Many South Africans on social media have expressed sadness over the news of the imminent closure of Durban’s iconic amusement park, Durban Funworld, which is set to close its doors for good on the 1st of May 2023.
Funworld announced on the 18th of March in a Facebook post that it was closing down. “… Please note that after 75 years in its current location, Durban Funworld will cease operations from the end of the trading day on 01 May 2023,” the post read.
In response to the announcement, a number of people took to the comments section to lament how the closure of the once-popular amusement park, which is still an important landmark that is part of many people’s childhood memories, would worsen the state of dilapidation the city of Durban has fallen into in the past few years. However, Durban Funworld responded by saying, “Bear in mind that Durban belongs to its citizens. If one is not happy about something they should voice their concerns to the eThekwini Municipality. We have tried for twelve years to put a succession plan in place to save, improve and grow Durban Funworld. This is a third generation business on Durban’s beachfront. This very sad decision has not been taken lightly. The staff, some of whom have worked here for decades, the people who enjoy the fun they have here and the Durban beachfront at large are going to lose the most.”
Media comments made by the owner of Durban Funworld, Nic Steyn, indicate that his wish was to continue operating the amusement park but the EThekwini Municipality, which owns the land the park is on, made it difficult to do so. “Over the past number of years, I’ve watched in sadness as the jewel in Durban’s crown, its beachfront, has deteriorated at an alarming rate. I don’t want to add to that deterioration but after six years of operating on a month-to-month basis the situation has become untenable. I am left with no choice but to unfortunately add to the Durban beachfront degradation,” he said.
In response, the municipality released a statement confirming that Steyn had communicated his intention to cancel his lease, effective from 31 May this year. Part of the statement read, “The city is currently working on a tendering process to attract developers to upgrade the Fun World site in line with the zoning of the beachfront. The entire precinct’s look is to be upgraded to meet world-class standards of modern theme parks.
“The property will be going out to tender this year to invite proposals for redevelopment. Our hope is that the successful developer will deliver a world class facility that our residents and visitors deserve, a facility that will raise the overall aesthetics of our golden mile.”