The rides are back

When: October 2007

Where: Bilbao

Project: Visiting tours to the Abandoned Amusement Park of Artxanda.

Working party: A project developed by Saioa Olmo and Consonni and produced by Consonni with the collaboration of the Bizkaia Regional Government, the Basque Government and Arteleku-Gipuzkoa Provincial Council.


“The rides are back” is a project that uses a contemporary ruin, Artxanda Amusement Park, and the guided-visit format, to talk about the show and consumer society. The project claims the contemporary ruin as a resource that allows us to reflect on the past and the present of our social context. Also on the models of future we are projecting at the present in our cities.

The Amusement Park of Bizkaia was opened for the first time in 1974 and it was closed definitively in 1990. Nowadays, disappearing rides as the Ferry Wheel, the Rollercoaster, the Train Ride, the Octopus or the Crazy Worm, are known by intuition. The restaurant seems still active, there are trays ready for serving and scattered chairs all around with no logic … The fantasy sceneries are being occupied by the weeds. A space designed for entertainment, which has not any other usage is still alive having the attraction of the left thing as inducement.

Thirty-three years after the opening, Artxanda Amusement Park revived from its lethargy. On September 14, 2007 there were Fireworks in Plaza Arriaga to celebrate the inauguration of the period of visits during October, 2007.

During October Thursdays, Friday, Saturdays and Sundays, the Amusement Park of Artxanda opened its doors for an occasional way to develop a few guided-visits to the 10 new attractions which were arisen spontaneously and were tracing a physical and symbolic trip:

  • The Parliament of the United Attractions (ancient Amphitheatre), at that time the scenery for music bands such as Mecano, The Pecos or Mocedades, is now where the current attractions of the park, as if they were divas in shabby suits who do not want to admit their decline, gather to make decisions about their new spontaneous attractions condition.
  • Cruise Paradise, during its golden epoch the nearest snack bar to the swimming pool and provided with wardrobes, box offices and showers, it is stranded now and prey of the curse of one of its pictures. This picture, as it was the portrait of Dorian Gray, seems to anticipate the deterioration that this holiday resort is suffering.
  • The Amphibious Experience, ancient swimming pool taken by common frogs, bored of the importance of the role of the toad, turning into prince when kissed, have conquered and are erected as the presidents of the Republic.
  • The Haunt of the Peligritos, natural mutation of the Haunted House, is now the refuge of a worrying darkness … and of the “peligritos”, a fantastic bird half swallow half bat.
  • The Spaceship, in the past one of the most active snack bars of the park, with self-service and terrace service included, is now an airship with a clear mission: to restrain the past and the present of the planet earth.
  • The House of the Forgotten Fantasies, pleasant home of a snow white and the seven dwarfs made of cloth and tinsels. When the park was closed, the fantasies left flying and the big dreams run away, leaving the chaos behind.
  • Treasures of the XX Century, are placed in an indeterminate zone of a map still not found and are strange vestiges of the XX century, stored by the fetishistic avidity of a computer man scared by the frenzy of the XXI century.
  • The Indoor Jungle, a luxurious restaurant in another time, has to see how do mutant ferns and mosses sprout from its carpets, as a result of the greenhouse effect.
  • Wild Stampede, ancient mini zoo, from where inhabitants escape in wild stampede after the closing, and where a majestic lioness and its faithful squire, Greyish-brown bear, stays for guarding.
  • The Tower of the Memories, former offices that are now full of photographs, tickets, planes and relics of the past. It is the perfect place to recover wonderful memories that have remained trapped within and also for leaving evocations that want to be forgotten.

The visits were an audience success, the 500 visit vacancies we offered were completed and unfortunately many people remained in a waiting-list. Therefore, we do not dismiss to any derivation of the project.

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