Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Playground of the Damned

For my last drive up to Auckland I decided a change of scenery was in order. So I drove through Whanganui. If as a child you visited this strange riverside hamlet you'll no doubt remember the playground here. I have fond memories of it as an exciting, garish and wonderfully surreal place so I thought I'd see if it still lived up to those memories.

The answer is yes and no. This playground has stayed locked in a weird seventies time warp. Elements and perception have not been kind. Again dip into your memories and recall a unsettling British horror film called "Village of the Damned" a small English town becomes home to creepy other-worldly children. This playground is - no doubt - the place these children would go to play.

Anyway enough background.  and just invite you to take a tour around THE PLAYGROUND OF THE DAMNED...

Our tour begins with a very mournful whale. "Please children play in my mouth. I'm so very, very hungry."

A disturbingly phallic snake. 

This one will give my friend Cal nightmares. An octopus that lures children in with the promise of fun swings only to trap them in its tentacles.  

Gaze upon the face of true evil. 

Notice the child's jacket lying on the swing. But no sign of children anywhere.

A saw lots of children go into these tunnels but none came out. 

This is the barbecue area. Inside a big pumpkin for some reason. There was also the faint smell of gas. 

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. Who had so many children she didn't know what to do.

So she threw them all into a the dark pit of despair.

Then there's Humpty Dumpty possibly the most terrifying thing in the whole playground.

Then there's the three bears.

On closer inspection you'll see that Papa Bear is a card-carrying Nazi.

This sad creature is supposed to be Little Miss Muffet. Not a spider in sight. I suspect it was inside her. Laying eggs in her brain.

Then there's something all kids love. A severed Orca head.

And Unhappy Feet.

With some recently clubbed seals.

A terrifying dinosaur slide.

Just look at its mouth. And again note the distinct absence of children at this playground.

Of course you can't have a dinosaur without a caveman. And here's Fred Flintstone's retarded brother.

Looks like he's been into the yabba-dabba...

 Fred's here so where's Barney? Where indeed. Just look at this sorrowful creature. Tell us Barney what did they do to you in prison?

But the fun doesn't stop here. There's a castle for medieval make believe. Hey look every one's dead from the plague!  

An a very dangerous looking pirate ship. Which rejoiced in the name The Jolly Daybreaker for reasons unknown. 

And finally a dolphin filled with concrete and mounted. Swimming with the dolphins is overrated. What you want to do is ride them like a jockey!

After a hard day putting your children in harms way no doubt you'll be hungry. So why not try the Curbside Cafe? I can recommend the salmonella.

Why is "hot" in inverted commas? And what on earth is ECT?

 If you're wanting to visit the Playground of the Damned you can stay at the illustriously appointed Avoca Hotel which is just down the road. Within fleeing distance. It's twinned with the Overlook Hotel in Colorado.

Here ends my tour. If you've enjoyed it please sign the guestbook and the toilets are located in the information center by the man-made lake. 


  1. brilliant! the stuff of nightmares...

  2. There is a similar skeevy type amusement park in the mountains of BC. I remember being taken there as a kid and getting separated from my parents. When I came upon the poorly made rides and scary looking 'Enchanted Forest' employees I ran screaming back to my father and refused to let go of his hand. That 'spot' you highlighted fills me with the same kind of dread and sadness.

  3. there is a place in my city like this
    The Dinosaur Park in Dunedin, New Zealand

  4. This is where I happily played 40something years ago......