A Carnival During A Pandemic?

What you need to know before visiting the Geneva “Luna Park Plainpalais” in 2021

Luna Park Plainpalais 2021

*Disclaimer: Before going to the funfair or participating in any activity that involves being around people, I evaluate the risks of contracting Covid-19. Nobody in our family is at high risk of developing serious illness, and we all take precautions. I always wear a mask and sanitize often. I try my best to avoid large crowds, and I try to go to places that I feel are doing a good job at limiting the spread. I also happen to live in the city where this carnival is.

With the weather getting warmer and the snow conditions deteriorating, I felt it was a good time to switch back to my summertime hobby. While I am also passionate about skiing and being in the mountains, there is one thing I have been missing- Roller coasters and theme parks! When I found out the fair had started in my current hometown, I jumped onto the opportunity right away!

Let us start with a little background information on the Luna Park carnival. In Geneva, there are usually two or more carnivals that show up each year, including one in the summer and one in the fall. They are often held downtown in the large plaza called Plainpalais (plane-pah-lay), but there have also been a few in various locations around Lac Leman, which is the big lake that corners Geneva. In October of 2020, there was supposed to be a fair in Plainpalais, but it got canceled due to the pandemic. Because of this, I was a bit surprised to find that they were allowed to open in April of 2021. Currently, the fair is being held in Plainpalais until April 18, 2021.

April 2, 2021

I consider myself lucky. Not only is there a fair in my current hometown where I can hop on a train and be there in less than twenty minutes, but I am lucky I even have this opportunity at all. While most countries are still in lockdown, Switzerland has allowed a carnival to reopen. At first, it may seem a bit cruel until you see how many restrictions they have put into place. So what exactly are these restrictions?

For those who read my guide to visiting Texas theme parks during the pandemic, at this fair I witnessed procedures that are no different than what I observed in those parks last summer. For example, I noticed that many rides had frequent sanitization breaks, where riders would have to wait outside while an employee would wipe down every handlebar and point of contact. Similar to what I saw at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, each ride platform provides hand sanitizer. Carnivals operate differently than traditional amusement parks. You have to pay for each ride and often times it’s cash-only, or in other words, a great vector for diseases. Luna Park definitely considers this, as using hand sanitizer is mandatory for guests who have already paid for their ticket.

As you can tell in this image, the midways do get crowded with people. However, wearing a mask is mandatory not just on the rides, but anywhere within the fairgrounds. This rule is strictly enforced with large signs throughout the area to remind guests. You will also run into groups of police patrolling the area. They are here to make sure that people are following the rules, and it is definitely working. In general, on my visit, I felt that people were very respectful. I can see a contrast between the people at this fair and the people at Sea World. In general, I did feel pretty comfortable here, and the only thing I would change is capacity limits. There seem to be no capacity limits on the rides, except for Tagada. This is understandable because of the nature of this ride, and I will explain more later. Now that we have covered the changes brought by the pandemic, it is time for a comprehensive review of the fairgrounds as a whole.


Rides and Attractions

The current Luna Park takes up less than half of the space that fills Plainpalais but manages to pack in a nice variety of rides that everyone can enjoy! Walking around the grounds, you will pass by many kid’s rides such as the traditional swings and merry-go-rounds, as well as a bungee trampoline and of course, bumper cars! There are at least three of these classic fun attractions ranging in size from children only to everyone can enjoy.

Adults and thrill-seekers do not need to worry about getting bored here- there are plenty of exciting attractions for them to enjoy as well. Some of the rides here are very intense and pretty big too. Out of the most extreme rides, there is one that flips riders upside-down at a towering height of almost 200 feet, and the Pegasus, a ride that rotates in the most unimaginable ways possible.

They also have a “breakdance” and a pendulum ride, which are two of my favorite ride types! There is even a “Tagada”! If you don’t know what that is, that’s because this ride is so crazy that it’s banned in the USA and other countries! There are no seatbelts, and if that isn’t crazy enough, the ride operators can make it tilt and bounce around, making it very easy to get hurt. In fact, my brother got pretty banged up on this ride, and get this- the ride was so rough that it broke my GoPro! That’s right- my camera turned off because it could not handle being in this blender of an attraction! Luckily it was working fine later. Now if only they had a slingshot! Those things are always insane.

For all the coaster nerds out there, yes, there is a credit! It may be just a little kid’s powered coaster, but the amount of points you can get from this makes the ride totally worth it. Also, this coaster was surprisingly forceful for its size! This small roller coaster gave me a total of 105 credit points, and this was just for the first coaster credit obtained in 2021!

The rides at Luna Park are not the only fun this fair offers. A fair is not fair without games, and this one has lots and lots of them! Most of them are the traditional ones, where you have to knock things down and try to win a giant stuffed animal. There are some smaller ones as well, such as a punching game. The one thing that’s missing is a bucking bronco.


Food and Amenities

Funnel cakes, cotton candy, fried unhealthy yumminess- these are all staple foods of any carnival and in my opinion, no carnival is complete without at least one of these special treats. At this particular fair, I did not see any funnel cakes or fried foods, but they do have lots of candy- cotton candy, gummy candy, and candy apple on a stick. For those without a sweet tooth, over by one of the main entrances, there is a food stand that sells sandwiches, hotdogs, pizza, and drinks. (It is next to one of the crazier rides, so I would recommend doing that attraction first.) I did not purchase any food here since I am on a diet. If you don’t want to get food from the fair, nobody will care if you bring your own. It is also understandable that the selection isn’t great when you are in the center of town and can easily walk to many different restaurants around.

There are no restrooms in the fairgrounds. I am not sure if this is related to the pandemic or if it has to do with the location. If you need to relieve yourself, the facilities at the nearby skate park are free to use. You will have to exit the fairgrounds but the walk to get there is only about two minutes.


Safety, Operations and Cleanliness

I already talked about what measures they are taking to slow down the spread of Covid-19. Apart from the procedures being done, I feel like in normal times the fair is kept surprisingly clean. Compared to many fairs and the one I visited in Spain in the summer of 2019, there is not much trash on the ground. In general, the park guests behave well and there are not too many people smoking or being obnoxious like in some permanent amusement parks I have visited.

I am also surprised at how quickly the dispatch times are here. Typically at amusement parks, I have seen high-capacity rides take up to three minutes or longer to dispatch ride vehicles on every cycle. Most of the time, the operators are very slow at checking everyone’s restraints, but here it is a different story. Immediately as you board any of the rides here, an attendee makes sure your restraint is fastened and starts the ride without hesitation. The dispatch times are only about thirty seconds, where the only comparison I can draw would be Silver Star at Europa Park!

I have talked about how safe I feel from the virus, but what about generally speaking? Fairs are known to be not as safe as permanent parks, so what did I notice about this one? In general, I feel safe in some aspects but not in others. Let me explain- Firstly, there are no metal detectors or bag checks of any kind, and there is not really an entrance to the fair. This means anyone can just walk in from any opening between rides, and possibly carry something dangerous with them. Thankfully, other than a few thieves in the area, there isn’t much crime in downtown Geneva and police are constantly patrolling the fairgrounds. If you are worried about the possibility of your belongings being stolen, there are bins on the ride platforms where people can’t get to them unless they have already paid for a ticket. On certain rides that have larger ride vehicles and do not go upside-down, you will have to bring your bags with you on the ride. Loose articles are permitted on all rides as long as they are secured.

What about ride safety? This is where I would say it depends on the ride. All of the rides I did felt pretty safe, even when an operator would occasionally forget to check my restraint. Don’t worry, the restraints lock automatically and they tend to staple you. There is only one ride where I did not feel safe. The Break Dance is the only ride I have ever seen where there is no queue. Instead, riders wait on the ride platform while the ride is in motion. This is just an accident waiting to happen, and it is quite terrifying being so close to all these fast-moving spinning gondolas.


Tickets and Pricing

Like most funfairs, there is no fixed entrance fee. Instead, you will have to pay for individual ride tickets so be prepared to bring lots of cash. There may be one or two rides that accept credit cards, but for the most part, it’s cash only. There is no deal where you can get a wristband with unlimited ride access like in some fairs in America, but they do have the option of paying three times the price of one for a maximum of three consecutive rides. At another fair I visited, they didn’t have this option and you had to pay each time you wanted to ride something. The rides here are not too expensive. Most of them cost 5 swiss francs per person, the equivalent of 5.41 USD or 4.54 euros. Their larges ride costs double the price, but it is totally worth it. Compare these prices to the fair that I visited in Spain in 2019, where each ride costs around 12 euros. In general, I feel like this fair gives a better value than the one in Spain. Not only will you spend less money, but the rides are better here! I also feel that the employees are much nicer when it comes to paying them. At the Semana Negra fair in Spain, the rides were so expensive that I would give the employees extra money so I could get change, and they would get angry at me. At Luna Park, there was no hesitation to give back change.


Closing Thoughts

Now that we have covered every topic, is it worth going?
I’d say yes. Nothing felt like a rip-off or a scam. I felt like it was worth my money, and they have some of the craziest, most intense rides I have ever experienced. I love the rides so much that I could go back every day, but the pandemic is the only thing stopping me from doing so. For those wanting to go to the current Luna Park, it’s best to wait until the schools start again. I made the mistake of revisiting the fair on the last Friday of school break, where the fair was packed with teens and people within the one age group that tends to not wear their masks. In terms of location, it is perfect. Smack dap in the middle of downtown, next to the largest and most popular skate park in all of the Geneva canton and near many good shops and restaurants. The city has a very extensive public transportation network and rail services with TPG and SBB. These are both companies that I have been using almost daily, and they both have mobile apps that you can download. As to which one to use, I feel like the train service, SBB, gives you an easier time searching for routes. I will talk more about this on my vlog, so subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Instagram. See you soon!


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