Manila is home to millions of people and has plenty of attractions to entertain and amuse tourists of all ages. It is the most important city in the Philippines with a large selection of family-friendly establishments. Most major amusement parks of Manila operate on a seasonal basis particularly during summer and Christmas holidays. But for all-year fun, there are indoor amusement parks housed in large shopping centres in the city as well as green areas with wide, open spaces.
Visiting one or all of Manila’s amusement parks is a fun way to take a break from sightseeing and continuous walking along the city streets, and it also keeps your kids from getting bored in from visiting too many museums and historical buildings.
Trips to Manila amusement parks can be arranged by your hotel or you can make your own way with taxis, bus or hire car.
Luneta or Rizal Park
Rizal Park is more commonly known as Luneta to locals and it serves as one of Manila’s most important landmarks with significant historical value. Nestled in the heart of Manila, it sits on Roxas Boulevard’s northern end and overlooking Manila Bay.
During the time of Spanish colonisation, the park was referred to as Bagumbayan or ‘New Town’ and it is where Philippine national hero Jose Rizal was executed, thus its official name. Nowadays, the park is a favourite spot for families and friends to have picnics during holidays and Sundays, apart from serving as a major tourist attraction in the city.
The park has a man-made lake where you can find a replica of the Philippine islands in its centre, and there are also areas for recreation and entertainment such as the open-air auditorium where orchestras and bands can perform. Rizal Park is also the site for the Japanese and Chinese Gardens, National Monument of the Filipino People, Planetarium, Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion, a chess plaza and more.
Manila Ocean Park
Manila’s first oceanarium is situated just behind the Quirino Grandstand near Rizal Park and opened in March, 2008. With floor space of 8,000 square-metres, Manila Ocean Park is significantly bigger than Singapore’s Sentosa Underwater World, and its main attraction is the 24-meter underwater tunnel made of acrylic.
Sections include Flow (Agos), The Reef (Bahura), Fishing Ground (Laot), Living Ocean (Buhay na Karagatan), The Deep (Kalaliman), Sting Ray (Pagi) and Shark (Pating). It also features the Acquatica Musical Fountain, which is the tallest musical fountain in the city at 120 feet high which is a popular nightly attraction from Wednesdays to Sundays at 19:00-19:30.
Manila Ocean Park also features a Concourse Plaza where performances, product launches, concerts, and other events can be hosted. There is also the Marine-themed mall with 25 restaurants overlooking the bay plus 30 unique stores. Visitors can also go diving or snorkelling at the Open Water Marine Habitat, a swimming pool equipped with diving facilities.
Manila Ocean Park offers packages and promos for different types of visitors but there are also tour packages available so you can make the most of your visit. (website: www.manilaoceanpark.com).
During the summer and nearing the Christmas or New Year, Star City opens its doors to let the public enjoy plenty of rides, themed booths, affordable shopping and dining. This Manila theme park is easy to spot because of its big, towering, yellow star logo on top of a castle replica jutting over the CCP Complex itself.
Families looking to escape the Manila heat can frolic in Snow World, which is one of Star City’s main attractions. The theme park is relatively affordable for most local families and it features a range of rides the entire family can enjoy. The park gets crowded during peak season, especially at night, so it pays to plan your trip ahead of time and be there early.
You can purchase a ‘ride-all-you-can’ ticket for around Php300 but the entrance fee in general is about Php60. Visitors pay separately for attractions like Snow World and Dino World (website: www.starcity.com.ph).
This Manila amusement park was opened in July, 1995, and occupies 41 acres filled with rollercoasters, slides and games just a short trip from the city centre. Fun sections include Spaceport which captures the spirit of adventure during 1960s space exploration, Portabello which mimics a Central American Inca port and Brooklyn Place which resembles one of the Big Apple’s most colourful boroughs. (website: www.enchantedkingdom.ph)
With 500 animals consisting of 106 different species, Manila Zoo promises an entertaining day for children and animal lovers. The zoo was first opened in July 1959, and since then it has been continuously serving as an educational centre where visitors can discover, learn, and observe interesting facets of the country’s flora and fauna. Manila Zoo is also home to souvenir shops, several playgrounds, and canteens.
There is also a lagoon where boating rentals are available. The latest attraction is the petting zoo called Kinder Zoo where young children can interact with animals.