as small churches and nipa huts in the background that made people go to the Manila C.O.D. Department Store in Cubao where it was shown on the ledge of the building.
The COD had different themes such as The Nativity, Muslim Festival, and various fairy tales. It was started in Manila in 1957 by Alex Rosario, owner of Manila C.O.D., and continued in Cubao where he moved his department store until it closed in 2002.
The show became a yearly Christmas tradition with families going to Cubao to watch the display from the street. There is no C.O.D in Araneta City this year, however. After 16 years, it was revived by the Araneta Group for Christmas in 2018 and also in 2022.
Araneta City dubs itself as the “City of Firsts” due to its pioneering commercial and property development, as well as entertainment projects. Its founder, Filipino industrialist J. Amado Araneta, undertook major projects that would make various activities accessible to the common man.
Fiesta Carnival was the Philippines’ first all-year indoor amusement center.
Araneta Coliseum, also known as the Big Dome, is the Philippines’ first indoor arena. At 108 meters, it was the largest dome in Asia when it opened in 1960 and held the title for several decades.
Major events such as the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant, international boxing matches, international cockfights, and local and international basketball tournaments, were held in the Big Dome. The annual Binibining Pilipinas pageant is a project of the Binibining Pilipinas Charities Incorporated, founded and chaired by Miss Colombia 1959, Stella Marquez. She married Jorge Araneta, now the chairman of The Araneta Group.
The Araneta Group also put up the Philippines’ first enclosed, fully air-conditioned, multi-level commercial mall, Ali Mall, which opened in June 1976. It was named after the late boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, who won the 1975 “Thrilla in Manila” boxing match against Joe Frazier at the Araneta Coliseum. Ali was guest of honor during Ali Mall’s inauguration a year after the bout.
Ali Mall also had the Philippines’ first Cineplex with two initial cinemas. It also housed the largest indoor skating rink, and pioneered the concept of food court with its Food Gallery.
The Araneta Group also owns New Frontier Cinema, the Philippines’ largest theater with 3,500 seats. It first opened in 1967 and was later transformed into a modern theater. It was renovated in 2014 and reopened in August 2015 as Kia Theater. In October 2018, it reverted to its original name and is now one of the premier performing arts venues in the country. – Rappler.com