On 8 August 1968 the first excavators started work and under the supervision of Juan Botas and the future first chairman of the MAP, Claudio Colomer, both considered at that time the country’s greatest experts on theme parks, and the construction of the Park was under way, together with the search for and acquisition of its first attractions.
As of then leisure in Madrid acquired a new dimension.
15 May 1969. A day all the people of Madrid had been looking forward to
Madrid inaugurated its Amusement Park, for all the people of the city, and at that time unique in Spain, in terms of its concept and characteristics. On 15 May 1969, the Day of St. Isidore, patron saint of Madrid, the anxiously awaited Amusement Park turned from a project into a reality.
At 12 noon, the City Council, headed by Mayor Carlos Arias Navarro, cut the tape to symbolise the official inauguration of the Parque. On that day, no visitors had to pay to get in, and during the next two years the price was fixed at 5 pesetas (3 euro cents), later rising to 15 pesetas (9 cents).
On its opening day, the Park had 30 mechanical attractions: “7 Picos”, “Gusano Loco”, “Fórmula 8”, “El Jarama”, “Alfombras Mágicas”, “Viaje al Centro de la Tierra”, “Viaje Espacial”, “Canoas”, La Noria”, “La Zarzuela”, “Las Cadenas”, “Karts”, “La Ola”, “El Pulpo”, “Camas Elásticas”, “La Casa Magnética” and los “Minikarts”, among others, which fascinated all the visitors.
In the area for young children there were attractions like “Ford T”, “Baby Barcas”, “Baby Selva”, “Los Aviones”, “Telecombate”, and something new in Madrid, “Los Ponys”, which delighted the very youngest, as they were able to ride those animals or travel in carriages drawn by them.
There were also the amusements “Pintoyo” and “Laberinto y Espejos” and a game centre “Juegolandia”, as well as raffles and shooting galleries. The distorting mirrors were made in a similar way to those in a well-known restaurant in Gato Alley in Madrid, into which all the customers looked on entering. “Laberinto y Espejos” has been used as a backdrop for filming a lot of scenes from films set in that time.
And we mustn’t forget the Park’s emblem, the “Platillo Volante”, a name given by the visitors, which from a height of 25 metres let fall a fine spray curtain of water, with lights playing on it, making it look like the wake of a flying saucer. From its cafeteria at the highest point, the best views of Madrid and its surroundings could be seen.
But the Amusement Park, from its start, has always been undergoing constant renovation to offer the best attractions and shows, and so the following year, ”Jet Star” was inaugurated, a modern attraction of roller coaster type, and even more impressive, if possible, than “”7 Picos””.
The Auditorium-Theatre merits special mention, as its configuration and design have been studied at schools of architecture for many years. After its construction it became the only space in Madrid capable of seating up to 5000 people and so visitors, for free, have been able to enjoy performances by the biggest artists on the domestic and international scene.
A Park in constant evolution
In 1990, the first investment was made in the northwest zone of the Park to house the attractions ”El Cóndor”, ”Aladino”, "Flume-Ride”, the first water roller coaster and the first attraction in which the visitors got wet, ”Las sillas voladoras” and then later ”Las minimotos” and ”Katapult”.
The most important remodelling took place in 1998, with an investment of close to 8,000 million pesetas (48 million euros), which transformed the Amusement Park into a harmonic, themed park, and took on the commitment to offer the most advanced, safe and complete leisure centre, to be integrated into the daily life of the city, for a varied and ever more demanding public. That same year, the MAP, together with the Zoo Aquarium of Madrid, Aquópolis and Teleférico de Madrid (the funicular) founded the company Parques Reunidos.
This transformation consisted of dividing the Park into 5 zones (Machines, Tranquillity, Nature, Young Children and the Great Avenue), and entailed reinforcing its identity and image, starting from a zonification that affected all the urban elements of the Park (pavements, street furniture, signposting…) as well as the installations (attractions, hostelry, amusements…). Today, it continues to grow, with the most advanced attractions on the market such as Abismo, Tarántula and the novelty for 2012, TNT, el Tren de la Mina.
The latest novelties of the Amusement Park have been the new family themed zone Nickelodeonland and The Walking Dead Experience.
At this time, over thirty attractions are complemented with shows, amusements and gastronomy to balance the overall leisure array in the twenty hectares of the Park.
For more than forty years we have been forming part of the history and dreams of Madrid, offering the best to our over 100 million visitors and keeping alive the entertainment expectations of a public who have entrusted the enjoyment of their free time to the Park.”