There are few places in Bucharest where the old, communist Romania meets the brash young start-up that is the market in such a haphazard yet ultimately enjoyable way as Oraselul Copiilor (Kids’ Town), a rather old-fashioned funfair at the bottom of Parcul Tineretului.
The first thing that grabs you about the funfair is how old many of the rides clearly are. While all of them display their ‘health and safety department tried and tested’ certificates most publicly, we can’t help looking at some of them and thinking that it must be years, decades even since screws were changed or bolts tightened. We rode this roller coaster (with child in tow) last year but wonder if we were mad to do so:
Then again, how many thousands of people must have ridden this ancient roller coaster last year and not come a cropper? Exactly. OK: it will probably fall over one day, but there is no reason why that day will have to be today.
There are probably 60-70 different attractions in the park, some which are new and look terrifying, others – such as the 1970s dodgems – which probably belong in a museum. There is also (or at least there was, in past years) a little steam train which runs around the perimeter of the park.
In communist times, the train followed a longer route, had various intermediate stations and was ‘staffed’ by Young Pioneers*, much like the Children’s Railways in Budapest and Dresden (and which are still, to this day, staffed by children: quite why Romania had to throw out the good with the bad when it kissed communism goodbye is beyond us).
The railway today – when it runs at all, and we saw no sign of the engine earlier this week when we visited – has just one station (which barely deserves the name):
Oraselul Copiilor is also the place to come for some of the cheapest, crappiest toys in Bucharest:
In a city that is not exactly blessed with places to take the kids (we have done our best to put all of your Children’s Bucharest options in one place here) Oraselul Copiilor is at least an option. You will not want for places to eat decent mici, you can find great popcorn and though we jest about health and safety issues, we do not remember reading about a single accident at this fairground the whole time we have been living in Bucharest.
Just bring plenty of money: most rides cost 3-5 lei a pop (some cost a lot more). It can all get rather expensive very quickly.
*We got this tidbit from a Romanian-language guidebook to Bucharest published by Editura Sport-Turism in 1979. We have no idea if it was true or not; maybe a local can tell us?