Metro Manila is one of the last places in the world that would come into your mind when you come across the word “theme park”, and even when it does, it’s usually Enchanted Kingdom in nearby Laguna province that most people would think about.
We do have the Star City within the CCP Complex in Pasay, which has been around for quite a while. And while it does have a reputation as an overgrown “peria”, we finally decided to see for ourselves if it deserves that reputation or not on one weekend.* Peria, a Filipino word derived from the Spanish, refers to a small town carnival.
Star City, as it turns out, is a curious hybrid of a real theme park, a carnival, and an overgrown arcade. You won’t find anyone playing Tekken there of course, but you get the arcade-style basketball hoops, games where you throw rings into bottles, and a roller coaster – meaning there is an element of each of the three that you will find there. It is also split between an outdoor and indoor section, and it’s actually sort of like Seoul‘s Lotte World, but on a very tight budget.
It is basic and “small scale” as far as theme parks go, but it did have more variety of rides and attractions than I initially expected, but then again my expectations may have been very low to begin with. It does boast of the country’s only snow making machine in its Snow World attraction (real snow mind you, not some other fancy stuff), as well as the country’s only inverted roller coaster, as far as I know. Combine that with a reasonably cheap entry fee, and you get a good option for a fun weekend with the family (especially if you have kids), that is accessible – geographically and financially – for the average Manileno.
However if you are looking for something that would even come close to a Disney or a Universal then don’t even bother…they’re not even in the same universe. You’ll be much better going the extra miles to Laguna, or saving your money to go to Hong Kong or Singapore to see the real thing.
However, if you just want to have some fun rides and a reasonably good time, without having to leave the city, and without the weight of heavy expectations, then Star City is good enough to take the boredom out of boring weekends.
* All photos taken last May 2012, with Olympus E420 and Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8-3.5.
* New photos added from my second visit to the park last October 2012. Photos taken with Panasonic Lumix LX5.