Quezon City

reminiscing Cubao: the Fiesta Carnival

More than the stores and the movie theaters, if you ask anyone who experienced old Cubao as to what was their best experience of the place, the most popular answer would probably be their visit/s to that beloved placed called Fiesta Carnival.

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right at the heart of Cubao: Fiesta Carnival, along with Araneta Coliseum

Long before Star City and (in some way) Enchanted Kingdom, one of the ultimate, if not THE ultimate, amusement park in the metropolis was the Fiesta Carnival. Despite the name though, it was not housed on a tent like the carnivals we see in the movies. Rather it made its home under a warehouse-type structure with a variety of shops surrounding the building. Very far from the common conception indeed.

While the exterior looks far from a traditional carnival, there’s no doubt the carnival atmosphere is felt when you get inside. It was big enough to house a variety of attractions like the carousel, roller coaster, a train travelling around the carnival, and bump cars to name a few. Of course, given the space and height limitations, the rides were not as high not only by today’s standards but even then compared to the seasonal outdoor carnivals Fiesta Carnival competed with during that time. Nevertheless, it was a big hit especially among the children growing up during the 1970’s-1980’s, as Fiesta Carnival became one of Cubao’s most popular attractions, rivalling that of Araneta Coliseum located just on the other side of Gen. Aguinaldo Ave. where the carnival is also located.

one of the few online photos of Fiesta Carnival (credits to the owner)

But Fiesta Carnival’s story mirrors that of the many “rise and fall” stories of celebrities that we hear. By the 1990’s, Fiesta Carnival began to lose its appeal among the children who have become more enamored with mall-based entertainment, computer gaming, not to mention the appeal of grander amusement parks especially with the opening of Laguna-based Enchanted Kingdom during that time. Fiesta Carnival soon degenerated as a run-down amusement park that was plagued by incidents of theft and other petty crimes.

During the 2000’s, Araneta Center, the developers of the Cubao commercial district, decided to breathe some new life into Fiesta Carnival. It was decided to convert it into an outdoor carnival, and it was moved to an open space right across SM Cubao. The old Fiesta Carnival building was soon converted into a hypermarket under the brand name Shopwise, owned by the kin of the famed Rustan’s brand which itself has a long established presence in the area.

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Unfortunately, the outdoor Fiesta Carnival did not click with the public. Faced with an alarming decline of what was once a revered landmark, the decision came to close down Fiesta Carnival for good, as part of its space was allocated to other projects in the ongoing revitalization project for Cubao.

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the former outdoor Fiesta Carnival, now a parking lot and a call center office building

But for the many who were fortunate to experience the joys of going to Fiesta Carnival, its contribution in the collective memory of many and in enriching the landscape of Old Cubao will never be forgotten.

© The Urban Roamer

8 Comments

  • Avatar

    Jason

    Yeah, I have lots of great childhood memories of Fiesta Carnival. By the way you can check the MTV of Eraserheads “Fruit cake” and I’m sure you’ll love it because the old Fiesta Carnival was there!^^ Thanks for the article. I really enjoyed reminiscing Fiesta Carnival… 😀

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    eidelj

    for me the 1980’s fiesta carnival is the best carnival/theme park it cannot be surpassed by enchanted and star city combined. why? if you were born in 1980s you will experience the feeling of childlike reactions and total adventure just right entering its entrance. going in are are toystores with bunch toys(transformers, GI-Joe, remote controlled tanks, light sabers,toy guns with noisy crackers and enjoyable candies. carnival rides is side by side although i can’t recall the brands of these rides but spoiling yourself with simple roller coaster, mini trains going inside ghosted house, fly on whirling airplane, mini cho cho train circling the whole fiesta carnival and much much more because the 80’s youth back then are not corrupted with violence and they are more simple, enjoyed, appreciate every little simple things they saw roaming the wonderland of fiesta carnival cubao. wish i go back to 1980’s and restart my life with fiesta carnival. wow

  • Avatar

    rodel

    although we live in the south (alabang) , we had some chances of going to fiesta carnival because of our relatives in quezon city. because i was too young then, i only rode those “safer” rides like the train and that airplane rides and merry-go-round aka carousel.. i remember there’s also skating rink, the octopus and roller coaster. Fiesta carnival was also used in many tv shows and movies like anna liza, payaso, and a movie starring sharon cuneta and susan roces. the last time i checked the carnival was when i have to meet a friend. it was dark, full of tiangges selling cp housings and pirated wares . i was disappointed, though at the same time felt lucky that i was one of those who experienced the joy of childhood inside the fiesta carnival. Too bad, there was no “kodakan” when we were there. Just like the christmas animated display at COD (now in greenhills), fiesta carnival is now just a part of Araneta Center’s treasured history. thank you for this post .

  • Avatar

    ronan

    i miss the good ol days!fiesta carnival reminded me of a happy childhood,being carefree,having fun!priceless! wish i could let my daughter experience that happy place,sadly it is gone forever!i could just share her my stories,oh well kids nowadays have so much things and places to explore for themselves,we had our time!:D..

  • Avatar

    Wayne Moises

    I went to Fiesta Carnival when I was 12 years old at the time together with my siblings & family members nearly 43 years ago way back in 1973 & 1977 twice to play & enjoy since during childhood memories now a former site becomes a commercial center & supermarket the place will be forgotten the good old days bring back memories. Thanks for the information. From:Wayne

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    Wayne Moises

    I miss the place to enjoy rides watching side shows & eat hotdogs & popcorn long before Nintendo before Playstation before Xbox now comes
    play the amusement park the Fiesta Carnival established in the early 1970’s until moved to Subic Bay Zambales their new home of the theme park is history. Thanks!
    From:Wayne

  • Avatar

    Jonathan Cornista

    My parents used to have an optical shop in the heart of Araneta Center (Cornista Optical) just across Queens Super Market . It is a great treasure of my Childhood Memories reminiscing Araneta Center. No online games, social medias , FB and Video Downloads and Steaming. It’s pure fun during the 80’s.

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